For a start a pic of a Thresher Shark from the last days of April that Mervin (Divinity) sent over a bit late. Just too cool not to show. Mind that extremely long tail in the background. Getting slapped by that is to be avoided.
At the beginning of May things here were not so great unfortunately: few guests and thus trips, quite wet and windy sometimes even from still northerly directions and worst of all an algae bloom on top. Had heard of sightings of green, brown and red water the days before, the misery extended and eventually the topic also hit the media.
For more pictures and the underlying article from local daily Seychelles Nation just click the pic. As far as fishing is concerned the phenomenon was of course not helpful. Trolling boats found about no fish in that mess as the pelagics had retreated to the ever lesser and at times far away pockets of clear water beyond reach along the common half days. Also my usual popping and light jigging usually conducted close to the islands´ shores suffered. Two trips with my German buddy Chris and another done alone after his departure produced just a few smaller fish so it needs this Jobfish as to show at least anything from those with no GT even just seen.
We were worried about these rather territorial fish as the last algae bloom some 4.5 years ago had bad effects on them. Some spots took years to recover while at others we never found GTs at all again. The algae is not toxic but the oxygen level becomes so low that a lot of fish died along the coasts the stuff was pushed on and got stuck. Mainly Parrotfish and unfortunately also the odd Napoleon. Have not heard of any dead GTs at least but can not tell if their carcasses might just rest on the seafloor. Only time will tell what happened to them. Fishing was not completely off though and catches came with some flexibility regarding techniques and locations. Greg & Phil (Bite Me) fished for a week with a Russian family. In the blue water and especially at the Drop Off trolling worked nicely including Sailfish.
Also Mervin got two of those out there on consecutive days. The bunch on Bite Me jigged a lot with not steadily great but all in all pleasant results. Constantly good was the bite on natural bait during bottom fishing btw so the guests were very impressed by the richness of these waters.
For the 9th Alan from Brazil had booked a trip to the Drop Off with Mervin to round off his honeymoon so I also got there again after a while. Was less a lucky day but more one of many losses of fish and jigs. Two Wahoos cut the shock leader taking the rigs, two Yellowfin Tuna did the same ripping the leader at the gaff, a Shark ate a good size Grouper but at least got stuck while many more of those got away with fish and jigs. A Marlin grabbed a Bonito that came up on the jig but could not hook up as the assist hook was inside the Bonnie and a Sailfish threw the jig leaping about. Was really quite unfortunate and that the slow pitch outfished everything else that day by miles did not help much as the thin leader one one side and the slow retrieve of fish hooked led to many more losses. Still enough fish were caught for Alan to state it was his best fishing ever and this Amberjack of about 25kg that made him sweat for a long time on the slow pitch will surely be a lasting memory.
On the 11th we kicked off three consecutive days with German returner Jürgen. Jigging was pretty good on day one with good fish caught and as always with Jürgen we laughed a lot. Just a spectacular catch did not come while Jürgen was not far from it. He became a passenger on his rod for a long time after a obviously not so big fish on his jig got eaten by something much bigger close to the bottom. After 45mins the opponent was suddenly as small again as before but still fighting and a little later Jürgen had only a light lifeless lump to retrieve. That poor Black Trevally had been cut in half by a Shark after having been spat out by the big unknown something. From the marks on the half we got Mervin suspected one of the really big Groupers.
The following day went all different. Jigging was again solid in the morning but then slowed ever more so Mervin decided to take the gamble of heading beyond the Drop hoping to find Tuna for popping. That came indeed right so the next hours were action loaded: racing full speed to overtake the fast running Tuna, a few casts, strikes and ideally catches and then flat out to get ahead of them again. All in all 9 Tuna of up to 30kg were caught but there were much bigger ones. One of about 50kg that unfortunately got away I caught fully airborne with the video cam while for another of surely 70-80kg I turned too late. Just before heading home Jürgen eventually got a big one on but the braided line obviously spooled on too loosely at the shop dug into the windings on the spool under the heavy pressure so some point all was stuck and the line snapped. Very frustrating but still it was a great day fishing. Watch a video of it here.
On the 13th all minds were set on Big Tuna again but more than 3hrs of searching beyond the Drop revealed no activity in that flat calm sea. Thus we headed back to the edge and there they were hitting the jigs in between the Amberjacks and other fish. We got a few on poppers also when they came in casting distance while we drifted with the engines shut down but they would not allow us approaches with them running. Still this afternoon rounded off these three good and most funny days with Jürgen nicely who we see back in November.
Less pleasant though was that all those days when heading back to the islands we passed long stretches of green and brown water pretty much all the way to the Sisters. On the 14th I hopped on the earliest ferry at 7am to la Digue for some fly fishing in the predicted windless and thus hopefully perfect conditions. Unfortunately it did actually blow a bit so wind chop disturbed the project a little and on top I caught plain nothing. Either even the usual small fish are a lot smarter over there than here on Praslin or the Digueois have eaten them all. Sill I saw two groups of Golden Trevallies tailing and digging for a while but as usually they moved so fast and erratically that I never got into a casting position and when wading out to catch the ferry back two Bonefish strolled past me. So the spot does not only look promising but also has potential. I will be back.
On the 16th I went on the boat to check the situation south of La Digue. At my popping spot there the water was crystal clear that morning but at low tide I decided do spare my energy for the afternoon high tide and went jigging for a start. Just a mile further south the water became ever murkier. At the jigging spots there were still some clear patches in the beginning but these became smaller and lesser over time. On top quality fish among the only about 20 caught in the following hours were rare. Best one was this Empror Snapper (sorry for the water on the cam`s lense) while the lousy Pickhandle Barracudas stole a dozen jigs.
