Guinea Bissau

Mon Nov 15, 2010 9:27 pm

Our boat.jpg
Dates: 23rd - 31st Oct
No. People: 11
Fishing: 6 days boat and 2 days shore fishing.
Results: Spectacular.
Venues: Sandbars, reefs, wrecks. Basically a different venue each day……all proved to be excellent.
Species caught (20): Jack crevelle, barracuda, cobia, cassava, pompano, stingray, guitar fish, red snapper, ruby snapper, marbled grouper, garfish, yaboy, plapla ,catfish, ramora, Spanish mackerel, Senegal jack, nurse shark, black tip shark (baby)
We started planning this trip after a trip to Guinea Bissau in February 2008. The same core group of anglers had been to Kenya and Gambia together. Both trips were great crack but the fishing never lived up to our expectations. Rumour had it that Guinea Bissau was the place to go. Research on the web backed this up. I also paid a visit to John O’ Brien’s tackle shop in Waterford. John assured me that this trip would definitely be one to add to the “bucket list”……thanks John!!
Barry & Jack.jpg

Next contact was with Richard Sheard of World Sport Fishing. He is the expert on this area and is currently running the Acunda Island fishing camp. We were given a rough guide to the price is Euros. A definite price could not be given because of the wildly fluctuating value of the Euro and Sterling . Suffice it to say that the price was high but if the fishing would live up to expectations then it would be worth it.

A group of 9 people agreed to go to the camp, which can accommodate up to 12 anglers. The way we operate is for each angler to save money each month for the trip. This makes it relatively painless. We were also joined by 2 anglers from the Isle of White.

The journey to the camp was eventful to say the least but I will comment on this at the end of the article.

Each boat took 3 anglers going to a different place each day.

I was on a boat with Marty and Mick.

Day 1: We departed at 10am. This was a later start than normal as we had reached the island at a very late hour the previous day.

A quick trip brought us out onto a sandbank which had torrents of water swelling around it, resulting in waves crashing right over the top of the bank. It resembled Tramore with a good surf racing in from the Atlantic. The skipper was very skilled at keeping us just out of the surf as we lashed poppers out as far as we could. No sooner had we been there than all 3 rods buckled. It was like being tied to a supercharged Ferrari. 3 jacks took off in all directions and we ran from the bow to the stern and from port to starboard diving under and jumping over lines as total mayhem broke out. It took 10-15 minutes to land the fish. Then our skipper , Solo, and his mate , Nato , set off looking for more jacks and had success very quickly. This continued on for about 3 hours at the end of which I felt like I had done 12 rounds with Mike Tyson. These fish averaged about 18-20lb and fighting them in a temp of 38C meant taking plenty of water with re-hydrating salts.
Mick & Barry.jpg

Solo decided it was time to head for a nearby island for lunch. Of course we passed a rocky outlet where we were instructed to put our lures straight over the outcrops. First cast , using a walk-the -dog lure , my rod bent as a small 4lb ruby snapper headed for home and struggled to try to get into the reef. Next cast a large garfish with vicious teeth took the lure followed then by a lovely pompano. Fishing was definitely better than spinning in Killiney.

Lunch on the beach was “ ceviche”….raw fish soaked in lemon juice, soy sauce and then with a little olive on top . I know it doesn’t sound great but it is simply delicious as the lemon kind of “cooks” the fish. The jack flesh is like meat. Marty had landed a beautiful Leerfish and it was fantastic to eat.

Looking out to sea after lunch I could see some rocks submerged about 20 yards from the shore and just had to cast a popper. Again I got 3 fish in 3 casts….snapper, garfish and barracuda.

Next was some bottom fishing just offshore with mullet as bait. This yielded nothing and so we went trolling and caught lots of barracuda up to over 20lb.

Day 2: Similar to the previous day. The jacks seemed bigger but I think our arms were just tired. Later we fished around rocks on an island and landed numerous snappers to 5lb. Not big I hear you say……after hours fighting big jacks with weakened arms they felt like goliaths.

