Guinea-Bissau, West Africa

Guinea Bissau Fishing: The variety of available fishing is in large part the appeal of the Guinea-Bissau experience. What makes the Bijagos so unique is three-fold. First is its sheer size. As Africa’s largest archipelago, the region encompasses 30,000 sq. km. of largely protected saltwater wilderness. Of the 78 major islands, only 20 are inhabited with a total population of less than 5,000 residents. Second, the region is one the largest estuarine environments in Africa, fed by four massive hypertrophic river systems. The result is a biological marvel where in places clear waters team with brown clouds of plankton attracting incomprehensible quantities of baitfish, and an all-star cast of predators that prey upon them. And lastly the region has a remarkable diversity of water and habitat types that include murky rich tarpon waters, sand spits surrounded by crystal clear waters, mangrove channels and immense inner bays, mud flats covered with mollusks, and beautiful white sand beaches studded with rugged dark lava outcroppings. When seen in its entirety the role the region plays as one of Africa’s most significant spawning grounds for baitfish and sport fish alike is easily understood.

A partial list of worthy game fish to be found is equally as impressive: five species of barracuda, six species of snapper, twenty species of shark (five of which commonly exceed 400 pounds), amber jack, Senegalese jack, incredible numbers of jack crevalle, cobia, drum, bonefish, permit, pompano, grouper, guitar fish, ladyfish, leer fish, sierra, sea bass, blue runners, tarpon and triple tails are all caught most every season. There are sandy beaches, rugged lava points, mangrove inlets, river-like channels, and barren sand spit islands. While there are numerous places that qualify as “flats”, it is hard to categorize the region as a quality flats fishery as the tides average 6-12 feet.

As a result much of the fishing is done from boats (which are bit shabby by western standards). During low wind conditions there are numerous sight-fishing opportunities for Jacks, barracuda, large needlefish, snappers, African sierra and corvina. In less favorable conditions the same species are targeted by blind fishing points, edges, shorelines, and submerged structure.

Some of the most exciting fishing centers around the region’s remarkable Jack Crevalle fisheries. These fish can often be seen crashing bait in what the locals refer to as “hunts”. Jacks can also be targeted from the beach. Sometimes you will see large black pods of fish cruising in the waves, or single fish chasing bait.

While the region has the world’s largest tarpon, the fishery is not ideally suited to the fly. In the most productive regions the water is dark with plankton making sight fishing difficult at best. On the optimistic side, the vast majority of tarpon are hooked with baits that are suspended only 3-4 feet beneath the surface. Typically there is significant current, so flies could be left to hang in zone and stand a fair chance of being taken. Needless to say the tarpon fishery is a high stakes game where the fish average over 200 pounds. Even on conventional tackle anglers average only 1.15 bites per day.

Guinea-Bissau Accommodation:

Club Acaja has simple thatched bungalows that sleep two anglers. They all have private baths and simple showers. Rooms have generator-produced lighting that turns off around midnight.

Guinea-Bissau Travel:

Travel to Guinea-Bissau typically entails departing JFK on Wednesday evening and arriving Dakar Senegal on Thursday morning. In Senegal we will recommend that you opt to be met by or greeting service and taken directly to the Lagon 2 for your day room. That afternoon you will transfer back to the airport at roughly 3PM for you flight to Bissau. We encourage all participants to book these tickets with Debi at African Travel Inc. (800) 421-8907 ext. 103 or (818)-507-7893 and mention that you are traveling with Fly Water Travel.

After being met in the Bissau airport, almost all groups will be able to transfer out to the lodge directly. In the event of rough seas, this 2.5 hour trip will be postponed until the following morning.

The following Thursday guest will depart the club at roughly noon and head back to Bissau. After arriving Dakar there will be a significant layover as your flight for the states typically departs around 3AM. Arrival in JFK is at roughly 7AM on Friday morning.

A valid passport, visa and a Yellow Fever certificate are required to enter Guinea-Bissau. While visas can be obtained through companies such as G3visas.com prior to travel, we can also arrange for you get your visa once you arrive in the country. While this process requires some faith, it works well and is what all Acaja/Africa Bijagos Tarpon Club guests do. It also costs less than setting up visa’s in
advance.

When traveling to Guinea-Bissau we recommend a conservative approach to health precautions. Of utmost importance is a certificate proving that you have received a Yellow Fever vaccination. Malaria is also strongly advised as is Typhoid, Hepatitis, and Meningococcal. As for all overseas travel we recommend that all travelers are current with Tetanus/Diphtheria as well as MMR.

Guinea-Bissau Currency, Cash and Gratuities:

During your travels in Guinea-Bissau and to a lesser degree in Senegal, US dollars, traveler’s checks and credit cards are virtually useless. We recommend that all travelers exchange a minimum of $600 US into Euros trough their local bank (this typically takes 3-4 working days and is at an exchange of roughly $1 US to 0.75 Euro).

While CFA franks are the national currency for both Senegal and Guinea-Bissau, Euros change hands regularly for larger transactions. Change will likely be given in CFA franks.

Anticipated fixed cost include:

Day room in Dakar 35-75 Euros depending on selected accommodations.

Cab rides in Dakar 20 Euros.

On site Visa purchase 35 Euros.

Boat ride to Rubane from Bissau 35 Euros.

Gratuities 100-150 Euros.

Bar tab at the Club 50-150 Euros.

Possible overnight in Bissau 85 Euros.

Total: 370-550 Euros

Note: The Lagon 1 restaurant gladly accepts credit cards.

Included:

All meals, transportation and guiding once the club is reached.

Not Included:

Transportation and airfare to the club, day rooms and meals in Senegal, overnight accommodations in Bissau if needed, all drinks and alcohol, gratuities and visa fees.