It`s been a more than lively month as far as fishing here in general is concerned but also personally. My friends Marco & Jörg as every year turned up for what should be the best fishing season and that`s what it all became despite a slow start for us. On the 2nd Jörg easily buggered by seasickness decided to stay behind so just with Marco I headed out for GT popping. After 3.5hrs in which nothing happened we trolled a bit without a knock to some jigging spots that also didn`t work. Only late we got a presentable fish each in the shape of his Whiteblotched Grouper and my Golden Trevally.
That day had potential for much better elsewhere though as Sandro (Frenzy) proved by this massive Yellowfin Tuna caught outside the Drop Off. The guests had been popping at first but did not really get the lures to splash so after three of such barrels had followed without striking Sandro insisted to troll and it worked.
Next day again just with Marco I went to pop the Fregate area for GTs but again just one raised while the Bluefin Trevallies and smaller Doggies also would just not strike. Eventually we turned to jigging once more but before even really getting started the Tuna started leaping around the boat. Didn`t have time to take many pics as we were eager to get one of the 30 to 50kg range fish seen between the school size ones but eventually had to make do with 8 of the latter. Looks a bit tiny after Sandro`s monster.
The following morning it was dead calm so Jörg decided to join in on a Drop Off trip aimed at some jigging and trying to find those huge Tuna well outside the edge. Took a little to find some jigging fish as I had never been there on my boat so had no marks but one I got from Sandro by winning a bet. Did not have to use it though as the Amberjacks, Rosy Jobfish and other stuff seemed everywhere.
The large leap to the big depths trolling two lures produced no findings at all though and on top the wind came up to 15 knots right from the west so the over 30NM trip back became a proper ordeal. Even more so as the wind`s chop was hitting the old SE swell turning the sea pretty nasty. Could still have travelled at maybe 12 knots but the boys unhappy with the bouncing limited me to 8 knots so it took us nearly 4hrs to get home. Next morning it was calm again and I offered them a day at an island at the northern Drop but both turned it down to fly fish around the house. Deservedly to no success I dare say. Didn`t mind that unexpected day off though as right after things really picked up. Niko from Finland had been here with 3 buddies a few years back and now returned with a group of 8 anglers plus 3 wives to fish 5 consecutive days with Sandro and Mervin. The first day both teams went for the Geets and I joined Sandro`s group but again no luck especially for us as nothing proper was even just seen. Mervin on Devotion did not fare much better with I think two GTs lost to the rocks and on top an engine failure. So next day he used Richard`s LadyC and we tried around Fregate with again limited luck but eventually getting a proper GT at last while Sandro had headed out to the Drop for Tuna casting which worked better.
Next day which was the 9th marked the departure to a real adventure. We – that is Marco, Jörg, Julian and I - entered a cat to first pick up Simon on Mahe and then head straight to St. Jospeph atoll for some days DIY fly fishing.
After a few small delays and a 22hrs crossing we reached our destination the following afternoon. Too late to really fish but enough for a small exploration of the access. The ring atoll which holds a lagoon in the middle and several smaller islands within it`s roughly 5km diameter has no deeper channels. So even at the highest tides one must be very careful to enter or leave with an inflatable dinghi while at lower ones it means dragging or even carrying it for longer stretches. None of us had ever been inside and the first morning we were simply stunned by the beauty of the place which seems as untouched as such can be at these times. Nearly no rubbish washed up inside and I guess one needs to thank the Save Our Seas Foundation based on neighbouring d`Arroz island which looks after St. Joseph, too. I have only received a few images from my companions yet and also took some stills from my GoPro shots but it should be good enough to let you dream at least a little.
And the fishing? Not knowing anything and without noteworthy amounts of information we expected very little. On my end actually the goal was to come back without injuries to be honest and any catches would be a bonus. But we found out right away that Bonefish are more than plenty and easy to hook. Already that first morning and first place when hopped off the dinghi just at high tide it was only strolling around a bit to see single ones or groups. These fish were not difficult at all but would just follow and take. Just a dream or nearly too easy I would say without wanting to be arrogant.
That great fishery lasted only until about 2hrs past high tide though and with the flats running dry or the water left getting hot one would not find anything but Mullet in those areas any more. So we searched the edges of the lagoon but apart from large Barracudas for which we had no wire leader there was little to be found at first. After a while though we managed to identify the deeper and slightly murky pits in which the Bones spent the low tide in huge schools. Not visible but one would just need to cast whatever into there and was on. Even large Clousers in crying colours were happily accepted.
Fun for a little while to hook one after another but at least to me the real joy is the spotting and seducing them on sight. Trevallies of whatever kind we found surprisingly few and only late the last afternoon Jörg managed to figure out that these were also hanging around in the deeper parts of the lagoon at low water levels. Surely these also roam the flats when the water is high but again we did not see many and only Jörg managed to get one on the shallows amidst the Bones.