Later on we had more trolling with barracuda up to 35lb. Being honest barras give a great strike but are hopeless fighters. A good Irish bass would give a barra 3 times time’s its size a run for its money. We also hooked some nice jacks.
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Last edited by Stan on Mon Nov 15, 2010 10:25 pm, edited 4 times in total.

Re: Guinea Bissau

Mon Nov 15, 2010 9:44 pm

Terri's Jack.jpg

Day 3: We headed for the “Chimneys”, a wreck that is 45KM from Acunda. On the way we stopped to catch live-bait, yaboy and plapla. This was done using small bare silver hooks. The hooks were dropped over the side. We counted for 5 seconds and then reeled up the bait

On arriving at the wreck it was straight to popper fishing…results nil. Then we trolled with instant results of jacks, barracuda, leerfish and pompano. Next we anchored up broadside of the wreck and dropped live-baits to he bottom. First take was …’ve guessed it …..barracuda.
Marty & Ray.jpg
Next Marty’s reel had a screaming run. For over two hours Marty struggled, in 38C , to get the fish to the boat.
We kept him from dehydrating by pouring water into him while he battled and sweated to make progress. We also had to rub sun cream on his legs to stop him from burning up… was rumoured that he took pleasure from this. Finally, a giant stingray about 2M wide came towards the boat. The crew tried to gaff it and down she went again. A second attempt was made in vain on its re-appearance beside the boat. On the third attempt she dived and the rod snapped. The estimate of her weight was somewhere between 250-300lbs. What a fish and what a battle!!
Marty's Ray.jpg

After that it was time to head homewards. This gave us our first insight into the unexpected and surprising fish that could show up…..little did we know that this was just a snippet of what was to come.
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Last edited by Stan on Tue Nov 16, 2010 4:38 am, edited 2 times in total.

Re: Guinea Bissau

Mon Nov 15, 2010 9:52 pm

Tuesday ( day 4) was to be a day on the shore and we were taken to a local island. There was quite a surf o the beach and it was a tribute to the skippers’ skills the ease at which they landed us on the shore. The trick was to get close to the beach and anchor the bow. The boat was then reversed towards shore and the mate judged when to jump from the stern into the water and run with another anchor straight onto the beach.
Henry's Jack.jpg

Most of the lads opted to bait fish while Henry ( of the famous tackle shop) and I headed down towards the rocks for a bit of lure fishing. First cast resulted in several small snapper following my Feed Popper. Next cast I slowed down on the lures approach to the rocks and got an instant hit from a small red snapper. Henry had several snappers from the same mark. The next mark produced a nice jack followed by a Senegal jack and finally a Spanish mackerel. Henry had similar results. Not terrific fishing but not bad by any standards.
One Mad Islander.jpg

Down the beach bait fishing was slacker, in the blistering sun, but bonefish, snapper, butterfish and jack were all landed.

By 1300 it just go to hot and so we headed for home for a lunch of FISH!! Fishing that night was from just outside the camp as we sipped beer from the bar. My rod was dragged down the beach at one stage but I missed it because I was getting another beer. Species included the dreaded ramora, a barracuda and marbled grouper.
20lb Jacks.jpg
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Re: Guinea Bissau

Mon Nov 15, 2010 10:08 pm

Stan great report, super pics, sounds like a trip of a lifetime, fantastic

Re: Guinea Bissau

Mon Nov 15, 2010 10:11 pm

Henry & Redser.jpg
Day 5: Started again with a few hours on the bank catching jacks. A point of interest here is that I was using a ripple popper that was deadly. One problem was that when I hooked a big jack he took off like a bat out of hell and straightened both sets of treble hooks. The hooks that we use here are just not strong enough to hold fish of this size and strength.
[attachment=4]Paul's Casava.jpg

Next we headed to the “washing machine”. This is a reef of rocks surrounded by a sandbank. Poopers yielded the usual variety of jacks, barracuda and pompano. I then put a wedge on the line and landed a Senegal snapper followed by a Spanish mackerel.

