Most important news first: since March 25th Seychelles are open again to all visitors except from South Africa. Of course some limitations and rules are still in place but at least something moves. Time will tell what good or bad consequences it might have. On the fishing side once again relatively little happened here along the month. The weather had been friendly most of the time but of course there were no guests and on my end I was sick like a dog twice. First the known side effects of my first dose of AstraZeneca hit me impressively hard for a few days and just when back on my feet a bad food poisoning knocked me out again. This made me miss out on the first few days of fishing with regular guest Stephan from bluewaterfishing.eu who before coming to Praslin had spent a week on Cosmoledo and Alphonse. On Cosmo of course the GTs were the main object of desire and despite some days of more than unfavourable weather he managed a double digit number of catches.
Such a GT on fly must be fantastic and this one was not even his biggest. On top came numerous other cool catches. Just marvel a few of those.
Along his week here on Praslin Stephan fished with Sandro on Frenzy. A main objective was trolling teasers to raise Sailfish and then throw these a pitchbait on a circle hook. That worked nicely several times.
In between they also jigged here and there. Visibly not without success.
On the 11th I could at last come along. A day`s GT popping produced several raises and strikes until at last one got stuck. Quite a bit smaller than our usual average but still a relief.
And this proper size Geet came late along the final casts to make it a good trip.
The following day we headed to the Drop Off but it was dull. Just a single Sailfish checked a teaser briefly only to turn away instantly. Poppers cast at Yellowfin Tuna triggered no interest and also jigging hardly worked with just a few unspectacular fish. On the evening of the 13th Stephan sadly had to travel home already but was eager to at least fish half that day. So we tried raising Sailfish again this time just east of the Sister Islands but none showed. Still no boredom at all as the two small lures with stripbaits produced strikes pretty much nonstop.
Especially the Wahoos were on like crazy and each one was bigger than the one before.
Was really nice to have Stephan back here again and to enjoy some water time with the chaps. After all this all further fishing was down to me again but I could not shine. As the forecast predicted only light northerly winds for the upcoming fortnight I decided to bring the boat home and cast surface lures along the way. Only one GT raised but it turned away still meters from the popper. Wasn`t boring though as a lot of other stuff showed up. Garfish and Sharks were rather annoying as usually, a Jobfish was welcome for dinner, a solid Bluefin Trevally came off and this really fat Bonito on a 20cm popper was a nice surprise. Don`t think I´ve seen a bigger one yet.
In the IGFA world records this species is listed as KawaKawa and the length record is 75cm as I checked when home. Mine was substatially larger so I released a WR. Would have liked to show you also that mighty Greater Barracuda of about 1.4m that had grabbed a popper on one of the very first casts. But alongside the boat I did not want to put a gaff into the bugger and the kevlar glove was not in reach. So when trying to pull it in on the leader it shook off the as always barbless single hook. The following week turned out windier than predicted so I went only once more on the 24th. Again for GT popping but along the day absolutely nothing showed up. Not even a Jobfish or a lousy Shark. Frustrating enough but on top that evening the forecast predicted strong onshore winds to set in so I had to evacuate the boat again to Baie St. Anne. Was the right thing to do as along the recent weekend winds peaked at more than 20 knots and the subsequent waves turned the home bay into a weedy murky mess once more. Along the preceeding calmer spell there were a few short windows of usually just a few hours that allowed for bits of fly fishing from the home rock. A first try on the 14th produced this Bonefish for a start. Totally unexpected as it had grabbed a rather larger Clouser Minnow stripped fast for Trevallies.
Was of course not unwelcome but the main objective had been to find out if the Trevallies had come in here as they had always done at this time of the year. Actually I had been aware already that they were not here as the baitballs of Sardines and those big eyed Mackerel had not appeared. Normally the birds start fishing here for those already in January and stick around but this year they just came briefly to check every so often only to disappear again. No baitballs so no predators. If the usual migration was blocked off by that 1km long and 300m wide strip of algae bloom sitting right in front of this end of the bay for weeks I don`t know. Two more stints produced the usual mix of Trumpetfish and smaller other species but it just did not get better than this pretty Permit.
Last Monday morning I could see at least a few tiny groups of small fish on the surface. Far cry from the tons that the fishermen usually haul in here with their nets but enough of a trigger for me to try again. Indeed I managed to catch a handful of these Mackerel and two had wounds but obviously inflicted by small Sharks. No other predators showed as that buffet is just too small. Instead another Bonefish surfaced. Again caught on a fast stripped Clouser. Sadly the camera failed but it was anyways rather small at just above 40cm. Smallest one I`ve caught so far and felt a bit like a consolation price. No more fishing done and as it looks no more to come for me for the next fortnight or so as my girlfriend will arrive tonight after a 15 month`s absence before leaving again until at least mid year. So I will not really be in the position to disappear on the boat for that spell. But maybe we will be seeing bits of charter boat activities again with at least some tourists started dripping into the country.
