The Seychelles archipelago is located just south of the equator and some 1500km east of the African coast in the Indian Ocean. Consisting of around 115 islands and providing a cumulated land mass of less than 300sqkm they form one of the smallest nations on earth. But as many of the islands are widespread in the ocean the maritime sovereign territory of Seychelles extends to an impressive 1,3 million sqkm.
It is necessary to distinguish between the `inner islands´ and the `outer islands´ as both groups are of completely different characteristics. The latter group represents low sandy coral atolls as they are known from Maldives, Polynesia and many other places. With the exception of the two northerly atolls Bird Island and Denis Island the `outer islands´ mainly stretch along the Amirantes Belt a few hundred kilometres southward towards the mythic Aldabra atoll.
Many of these islands accommodate resorts of highest standards and offer first class fishing. Most renowned among anglers is probably Alphonse Island that in recent years became the undisputed dream destination for any fly fisherman. Also others like Desroches, d´Arroz and the two northern atolls mentioned before offer some of the best fishing one can find.
The destination of most visitors are the `inner islands´, though. These impress by their mountains covered with lush vegetation and the famous granite rocks making them so distinctive and eventually unique.
The `inner islands´ are basically divided into the `Mahe group´ and the `Praslin- La Digue group´. Both are more or less centrally located on a large submarine plateau of about 60m in average depth that on its edges drops sharply a couple of thousand meters to the ocean floor. This is very well visible on Google Earth:
The plateau is richly structured and the depth changes often abruptly but it is nowhere deeper than 75m. In many places one finds reefs and elevations. Some only a few meters high, others reaching to the sea`s surface or beyond. These countless structures are not only hotspots for bottom fish and Trevallies but also magnets for schools of young fish, which attract the pelagic predators to the point of Sailfish and Black Marlin.
On top the Drop Off offers fantastic fishing opportunities as this is where the big Amberjacks and Dogtooth Tuna live. Trolling along that edge to the abyss stretching for hundreds of kilometres matches the best you can find worldwide in terms of strike frequency and variety of species caught. And beyond, above the deep blue water, you enter the feeding grounds of Blue & Striped Marlin and the large Yellowfin Tuna.
Anyone preferring lighter tackle does not need to venture that far out. For spin- and fly fishermen Seychelles has the coast lines of its islands, off the shore reefs and the sometimes extensive shallow areas in between to offer. Perfect places to pursue either wading or from a small boat next to many other species the coveted Bonefish and Milkfish.
This multitude of very different environments offers ideal conditions for an amazing variety of fish - thus providing both the versatile as well as the specialised angler with a veritable paradise.
On top the plateau and vast areas beyond can not be fished industrially for technical and legal reasons which provides another major advantage to Seychelles´ fish stocks. To express it with the words of an old local fisherman: `Our plateau is the true treasure of Seychelles.´
Last but not least: the question which is recommendable as a starting point for fishing trips, Mahe or Praslin-La Digue, frequently arises. Generally both offer very similar potential. The following parameters can be considered:
- Mahe offers a far larger variety of boats, especially regarding the large and luxurious vessels.
- Praslin & La Digue are substantially smaller than Mahe, meaning fewer boats, fishing trips and thus less pressure on the fishing spots.
- Depending on where a boat is based on Mahe accessing spots on the opposite side of the island can be time consuming. The smaller islands offer fishing 360 degrees around.
- Distance and thus travel time to the Drop Off are about 25% less from Praslin & La Digue which effects fishing time and charter rates.
Located so close to the equator Seychelles does not experience substantial changes in temperature or daylight hours. Still seasons exist and are defined by the winds´ direction and force.
In May-June the Southeast Monsoon picks up. It usually blows quite steadily until about October at around 15 to 20 knots and rarely drops beneath 10 knots. Accordingly this is not the perfect season for all fishing techniques performed drifting outside the islands´ protection like bottom fishing and jigging. To the opposite trolling is very productive at this time, especially as it coincides with the peak of the Sailfish season. One has to account for cancellations though, as many days the conditions are just non-fishable and when trips are possible they will be no smooth ride. The angler should really be seaworthy and also a somewhat larger boat becomes advisable at times.
The Southeast is followed by a transition period of several weeks during which the wind tends to be slow from changing directions. This period is ideal for all fishing styles except the occasional days when it ceases completely. This as anywhere else can slow the surface activity a bit and require to present trolling lures somewhat deeper.
Approximately around mid of November the Northwest Monsoon establishes. Blowing less steady than the Southeast and on average substantially weaker conditions tend to remain ideal for all fishing activities most of the time. Still the Northwest can reach much higher windspeeds of 25 to 40 knots for usually just a few days. This occurs when a cyclone moves through in the south as the `inner islands´ are located north of the cyclone belt. In the vicinity of such depression heavy rains can occur and also the majority of annual precipitation falls at this time with a climax usually around January.
Towards March the water temperature rises and the else dominating westward current changes its direction for a while. The Northwest starts to cease and another transition period with conditions comparable to October-November is due, before the Southeast picks up again and the annual cycle begins once more.
Obviously nature does not adhere to the statistics perfectly in every year. Nevertheless it is recommendable to plan your visit under consideration of these seasons and the fishing styles you intend to enjoy.