During Easter and the following week as usually we saw many tourists here and as the weather was also nice a lot of fishing of all kinds has been done. Mostly Trolling of course for these rather occasional sea anglers and it was good to see them return mostly very happy with their Seychelles fishing experience. Next to the usual assortment of Dorados, Tuna and Wahoos also the Sailfish were cooperative, too. For example SpecialK from Mahe reported 3 in a day while Mervin (Divinity) had one on a single trolled lure when changing jigging spots, Greg (Pipsqueek) released two in just 4hrs of fishing and there were some more.
Jigging on the plateau was also solid as buddy Richard and I found out on the 17th. Popping early and late that day was a bit slow admittedly with just a smaller Doggie on stickbait for him but around noon especially Groupers were eager for our jigs and dropshots. A good double header of Yellowtail Trevallies took my light jigging gear as well as my wrist to the limit while Richards four-piece light bass rod he used now unfortunately is a six-piece. Tough and unrelenting fighters these are.
Still much bigger and tougher fish surfaced these days. Mervin jigged the Drop all week with repeaters from France and they enjoyed excellent fishing throughout. The Amberjack bite was red hot and also the other species were very active. No surprise the group was all happy with catches like this Doggie weighed at 54kg while some others probably at least same category were unstoppable.
On the 19th I took buddy Stephan and his South African friend Craig for a day´s topwater fishing. Until high tide late morning and the wind fading away completely activity was quite reasonable but luck unfairly distributed. The chaps worked hard but despite several raises of different species only got a single Jobfish each while fish must have had a crush on me. A baby GT of maybe 3kg was followed by this decent Bluefin Trevally nicely presented by Stephan.
The only real GT of the day was at around 22kg a bit below average but a real beauty. Should have rather gone for one of the lad`s lures though.
My light jig gear went around between us producing several Jobfish and some small Bluefin Trevallies so all in all we had an entertaining time. Same was true for a first tryout right off my place with the fly rod. Had slim hopes of maybe getting one of those smaller Permit often visible here but would never have expected to catch four of them right away. On top in these just 3hrs I got a fish locally called Baton Longue, a Small Scale Pursemouth Pouter, a Yellow Tail Kingfisher plus more than a dozen different snappers like Coral, Longmouth and Thumbprint. Was fully over the moon and if this nice fishing will persist in this protected corner over the Southeast Monsoon season I should enjoy those else rather grueling months for a change. Am really curious and in any case could not stop grinning for the rest of that day.
Of course had to try again the next morning but this ended in a very different mood. Had been hoping for a larger fish so chose a bigger fly but could not remember the Rapala Loop thus tying an own creation that held when tested but did not when it should have. After catching a few small Snappers again I stripped the fly over a small patch of seaweeds and saw that well 60cm long Bonefish that must have been around 4kg only when it grabbed the fly and bolted away. A few seconds later already deep in the backing it was off though and a little after I saw that my knot had come undone. Really bad as I can not expect a Bone especially of such nice size will be so stupid to be fooled by my amateurish presentation again. Was all frustrated and sweared at myself for the rest of that day. On the 23rd it was fishing with Richard once more. Jigging went nicely again at least for him. Not only he caught three quarters of all fish with all the good ones like Yellowfin Tuna, decent Tomato Groupers, Yellowspotted & Yellowtail Trevally but also got away with losing just two jigs.
Meanwhile I was cut off seven times even by fish going for my FG knot twice thus spending most of the time retying my gear. Became much happier though in the course of some afternoon popping despite a good GT missing the lure. But a large Garfish and especially this decent GT of 114cm fork length and thus according to the formulas 28.75kg were a very nice compensation for the preceeding frustrations.
As Mervin had reported another one of similar size the day before it looks that these might have come back to some normaility after letting us down for long months here around Praslin. Good motivation of course for returner Lukas this time popping three half days with Erik on Christian`s Djab Lavwal. First trip Monday morning in an admittedly rather useless tide produced no GT unfortunately but was still a nice warm-up with a few raises and misses, a couple of Garfish and this pretty Bluefin Trevally.
On the 26th one single GT was raised but no hookup and catches were limited to a handful of Barracudas. That following night a groundswell locally called Rad Mare set in bringing big waves to even wind sheltered beaches and next morning the water was green and murky everywhere. From my experience quite deadly for GT popping here and accordingly even the big and promising new moon high tide did not help the angler´s case. Despite maximum effort they had to make do with a Bonito and a Jobfish that afternoon of the 28th as the small Sailfish of about 12kg that nudged Lukas´ popper close to the boat did not hook up. Those though pretty much saved the fishing here along the last week as they really got going amidst the first days of mentionable southeasterly wind. Trolling boats from all places reported catches and once more it was SpecialK putting the cherry on the cake. The boat released Marlin and several Sailfish in those days with one out of three on the 24th but also a Blue and a Striped Marlin. Could have turned out a Billfish Super Grand Slam as they missed a Black Marlin on top. But still trolling can not really get much better I think.
