This second half of January was dominated by a persisting northerly wind that oszillated around 15 knots and at times even more. So popping & jigging were completely off the menu but in the occasional calmer spells the trolling boats were quite active. Here around Praslin the activity was really good and right at the current peak of the Marlin season these fish were abundant and cooperative on top.
Martin (Venture) on the 18th kicked it all off with this Black of 147kg. Same day Mervin (Divinity) was also out missing one but released two Sailfish instead. Both boats as well as some others that went on this comparatively calm day had excellent catches smaller gamefish on top. Christopher (Ella) returned with a double digit and thus for our waters fairly large Dorado. On the 21st Mervin had 10 Wahoos plus 5 Dorados and Tuna each and the other boats also filled the boxes. On top of all the area is full of really large Bonitos which seem to be the perfect Marlin snack these days. Martin made good use of the situation on the 25th catching this time a 117kg Blue at the eastern Drop Off after missing another earlier in the morning. The trip was nicely rounded off by numerous Tuna and Wahoos while a few Sailfish jus came looking briefly. These presented themselves quite moody at times while on some days they were more willing to strike allowing for example JD (One Love) and Daniel (Blessed) to achieve hook-ups and catches. Around Mahe the situation was similar amidst a bit of nervous awaiting of the annual Marlin Slam Tournament held last weekend. Probably the news of a boat that hooked but eventually losing three Marlin in a day at the southern Drop Off of which one must have been really big helped that a bit. Sort of warming up for the event young Bertrand on the tiny YamSing fishing in really rough conditions out of Prasin brought this Marlin of 115kg home.
He also had a few Sailfish window shopping plus some god bycatch. Bit of a pity of course that all these Marlin went to the scale. Of course bringing these fish to shore and weighing them produces the skippers the odd additional trip as some tourist gets caught by the `I want this too effect´. But I am absolutely sure that the Billfish Release anglers are the majority nowadays and would be much more tempted by a nice little release flag set on the outrigger. On top as such serious anglers tend to be interested in more than just one tryout trip they are the much more attractive clientele. But I can not do more than than to explain this over and over again hoping that the steady drop will eventually shape the stone. From my veranda that evening I saw buddy Richard casting his stickbait from his favourite rock and some point joyfully jumping around . Reason was this admittedly rather small but still really pretty GT.
Later he lost a clearly bigger fish. The clean leader cut speaks for a Shark though. Even more so as while watching him I had seen a few roaming the area. Since then really nothing more happened apart from the tournament. 13 boats headed out Saturday early morning into a rough sea and returnd in the afternoon with 7 Marlin caught altogether. These were pretty unevenly distributed though. The 9G Sportfishing Team released three while team Blue Lady let one go and brought two to the scales eventually winning the competition. From all I heard these two teams had been fishing far beyond the plateau while the usual areas along the western and southern Drop Off did not produce Marlin as to the usual standards. Still a number of Sailfish releases were reported like for example two by Martin and of course the common assortment of Yellowfin and Dogtooth Tuna, Wahoos etc. was caught. Since then and as it had been the case for weeks now the northerly wind persisted and at least a short break allowing for some popping and jigging again would be more than welcome.
The new year kicked off quite pleasantly on the fishing side here in Seychelles but before getting to that let me cast a short look back to the final days of 2016. Several trolling trips had taken place just before and on New Year`s Eve that had not been covered by the most recent report but went quite successfully even as most were just half days. The usual and colorful mixed bags of smaller Gamefish were common catch with a number of Sailfish in between. Charlie (Squalo Uno) and JD (One Love) had one each while Bertrand (Yam Sing) reported two. On New Year`s Day the weather was ideal but nobody went out: either family day or good planning with a view to bits of hangover I suppose. On the 2nd in already a bit windy conditions I took buddy Richard along to ultimately tick off his first offshore GT. Could not have gone much better as already on his 5th cast he was on. Fishing in the bow I had not seen the strike and neither Richard was able to identify the fish looking into the glare of the rising sun so we were both happy to after a while see the target fish circling under the boat. All went smooth and a little later the fish was released in perfect condition after swapping a fin clip for a tag.
So a really nice start for all involved and the small video sequence reveals Richard`s comprehensible joy. Had expected more of those to come in nearly perfect conditions but my popping these days seems to attract only Sharks and Jobfish and some point I had to resort to some light jigging not to blank. At least that part worked with some Jobfish, small Doggies and Yellowspotted Trevallies. Richard on the other side got another good fish on his stickbait in the afternoon that acted unusually in the fight but it dropped the hook after about 10mins. The marks on the stickbait made me suspect either the mother of all Jobfish or a decent Doggie. That left me no peace of mind so two days later I went to thoroughly work that spot for a while. Already on the first few casts a Doggie of about 25kg followed my popper right to the boat several times. The following drifts with offers of different stickbaits and poppers produced no interest though so I left it for an hour and then made another attempt with the initial lure. First cast and a few splashes were enough to bring it on only to come off again after a few seconds. Was very disappointed but at least the bugger is now identified as it had revealed its whole broadside on the spectacular strike. Some great GT action on the opposite enjoyed Diego fishing out of Mahe with Stefan (ONDABLU). Four specimen of 15, 25, 28 and 30kg plus a Bluefin Trevally are an exceptional result for our waters and probably most other destinations also.