Back at the popping spot the light southeast in the meantime had pushed the algae there and deep into the La Digue channel so I did not even bother to cast but instead went home quite depressed. That day Greg was popping with a guest west of Praslin and reported just dirty water without a GT even seen. Only trolling in the often far away pockets of clean water worked normally those days with smaller gamefish and a few more Sailfish caught by Bertrand on Lazio and a La Digue boat. So nothing left for me except fly fishing also limited to the still not clear bay in front of my place as all other places were full of drifting weeds. Thus hopes were slim but the whole thing developed very nicely along the following days. On the morning of the 17th I only caught a few small Bigeye Mackerel but saw quality fish in the shape of some not so bad Permits, a big Queenfish and what seemed to be a bunch of Yellowtail Trevallies. The next morning there again I bumped into UK fly angler Steve who had just lost his flyline and good part of the backing to something big. Quickly organized him a new one via Andre, went in the water and quickly hooked one out of a bunch of passing Queenfish. After a run of 150m doubtlessly assessible by my multicolor backing to my big surprise a fat Bonito was ready for grabs. In just knee deep water.
As it started to rain heavily I headed home but did a few more casts on the way. That produced half a dozen small GTs of up to 1.5kg and on top this Eagle Ray. Had a good lot of respect of the long tail so put my shoe on that while unhooking the fish and then jumped away quickly.
The following morning Andre joined me but not much worked. In the afternoon though I realized from my veranda that the whole bay was stuffed with small fish that were visibly under pressure. Grabbed the fly rod and climbed down on a rock to just flip the fly as there was no room for casting but that was enough. The strike came quickly and some 10mins later I had at last landed my first Queenfish on fly. Felt good.
The whole stunt including strike and a few jumps of the fish were captured by the GoPro hanging in all sorts of angles on my head but I think it is still worth watching the clip on facebook. The next day which was the 21st Andre was also there again and we had a great time fly fishing. Things started with another Bonito, then Andre had a Queenfish, I added another and Steve from the hotel reported one more plus another Bonito. Also a just arrived spin angler caught a Queenfish.
On top we caught numerous of the smaller Trevallies, mostly GTs. Alo had a Permit and to my big delight half a dozen Oxeye Tarpons that I had been craving to catch for a while. Admittedly small fish at about 1.5kg but Tarpon is Tarpon. Happy enough with those at this stage while definitely need to catch a big one some day as the leaps are just too cool.
After all that of course Andre and I were there again the next morning but had to make do with just smaller fish and watch Steve, the spin angler Pierre and just arrived fly angler Charles smash the big ones just 100m off towards the hotel. Next to a Queenfish they caught a series of Yellowspotted Trevallies of up to 9kg. These splendid fish though were not willing to move that little disctance into our reach which nagged a bit but still congrats to the three anglers who must have felt in paradise.
The next morning the baitfish had already been reduced substantially and the day was rather slow. Only late Andre had something bigger on that opened his hook while I picked up this Threadfin.
Also the hotel guys got nothing proper on fly while spin angler Pierre made the most out of his much bigger casting range and noisier lures again catching a handful of Trevallies. Turned out a mistake of mine not to fish the following morning as Charles had another Queenfish and Pierre one more big Trevally. In the afternoon though Andre caught two Bonitos and one of those Tarpons.
Was unlucky to see a somewhat bigger Tarpon throw the fly when leaping around but made amends with another Queenfish while the hotel anglers seemed to have had nothing at all. Obviously the activity patches were small and shifted quite a lot within the area. That evening from the tens of thousands of baitfish only a few small schools were left while a lot of these fish bore injuries. Was really a massacre on those along these days.
On the 25th I felt like a change and ideally a GT if possible. So went on the boat and actually raised one west of Praslin but it missed the lure twice. Really persisted and kept casting just the big poppers but for hours nothing more happened until this proper Bluefin rewarded the work around noon.
Gave it maximum effort in the afternoon again but after half hour a line guide inlay of the rod flew away so had to stop. Before that two hours of the usual light jigging produced some kitchen fish as well as this formidable Golden Trevally that even forced me to follow with the boat. So not a bad trip and best of all was to find clear blue water everywhere without a trace of the algae.
That evening Greg and Mervin who both had been at the Drop Off called. The latter had good jigging and bottom fishing plus a Yellowfin Tuna estimated at around 60kg that dropped the popper after a very long run. Trolling in between produced smaller gamefish same as for Greg. That boat also enjoyed reasonable jigging with Amberjacks and some more of the usual supects. On top just before heading home a Marlin of about 100kg grabbed a jig but threw it leaping. Strange how often this happened along the last couple of months. Also unusual that the Doggies made themselves nearly invisible along that period. But they are not extinct in Seychelles as this +50kg specimen caught and released by the 9G team on slow pitch reveals.
The days after all that the weather was really nasty with southeast around 14 knots but many fronts bringing heavy rains and gusts over 20 knots from all directions in between so no fishing. Things impoved since yesterday but the bait in the bay has been munched up completely so a few brief tryouts with the fly rod produced only the usual stuff like Trumpets, Garfish, small GTs and another little Permit etc. Would have been too nice to be true if that fantastic fly fishing from the previous week would have persisted. A video of that is in the making but time for that next to the Tun clip and this report was just too short.
For the preceeding reports check the archive.