Mervin also appreciated the high Sailfish activity releasing a handful along the week with his new group. Minds had been set on jigging but this slowed from day to day until the jigs were finally just ignored. Only way to entice the bottom dwellers was eventually to use bait but even this limited catches to the slow swimming Groupers mainly. The Pelagics on the other side were active so casting stickbaits at the occasionally appearing Tuna produced nicely and the trolling lures offered found interest in high frequency. Thus as so often in fishing one had just to be flexible for success but luckily these fishing grounds offer all the options. Last but not least the large private Riviera 9G reported next to another Broadbill a Brownspotted Grouper of 6.1kg well exceeding the current IGFA record of 5.2kg. Bottom fishing here no doubt offers huge potentials for more records. Just an indication: at the National Tournament mentioned in the last report 15 fish from 5 different species weighed more than the current IGFA records while those were all caught on handlines or multi hook rigs so not within the IGFA gear rules. But using such to drop a piece of Bonito for some drifts with one of the knowledgable skippers clearly offers a pretty good chance to make it into the record books.
Oops, nearly forgot to mention the video clip of the topwater action so here is the link but that`s really all now for this month.
Before reviewing April`s so far events as promised a short flashback: mentioned that Mike had been out on his bigger boat Alati for sort of an expedition and upon return he commented dryly that he needs to count the tag cards as he lost track after about a dozen Marlin and Sailfish each. Thus the trip was more than successful but the biggest joy came from his first Broadbill finally caught after a multi year quest.
Even greater that this beautiful fish of about 30kg was released. Martin`s five day trip on Venture with a a group of South African anglers to Bird Island produced that first class jigging to be expected up there. The solid 41ft boat with the option to stock up a few things from the island evidently allows comfortably for such trips as the guests already made arrangements for a repeat next year. Thus the fishing obviously pleased them too tallying about all the common species in good sizes. Groupers, Amberjacks and other Trevallies came up in big numbers and the Doggies neither let them down.
This confirmed that the few slow jigging days at the eastern Drop Off must have been a locally confined phenomenon. A short lived one on top as Mervin (Divinity) and his new group proved right from the 1st and along the following week. This first day left the anglers cheerful already but after the second they were completely over the moon. While one in the bow was trying to bring an obviously really large Grouper up but eventually breaking the line on that effort another in the back played a Marlin that had grabbed his jig. That fish some point ran down into the depth to unfortunately die down there as it happens with smaller Blacks. Luckily the line was strong enough for Mervin to bring it up hand over hand in an hours long and tireless effort. No use releasing the dead Marlin so they boated it allowing for a cool pic of the whole Deep Blue Octopus Team.
Also the following day next to the usual suspects produced a special catch. Not even here in Seychelles we see such a massive Barracuda of more than 35kg too often.
The group fished all the days until the 7th and each of those were really good except Monday when it was not the Drop but instead popping around Fregate. Tagged along with the cam that day but the GTs and other common topwater candidates were not cooperative at all with just a few half-hearted raises early morning and no further interest until late noon. Thus it was light jigging for the rest of the day which after a slow start picked up with the tide producing some 50 or so fish.
The following days they went to the Drop again enjoying first class jigging. Can not be many species they missed out on and as usually the Sharks had their share.
At the end of their fishing trips the nice guys were completely zealous about the experience they described as a trip of a lifetime annoucing themselves back here first opportunity. That`s the way it should be. That Friday the 7th the annual National Tournament kicked off on Mahe early morning. Sunday by noon after more than 50hrs of fishing at the weigh-in the boats had brought more than 8 tons of fish to the docks with the proceeds from the catch as always going to charity and financing the Seychelles Sport Fishing Club. No results out yet as the prize giving will only take place this Easter weekend but a few interesting details already surfaced. Again one of those primeval Oilfish was caught, Tony Payet got it from more than 200m depth. On top this specimen weighing about 16kg was substantially larger than scientists had expected them to become.