Along the following days as usually the holiday tourists started to leave the islands and the weather worsened. Charlie was trolling again catching the common mixed bag of Tuna, Wahoo and Dorados. Pretty similar results for Martin (Venture) on two trips to the Drop Off and one more around the islands but he reported two Sailfish on top and a Marlin miss. On the 7th Mervin (Divinity) and jigging came back into play. In really rough seas and at times heavy rain fishing was tough for Pierre, Guillaume and Bertrand but looking at the conditions pretty good with more than 40 fish.
This Rosy Jobfish was about trophy size and an old bugger as the blackish discolourations indicate. While the big Doggies just would not turn up variety was very good. Hard work though with heavy jigs in excess of 300g required in that strong drift but the group from Mauritius was happy as the fishing still exceeded anything they had experienced back home. The biscuit still went to Mervin once again. A visibly big fish came off after short fight but instantly something else grabbed the jig and a little later this massive Amberjack of well above 25kg surfaced.
Especially this sequence looks pretty cool in the video I think. The following day conditions did just not allow for going out but for Monday the 9th the forecast was better and eventually we found it even really calm at the Drop. Jigging started nicely with Mervin catching this presentable Doggie right away.
The following hours produced numerours more fish but nothing really special. So time to change spots. The single lure trolled along the way in that hour or so did not only convince two Tuna, a Wahoo and a Dorado but also this Sailfish on top.
Accordingly we expected the boat Sailfish working the area under a full trolling setup to fill the boxes and were quite surprised to learn later that they had to make do with three Wahoos and a handful of Tuna. A couple of those and a Wahoo could not resist the jigs at the new spot a little later.
Thus the new place turned out productive again as also the usual suspects like Amberjacks etc. did not let the anglers down. Obviously I started feeling that certain itch after watching and filming so many fish. Being the camera guy can really be tough under such circumstances. So I did not resist too much when the lads took a small break and urged me to try. A few drops of the jig then also produced me an Amberjack and my second largest Jobfish. Many thanks guys! The bite while still not absolutely great remained good in the following hours and among the many more fish several Black Jacks were caught of which this one by Guillaume was a really nice specimen.
After all that the group was eager for different aches so the next day it was all popping. Already on the first stop at a group of Fusiliers Guillaume experienced a hefty strike. Mervin instantly predicted that this was not a GT and actually the fish turned out to be this Yellowfin Tuna of nearly 25kg. Great start indeed.
The first structure worked produced about half a dozen GT strikes but a lot of bad luck was involved. Guillaume lost three that seemed safely on, Bertrand suffered from a bad knot and the usual Shark troubles came on top. So despite an action loaded day with some more nice scenes for the video this GT was the only one caught that day.
Very interesting: as in recent weeks again activity was best furthest west and dropped ever more the further east towards Praslin we went. Wednesday the 11th was the last fishing day for the group: jigging the Drop again. This time in seemingly perfect conditions but the high hopes deteriorated with just a few small fish showing interest in the jigs for several hours. During an obviously necessary change of spot to the most northeastern edge of the Drop a Dorado was caught and a small Marlin checked out all three trolled lures but liked neither of them. Also the new jigging area did not really produce despite the sonar showing loads of fish again and next to another good size Rosy Job this Grouper was about the best fish caught.
Some point the anglers were exhausted so we started to troll back. That produced another Dorado and annoyingly in the course of an hour two Marlin jumped at a lure without hooking up. Really a pity as one of those would of course have made the day still special. On the way home nearly at Sisters already we met Bertrand who also had troubles getting fish trolling and bottom fishing. Seemed like one of those slow days so I was surprised later by a message from Riem who I had been in touch with the days before. He had been out for a half day with his sons and Jude (Lyly) and visibly found some activity.
Since that day the weather deteriorated badly with the wind howling most of the time and the first really heavy rains on Friday. Yesterday was still too windy but at least fairly dry again and only today it looks one could troll in a still very untidy sea. Out of Mahe meanwhile fishing had been pretty similar from all I heard. The trolling boats caught the usual mixed bags of smaller Gamefish with a few Sails in between. One of the A1 boats stood out again though. This time it was SpecialK. To successfully tag and release a double header of Blue Marlin once again confirms the class of these boats and crews.
So all in all it was not the most phenomenal but a very solid start of the fishing year here in Seychelles. No complaints if things go on this way but some calmer weather would be welcome for sure.
For the preceeding reports check the archive.