We then anchored up and dropped baits which drifted towards the reef. The initial takes were fantastic and resulted in everyone catching snapper or barracuda. The Mick had an unmerciful take on his rod with the drag whining as line was rapidly stripped from the reel. Mato immediately buoyed off the anchor as the boat was dragged in pursuit of a very big fish. After about 30 minutes Mick had a 160lb stinger on the boat. Later that day as we trolled home he caught a magnificent barracuda. This man should definitely buy a lotto ticket.
Mick's stinger.jpg

That night we had a horrendous tropical storm . As it had been so hot we were leaving the door open at night and as a result with the high winds everything on my bedside table was blown around the room. Next morning several item including my flight tickets from Banjul were missing. I had visions of having to stay in Gambia!!! Anyway they showed up in the corner of the room, barely readable and looking half eaten
Eamonn's ray.jpg
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Last edited by Stan on Mon Nov 15, 2010 10:28 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Re: Guinea Bissau

Mon Nov 15, 2010 10:16 pm

Paul & Jack.jpg

Day 5: Due to the high seas we nominated this as our rest day. I was reading a book in which the hero, Jack Reacher was busily breaking arms and legs of baddies when Paul Bray sneaked by with his beach rod in hand……trying to get ahead on species. Two minutes later I was chucking mullet baits towards the mangroves and retreating into my beachside chair to read my book. No sooner had I read a few lines the rod gave a nod which yielded a romora
Henry's Ramora.jpg
. This continued non -stop and kept interrupting Jack Reachers progress. After about 10 ramora it was time to put up a big bait on a big hook. I lashed it out about 120 yards and was just getting wrapped up in the all action book again when my drag sang. This was no ramora. The beast went mental and I had to run across the small beach to stop it heading into the mangroves. 15 minutes later saw a beautiful guitar fish on the beach.
Guitar man.jpg
It has been one of the species that I have always wanted to catch. I remember watching John Wilson fighting one of these in one of his series and thinking “ Some day”. It was returned gently and seemed to swim off but several hours later washed up. What a shame. The only good point is that I have no doubt that the locals had a great meal that night.
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Re: Guinea Bissau

Mon Nov 15, 2010 10:31 pm


Re: Guinea Bissau

Mon Nov 15, 2010 10:57 pm

maddest lookin fish i have ever seen but well done all the same.that sounds like a good holiday

Re: Guinea Bissau

Tue Nov 16, 2010 1:33 am

smashing report stan worth waiting for 8)

Re: Guinea Bissau

Tue Nov 16, 2010 10:08 am

Day 6; We headed out towards one of the wrecks. Unfortunately, one of the engines packed up and so we stayed closer to shore. What a disappointment (not!!) as we only caught more jacks and snapper. Marty landed two beautiful cassava around 7-8lb.
Marty's Casavas.jpg

It was another day of non-stop action. Our partner boat that went to the wreck had a very quiet day as they could get no live-bait.
Nurse shark.jpg
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Re: Guinea Bissau

Tue Nov 16, 2010 10:14 am

Day 7” Because of our engine problem we headed to the “washing machine” again. The fish just would not take poppers and so we anchored up for bottom fishing. This yielded some lovely barracuda, snapper, jack, ramora and pompano. There were shoals of Senegal jacks around but they would not take. On several occasions we had the fantastic sight of manta ray jumping clear out of the water. Dolphins also came up for a quick look…talk about heaven.
Spanish Mackerel.jpg