Along the whole first half of the month northerly winds of 15 to 20 knots blew steady offering no chance of going out for me. So instead had to resort to occasional fly fishing and on the 3rd visited that one small and protected spot once more that had been unproductive for months now. Again not even a knock on the usual pattern sizes of 5-7cm but I wanted at least a bit of action even if just from those small fish seen. So reduced the pattern size to 4, then 3 and eventually 2cm but no interest. Still went one smaller in the shape of a Crazy Charlie not even 1.5cm long and suddenly it was fish on every cast. Nothing big of course but in good variety and incredible frequency.
There were a few more species next to those shown and along these about one and a half hours it were over 30 fish including those 5 Permits which all really wanted just that tiny bite. Found it most interesting that at least half of those fish could easily have handled one or some of the previous larger offers they had ignored. A few days later there again the situation was totally different. No spotting conditions and on top the residential groups of small Milkfish and Mullet seemed even more panicking than usually. Hoping that at last larger predators might have come in a larger 8cm Clouser was offered and instantly cut off by a not so small Barracuda in the 80cm range. Replacement was a home made popper fly of similar size and that thing also produced attacks instantly but this time from Trevallies. After several spectacular misses one was on and provided some 15mins of quality sport. A good part in that had the stupid fish trap placed by someone some 40m out as the fish went around the bouy and rope so I had to swim after it. But it all worked out and a little later this decent Brassy Trevally surrendered.
As expected no more action afterwards and all hopes to try again the coming days got literally washed away. The following night brought rain so strong and lasting that the next morning I found three happy little creeks running along the ground floor of my place and the sea around Praslin`s shores was dark brown for days from all the soil washed away. As more heavy rains typical for February followed all further fly fishing was off the table for the rest of the month. On the boat fishing side the 16th offered acceptable conditions but it was not the greatest of trips. For a start the Public Utilitiy Company just that morning had decided to fix a water line leak announced to them days back and had dug up our driveway so had to wait to get out and away to the boat. As the wind was predicted to come up again the next day already I still went after the hole was closed. Was nearly noon until on the water at last and only enough time left to fish a single spot. Plan there was to drift along the structure casting and switch to jigging for a while when the water got deep enough before going up again for repeat. The casting raised a GT that turned away still some meters off the lure and else just countless Sharks. Not always to be avoided so lost a few good lures and my favourite stickbait to those. And they also remained a total nuisance while jigging as you can see.
Managed to catch some 30 fish or so but nearly all even just slightly bigger ones that could not just be winched up got taxed badly. Just before landing one of those smaller Jobfish accompanied by some of his buddies a massive torpedo of about 1.5m bolted into that group. By shape and colour most probably a massive Dogtooth Tuna. Guess it was that fish that minutes later provided me with a firece bite and the typical endless run. After a few seconds about half of my 280m of PE2 line were out and despite motoring after the fish I kept losing more. Was sure to get spooled and had maybe 40m left when the line got cut at the bottom. Luckily just a few meters above the leader knot. Happens occasionally that one of those big barrels settles around a GT structure so far inside the plateau for a while. But so rarely that it is just not worth fishing there with heavy gear and actually I doubt such would help much in the shallow water full of rocks and coral. Nothing more to report from Praslin I am afraid. Along the rest of the month the weather would have permitted me just one more day to go out but I had injured my back two days prior and had to let it slip. No charters at all here as far as I got aware and also about no news from Mahe. Only Bruce reported on a nice day with a Black Marlin released and some bycatches trolling while bottom fishing visibly also worked.
Upcoming March should bring better weather and allow for more fishing of all kinds. If guests will be able to make good use of that seems doubtful though. Plan here was to until mid of the month have all adults representing 70% of the total population fully immunized. Of these roughly 70,000 people about 52,000 got the first jab until now and about 24,000 the second. My estimate is that mid of March nearly all adults will have had one dose and about half of them the second. No schedule to immunize the minors that represent some 30% of the population yet. Not sure at all if this will be enough to achieve herd immunity within two weeks time and thus safely open the country to all visitors no matter where from to come in with just a negative PCR test. The authorities remain optimistic while I am glad not having to make that difficult decision. We will wait and see.
For the preceeding reports check the archive.