Fishing Takes 1 and 2

Trip Start Jan 14, 2014
Trip End Mar 16, 2014

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Flag of Senegal  ,
Saturday, January 25, 2014

   It is no secret that I came here to fish. Mangroves, river, surf, offshore - I am ready for anything. It has been tough to say the least. I don't speak any of the languages, boats are expensive and many exciting species are ignored. Here, fishing with nets is the norm and sardines are the main species taken. Fishing with line and hook is always done with cut bait, and seems to commonly catch scavenger species like rays, sharks and catfish. Artificial baits are used to troll for barracuda by those that have them. Large soft plastics at the inlet north of Abene (the village is called Niafran [Niafarang]).
   My first trip was headed by Bambalai. I paid for the gas plus a small captain's fee, and we were off the next day. I couldn't believe the size of the boats and the depth of hull they had at the top of this tiny river. It was difficult to get the boat out. And it was way more boat than we could ever need. We were after barracuda, so we started trolling after about an hour of motoring to the spot (we probably didn't start fishing until around noon). Nothing was happening, so we tied into the mangroves and starting fishing with cut bait. Three small stingrays (which were promptly de-stingered) and two "tadpoles" (a weird frog-looking fish that croaks like a frog - see video) later, the tide was coming in too strong and it was time to pack up for home.
   My second trip was to Niafran, at the Gambian border. It was a large entourage from Mame Diarra's house. Again we didn't get on the water until after noon and weren't fishing until after one. We anchored on the river at a couple different spots. I think we had six men and two young boat boys all fishing, everyone except me throwing shrimp tails. I was trying everything including the fly rod because all rods and lines were in use. The falling tide was too strong. We could not keep any bait on the bottom. The good news was that the boat had a canopy, so no sunburn. Eight fisherman, zero fish (actually one finger sized fish, I don't know how it got hooked). Our boat time was over, and we fished the inlet from the shore through low tide. Many lost rigs later (bottom fishing an inlet with tidal flow is fishing for snags), we gave up. We bought a nice sized snapper from another fisherman and roasted it on the fire. It was served at sunset with lemon juice and raw onion, a sweet ending to a sour day of fishing.
   I keep wondering about all the species I haven't seen yet that I know are here. I am trying to avoid the big charter boats, but may have to suck it up one time before we leave.
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