I set up a wire trace with a lump of Spanish Mackerel and floated it out with a plastic bottle. It had only travelled about 20 M when I got a savage take. Not knowing what it might be I struck hard to bury the hook.
The fish responded by pulling much harder than me on the other end and took off at the speed of light. Having 80lb line on I tried to tighten the drag as much as I could but nothing was going to stop this fish. The more brakes I tried to put on the more savage it got and then the line went dead. The 8/0 hook had been straightened. One the next attempt there was a similar take but this time the snap swivel broke . The bottle was floated out with more bait and on 2 occasions the bait was just dropped. On the fifth attempt about 1KG of Spanish Mackerel was tied onto the hook so that the point was exposed. About 30M from the boat the fin and tail of a sharp appeared and the bait was taken. This was no tope or even blue shark but a raging fish out to teach me who was boss. There was no way that I could stop it as it just took charge of matters and tore off at 100MPH. He will be bigger then next time but I will have stronger gear…….visions of “Jaws” spring to mind!!
Micks Ray.jpg

Day 8: WE headed back to the island of Orango.


We tried some sandbanks nearby but the poppers were not very productive. Next we were in by the rocks to catch some nice snapper.
Next we went trolling and caught 3 barracuda.

After lunch we hit the mangroves on various islands with poppers but even through jacks could be seen breaking and chasing baitfish all around us, at times, they would not take poppers or lures.
Finally we anchored and went ground fishing. Mick got a good take from a ray but lost it.

Yep that was a slack day when we only caught a few big fish that we would be delighted to see in a year or three in Ireland!!
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Re: Guinea Bissau

Tue Nov 16, 2010 10:57 am

wow stan what a trip and an excellent wont be able to fish back here after those monsters :mrgreen: everything will be measured to the size of the fish we were catching in guinea bissau :lol: as for the engine breaking down maybe the skipper hadent the right ratio of water to petrol :lol: :lol: :lol:

Re: Guinea Bissau

Tue Nov 16, 2010 12:38 pm

Was talking to Henry yesterday who said he's not too pushed about lure fishing for Bass anymore :lol:
and he broke two rods, good thing he owns a tackle shop.

Re: Guinea Bissau

Tue Nov 16, 2010 3:26 pm

That's some fishing what a beautiful place, nice one Stan, oh by the way thanks for the mags they were a great read.

Re: Guinea Bissau

Tue Nov 16, 2010 4:01 pm

Thanks for the comments lads.

Easy on the water Twinkle!!!!!!!!

Re: Guinea Bissau

Tue Nov 16, 2010 4:42 pm

Great report Stan!

The journey to the camp was eventful to say the least but I will comment on this at the end of the article.

How long is the transfer from Banjul?

Re: Guinea Bissau

Tue Nov 16, 2010 8:22 pm

Hi Jim,

From now on Richard is flying via Lisbon to Bissau. That will make life much easier as the overland trip is a nightmare. I will post details in the near future

Re: Guinea Bissau

Tue Nov 16, 2010 9:12 pm

Well done Stan plenty of very good fish caught good report

Re: Guinea Bissau

Tue Nov 16, 2010 9:13 pm

Unbelievable fishing there Stan, great report, that kind of sport some of us can only dream of, well done.

Re: Guinea Bissau

Wed Nov 17, 2010 6:17 pm

The Journey To Acunda

The plan was to fly on 21st Dublin –Gatwick and get and onwards flight to Banjul the following morning. Unfortunately, the company flying to Banjul cancelled and we took the afternoon flight instead with Moanrch Airlines. This posed a bit of a hiccup as Richard intended to get us half way down through Senegal on our arrival in Africa. However, as the Senegalese boarder shuts at 18.30 we had to stay in Gambia overnight. We were placed in the Kombo Beach Hotel where I had stayed before. By the way if anyone intends to stay in Gambia I would highly recommend this place. It is hardly 4 star European but it is good by African standards and is right on the beach.

It was nice to have Jul Brew or three before retiring to bed for an early start. At 7.30 we set off to cover a journey of 240KM to Bissau from whence we could go by boat to the Island. “Sure that should be no problem” I hear you say. Wrong again!!
On The Road.jpg

The road is by and large reasonably good. Outside of the odd patch that has been washed away during the rainy season or pot holes like those that used to exist in Cavan and Monaghan the minibus and jeep were able to do a steady 80km per hour.

