- Fish one of the last remaining strongholds of trophy Nile Perch in West Africa
- Get a glimpse of a life on the remote outer edge of a western Africa country
- Stay in an intimate, comfortable, riverside, safari-tent camp
- Fish for tigerfish, yellow fish and barbs
- Night fish for Africa’s largest and most challenging freshwater species
Despite the overwhelming size and diversity of the African continent, the number of places where healthy populations of trophy Nile perch are still found, can be counted on one hand. Of those places, Gassa Camp in Cameroon is truly unique, especially when viewed through the lens of the intrepid fly angler. This is a trip suited to a select few anglers willing embrace challenging travel, basic backcountry accommodations, difficult wading and a fish, that even when you do everything right, has an excellent chance at breaking your line, and in turn, your heart. Due to their tremendous size and strength, countless underwater caverns and crevasses, the abundance of razor sharp, line-severing freshwater muscles, and the fact that you will fishing at night, this trip represents the ultimate freshwater flyfishing challenge. Yet, despite these challenges, these monsters are hooked nightly, and landing one of these beasts is an experience and an accomplishment never to be forgotten. With exceptional South African guides, a comfortable riverside camp, and additional species to target during daylight hours, this is an adventure not to me missed.
The Faro River fishing program is 100% walk and wade fishing. Guests will move between six beats by vehicle and then walk their section of river. Wading on the Faro is challenging with lots of rugged and scalloped bedrock surfaces that can be slippery.
Typically, guests will do an early morning session for the non-Nile perch species, taking advantage of the cooler air temps. This portion of the day will entail the most walking. Then there will be a break for lunch and a siesta during the heat of the day. In the late afternoon guests will head to their evening beat, locate the most productive pool and fishing stations. Once there, guests will get set up and wait for darkness to target the perch. Expect to fish at least two hours into darkness and longer if the bite is on. Your guides will be seasoned South African professionals and once a fish is hooked they will often become involved in the fight helping clear the line from rocks with a long forked stick.
Most anglers travel to Cameroon with a goal of catching a Nile perch. The hope is for everyone on the trip to land one during their week. Many of these are significant fish, and some anglers will land multiple quality fish during their stay. The expectation would be for everyone to get between 1 and 3 grabs per evening session. From that point forward, hard work and luck come into play. These fish, especially the big ones, are very difficult to land due to size, strength and their propensity to dive into rocky structure that is rich with line-severing freshwater muscles.
During the daylight hours the guests will fish for three additional species, all of which are fun and challenging.
Tigerfish: Tigerfish will typically be better in the earlier weeks and numbers can vary greatly from day to day and week to week. It is reasonable to expect a half-dozen grabs a day. These fish have extremely hard mouths so again landing them can be a challenge.
Yellowfish, Labeo, and Tetra: This fishing tends to be better as the season progresses. These are spooky fish require excellent presentations and will put a deep bend in your 5-weight. Landing 2-4 a day is considered a solid session.
The Gassa Camp is a remote, simple safari-style camp overlooking the Faro River. All meals are served outdoors under a canopy and guests stay in double-occupancy canvas tents, with a basic light, a fan and all the needed bedding provided. The camp has a shower system with hot water as well as indoor/outdoor flush toilets. Meals are basic and hearty and sometimes feature local wild game.
Day 1: Arrive Douala, Cameroon and overnight
Day 2: Depart Douala, arrive Garoua (included charter flight) and overnight
Day 3: Ground transfer approximately 4 – 5 hours to camp, evening fishing
Days 4 - 9: Full days guided fishing
Day 10: Depart camp, depart Garoua (included charter flight), arrive Douala and overnight
Day 11: Depart Douala for flights home
Rates & Details
2024 Rates: Per person based on double occupancy
7 night/6 day package: $10,300
Included: Domestic flights (Douala/Garoua), transfers to/from Garoua airport and camp, accommodations/meals at Gassa camp, tea, coffee, water, soda, 4 beers per person per day, guided fishing, fishing permits and park fees.
Not Included: International airfare to/from Douala, visa, meals in transit, wine & alcohol (can bring your own), beers above the allocated 4 per person per day, accommodations/transportation in Douala (if required to stay an extra night), gratuities, & fishing tackle.
Species: Nile perch, tigerfish, yellow fish
Season: January - April
Capacity: 4 anglers
Fly Water Q&A
Who is best suited to this destination?
This trip is best suited to well-traveled anglers that have a keen sense of adventure and decent walking wading abilities. To enjoy travel in eastern Africa you need to have a go with the flow attitude and be able to keep your cool when things don’t go just as planned. Guests must also be comfortable throwing heavy rigs, fishing at night and interfacing with wildlife.
Where is the camp?
The camp is on the Faro River which is approximately six hours by car from the nearest airport in Garoua, Cameron.
How do I get there?
Getting to Gassa Camp is a journey. From the US you will need to make flight arrangements to and from Douala, Cameroon (DLA). Almost all guests will overnight in Douala. The following day you will take an internal flight from Duala to Garoua (arranged by the outfitter). Depending on when the flight to Garoua arrives you will either overnight in Garoua or continue to the camp. The final leg to the camp is via the camp 4wd vehicles. This is a six our drive that starts on rough tarmac and finishes on dirt roads.
It should be noted that flights between Douala and Garoua are notorious for changing times. For this reason, it is mandatory to put a good buffer between your domestic and international flight.
