Gabon, I just can’t help myself from returning to this place time and time again to chase tarpon off the beaches. Sure, the snapper, threadies and jacks are nice to catch too, but if I’m honest it’s all about the tarpon.
I’ve pretty much got the packing down to a fine art now. I know exactly which gear works (and which doesn’t) and everything that makes it into my giant Simms holdall bag is there for a reason.
From top to bottom, left to right:
– Fly lines – sinking, intermediate and floating in 12 and 10-weights from multiple brands.
– Leader and tippet material – Maxima and assorted brands.
– Fly boxes packed with shitloads of tarpon toads in black and purple, plus DMAs, Spongebobs and other patterns for Threadfin and Snapper.
– My lucky Simms cap modified with Gabon badges and tropical sweat over the years.
– Head lamp for camp cooking and those early morning/late night sessions.
– Pliers, because well you need them for everything.
– Shilton, Hardy Fortuna and Tibor reels.
– FutureLife instant mush, because while bacon and eggs are nice, when the fishing is on and you’re living on a sand spit – you don’t have time to cook and all you need is basic sustenance. Just add water. Breakfast of champions.
– Black bags for sorting trash, dirty clothes etc
– Oakley and Maui Jim shades.
– Beaulah, Echo and Hardy rods.
– Nikon A1 waterproof camera.
– Aeropress coffee maker plus coffee because without coffee we are lost.
– Patagonia’s Minimalist Wading Jacket.
– First Ascent tent. Other than a bit of shut-eye, I will hardly spend any time in this because it gets so hot on the beach.
– Bits of wood and the J-Vice hook pull for getting perfect knots without ripping a giant tarpon hook into your hand.
– Soy sauce for beach sashimi
– Fly tying materials, just in case I run out of a specific pattern.
– Patagonia Stormfront Waterproof Pack.
Pretty much everything is self-explanatory, but I feel like the J-Vice hook pull could do with a bit more info. It was designed by my long-time fishing buddy and Gabon veteran John Travis who asked Jay Smit of J-Vice fame to make some up for him. When you’re tying on flies for serious saltwater fish, you want to get the knot 100% right, but you also want to avoid slipping and getting the hook embedded in your hand (a good way to ruin a trip). Using the hook pull and a small piece of wood around which I wrap the leader a few times (see below), I can pull it vas every time.