How many of those Bonefish there really must be only became clear on the third morning. Early we had waded a promising looking flat for 2hrs without actually finding anything interesting. Thus my lads wanted to return to the previous day`s area but I decided to stay as to find out if that channel at the end of the flat leading into the lagoon would not become interesting. So they motored off and I stayed behind unaware that I would be just 15mins short of one of the most stunning experiences of my fishing life. First two schools of mid size Permits moved quickly through that channel but ignored my offer. Then I saw a first school of fish heading towards me. They were arching their backs out of the water like Mullet so I cast rather lacklusterly at them but when a few followed the fly close and eventually one took it it became clear these were all Bonefish. Click on that pic to enlarge and see proper the fish half sticking out.
These groups of fish eventually became a nonstop stream of Bones. It was not hundreds and not thousands but ten thousands of them just in that one channel from that one of several flats. I called my lads on the handheld VHFs that we all had with us but they were thinking I was trying to fool them to the point they did not even bother to reply. Attitude changed a good bit when they saw the footage later back on the cat. Tricky to transport this avalanche of Bones in a pic but if you take a close look of the following one (again click to enlarge) you will see the grey line of fish running through the center and fading out on the right side. All these are Bones running to the shelter of the lagoon and this was just a moment`s image.
The whole thing was totally surreal and on top went on for nearly two hours.I hardly fished any more but just watched and tried to film. Some shots came right and I reckon the movie I plan to do when I got the footages from the others will reveal it in an even much more impressive way. Next and same time final morning we were of course all there piling up on our anyways impressive hookup numbers and thrilling fights.
So all in all one can state that even the most clumsy fly angler will not manage to get away from this place without coming tight on countless of these cool fish unless he uses no hook. Am really glad for the chance to fish this place before it will probably be closed in the context of the new Seychelles Marine Spatial Plan due to become ratified by the National Assembly next year. But even if it should remain open against all odds I am not sure if I really want to fish it again as there is a massive downside not to be concealed and this is the Sharks. I am not so much talking about those really big buggers of various kinds in the 2.5-3m range that we saw frequently. Some from the dinghi, some from safe shore but also several swimming past close by when wading slightly deeper water. While the latter did not feel too comfortable these left us alone or bolted away.
Much more of a headache were those countless Blacktips that were everywhere and really spoiled the fishing as they were going after the Bonefish on our lines. It was usually okay in the beginning for a lonely angler but the more commotion of people and hooked fish the more annoying and aggressive the beasts became. Eventually it needed several of us splashing and shooing them away from the hooked fish but still they got their share. So while it was possible to hook several dozens of Bones every day per angler the eventual landing ratio was much lower. As said usually okay early and when alone but simply terrible after a while to the point that most of us eventually stopped fishing or just moved away.
On top comes that probably most of the Bones we landed and released did not live much longer. Too often even after an extended protective revive the fish swam away but half a minute later a bit off where it must have been there was Shark commotion and a distinct puddle of blood in the water that could have meant just one thing. This really put me or rather all of us off. Still the whole trip was a very special experience and scattered with memorable moments on the good, bad and the funny side: panic when one of us completely passed out back on the cat for a whole minute one evening after a few too many quickly drained Rum-Colas, my swim from the outer reef to the cat with rod and backpack as I did not want to wait another two hours for the others or that Marine School vessel running after us on the way home for an hour just to ask if we 7 guys on board maybe had a tampon for them.
But eventually we were back within the civilization of the Inner Islands thanks to our just perfect skipper Curtis and after offloading Simon and Julian on Mahe we reached Praslin. Marco & Jörg still stayed with me for some more days but I had no more time to really spend with them as there were charters to attend pretty much every single day. So just used that afternoon of arrival to check what had happened here during our absence and see off Niko`s group at the jetty just when they stepped on the ferry. They had a good time here with their very mixed group as far as experience and tackle was concerned. The big one didn`t come as Niko lost a few massive Doggies that cut him off in the coral but all in all jigging and Tuna popping was solid enough along those 3 fishing days I missed for them all to state it`s worth returning here.
Brandon also had had a really great day jigging with guests on Island Rhythm. Standing out were those fantastic Ruby Snappers we don`t get to see too often as the conditions need to be right to jig those big depths and even then most anglers are not really ready for that. Cool stuff.
Also during my absence Michäas & Christiane had returned to fish with Sandro again with three trips already under their belts. First one for GTs produced that Bluefin Trevally and the other two days were spent at the Drop Off mainly casting for Tuna. While the first one of those was good already the second was just great with 28 Yellowfin of quality size.
On the 17th I went to welcome the Fish The World`s Seas project from the Czech Republic and next morning we headed to the Drop Off with Mervin on LadyC. As the four cool chaps produce a movie variety was on the agenda and some early jigging worked with Black Jacks, Rosy & Rusty & Green Jobfish, Bonitos and stuff already leaving them very impressed. Then we headed out for the Yellowfin. Mervin who had been fishing with a Russian duo out there for the last days said it had been boiling from those as well as Whales, Dolphins, Mantas, Whale Sharks and all sorts of other Sharks. As the wind had dropped to nothing overnight and it got extremely hot we were not sure and indeed found not much for a while. But then … At first the Tuna had to be teased up from about 30m with poppers in the morning and didn`t react around noon but when some clouds and a breeze stirred things up the numbers chasing and leaping as far as one could see was simply overwhelming. At times from far it looked like a reef and from close the boils left all in awe.
