Imagine a fish so big that some call it the elephant of the river. Imagine it inhabited the waters of 1/4 of the African continent in vast numbers. Now imagine, that largely unseen to the developed world, a wave of humanity has reduced all the rivers and surrounding landscapes to skeletal remains. El Capitaine takes viewers to the remote rivers of Cameroon as these anglers target Nile Perch. We caught up with Johann Vorster (Vossie), the filmmaker behind this film.
Flylords: What inspired the film?
Vossie: The idea of exploring a new place in wild Africa with friends. I have collaborated with the guys from African Waters before, on a short called “Dogs of War” in the Okavango Delta in Botswana. When talks were going round of an exploratory trip to Cameroon in West Africa, I got really excited. I’ve spent allot time in Southern and Eastern Africa, so the west was all new to me. From the pictures that we’ve seen and the stories we had heard, it all sounded really exciting.
Flylords: Can you tell us a little bit about Cameroon? Did you feel safe at all times?
Vossie: Like most African countries, Cameroon is not very different. Though far from the developed world. It’s still rural, it’s still very much wild. Perfect for an adventure. The deeper you go the wilder it gets. Endless dust, the odd shade tree, and small grass and mud hut villages. When you reach the concessions, that all changes to the thick dry bush in the wintertime and you start seeing animals. Some animals I saw for the first time, like the Western Kob antelope and Red River Hog. We don’t get these in our parts of the world in South Africa. The guides from African Waters are extremely knowledgable about the bush and bushcraft and opens your nerves to new discovery. We were also fortunate to have Edward Truter as part of the team who spoke Francophone French and could translate with the locals. You are always in a big group, and whilst walking through the bush, or next to the river, it was always exciting to see new birds, the animals, crocodiles, hippos, elephants. Your very own safari, whilst fishing for giant perch. It was raw and wonderful.
Flylords: How big was the last fish Edward landed?
Vossie: What a night. It was 162cm FL, 113cm girth, 162lbs. Read more about Ed’s amazing fish on the African Waters Blog here.
Flylords: Are these kinds of trips commercially available for anglers to book?
Vossie: Yes, the African Waters team, who are responsible for the initial exploratory trips have been running commercial fly fishing trips to the Faro River since 2019. Commercial is a misnomer, as the season is short (mid-January to mid-April each year), and is limited to 2 trips per month, with a max of 4 rods per trip. This is in line with their strict fishery management protocols and ensuring as little impact on the fishery as possible. It is a fly fishing only operation, led by their team of expert guides, local trackers and game scouts. It is a true wilderness fly fishing experience, on foot in big game territory. Although Nile perch are a huge drawcard, the sight fishing to 3 species of tigerfish up to 20lbs, and yellowfish up to 15lbs is a world-class experience in its own right. You set off each day armed with a 5, 9, and 12 weight. In terms of a true multi-species African land-based destination, the Faro offers it all. Anyone interested in finding out more should contact email@example.com or take a look at Gassa Camp.
Flylords: What can viewers do to support this fishery from a conservation standpoint?
Vossie: As it stands, the best option is to go fly fishing. African Waters’ fly fishing operations support a full-time team of anti-poaching staff who’s responsibility is to monitor, report, and curb any illegal activity on the river, both in the private concession and the neighboring Faro National Park – this is predominantly subsistence gold mining, meat poaching, and fish poaching. The fly fishing camps provide added employment to local villages in all day to day camp rolls – cooks, cleaners, game scouts, etc. For some insight on how fly fishing is contributing to the conservation of the area, read this report from AW senior guide, Greg Ghaui. The combined teams of African Waters, Occidental Safaris and Xavier Vannier are in the process of setting up an NGO to raise funds for and facilitate conservation and community projects in this specific area, and the greater Faro catchment. This will soon be an avenue to further contribute to the protection of this incredible place.