Text & Photographs Dewald Campher & African Fishing Adventure
From the Winter 2022 issue
Namibia is well known for its diverse, vast landscapes and abundant ocean life. The latter make it a premium fishing destination.
Many anglers dream of landing their best catch on this pristine coastline, and we are fortunate to have shared many special moments with our clients in this beautiful country.
We recently embarked on a fishing adventure from Cape Town, South Africa, to Henties Bay in Namibia. I have made this trip on many occasions and driven thousands of kilometres to and from, but this one was special.
It was special, because after two years of hard lockdown, of being confined within our borders and limited interaction with people, we finally had the opportunity to visit this magnificent destination again and embark on an adventure we had waited for so longingly. Being adventurers at heart, this was something all of us had really been looking forward to for a long time.
It was a bigger group, so it took some planning and organising to get everyone across the border without hassles. Covid still being a factor, we had a few extra hoops to jump through, but the whole procedure turned out to be pretty well managed.
We left Cape Town around midnight and followed the Cape-Namibia Route, i.e. the N7, most of the way. At daybreak we were surrounded by the arid semi-desert landscape that characterises the Northern Cape. We reached the Vioolsdrif/Noordoewer border post shortly after 7:00 am. COVID and PCR tests were still a factor, but did not cause any hassles. Once in Namibia, we stopped at our traditional spot to enjoy breakfast, re-energise and refuel..
You could feel the excitement building, knowing we were in Namibia and all was on track, but we still had quite a distance to go. After breakfast we immediately hit the road again. Usually the south presents itself as a rather barren landscape but now the effect of the good rain falls, which Namibia has had this year, were evident. We were greeted with a green carpet of lush flora everywhere. It was a changed landscape and truly amazing to witness. A first for me after many years of driving this route.
We drove pretty much the entire day to our halfway stop in Mariental and enjoyed our first night under the Namibian stars together with the great hospitality that is one of Namibia’s hallmarks.If you grew up in Africa you must have a braai whenever you have the opportunity, so we sat around a fire sharing stories while enjoying world class beer and some of Namibia’s famous quality meat. Yes, we did have some side dishes too!
We were on the road again early the next morning. I always advise people driving with me to take note of how the landscape changes from the sparse vegetation in the south to the dense bush as you approach Windhoek. But this time everything was green as far as your eyes could see, and the bush simply got denser as we neared Windhoek. We were lucky to see some wildlife in the dense bush. Obviously it seemed to be in great condition.
A must-visit in Windhoek is Joe’s Beer House, a unique restaurant full of African stories and artifacts. Make sure to reserve your table.
From Windhoek we headed to the coast. As you get closer to the Namib Desert, vegetation usually becomes sparser. But once again, we were in for a pleasant surprise: plants in abundance everywhere around us. I keep mentioning this because even for a frequent visitor it is very special to see Namibia lush and green like this.
As it was a shorter trip than the previous day, we took it easy and made a few stops to appreciate the smaller towns and views – such as the famous Spitzkoppe. With pictures taken, sore jaws from chewing all the biltong we bought at Otjiwarongo and excitement rising we reached our destination for the next two weeks, Henties Bay.
Henties Bay is a sea angling hotspot, and on the bucket list of many a keen angler. A prime fishing destination that is so unique, diverse and beautiful, it will leave you wanting more. If you mention Henties Bay to an angler, I can assure you a conversation will be struck up immediately. Some will eagerly share their story of the big one they either hooked, or the one that got away. Some will share with you their desire to go there and catch their dream fish. Either way, Namibia is the place many anglers dream of and keep coming back to.
My group gathered at Henties Bay’s popular watering hole, Skubbe Pub & Grill. This is the place to go after a long day fishing, mainly because of the atmosphere and for exchanging information. You will normally pick up a few tips on where the fish are as the fellow anglers eagerly talk about their catches.
After a quick lunch we headed to our accommodation, Huis Klipdrif. Most importantly, we got our tackle ready for the next day.
After settling in we had a briefing of what to expect over the next few days. I did a few trace and bait presentations with some good banter in between. With the game plan in mind we headed out for our first team dinner in Henties Bay. As you can imagine, with everyone being super-excited, the atmosphere was incredible and a good time was had by all.
