The last two weeks provided us with very diversified weather and fishing here in Seychelles. Especially along the first few days but also for short spells every so often again the Southeast still showed signs of life and on those days trolling was the name of the game. The boats brought home absolute loads of smaller Gamefish but also Billfish were around. Greg (Bite Me) had 14 Tuna at the Drop Off one of those early days and lost two Marlin on top while Bruno (Eve) was luckier and got one closer to the islands. Mervin (Divinity) fishing with regular returner and rather jig & pop addict Wolfgang at the Drop got him his first Marlin ever. A nice Black this one at about 130kg. So they are here already in good numbers.
Bycatch was of course plentiful again and on top fishing company Andi got this Sailfish. Both Billfish were of course released as it is custom on this boat.
On a calmer day in between I was about to head out when a professional looking fly angler came round the rocks. Turned out that Johannes had been searching and fishing the flat on the other side of Praslin where he was staying for the last five days without even just seeing a reasonable fish. No surprise to me and probably neither to you readers remembering that I had elaborated on the situation over there with some pics. The place is just useless in these conditions. Johannes had read that fly fishing is tough here but with a view to his vast experience gained in about a dozen different high profile destinations counted up he thought he would get it right here, too. Now he seemed quite frustrated. Was of course willing to share what I know but on the other side badly wanted to go out and fish. So spontanously asked him if he would like to tag along for some popping and jigging. He was happy for any other experience than what he had so far so we went. But unfortunately he also brought his bad luck along. Demonstrated at the first spot how popping works as this was new to him and missed a GT on the third cast. Only a few casts later one was on but the line broke at the knot. Such never happened to me with this knot before. Along the next hour fishing we had Barracuda, Jobfish and a fat Bonito between us. Usually I skip pics of these as they are so common but this one was nearly trophy size.
A little later I got a fish on in the 10-12kg range on which was probably a GT. Can not tell for sure because of the glare. No problem at that size but out of nothing my beloved Major Craft Offblow rod exploded: lead eye and line broken and worst of all the rod snapped just above. Could just watch the top part disappear in the abyss. Longest face ever and inexplicable as the rod had conquered dozens of GTs of which some were +40kg. Must have taken a bad knock since last used. We had to resort to jigging and misery continued. The spot was infested by Barracudas that stole numerous jigs while not much else there. Some point we both had strong fish on but mine cut off the line at a barnacle sitting on he boat which is badly due to go up the slip. At least though Johannes got his and finally with this Yellowtail Trevally caught his first decent fish in Seychelles not minding at all it had not come on fly.
During the trip we talked about fly fishing and his options a lot. Advised him to rent a car for his last two days as to get to and fish the reef in the southeast as the wind was forecast to drop. Also had in mind that the place worked well for Permit recently as despite all his trips he had never caught one yet and this seemed the best chance to have him end his trip with something special. The next day, that was the 20th, I went to the Drop with Wolfgang, Andi and Mervin of course. With Amberjacks, a smaller Doggie, a couple of good size Bohar Snappers and a lot of other stuff the time spent jigging was not for the history books but still solid looking at the all in all around 50 fish caught of which most were released. So this was another nice day.
Especially as in between there were again several opportunities to cast at Tuna which worked nicely. Wolfgang got one close to 25kg on his light slowpitch jigging outfit and we were stunned to see the fish by the boat within a minute or so. Even there it did just nothing and seemed to beg for the gaff. It did not have to wait for that and Wolfgang had no complaints.
That evening I had agreed with Johannes to meet the next morning on that reef and went without much hope for anything in pouring rain. Of course he was already there and had fished without success beyond a few Trumpets and Snappers since first light. We got some more of these warily checking on that thunderstorm with lightning covering the whole horizon. So the bad luck was still on but I must have returned it to him along with the earlier handshake. Some point I suggested to work a sandy patch of which I know Permit like it but he rather wanted to check out the northern part of the reef and bustled off. Just when he was out of sight I got a Permit on. Small but it seemed like a sunrise under this more black than grey sky.
When Johannes returned after an hour that had been eventless on his side this was of course a bit of a blow to him and he was ready to surrender. I insisted that we should fish on for at least a while but nothing more happened. In the evening I added sort of a nail to his coffin as Ben who I had been in touch with for years and who caught Bonefish on Mahe along an earlier trip had arrived and caught this Bonefish right away from the hotel beach in still all murky water.
