Bob Glynn runs the North Wales fly fishing school, and when not indulging in his love of fly fishing, he is running guided fishing trips all over the World in search of many exotic species. You name a place or species and he has most likely fished there! One species we particularly wanted to ask Bob about was the goliath tiger fish found in the DCR Congo. A fearsome predator known locally as mbenga and he was only too happy to oblige as he has been running trips out there 2005. So over to Bob now…
What were your first memories of fishing?
I started at 10 on a small burn in Scotland called the Fenwick Burn, a tributary of the river Irvine where I spent my formative years catching my first sea trout and salmon using a 13ft green heart rod and silk line which served me well I was left a fibre glass rod by an uncle which got me modernised, when I joined the Army I did stop fishing for 5 years while in Germany.
How did you first go fishing in The DCR Congo?
2005 first visit to Brazzaville RC Congo I identified that this fish was the last of the big unexploited game fish and they are a hard head shaking fight, I did have some doubts as we are in a dangerous part of the world but all went smoothly sadly the brazzaville lodge has closed since 2012 due to the recession which collapsed the South African market (the main market place for the lodge). So we concentrate on DCR congo now which is a camped situation as we need to be flexible moving around different areas of the river to catch fish time of year is important as the weed beds floating down stream interfere with fishing, so August – October not during the new moon are best chances. The trip was successful with 11 fish taken from 30 hits.
What is the country like and the fishing spots?
People are friendly and helpful and a white face is a talking point still its important to have yellow fever inoculation and usual malaria protection, although up country we are not pestered by mosquitoes. The fishing areas are a mix of bouldered ambush areas and junctions of smaller rivers entering the main river from bank or boat which ever we feel is the better way.
Can you tell us a bit about the goliath tiger fish that are found there and how do you fishing for them?
These fish are aggressive and strong so expect a great fight smaller fish will jump and barrel role, bigger fish tend to hug down they tend to circle prey and attack from bottom up our baits are often bitten in two with bigger baits having the belly torn away then that gives a false bite situation patience is required do nothing until the bait is taken and the fish moves of count down 5-10 secs and double treble strike the mouths are platy and hard as rock my favourite way is a suspended live bait 2lb in weight using a balloon as a support and site marker with a strike detacher as soon as the fish moves of the balloon drops of rods are 3-4lb test curve carp rods 10ft minimum stiff action for strike purposes, good multiplier or fixed spool reel with 40-50lb monofilament (not braid) a 4-5ft multi-strand wire trace and I have a treble set up much like pike dead bait rig but 3 hooks – treble front, middle and rear and this covers first strike and second strike situation but either way as soon as bait is picked up we count and strike. We have had success with a mix of large plugs and rubber shad lures best fish being 37kg on lure and on fly we use Tarpon style flies 6-8 inches in length and use a 10-11 eight fly rod takes of lures and flies are varied depth takes – popping lures in shallow areas do work and the fish hit them aggressively these work of static weed bed areas where fish patrol.
What is the camping experience like there?
Comfortable twin bedded tents with proper beds showering is a holed bucket, but if your not scared get in for a swim! The food is fresh fish and tinned meats situation, a generator gives lighting in camp alcohol is available and a variety of spirits you wont be disappointed its a remarkably comfortable experience.
What other species are available there?
Many species of Catfish to 400lb, or bigger! approximately 638 species have been labelled from the Congo but catfish are the main target for fishermen.
What has been the best goliath tiger fish you guys have had out there?
I have had clients with 44kg and 56kg fish we have seen 80kg caught in nets and a report of a fish of 90-100 kilo which was 10 ft in length goes around as a rumour but I’m sure its possible average sizes are 20-30kg.
In a lifetime of fishing what have been your proudest catches?
A salmon of the Gaula river 22-24kilo lost at the tailing stage, a 48lb, Golden mahseer India, 178lb tarpon on fly Belize, a 12lb sea trout from the river Clwyd, and I had a US client Stan Nabozanny who concentrates on IGFA world records we broke 14 Barble line records in 2 days on the Wye, and on another trip we hooked and landed on fly from the Derbyshire wye on a bread fly a 17lb rainbow trout 67cm nose to fork it was a world line recored for 3-4 weeks from the middle of the town Bakewell the police arrived as a local fisherman said we were bait fishing I showed them the fly and that was the end of that nonsense. My favourite is fishing on the river Alwen which I look after and we now have a mayfly hatch due to bank work and fly platforms in the main pools, which have increased fly life and size of fish has increased, its a top up stream dry fly river and I spend not enough time on the river myself, clients benefit, its claim to fame was that the Grey duster fly was invented on the river in 1922. And its still a killing fly here. I’ve fished everywhere and caught numerous pacific salmon Greenland arctic char etc
What are your fishing ambitions for the future?
To coach and guide giving my knowledge to others whenever, I get as much pleasure from watching and teaching as I do fishing personally, I encourage youngsters where possible as they are the future and I see a real problem coming up within the next generation is fishing going to be sustainable especially on the fly side as young people are not coming through in any numbers most of the people I’m coaching are mid age or retired.
Thanks Robert for giving your time
No problem Lads