The problem was the roadblocks by the customs, army and police. They were everywhere in Guinea Bissau and our drivers had to pay bribes nearly every time we were stopped. The more that we were held up in the searing heat the bigger the bribe was going to be. To pass through a large village there could be 3 stops on either side and with money to be given at each one it could take an hour or more at times to get through a street of a few hundred yards. The corruption by the cops and army is unbelievable.
GB Village.jpg

By the way at one point Marty innocently took a photo of one soldier….not a good idea as he went crazy. He calmed down after his photo was deleted but gave us a staunch warning about further photos. We always got the idea that these guys could do anything they wanted.

Anyway, it was great to see Senegal and Guinea. The poverty is the latter is obvious for anyone to see. Many villages have houses/shacks with no windows or proper roofs. There is often no running water or electricity. It is amazing to see a stunning looking woman walk out of some grotty looking house immaculately dressed and in high heals.

When we stopped in some places the children and some adults were delighted to come up to the windows in the van and stare at use. I initially thought that it was my amazing good looks!!!

We walked through one of the villages and the people seemed very nice. As they only spoke Creole there could not be any communication and so they made no effort to hassle us, unlike the local bumsters in Gambia. Generally,most towns had a market street and people seemed to just enjoy the banter going on.

Anyway after 11 hours we arrived in Bissau. We Africa is not easy to travel through and we had to take pity on some of the buses that were travelling right down to the Congo. It must take forever.

The next stage was the “straight forward “ trip out to the island. We set sail down the river in 2 boats. I was the only Paddy stuck on one boat while my fellow colleagues travelled together. Was this a hint? Was I abandoned? No I had to accompany all of the suitcases and protect them from getting wet. To be fair Richard had warned us to wear wet gear. The initial part of the trip is down the river, which takes about 20 minutes.

On getting to the sea there are two choices either going straight out to sea or, if the weather is rough, heading between the islands. The former is a journey of 90KM or 2.5 hours and the latter 120KM or 3.5 hours. We had to take the latter. All was going well for about 1.5 hours. In the distance we could see a magnificent tropical storm over the mainland. The lightning was spectacular and the bangs on thunder unbelievable. Richard explained that these storms almost never moved out to sea. So we ploughed on while the breeze steadily increased. Ever get that cold feeling when something is going wrong. My teeth started to chatter. Sure I was tired and maybe that was why I was cold. When a tropical storm starts the cold air hits you as the outer edge arrives and again when it goes. The wind turned to wild squalls. Surprisingly, the waves were not big but only choppy. Our skipper who was one of the locals took the sudden decision to drop anchor until the storms passed. Being honest, if it were my boat I would have kept going. Anyway he was the expert….that was until he dropped down to a foetal position between the seat and helm. Looked like he was afraid of the “god of thunder”. This was more comical than anything else. The wind warmed, the lightening flashed, we got wet but the crack was mighty. The slagging between myself and the 2 Islanders got better and better. They did not realise how “sensitive” I was and kept saying that I was an Irish nutcase……. I think that I called them worse. It is on a trip like this that friendships are formed and I have to say that Cliff and Stew had an “Irish” sense of humour. Lads, if you are reading this report, I hope that you are offended by this comment……….NOT!!!

After, 20 minutes the storm passed and we headed for the island at a slow pace. It took 6 hours.

We arrived wrecked but in good form. Even though it was late we had a bit to eat and a few beers while Richard told yarns of the brilliant fish that could be caught. How often have you heard this only to wonder what drugs the guy was on?!!

At the end of a week I can tell you that the trip was worth it.

By the way there are now flights from Lisbon to Bissau and this will make the trip much easier.

The bottom line at the end of any fishing trip is whether one would go back. Well, at least some of our group are ,in Feb/Mar 2012. I think that this says it all.
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