After the slight improvement of November things turned rather slow here again as far as tourism and subsequently also fishing activity is
conderned. Main reason are the tightened rules for visitors from about all core markets and thus we pretty much only saw tourists from Israel. But a few of those fished a bit like Ruben with whom I had been in touch already along his visit two years ago. This timefishing out of Mahe on Island Bird he enjoyed some first class jigging at the southern Drop Off with several Doggies among a large variety of catches. As many tourists avoided even the short inter island transfer pretty much nothing happened here on Praslin though. Only Mervin had two trolling trips along these first December days and in calm conditions. Those produced the usual assortment of smaller gamefish and this Sailfish was released.
Unfortunately he realized that the algae bloom reported previously from the northern Drop had been brought down here by the light winds. See how ugly the water behind the boat looked unless moving within the small clear pockets that also held the activity. On top dead reef fish were reported from several beaches.
With a view to this and the absence of charter guests about everyone here was quite happy with the following extended period of strong winds and rains sending off and diluting the mess to some degree. Only for the weekend before Christmas the weather was okay for fishing again and I would have liked to head out at last. But the mechanic had still not been able to fix my port side starter motor and going on one engine is just too risky. So fly fishing was my only option but also very limited. No use any more for the coming months here at my place. Not even self made Clousers with weedguards get through this mess without picking up salad. Not talking about the usually 15-20 knots of wind straight in the face.
The only reasonable option in these conditions is also the only nice swimming spot nearby and if those kids enjoying their school holidays were not there yet upon my arrival they inevitably came splashing within minutes. Only chance to fish there undisturbed was Sunday morning when they probably all attended church. Not feeding time for quality fish as I learned and had to make do with a slimy Trumpetfish and the usual handsize stuff. Thus my heartbeat only accelerated once along these weeks when the by now well known private angler from Mahe reported this massive 141cm GT caught on fly.
Definitely a catch of a lifetime which he managed on Cosmoledo roughly 1000km southeast of us. Sadly I can not cast that far. Just before Christmas the CoVid mutation let to the Israeli guests being called to return home but just before JD on his new and really nice new boat One Love II had two trolling trips. Catches of Dorados, Wahoos and Tuna were really good as so often and this Sailfish was released while they missed the Marlin that would have been the cherry on the cake.
JD reported that he had still seen areas of algae bloom. That did not sound so great but news of an 85kg Yellowfin Tuna caught trolling at the Drop triggered optimism with a view to repeater`s Simon two popping and jigging trips with Mervin. So off we went on the 28th in perfect conditions to the east and worked all the way up to the northeastern edge of the plateau. The Tuna were all over the place but difficult. Only small ones raised to the surface and grabbed a casted lure very occasionally. The four caught can not have weighed more than 15kg altogether and this one foulhooked by Mervin was the smallest Tuna I ever saw. The half dozen that came up on jigs were a little bigger but still far from the size we had been eager for. Jigging all in all was very solid though. No massive fish but apart from a short spell around the noon low tide frequency was nice.
Also the variety was good and despite the absence of any Trevallies and massive Shark trouble all along I counted 16 different species among the 40 to 50 fish caught: those Tuna, a couple Doggies, some Amberjacks, Green & Rosy Jobfish, Greater Barracuda, Triggerfish, BekBek, Bonitos, 5 different kinds of Groupers (Brownspotted, Orangespotted, Tomato, Blacktip, Comet), a Wahoo on popper that came away on the leader and of course that Shark that wasn`t even hooked but had grabbed the jig so awkwardly that it could neither spit it out nor cut the line. Mervin as usually provided competent dental service to that bugger.
On top we saw Manta Rays, Spinnder Dolphins, a Leatherback Turtle and two Whale Sharks so it was an entertaining day despite the disappointing Tuna popping. To impove on that the next day we headed further south and into some terrible weather with tormenting rain plus even thunder and lightning for a while. But those Tuna were not willing to reward our efforts as the bigger ones would not surface at all and even the small ones remained just a very occasional catch. Having spent two thirds of the day searching for the flocks of birds and casting the tally stood at three again rather tiny ones. Nearly no jigging done until then apart from an early spell when the visibility was zero that had produced one of those not so common Bigeye Trevallies. By noon all were fed up with the Tuna and the jigging rods got work to do properly bent by some Yellowpotted and Yellowtail Trevallies.