Had forwarded pic and info to Johannes as to motivate him for his last day but learned later this instead triggered serious doubts about his fly fishing skills. Those calmed eventually after I hadfound out and let him know Ben had caught the Bone on spinning gear and a small soft plastic lure. Cool stuff. The next morning in finally perfect conditions Johannes fished the reef again for his final hours on Praslin and actually caught his Permit at last. On top he missed out on a better one as well as a Bluefin Trevally and a GT each in the 5kg range. So at least his visit here ended on a positive note and another attempt is already being discussed between us. Was really glad for him and would be happy to wet a line with the very nice chap again some point. But then with good planning for the ideal season so he gets to see what the real potential is. Again a day later it was the final trip for Wolfgang and Andi. Mervin this time took us to the northern Drop in again dead calm conditions under a cloudless sky. Jigging once more was not really spectacular but of course fish were caught. Must have been around 40 with some nice ones among them.
The Tuna also were present again. Not showing this time but casts at occasional flocks of birds inevitably raised them to the lures. Unfortunately the trip was cut short by a few hours as the pretty Moontail Grouper from the pic managed to put the free dangling second jigging hook deep into mate Leslie`s foot. Nothing to be done onboard so Mervin set course to Praslin and the hospital. As mentioned it was an all windless and hot day far from ideal for trolling. Thus I was most delighted to learn in the evening that Aussie angler Chris to whom I had recommended Martin`s boat Makaira for a long half day had been all happy with the experience. Next to some nice bottom fish he also tallied an Offshore Grand Slam of Wahoo, Tuna and Dorado. Good job by boat, crew and angler in those unfavourable conditions.
Greg meantime had been fishing for a few days already with a popping group from Belgium. Start was a bit unlucky with a GT lost on day one and some more cut-offs on day two but success came on the third day.
Was really glad to learn the group fished just single barbless hooks so the lost GTs should have gotten rid of the lures without trouble. Their fourth day was spent at the Drop casting for Tuna but the anglers could not land a single one despite countless hookups. Out there and for these fish barbed hooks are necessary and no problem at all as there are no obstacles. That day I tagged slong with Ben and Kevin for a day`s popping around the islands with Mervin. Again no wind and the sea was all flat. Main aspiration were of course our fierce GTs but first fish of the day turned out this Tuna. Very good size for the plateau and those shallows.
The GTs were sort of semiactive. Until low tide at 11am Mervin and the two anglers had raised 15 of which nearly all were around our common 25kg size but only two got hooked and eventually landed. Here the bigger one.
After that only the Sharks stayed active for a while and a couple were released.
Did not get boring at all though as in that crystal clear water we got to see stuff well suitable to create heart attacks. For example that group of Permit roaming the area and picking floating crabs from the surface. These were really big fish. Not to be compared to the ones seen or caught on the shallows. Ben who has experience with these estimated them at 15kg or so. Was so stunned that I forgot to film them. A little later Mervin identified a group of Napoleons some 20m deep down which must have been in the 70-80kg range and shortly after a Grouper he estimated at over 100kg for sure. After a while we saw another Napoleon clearly much bigger than the Grouper. It was nearly surreal. As topwater would not work any more Ben and Kevin jigged a bit, caught some Golden Trevallies and were impressed by the power of those fish.
Late that afternoon the GTs cme back to life but again without real aggression. They again raised a dozen or so and once a whole bunch of +30kg fish followed the popper without a proper strike. Only at the very end three more got stuck but all small ones. Nevertheless the guests were extremely happy with this most entertaining day.
Returning into port we had a quick chat with Albert on the boat Stripper which had caught that 100kg Yellowfin Tuna seen in the last report. The boat had come over from Mahe for a charter and next to the these days quite common Offshore Grand Slam had released six Sailfish and a Marlin. Simply fantastic.
The following night until midday it rained more than a lot. Greg`s Belgians were biting fingernails but at noon they went out at least for a few hours. This paid off nicely with two more good size GTs. Ben on the other side took another approach and emailed me about a Bonefish that came away. On fly this time but not spotted in that murky water. The next day, that was the 25th, I went there to check the conditions: still useless and full of drifting weeds. Being there anyways I did a few blind casts and was surpirsed to catch another Permit right away. Slightly bigger than the one shown above. Had a bite on top that felt like Bonefish. Would have preferred to fish that reef in the southeast but as the wind was blowing right on it at 14 knots that just did not make sense at all. Wolfgang did some spinning there though on his departure day, caught around 20 fish of different species and as a goodbye had a Bluefin Trevally straighten the hook. This was also the final fishing day for Greg`s Belgians. Was very rough at the Drop Off that day but the Tuna were worth it. Greg told me about 30 or so hookups but substantially less were boated as the anglers kept fishing the barbless hooks. Bits of jigging were also very nice with a good variety and several nice specimen like this Amberjack.
