By Kyle Willis
I could not have imagined traveling across the pond to Senegal before attending CCS. Last year, I went to India with the school and that trip opened my eyes to world travel and sparked my interest in seeing what else the world has to offer.
Fishing has always been a passion of mine. I spend a lot of my time shopping for fishing gear, watching fishing videos online, or actually catching fish when I can. This passion sparked my senior project, which revolves around trying to develop good policies for fishing inside Niokolo Koba National Park. Little did I know that this would lead me to a place with incredible significance and interesting history. Fishing helped me bond with the people of Niognani.
Fishing in Niokolo Koba is all about one fish – the tiger fish or poisson tigre. Southeastern Senegal is a hideout for these incredible fish. I will never forget walking down the steep, dry banks of the Gambia River to our first fishing spot. The hunt began by stealthfully walking the water’s edge and throwing my small shiny spinner into the depths. Minutes into our fishing adventure, I felt the surreal pull of a nice tiger fish. The small fish put up an incredible fight, performing a series of acrobatics flipping and thursting out of the water as it tried to break free. I screamed in excitement when I was able to pull my first catch onto shore. My first tiger fish made my long journey instantly worth it.
Now, I will never forget that fish. But I will also never forget the people who helped make southeastern Senegal home for a life-changing hunt.