When should I go?
The season starts in January and ends in March. The best week of the season for perch can happen at any time. The tigerfishing tends to be better in the early weeks and the yellowfish, labeo, and tetra tend to get better as the season progresses. The area is hot and dry in general and gets hotter and drier as the season progresses.
How will I fish?
Each day is split into two sessions. The morning session is spent targeting tigerfish and the afternoon evening fishing focuses on Nile perch.
Nile Perch: After years of experimentation African Waters learned that the best perch fishing happens in the dark. Each afternoon you depart the camp for the pools that have the highest known concentration of perch. Once there, the group assesses the pool and stakes out casting station(s). Then you take a handful of practice casts to judge the amount of line you need off their line to make your cast. At this point you set your rod and reel down and relax until it gets dark. Once it is dark you start making casts. Typically, you make a fan. One cast slightly upstream, the next straight across, and then slightly downstream. Then repeat. You let each cast sink/swing, longer or shorter depending on the depth and current, before slowly stripping it back.
Tigerfish: Tiger fish live in places where they can ambush prey, in front of and behind rocks, along ledges etc. There is some sight fishing for them but mostly it is blind fishing likely areas with a streamer.
Yellowfish, Labeo, and Tetra: Almost all the fishing for yellowfish, labeo, and tetra is sight fishing with dries, nymphs, or often a dry dropper set up. These are extremely wary species and a real challenge to catch.
Is there wade fishing?
Yes, it is 100% wade fishing.
Where will I fish?
All the fishing is done on the Faro River. There are six named beats that are rotated throughout the week.
How long does it take to reach the fishing grounds?
The closest beat is just minutes from the camp and the furthest is an hour plus away. You get to and from the beats on the camp’s Land Rover. There is a safari bench on the back of the rover and guests and the guides pile in for an open-air ride.
What type(s) of fish will I catch?
Nile perch, tigerfish, yellowfish, labeo, and tetra.
How many fish will I catch?
Most anglers travel to Cameroon with a goal of catching a Nile perch. The hope is for everyone on the trip to land one during their week. Many of these are significant fish. The expectation would be for everyone to get between 1 and 3 grabs per evening session. From there, hard work and luck come into play. These fish, especially the big ones, are very difficult to land.
Tigerfish. Tigerfish will typically be better in the earlier weeks and numbers can vary greatly from day to day and week to week. It is reasonable to expect a half-dozen grabs a day. These fish have extremely hard mouths so again landing them can be a challenge.
Yellowfish, Labeo, and Tetra: This fishing tends to be better as the season progresses. Landing 2-4 would be considered a solid session.
Will I see other anglers?
No. African Waters has the exclusive concession for fishing this section of the Faro River. This said there is a chance of seeing poachers while you are out fishing.
What are the guides like?
It is hard to say enough about the African Waters guide team. As a whole they are polite, hardworking, competent and enthusiastic. Most guests agree that they enrich the whole experience. They are English speaking, expert anglers, and experienced in the bush.
What are the physical demands?
You don’t need to be in particularly good shape to do this trip, but good conditioning and mental toughness helps. The travel is long, arduous and can be unpredictable, the days can get quite hot, there is no A/C and you need to walk 2 to 4 miles a day. In addition, the rocks at some of the best perch beats are extremely slippery.
Are there any special skills required?
You need to be able to cast a 12wt in 50ft-60ft in the dark.
Does the lodge provide equipment?
The camp has loaner rods and reels and sells fly lines, flies, and leaders. They offer a fly pack for the trip and because most the patterns are not available commercially, we highly recommend guests purchase them.
What is your favorite setup for the trip?
Perch: 11wt or 12wt with a floating line and intermediate tip.
Tigerfish: 7wt with a floating line
Yellowfish, Labeo, and Tetra: 5wt with a floating line
What is a typical day like?
Typically, guests will do an early morning session for the non-Nile perch species, taking advantage of the cooler air temps. Then there will be a break for lunch and a siesta during the heat of the day. In the late afternoon guests will head to their evening beat, get set up and wait for darkness to target the perch. Expect to fish at least two hours into darkness and longer if the bite is on.
What is the general vibe, atmosphere and style of the lodge?
With just four guests, three guides and a few camp staff the setting is quite intimate. You become a small family in short order.
Is there an on-site owner, manager or other point-person at the lodge?
There is aways a head guide in charge of the camp, but all the guides work as a team so any of them can help you get anything you need.
Where do we eat, and what are the meals like?
All dining is outdoors under a fly. The meals are simple and hearty. Wild game is often integrated into the menu.
What is the alcohol policy?
The camp provides beer and wine and guests are welcome to bring their own hard alcohol.
Where do we stay, and what are the accommodations like?
Guests share double-occupancy wall tents. They are equipped with cots and bedding, an electric light and a ceiling fan. There is shower shed with lots of wood-fired hot water and there are semi-outdoor flush toilets.
Is there internet and/or cell service?
There is not cell service but believe it or not they have satellite internet at the camp.
Are there other activities?
Are there any other expenses?
The major additional expenses are hotels in transit and guide gratuities.
Do I need a visa?
Are there any health concerns, dangers or annoyances?
In a word. Yes. There is nothing specifically dangerous but this is travel to a remote western Africa country, so you need to be aware and understand things will go wrong.
We recommend that guests always consult with the U.S. Department of State and the Center For Disease Control websites for general travel information and guidelines.