The next day Greg had a half day popping inside with a topwater newbie. That produced two missed GTs and one that came away in the rocks. A Sailfish took the popper but threw it leaping around and when the guest had outpowered himself casting they trolled two small lures on the popping rods bagging a dozen Dorados. Versatility of fishing in Seychelles at its best I say. These days about everything works. But only about: that day I went to the Drop with Ben, Kevin and Mervin for Tuna popping and some jigging. The latter started nicely as right on the first drop of jigs all three rods were bent within instants. But also within seconds all three were straight again. Fish gone and also the jigs. Mervin went a few hundred meters further and right away Kevin got a decent Amberjack about the size seen above and briefly after this not huge while still presentable Doggie.
But after that jigging was pretty dead. No matter if they tried in deep or shallow water during the tide running out or later back in. At best ten more fish came up of which most were Amberjacks and half of the fish were foulhooked despite using only one hook on the jigs. The sonar showed fish in piles on every spot but they would just not eat that day. No drama though as the Tuna were maximum fun again. About every group of birds produced strikes beyond count. Of course many missed as usually but after several dropping the hooks and a number of releases when the boxes were full the anglers were happy and aching. The Tuna were all in about the 20kg range so not too big but the numbers made it tough and Ben`s final one was better at well 36kg.
Along that trip the tropical flu hit me badly. Was stuck at home for a few days but this gave me time to do the video clip from the load of footage. The result is 50mins of massive fishing action with lots of livestrikes and countless fish of all kinds. Not to be missed, just click here to watch. Despite being ill the boat had to go up the slip on Monday. Engine service, some repairs and improvements and of course the annual antifouling ordeal. Really sucks with a cat lying underneath having the stuff dripping on one. And despite all aftermath scrubbing as usually along the following days I was pointed to more blue spots on me that I missed or were just undetectable without a giraffe`s neck. But boat and I should be safe of barnacles for the time being I think. Since that last weekend a steady west has established at around 14 knots. Too windy for me to go fishing anyways but some more trolling trips took place. Results were as good as before with heavy mixed bags of Wahoos, Dorados and Tuna but on top the Sailfish showed more often again. Several were raised and some caught like this big one by Greg that was around 40kg.
Still not impressed? Okay, got one more for you from Mervin`s former mate Sandro who is now for a few years roaming the whole Amirantes as guide and skipper for the most exclusive liveaboard fishing compamy in Seychelles. At African Banks his guests on the tender boat had already caught several cool fish when a massive Marlin slurped the stickbait from the surface.
Twice they got to the leader in the following hours but on 200lb no chance to hold the giant fish. A flying gaff might have helped but this is not common on these ususally maximum release trips. So the fight went on until a bunch of Bullsharks turned up and chewed the Marlin. They only got the head that weighed at 182lb. Based on that and the pics experts conservatively estimated the fish at 950lb. Mad stuff and even more so on a casting rod. Here the head on the scale and next to it with the stickbait for comparison.
Enough now for this time. But who is here these days and does not fish is really missing out. Or can there be a different opinion?
Had announced hope for a mid month report again to cover the whole spectrum of fishing options in the last issue but it did not really look like enough to tell until recently. Interrupted by some rather nasty days weather conditions improved slowly along the last two weeks and as usually in this period trolling was excellent especially by the numbers. Not too many trips took place but the smaller gamefish like Dorados and especially Wahoos went crazy. A trip on the 4th produced Greg & Phil (Bite Me) around 350kg of the latter and Offshore Grand Slams were a common thing to achieve.
This Wahoo was part of such for Anke and Dominik fishing with the two boys ending up with a pretty depleted tackle box as the toothy buggers took six lures along the day just cutting off or hammering the swivels when other fish were played. Billfish were not all that prominent but several were caught upgrading the catches to Super Grand Slams like this one caught and released on Mervin`s Divinity.