The food was something else. We all decided to go for the famous Eisbein that Namibia has in abundance. Were we in for a surprise! The Eisbein arrived, and the size was intimidating to be honest. It basically filled the plate and whatever space was left, was filled with fries. Each one of us came second best and none could finish his meal. Needless to say, with the leftovers we had lunch for days. Value for money for sure!
The next morning we got up at 5:00 am and headed north, out of Henties Bay. We wanted to try a few spots I had visited on a recent trip, and it so happened that the locals had mentioned them as being promising.
. In Namibia you are allowed to drive on the beach to reach your fishing spots, so letting down your tyres for getting through the sand is crucial. Even more importantly, do it yourself and do not rely on the attendants at filling stations. Somehow they managed to get it wrong with several vehicles, which resulted in them getting stuck the moment we hit the sand. But getting stuck is all part of the adventure and with a few alterations we were off again.
At our first spot, Horing Baai, it was not long before I hooked a stunning fish. However, as it was not the fireworks we were looking for we decided to try Doep se Gat, a spot I knew well. From the moment we arrived it was game on. With smaller fish on the bite and a few bigger ones in between, I knew it was only a matter of time until we would land the trophy fish.
And just like that, it happened. Des was on with the first trophy fish of our trip, and on his brand-new setup. I guided Des through the fight and helped to land the fish. It was a bit more challenging with the deeper gutter in front of us, but when I first laid eyes on this bigger fish, I knew I had to land it whatever it took. I timed the waves and went swimming for him – and walked out with this beautiful fish in my arms.
We worked quickly, stayed close to the surf to keep the fish wet, snapped a few pics, and released the stunner. He swam off strong, and we were as happy as can be. The fish weighed in at 12.5 kg, a personal best for Des. Since he is one of our VIP clients and goes on frequent trophy fish sessions with us, we were both very stoked of course and it was another special moment shared between us.
Our first day ended well and the guys were over the moon. We made a quick stop at the aforementioned local water hole to brag about our catches of the day. With a few cold beverages and some stories shared, many laughs and lots of banter, we headed home to cook fresh Kabeljou. In my opinion there is nothing better than a fresh fish, but a fresh fish in Namibia is still something else. It must be the atmosphere that adds to the flavour. There is something special about it and it will be a meal you will refer to on many occasions.
The next few days were pretty much a repeat of day one. We fished hard. Many good fish were landed and released. Everyone managed to catch some every day and tick a few species of their bucket lists. We mainly caught kabeljou, steenbras, shad, galjoen, blacktail and many varieties of shark species in all shapes and sizes. Many firsts and personal bests were achieved by many of us and the guys had a great time!
We were well organised and well equipped, which made things so much easier, but feeling “fished out” after many long consecutive days of fishing, we looked forward to heading home to our loved ones.
There are many stories about this trip we would love to share with some amazing people, but apart from the fishing, we simply enjoyed the entire adventure. Venturing into the wilderness, the unknown for some and out of everybody’s comfort zone. Experiencing Namibia in its full glory and taking in everything Africa has to offer is what truly made our trip.
We were able to witness some special moments like a jackal on a dune at sunrise. We watched bright pink Flamingos flying over the ocean, visited the seal colony at Cape Cross and found washed-up whales – to name but a few.
Our trip home was just as breathtaking as the earlier drive north, and we once again had the pleasure of seeing Namibia in a way that few visitors will see again. As we reached our last stop, Grünau , before crossing the border the next day, we had one last surprise. Brian kept telling me that the people we would be staying with would be feeding us properly, and me, being Afrikaans, would appreciate it.
Well, let me tell you I did not expect any of this when we stopped at Namgate Guesthouse and Butchery. We were a handful of guys, but the food that was put in front of us was for a veritable army. From whole necks of lamb for each person to pumpkin fritters… boy oh boy, was there food! I recall that I stopped counting the different dishes at number eight. Now that’s what you call catering for your guests and another great example of Namibian hospitality.
Well fed, tired and grateful, we ended our last night under the Namibian stars, knowing that the next day our adventure came to an end.
Very grateful for another successful trip and see you soon, Namibia!