How to catch a Cuda By Ged Brown at Gone Fishing Gambia.
Hi all, welcome to some of my Gambia fishing tales. My Captain Mr T and I are going to describe one or two of our adventures aboard our Trophy 1703. And hopefully have a few laughs along the way, so here we go.
The Guinean Barracuda or ( Sphyraena Afra ) is a ferocious hunter, known to attack prey more than twice it’s own size. Don’t confuse this killer with the Great Barracuda it’s smaller American and Caribbean cousin. The Guinean barracuda has a striped body in comparison to the Great Barracuda which has several black spots on its sides when it’s reached maturity.
The IGFA world record for this fish was caught by Thomas Gibson weighing 46.40 kg (102lb 4oz)
The IGFA Gambia fishing record for this fish was caught by Stan Nabozny weighing 22.91 kg ( 50lb 8oz)
Although it’s well known locally that bigger has been landed.
So how do we catch a Barracuda?
There are a number of factors that combine to make the perfect conditions for success, tide and clear water are the main ones.
Barracuda are primarily sight predators, they are commonly found in large river mouths such as the River Gambia. As the fresh clear water from the ocean pushes in as the tide rises it forces the dirty water that discharged from the river earlier back into the river, thus creating a window of just a few hours twice per day for the barracuda to feed. This is when you need to be there.
Barracuda can be caught on live bait the local way, dead bait does not excite them.
The best way to catch them although expensive is to trawl. Dragging lures through the water at different depths hoping to attract their attention.
The lures used are large and expensive, most are imported from America.
They look huge but to use anything smaller would probably fail as it may appear too small to warrant a chase and if you did get a bite the chances are the barracuda would bend the hooks out straight. I’ve seen hooks as big as the palm of my hand pulled straight by the power of these killing machines.
Ok, so you have hooked into one.
The first charge has stopped, your reel doesn’t know what has hit it, this is Gambia fishing at its best. The Barracuda has probably taken 80 to 120 metres of line.
At this point, it’s 50/50 whether you will get this beast into the boat. Even for a professional, the odds don’t go up much.
Keep your rod high and your line tight. When at a distance you will see your prize fish leave the water and shake its head aggressively. This is the first time you see your fight, it’s also when the fish starts to bend those huge hooks in its attempt to evade capture. It is imperative that the line stays tight at all times( barracuda have very little flesh on their heads) your hook will be clinging to a bone.
This is where the fishing gets interesting.
The closer the fish gets to the boat the odds of escape increase. Most Barracuda lost are lost within three metres of the boat.
As it gets closer the pumps on your rod need to get shorter and move to a more sideways action, keeping the rod low to the water.
If you have done well and had a bit of luck on your side you should steer your prize catch alongside the boat for your captain to get it onboard for you.
Gambia fishing tale of the pro.
A guest phoned saying he was a professional fisherman from Germany and wanted a trip for Barracuda and nothing else. ( I’ll refer to the guest as a pro). On getting this request I spoke to captain T. ( I’ll refer to the captain as T and myself as G). T was nervous saying it’s very important everything is correct with the tackle for this trip. Which meant, it won’t look good on us if we don’t catch etc.
On the morning of the trip, G picked Pro up from his hotel noting that pro was nearly seven feet tall and struggled to fit in the 4×4.
On arrival at Denton Bridge, T had the boat and tackle ready for the trip. The tide was perfect and the water was calm. So we set off. Pro was so big he filled both fishing seats and could touch both sides of the boat at the same time with ease.
When approaching the Barracuda zone G and T set about preparing lines and getting them in the water. T was nervous yet G was excited waiting to see Pro deal with a powerful fish. Pro just sat back and looked very relaxed. G told Pro when there’s a bite to stay seated and the rod will be passed to him by G or T whichever side the boat the bite came from. Pro acknowledged and waited calmly.
BANG, the bite came!
The reel screamed, T hit the throttle hard to make sure the hook went in. G went for the rod but so did Pro! 4 hands-on one rod it wouldn’t come out of the holder. T told Pro to let go or the fish will be lost, which he did so G could remove and pass it to him! Pro took the rod whilst T and G set about removing the other lines so Pro didn’t tangle in them.
What G and T didn’t see was Pro let the bail arm off allowing the barracuda free line and jump. As it jumped Pro swung the rod into the back of T’s head hitting him several times. After several strong words and the bail arm back in its rightful position, we found the fish still on the line. And amazingly Pro (who wasn’t) managed to get the barracuda to the boat.
This shows you don’t have to be a pro to catch a Cuda. 🤣😂🎣