Really fortunate that unlike the pervious day fish kept feeding even around the low tide and saved the day. But the Sharks once more remained the well know nuisance in all places and depleted especially Mervin`s stocks heavily. He must have lost about 30 jigs along these two days and I`ve never seen his pouch so empty while Simon was extremely lucky. Unbelievable how often he got away with just the assist hook cut off and what his one jig fished for about half of the time survived. The thing must have been under a magic protection spell. Not just that Shark incident mentioned. Check the pic of that belly hooked Amberjack. Or rather of what was left of it.
Good news is that we saw no more of the algae despit so much area covered. So that`s been it here for this year. Unfortunately it does not look too promising for the coming one at the moment. Neither regarding any noteworthy recovery of tourism nor for my personal fishing. The mechanic reported some tiny spares missing for the repair of my starter motor and I regret not to have right away just ordered a new one from abroad. That should have been here by now and I would have been ready to go. Instead it is just looking at the ocean in longing for now and will probably be just that for a while. Somehow fits this year that has been frustrating probably for anyone in different ways. Thus I wish us all a much better 2021. Stay safe.
Fishing only got lively here only along the second half of the month but right on the 2nd there was something to be happy about: the very first charter since March. Subsequently motivated to the toenails skipper Sandro, crew Anil and I headed out on Frenzy with Austrian guests Robert, Romana and their son Timo for a day`s trolling and lighter jigging on the plateau. Even Mervin did not want to miss out on the occasion so amassed fishing competence on board. Of course weather and the fish need to be cooperative, too, but sadly they were not. The bite was shockingly slow along some 3hrs of trolling and Timo`s insides soon battling with the choppy sea. Still he managed to bring in the only reasonable fish in the shape of this Wahoo.
Jigging went much better but the rolling boat made things worse for poor Timo and eventually also Robert so it was rather short lived. Still long enough for both to next to some smaller fish each enjoy a proper catch in the shape of an Emperor Snapper and a Whiteblotched Grouper. Returning to trolling settled the respective stomachs a bit and the bite improved a little. But the fish remained somewhat hesitating so apart from a few knocks and Bonitos plus a big one gone missing after a long run only a small Tuna got stuck. The wind kept picking up bringing rain on top so eventually we set course back to shore about 2hrs earlier than planned.
Of course we had wished for something very different in all aspects especially after the long Corona standstill but what can you do?
At least a few days later after the weather had calmed the guests were able to do another trip out of Mahe in much nicer conditions and managed to top up on their catches a bit. After this it got quiet here as there were no further charters and I kept waiting for my trim tab motors. These travelled 5 days from somewhere behind the Chinese Wall to Mahe and then among various excuses another 9 days for the short hop over to Praslin. So much to local DHL Express. On the 12th at last the nutshell went up the slip for them to be installed along with engine service while I cleaned the hull and applied fresh antifouling. Meantime only Vahur from Estonia fished here. All fly from shore as he had done a year ago already. Unfortunately we only managed to meet once but kept in touch on a daily basis. As he found short lived baitballs in two places he managed a number of quality catches along his two weeks. See just a few of those.
On the 14th I fetched the boat home from Baie St. Anne and popped at a few spots along the way. The desired GT only showed once though to right at the boat steal one of the small Doggies following every so often that had managed to grab the much too big stickbait. So the only catch of the day way this admittedly quite large Yellowspotted Trevally.
To bring the boat home turned out a mistake as at times quite strong northerly winds came up and on top the southgoing undercurrent called Rad Mare. Especially the latter brought ever larger breakers to the shore here and It did not feel good seeing the boat rock hard on the ropes. Nearly seemed the rest of the month would be a writeoff as far as fishing is concerned but then things took a good turn. Slowly at first along a trip to the Drop Of on the 16th with Swiss guest Noel again on Frenzy with Sandro and also Mervin. So after more than half a year we were out there again red hot for some quality fishing. But disappointingly it was a tough time in rather green water and an extremely strong current. The Tuna were not to be convinced or even just seen as all of the many bird flocks approached for casting were unproductive. The usual resort of jigging turned out slow also with just a handful of smaller Amberjacks and some other unspectacular fish showing a bit of an appetite.
