April 20, 2010
Morning came early today after a late night of celebrating the fact that we made it to Aswan, Egypt. This was one of the rare times that the hotel wakeup call startled me from a deep sleep. It actually took me a few seconds to realize I wasn’t at home anymore. I whipped open the curtains and saw the morning sunshine illuminating the desert palm trees around the swimming pool of the Basma Hotel. Mikey and Warpath groaned when I said let’s get some coffee and breakfast. Then I tossed in the fact that we would be casting for Nile Perch in a few hours and their feet hit the ground fast.
After a great breakfast and tasty coffee we found ourselves in a mini van with the South Africans headed for the village of Garf Hussein on the banks of Lake Nasser. Garf is about an 11/2 hour drive straight south towards the Sudan border. Sure enough as we pulled into the old port our boats and guides awaited.
The African Angler Guide Service set up works like this. First of all, we are on what they refer to as a Safari. We travel around the massive lake never fishing or sleeping in the same location twice. A worn houseboat carries supplies of food and drink and serves as the dinning room for us and has a community bathroom and shower. At night, rather then us sleeping on the houseboat, the guides and employees sleep there under the stars. We sleep and live off our actual fishing boat. Each fishing boat has two small beds in the bow. Being there is three of us; Mikey is sleeping on the roof. There’s little worry of rain as it rains in southern Egypt only once every two years!
I’ve fished here twice and was one of the first anglers to come here specifically to fly fish. Previous to my first visit, nearly all fishing was done by trolling huge lures on heavy pop gear. On that first trip, my guide had great difficulty understanding the concept of fly fishing. It’s harder to catch the Nile Perch with a fly than it is to troll, and when you do catch fish they are typically smaller. Nile Perch have been taken from Lake Nasser up to 240lb! With the fly, our average fish runs about 4lb and my largest to date, although nothing to gawk at is around 40lb. I’m not even sure it was 40lb, but it did bottom out my 30lb Boga. I can see how the guides really don’t understand fly fishing. Fly fishing is much more difficult, requires tons of energy and we catch tiny fish relatively speaking.
I escorted the first ever fly only anglers group in 2007. That was my second trip to Lake Nasser. During that trip the guides had no choice but to kick back and watch and learn. Of course we were learning also which is what makes this so damn fun; we are pioneering fly fishing for Nile Perch in Egypt. In this day and era, pioneering anything to do with fishing is a rarity. In any case, we proved to the guides that anglers can have fun working their butts off and catching smaller than average fish using this method. And to be honest, I think it was refreshing to the guides because it is different and involves walking rather than trolling which can get old day after day throughout an entire season.
During that second trip my guides name was Suka. Suka was a great observer and by the time the second trip came to an end, Suka had learned a lot about what it takes to catch Niles on a fly rod and how I approach fly fishing for Nile Perch. Therefore, when I saw Suka this morning, I made a beeline to him and declared him as the guide for Mikey, Warpath and I.
Our group consists of nine anglers, the three of us and six South Africans of Jonathan’s group. Once everyone settled on their boats, we all set off on the lake. It was a warm 100 degrees (standard of southern Egypt) with blue skies as far as the eye could see. We traveled for two hours and met up with the house boat for a quick lunch. Then we fished throughout the afternoon. Fishing was slow to say the least. Not one of us landed a single fish. However, the fish were there because we saw them. Huge schools of tilapia hovered around shoreline weed beds. Logically, when tilapia, the main food of the Nile Perch are tight to the weeds, large Niles are near. That proved true as I heard Mikey excitedly call my name to come cast to a 20lb plus cruiser he could see below him as he stood on a cliff filming the amazing Nasser scenery.
On my last trip, if you saw a cruising perch and showed them the fly before spooking them they often ate it without hesitation. Today the giant perch showed little interest. Other than a few nonchalant followers, the perch either weren’t hungry or have been harassed by anglers prior to our visit. Regardless, sighting fish is encouraging and I suspect we are going to have a fine week of fishing.
Now, as I make this entry, I am barely in need of my headlamp. The moon is near full and the stars are so bright in the clear sky that I could read a book. I’m camped in Egypt again. That’s about it for today. Hopefully tomorrow will bring us good luck.