The bulk of fish came as usually from the traditional handline bait fishing but a number of Billfish had been caught trolling and were released. I believe the total was 4 Marlin and 12 Sailfish. That Sunday I finally went fishing myself again to shape my stickbaiting skills and selected an area with usually smaller but many fish for that. This plan worked out nicely to a certain extent with about two dozen hookups of Jobfish, Bluefin Trevallies and smaller Doggies but only one of those and a baby GT made it into the boat while all the rest dropped the hook. Resharpened the hooks and eventually changed to new ones but nothing changed. Very strange experience. An hour of serious popping for a big GT late that afternoon produced just a single raise and a reasonable Jobfish for the kitchen so all in all it could have been better.
The following day I really had to try out my fly gear that had finally arrived despite a bit too much wind for a rookie and also I was late with a view to the tide. The kit had arrived completely assembled with backing, fly line and leader already on the reel so I expected a quick start. Not really though as the whole stuff seemed to be somehow awkwardly on the reel forcing me to crank the wrong way and against the drag. So unspool it all and bring it back on the other way? Had half of it off already when I figured that the line had gone around a bar of the reel confusing me. So was saved from the full effort that had would turned out worthless but used the opportunity to check the knots. Good decision as they came apart on a slight pull already. Having no real clue I just selected the small orange shrimp pattern fly that happened to be in the upper left corner of my box. Until all was tied up properly more than an hour had passed but finally it all was ready to go.
Meanwhile the water in that first trench between beach and reef was already chest deep so I knew I had only about an hour left to fish. In that time I lost three fish, got excited and missed the time to return. Seems I could still just pass that trench tip-toeing but then there was that hole. People on the beach were quite amused by the sight of just my hands with rod and backpack sticking out when I got there. But I was abolutely determined to finish this off with at least one fish so hopped in the car sopping wet to try the flat on the other side of the island. Too murky and rough there though so I went on searching further south for an at least somewhat protected corner with clear and calm water. Found one eventually and in one additional hour of fishing recorded a single bite and my longed for catch. Tiny admittedly but still felt triumphant.
Two days later around noon I met with Paddy from Germany on the reef again where we caught a handful smaller fish each. Was still very good for me as I was not only able to establish a relatively stable casting distance of about 15m (feel free to laugh) but also to extend my personal best of fly catches to 70cm and a little later to about 90cm. Think this will be cemented for a while until the next larger Trumpetfish comes along as any real fish that size will probably just destroy that funny gear. A big Thank You to Paddy for his helpful hints and the flies he gave me. The day in between I went for stickbaiting and popping once more as those countless fish missed on the previous attempt gave me no peace of mind. At a small structure found but not fished on that occasion I got one of the rather rare mid size GTs (about 15kg) on and a little later a fine Bluefin Trevally same size but again both came off despite hooks were tested and found to be ultrasharp. What the heck? Along the following hours around low tide I raised as many fish as never before but most just came window shopping. A few of the well 60 Jobfish, a dozen Doggies and at least 30 Bluefin Trevallies at least kissed the lures until finally one of the latter got stuck. Decent fish of about 9kg that was of course released. In the course of the day a few Jobfish plus a big Garfish came onboard and on top I raised the largest Bluefin Trevally I have seen yet. That one was clearly over 20kg though rather around 25 but it did not strike. On the last few casts already close to sunset then finally a good fish was and even better stayed on. This beauty of a GT with 119cm fork length and thus according to the formula 32.5kg was of course the perfect thing to happen at the end of a hot and exhausting but nevertheless very entertaining day on the water.
Yesterday I tagged along with Mervin and his two South African guests Brad and Keith plus their wifes to film some more Drop Off jigging. After the fishing had been more than good there along the previous week with that now stable northgoing current I would have bet for some again great jigging but none of that. It actually turned into one of the slowest days ever I experienced out there with Mervin. Right at the start we had some Doggies, a Wahoo and a Sailfish roaming around the boat with the latter even grabbing a popper briefly. But 5hrs of intense jigging only produced a meager single Yellowspotted Trevally, two Jobfish and a tiny Grouper along with a few small Bonitos while a drift of 3 knots made fishing difficult on top of all. Back and already close to the islands we had a bit more action with Bonito on fly as well as a few more of those and this double of Trevallies on jig but of course it could not really save the day.
Felt really sorry for the very nice but unfortunate group that nevertheless wants to return and then hopefully will not have to fish such an exceptionally slow day. That is what it must have been as also the trolling boats had their issues finding fish despite conditions looking good for it. Was the case also on most of those totally calm and hot days that we experience around this time of the year btw while on virtually all others with a breeze and a bit of chop the trolling had been solid with the usual mixed bags of Wahoos, Tuna and Dorado plus the odd Sailfish in between.
For the preceeding reports check the archive.