That day he also released a small Marlin of about 50kg and the day after lost two more at the Drop Off as the guests just could not fish. It went a lot better for Darryn skippering one of the large private boats out of Mahe. Many thanks for this fantastic underwater shot of an also released 400lb specimen.
Would have loved to go trolling again after a long time in those days but first a stupid little hand injury sidelined me and when fit to fish again my buddies had other obligations. Thus had to entertain myself otherwise and as usually it worked more or less. Trolling two lures to jigging or popping spots not far from Praslin produced me a few though not too spectacular pelagics. Light jigging was not quite up to the usual standards as on one occasion the Bonitos were just too much of a nuisance and on the other the Barracudas taxed me too badly on jigs. Still among the many rather average fish a few good ones like Golden Trevallies and especially this Threadfin Trevally surfaced.
GT popping on the other side was frustrating. Either the GTs missed the lures or the Sharks meant trouble. Finally after having avoided a dozen of the latter by applying the usual tricks a good size GT hit and that same moment the main line broke. After retying same happened on the next cast. Popping GTs here is tough enough with flawless gear but with such a problem probably created by unfiddling a bad wind knot just before is just not right so called it a day. Went fly fishing on a few occasions but the conditions with wind, murky water and especially all that funny drifting weed are not for it. The flat on the west coast was an absolute dream at low tide.
But just an hour later the water pushing in brought the weed and made it a nightmare.
So just small fish caught until one day at last this not so bad Permit caused real delight.
That day also Mervin`s annual regular guest Wolfgang and his wife who have become friends to me too along the years fished that reef with UL spinning gear and soft plastics catching all sorts of things from Trumpetfish to Bluefin Trevallies. This time their buddy Andi and his wife are part of the group to fish a handful of days wih Mervin but during their first days here the latter was absent on a cat trip in the Amirantes. Fishing down there must have been great the first day with loads of Tuna and GTs topater but then faltered in unpleasant conditions. As mentioned the weather here on Praslin improved step by step and the guys developed fishing fever. So I invited them for a few hours light jigging in the la Digue Channel. Main goal was Golden Trevally as both never caught one before. Thought I might be able to assist on that and it worked.
All in all we tallied three. A bit sad it would just not come to Andi but he contributed many of the the other nearly 20 species caught with this nice Whiteblotched Grouper among them.
On top we got to watch a massive turtle close to the boat, a Sailfish leaping and even two pretty fat whales passing only 300m from shore so it was a nice afternoon and they seemed in much better condition as far as that fever is concerned. First trip to the Drop Off with Mervin took place yesterday and of course such is a different story. Sort of kicking off the jigging season out there and just at the first drop of the jigs two visibly good fish were on. Such a nice Tuna and Rosy Jobfish made not bad a start at all.
The first few hours were really cool as we spotted two Tuna frenzies. Using stickbaits and poppers the first one produced a handful of fish up to 25kg and the second just a small specimen. Bit of a shame that a bigger one that should have been around 40kg and showpieced a spectacular take dropped the lure. Speedjigging in the deep went really well until the turn of the tide with a few Amberjacks among the catches. Along the water running out the bite slowed though until they switched to slow pitch jigging and later moving onto a shallow. That kept the bites coming regularly as especially the Groupers of all kinds are crazy for that stuff but also Jobfish. Even in pairs.
As so often it was Mervin himself to pick the raisin. An obviously large and strong fish on the slow pitch gear gave him hell to the point that I had to follow the fish forwards and backwards for a while. We suspected a reasonable Doggie but instead after a long time and to everyone`s surprise one of the rare Drop Off GTs surrendered at last.
So this was a fantastic comeback to this kind of fishing and hopes for more are high.
That night the local sport fishing scene was buzzing as the boat Vogue fishing out of Mahe had brought a massive Yellowfin Tuna to the docks. The fish weighed at 100.6kg so a new Seychelles record and same time a milestone being the first three digit Yellowfin caught here on rod and reel. Looking at the multiple record improvements seen this year it really seems the stricter rules imposed on the large purse seining trawlers have a positive effect on the anyways great fishing here. Many thanks to skipper Albert for the picture. Would have loved to join Mervin & Co again today but someone needs to put this report together. So sitting behind the laptop I watch the calm sea just moved by a slight southeast with a bid of sadness but the weather forecast on the screen looks good. The transition is here no doubt and that should guarantee many days at seas for a while which will hopefully turn out productive.
For the preceeding reports check the archive.