Five of us, all novices, had set off up the Sinnamary accompanied by an Amazonian guide to learn about angling for wolf fish. We met up at the Petit Saut damn and placed our tin drums, rods, and supplies into the pirogue to set off for the Saut Takari Tante.

To get there we first had to cross the immense artificial lake at Petit Saut, which was flooded in 1994 so as to generate hydroelectric power. Our pirogue went up the old course of the river, now beneath the waters, weaving between the stripped tree trunks. Once across this calm stretch of imperturbable water the lake narrowed, and we arrived at our mooring spot. We were soon there with our fishing rods in our hands in front of the Saut Takari Tante, trying our hand at casting for the first time. After a few minutes for some of us, and a few hours for the others, we progressed from being total novices to being apprentice anglers, and were ready to put what we had learned into practice the following morning.

And so after a first day spent learning the basics we headed off for a tributary of the Sinnamary, a little creek of clear water with rocks and dead wood here and there. Now that we mastered the theory it was a matter of putting it into practice with our rods in hand. On our first attempts it was mainly a matter of trying to rescue our bait. We carried on upstream. Our second attempt did not yield much, but at least we weren’t hitting the wood this time. We were making progress and carried on. On our third attempt we had the first nibbles. We carried on up the creek for a fourth attempt which we hoped would be crowned with success. One of us got a better nibble and we played on our line, making our bait jump. And this time it worked, a wolf fish had taken the bait. After playing it on the reel for a bit our friend managed to tire out the fish, which had been weakened by the scarcity of food at this time of year. We were able to pick it out of the water once it had been reeled into the bank, being careful not to get a nasty bite.

This first catch was followed by a second and so we headed back to our carbet with two fine wolf fish, so as to celebrate a successful day’s fishing. For the first time we were going to taste this king of freshwater predators in French Guiana which can weigh up to 40 kilos.

Our fishing guide turned out to also be a superb chef. The fish were emptied and seasoned before being placed on a grill in an envelope of banana leaves ready to be smoked. That left us with just enough time for a ti-punch and dinner was served. It was excellent and the tender flesh was a real treat. We ate it over several meals – as an aperitif, main dish, and in a salad– without ever tiring of it.

This activity is one that we recommend to all nature lovers. Our guide was an adept at no-kill*, a technique which seems to suit the hardy wolf fish (Hoplias aïmara in Latin), which is just as well given there is no fishing season or regulations laying down the smallest catch. So we only placed limited pressure on the population of this emblematic fish of the creeks of French Guiana. It is not comparable for instance to fishing with nets. And under such conditions what better way to discover the nature of French Guiana than by exploring the secret world of its rivers? This introduction to angling came as something of a revelation. How had we managed until now to head off to a carbet in the forest without a fishing rod? On getting back home we bought our equipment, following the expert advice of our guide who had passed on his passion to us.