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Featured Article
'Fishing Tales from The Gambia'
Daddy Chabi (Trevor Key)

Beautiful Butterfish

It is said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, well I may have a 'jaundiced eye' or 'rose tinted spectacles' but there is nothing wrong with my taste buds and I rate the humble Butterfish alongside the very expensive Monk fish any day.

Butterfish is the local English language name for the rather grand sounding Ephippion guttiferum (Bennet 1831) which is actually a member of the 'puffer' or 'globe' fish family.  These fish are found everywhere in the warm, rich Gambian waters - be it mudflats, sandbars or rocky reefs. 

Being scale-less cartilaginous and 'having a face' (according to local legend) they were not considered a real fish and have traditionally been held in low regard by artisanal fishermen.  However, with the growth of tourism and the excellent reputation of Gambian waters which has been promoted worldwide by visiting anglers.

The once humble Butterfish now ranks equally alongside the Barracuda and Ladyfish (Long-neck Croaker) on restaurant and hotel menu's.

Mature Butterfish can attain a length of 30 inches and tip the scales at a respectable 10-14lbs.  With their solid musculature and powerful tail they provide a worthy battle on light tackle.

Their diet consists solely of crustaceans and molluscs and to facilitate this they are equipped with powerful jaws and massive crushing teeth, not unlike those of the Parrot fish which grazes on coral. 

The locally preferred and most effective bait is half a peeled shrimp presented on a 1/0 hook. Many anglers (to their dismay) have found that using larger hook sizes seems to annoy the Butterfish and they promptly bite through the hook as cleanly as a pair of 'bolt-croppers'. Using the smaller, hook size and staying alert for the first gentle 'rattle and pull' enables them to be lip hooked whereby they are unable to put their formidable 'nashers' to use.

If you miss that first gentle tap then the next indication you have a fish on is when you begin to reel in to re-bait.  This often leads to frustration, as after swallowing your hook.  Butterfish often dislodge the shrimp and continue to follow it up the leader (chomping all the time!)  Once the fish feels the pull on the line his powerful tail goes into action and he starts shaking his head and invariably the 'well crimped' leader parts.

Some pundits advocate using wire leader or braid, but I have found by experience, that they can bite through wire as easily as they do hooks, and braid tends to wrap around your main line causing the fish to bite through your line, thus your terminal tackle plus fish are gone!

So my humble advice is: light tackle, responsive rod tip, small hook and 20lb Amnesia leader, stay alert, a short moderate strike and gently bring the fish alongside to your landing net.

You will then ensure you have a fish supper fit for a King - which knocks the spots of your cod and chips any day!

Bon Appetit
Daddy Chabi




  'Beautiful Butterfish'



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General Descriptions


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    THE BOAT - Skippers - Location
Our Boston Whaler boat will get you to all major fishing grounds within 30 mins.....................................
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To name a few...........

West African Pompano....Barracuda, Guinean Barracuda.. Butterfish....Cassava-Croaker....Catfish.... Cobia..... Grouper.... Giant West African Threadfin....Guitarfish.... Halibut....Nine-Bone (Ladyfish).... Long-neck Croaker.... Jacks (Trevally & Crevelle)......Snappers......Spanish- Mackerel....Large Rays....Tarpon....Tigerfish.















Read other featured articles written by Daddy Chabi

Cassava 'chaos'
'Jack' The Ripper
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