The pic can only give a faint idea so you might want to cast a look a very short video clip I posted here on facebook. Even if not registered there you can watch it. Several Tuna were caught in average size of around 20kg with bigger ones lost as the guys were somewhat undertackeled. And all the rest counted up above was also there feeding on tiny baitfish. Even the Whale Sharks of which we had 7 or 8 visiting the boat. Some Tuna got eaten by big Bull Sharks of which we lost one after 30mins and another of I reckon around 150kg was released after an hour. Sailfish on small stickbait came on top. Was a really cool action loaded day and the best part was seeing the chap`s eyes protruding every few minutes. No idea how often I heard them shout `Unbelievable´. Or `Kurva´ when broken off again and on the way back to Praslin they stated to have more footage already from this first day than along whole weeks of other trips.
Next day the final fishing for Michäas and Christiane again with Sandro was due so I opted to join them and it was crazy Tuna popping again. Close to 40 caught but all in the 18 to 22kg range. Only once two fatties came up that looked well over 50kg. Sandro hooked one briefly but it got off after a few seconds and I also was an eyeblink too late with the cam to catch them fully out of the water as you see in the pic. Else a Wahoo on stickbait mixed things up a little.
Meantime our new Czech friends still fishing with Mervin managed to tick off the priority of Dogtooth Tuna with 6 in between them amidst a load of the other usual jigging catches.
The next day GT popping was on the agenda but they also were much interested in other species for their film. Funny enough pretty much all else I had counted up as possible with luck came to them in the shape of Bluefin Trevally, Garfish, Queenfish, Jobfish and Tuna. Just the Geets after one breaking the line early would not show up. Until the very end at one of the final casts. So far all their wishes had come true or rather been exceeded.
That morning before heading out I had dropped my friends Marco & Jörg at the airstrip to head home to Germany. They had spent their final days fly fishing here on Praslin. Finding a baitball on the southwest coast had been the key to some really first class catches of I think 7 of these Brassy Trevallies and an Oxeye Tarpon which went undocumented. Must admit I was a little envious to have missed out on that.
The following day I did not spend at sea for a change but instead went on an island tour with the Czechs as for them to film the must sees of Praslin. Sadly my old car packed up right at the end so instead of going out with them and other boats as planned I missed some trips and was stuck at home until the thing was fixed and back running by the beginning of this week. But luckily for their last day out on the 24th Mervin picked me up as I would not have liked to miss this. Having gathered more than enough cool footage for their film it was easy going with hopes for a monster Doggie but jigging for 1.5hrs produced exactly no fish at all despite the sonar showed them. So out beyond the Drop for Tuna again and once more it turned havoc. The Tuna were boiling and feeding like crazy on the poor Anchovis trying to find protection with the numerous Whale Sharks which also slurped them in as it looked. The last two pics of the album are stills from the same shot but about 5 seconds apart. Again there is a most spectacular short clip on facebook to watch here. All fish caught were school size but we spotted real barrels for a moment and seconds later two more rods were cracked bringing the total to 4 in the week. Eventually they wanted more Wahoo but trolling two Rapalas just produced more Tuna until we were back on the shallows and the Wahoos indeed came.
The supernice and funny 4 guys were over the moon with their Seychelles fishing experience while Mervin and I agreed to share a big bucket of popcorn while watching their movie when it will be ready in a few months time. Will notify here with the link as this will be very entertaining for sure with all the things that happened along these days full of action and laughter. Not to mention the fact that they indeed caught nearly every species one can expect here (think I found 5 they didn`t). Pretty much a perfect week for all involved. Especially their tackle dealer. Of the trips I missed due to the car hassle I was especially sad about the one on the 26th with Christian and Luzia from Austria. Firstly as it would have been my first opportunity to experience the new Island Rhythm now in operation after I bought the former one. Secondly as jigging at the Drop was simply great with the bite full on so the anglers were tired by noon already.
And thirdly for meeting them again after they had been here two years go already but that opportunity came yesterday when a half day GT popping with Mervin was on the agenda. Activity was great but a bit of bad luck came along. Of Christian`s very first GT raised only a few meters from the boat I only saw a massive splash from my low sitting position but it must have been huge. Sadly the fish dropped the hook after a few seconds but Mervin nearly hyperventilated and went on for minutes that it had been the biggest one seen for a long time. A baby of maybe 5kg was landed a little later but next half dozen good size ones all missed until at last one slightly below average was on and gave the hard fishing angler his much deserved reward.
Thus it was not the biggest of dramas when a late one already at the final spot also came away. Good fun for Christian who I`m sure we will see back here before too long. The boats of course also had fished on also along the briefly very windy weekend and counting it all up in detail would have prohibited this report to be ready on time. Actually never would have made it without the car breakdown. So to close this anyway massive edition just one more pic of a fat Doggie caught by Mervin at the end of this crazy month.
Hope you enjoyed the read and are properly impressed by our currrent fishing.
For the preceeding reports check the archive.