Right after this though things improved massively out there. Sandro hat two Italien guests for a few days fishing and right after the first trip on the 19th it was not long faces but rather long arms. Jigging suddenly worked nicely and also popping produced loads of fish. The Tuna still did not show but a bunch of Dorados sticking around for a while, some Wahoos and a sweet minute Sailfish provided for entertaining topwater casting. Just click through the album.
On the 20th Noel did another half day. This time GT popping with Mervin on Divinity. Activity was really good but it was maximal misfortune for the really nice chap who on top of all even handed out half a backpack of finest Swiss chocolate to us. Of the 7 raised good size Geets 3 hooked up. Two of those got rid of the lure within seconds and the third managed this right at the boat. Standing vertically in the water shaking the head fiercely like a Pike. Very unusual as these fish tend to be calm once they are up. When this happened it was already held by the leader so according to IGFA rules this was a catch & release but I am sure Noel would have loved to briefly hug that quality fish of around 35kg. Only visitors onboard were eventually this baby GT and a Shark.
You can watch a short sequence of the departing GT at the beginning of this month`s video clip here. Meanwhile Sandro and his Italians were at the Drop again and enjoyed a great day. The Tuna at last showed while still being skittish but they got one casting. Jigging was first class with a stunning 16 Dogtooth Tuna among the usual suspects.
Another two days later the Doggies were a no-show but due to 14 double digit Amberjacks of up to 25kg next to the common catches and two Yellowfin Tuna plus another Sailfish casting they were not missed all that much.
For the 23rd I had planned to go west on the boat for an introduction into popping and some fly fishing with Julian who along his periodic business visits as usually squeezed in a bit of time to fish together. Unfortunately though the boat had not taken the mentioned week long torture too well. I suspect the starting motor of the starboard engine did not survive. Thus just on the other engine we only played around a bit along Praslin´s coast on the way to Baie St. Anne and the mechanic again. Frustrating in every way but at least the dredging with overweighed flies produced some catches in the shape of Jobfish, Bigeye and Bluefin Trevallies and this Grouper.
Not a big fish but still special as it was the first time I got to see the baby version of the species that can reach more than 2 meters and several hundred kilos if I am not mistaken. Nothing at all was interested in our topwater lures but the quality of recent Drop Off fishing triggered usually fly-only angler Julian`s interest. So still on the water I organized for a trip with Mervin the following day and the next morning in perfect conditions the three of us along with Julians collegue Francesca and mate Steven sped the 30 nautical miles to the edge. Jigging worked instantly with not huge but reasonable fish in god frequency and the Tuna surfaced every so often. Along the hours before noon they were difficult diving deep upon approach but before and after we got close and enjoyed lots of that long missed spectacular action.
In between jigging continued to produce and eventually the tally was 11 Tuna casting plus at least 15 Amberjacks and uncounted other fish jigging. Very nice of Julian to let me fish with him and despite the video cam remaining my priority catching a few decent ones was of course added fun.
I feel blessed to have experienced several special things on the fishing side along my years here but the end of the day brought a one in a million incident. While fighting one of the Tuna Mervin thought something was about to eat it but eventually we realized he actually had two on. How could this happen and how did it turn out? Just watch in the video. Those 10mins with several live strikes and airborne Tuna should be worth watching. Was simply a great day. Not just for us though as we learned back on Praslin. Sandro and his Italian anglers meantime had been popping for GTs on the plateau with great success. Next to a massive Bluefin Trevally they got two above average Geets and a Jobfish for dinner came on top.
Sadly the smaller GT despite all efforts did not survive and was later weighed at 32kg. Thus the larger one should have been a +40kg. Simply first class fishing. The 26th was the last day for Sandro`s Italians and they wanted to take it easy. The Tuna were cooperative again but after four of those the anglers asked for some relaxed jigging. The fish had other plans though still feeding aggressively so catches came plentiful and in great variety once more.
Thanks to those charters this second half of November at last was a bit like things should be here and I think we all enjoyed it utmost. Just can`t stop feeling sorry for Noel who will hopefully return one day to be luckier than this time. Remains to be seen what is going to happen now. Not much I suspect as along the month entry rules for visitors from most core markets have been tightened again with a view to rocketing CoVid infection numbers there. Accordingly and as about always along the last half year: stay well all and take good care of yourselves.
For the preceeding reports check the archive.