Thursday, June 22, 2006

Our fishing trip was so much fun!

Lake Victoria Fishing
(Item submitted by Donita about the volunteers' fishing trip on June 7)

We started the morning by watching the sunrise over Lake Victoria, as we waited on our captain. The sunrise was amazingly beautiful. Out in the distance, in the stream of sunlight, was a long wooden fishing boat. The Ugandan fishermen were headed out for a long days work. They had no motors, just oars and nets. They had several trout lines set up throughout the lake.

Here is some information about Lake Victoria. Lake Victoria is the second largest freshwater lake, the largest being Lake Superior. It borders three countries: Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania. It is the source of the longest branch of the Nile River, the White Nile. What was most exciting to those of us going fishing was, it is also home to the Nile Perch. These are not like Texas Perch. The Nile Perch grows as large as 300 pounds – Let the adventure begin!

Some people on our trip were a little too anxious to get started. As the Captain, Moses, was leaving the dock full throttle to get us out to where the fish were about 7:30 in the morning, Paul just couldn’t wait. He cast his line and we have the great story of The Lure That Almost Got Away. The lure that Paul and Robert were using is one that, the more you pull on it, the deeper it dives. As the boat is leaving the dock, full throttle, Paul casts his lure into the wake of the boat. You can image his panic when he can’t stop the reel from spinning and all his line being dragged out into the lake. He was trying to get it under control, but couldn’t. Then Robert, with no gloves, tries to help by bare handedly grabbing the line as it rips through his hands at top speed. Thank goodness the captain looked back and saw our dilemma and stopped the boat. By this time, all 150 feet or more of Paul’s line had been pulled out, and he was going to have to completely re-reel his line. Needless to say, Julia and I were laughing quite uncontrollably.

After that excitement, we headed for the Ssese Islands. Around these islands are where the captain said was the best fishing. We got out and started fishing! Between the time we started and about noon we managed to catch 3 Nile Perch. Technically, Paul “caught” all three. Paul reeled in the first fish, weighing in at about 16 pounds. Then, while I was taking a quick picture and Paul was holding my pole for me, my pole caught a fish. I got to reel in about a 6-pound perch. Then, the big one! Again, Paul was holding the magic pole. He gave the pole to Robert to reel in the fish. This one was about a 40-pounder and was almost as tall as Robert. It was awesome! Shortly after this was some more excitement, by way of a rainstorm.

Earlier in our fishing expedition, we looked out to our right and asked about the rain we saw in the distance. Moses, our captain, insisted it was just fog. Around noontime, the fog turned out to be a major rainstorm with thunder and lightning. Paul and Robert had originally stayed on deck and tried to fish, until they were drenched from head to toe, and Julia and I told them no more. We didn’t think it was a good idea to be holding a fishing pole in a lightning storm. We had to drop anchor and wait it out. What an experience. It was a great time to sit and think. I kept thinking of the story in the Bible where Christ was asleep in the bottom of the fishing boat and the storm came up on the disciples. All Christ had to say was “Be Still.” I think I had a slight sense of how incredible that must have been.

After the rain stopped and the fishing continued, we headed for Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary. On our way, when we were close enough to see the island, but still a good distance, the boat became lodged on rock. We were stuck! The captain must have missed the shallow water on his GPS system. I got nervous when Paul told me to put on a life jacket. I was not planning on swimming in water that could have families of crocodiles living in them. It didn’t take too long for the captain and his first mate, to get us unstuck – thank goodness. On to the Chimp Island. It was about 2:00 when we arrived. We ate lunch here, and then we got to watch the chimps get fed. They were very cool. One section is for the older chimpanzees. They would stand there with there hands out asking for more food. The next section had the younger chimps in it. Each section was fenced off where they are feed, but the rest of the island is free for there enjoyment. Here is a funny. There was only one baby chimp in the sanctuary. He was the only that has actually been born there. The chimps name is Surprise. This is because, all of the female chimps have contraceptive implants, one figured out how to take it out, and thus they had a Surprise. They seemed to be rather intelligent. After they ate, several just sprawled out in the hot sun to relax. They were incredible to watch. You can actually stay on the island, and then go into the jungle area and spend time with the chimps holding and playing with them. That may be our next adventure.

After the island we headed back to the boat about 3:30 and fished until about 6:00. No more fish were caught, but the day had been so much fun and was just totally amazing. The next night we ate the fish. Talk about good taste. The Nile Perch has to be about the best tasting fish I’ve ever had.

- Donita

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