08 April 2009
Alphonse Island, Seychelles
The story could end here, because each of us can easily picture their version of Heaven on Earth. With the utterance of that phrase ensues an unspoken, omniscient understanding—a picture of paradise, ambience included, easily within our imaginations.
Well, maybe the story should not end here, because fly fishers envision paradise better than others, and to not tell a story of paradise would be devious, a quality not associated with fly fishers. Being true to the sport I love so dearly, I will try to do justice to Paradise, may she graciously forgive my shortcomings. Weather, airline inefficiency, airport poor customer service—all tried to cheat me out of seven glorious days in Fly Fisher Heaven. Their weak and vain attempts could not keep me from Alphonse Island and St. François Lagoon, Seychelles, Indian Ocean—more specifically, Bonefish Bliss.
Being given a guided trip to the Seychelles with Tailwaters Fly Fishing Co., this fly-by-the-seat-of-her-pants, no-list-making Girl prepared for this trip-of-a-lifetime! Reading and rereading David Leake’s wonderful travel guide with sincere reverence, I bought travel books; I increased my repetitions and learned yoga with WiiFit; I tied flies; Norm, Cody, Brother Mike, and Jason helped me build a 10wt. rod (that endeavor was worth the trip alone!); I researched and bought fly lines; I learned how not to pack like a girl (all were limited to 33lbs of luggage, total—a goal I met perfectly), and—I made a list (people who know me, passed out when they heard this)!
Trying not to be “girlie,” I decided I was not going to provide the oohhh/aaahhhh soundtrack for this day. However, in every good fishing story there is “the one that got away,” and so it was on day 3, a myriad of pale skies, water in blues and greens, and pristine white flats, I aaawwwed for my one that got away.
Scott put us on a flat that oozed bonefish. Every other hook-up ended up being a prayer for the “long-distance release,” because as that fish was being played, an even bigger bonefish or a school of bonefish swam by just teasing us. Tides receding as they do eventually caused this flat to go dry, figuratively and literally, so on to a new flat, which produce as many fish as the first. We had neighbors, though, three beautiful, circling Lemon Sharks. Did you know Lemon Sharks like to eat bonefish? They really do.
Scott wanted us to catch larger bonefish, so he taught me how to make my fly invisible to the smaller fish and tantalizing to the bigger ones, and did I ever hook a big one. It saw those twitching orange legs and inhaled it; then, that bonefish took off, zinging out all my line and 150 yards of my backing on that pretty purple Nautilus reel (an exceptional Christmas gift, I must say). I worked hard to keep slack out of my line, and with 30 yards left until the leader was in reach, Zing 2, and out went that line and 150 yards of backing. That bonefish began to tire and the Lemon Sharks began to circle and Cody began to shoo away those sharks. Scott told me to back-up and watched to ensure I would not step on any sting-rays gliding behind us. Cody shooed and fished; I reeled and walked and reeled, and just about the time I had 15 yards of line left to the leader, that fished zinged out line again, going 125 yards into the backing. Those Lemon Sharks recognized that Cody is a good guy, and they knew he meant them no harm. I cranked that purple reel in triple time. The Lemon Sharks swam 10 feet, circled nearer, swam another 10 feet; I reeled; Cody splashed, and that Lemon Shark circled 8 feet, splashed, and ate my bonefish! Scott and I both aaawwwed. I really would have liked to have seen the one that got away; I really would.
I guess I took my earlier lesson to make myself invisible too seriously. Casting perfectly for a nearby Trigger, he became interested in my crab. As I retrieved, I noticed a white moray eel coming at me about 100 feet away. No problem, I wasn’t bothering him; however, that snake-like creature continued to approach at me, with mouth open, and realizing that catching a trigger would be electrifying, at 10 feet, I gracelessly side-stepped that eel and waved good-bye to Trigger. Alack and alas.
Throughout the years, fly fishing stories, whether read or heard, entertain me delightfully so. A photograph of a fly fisher’s catch creates a vivid tale in my mind’s eye, so real, I feel the tug and hear the reel’s drag, and I have often wondered how does this happen time and again? I believe the Seychelles taught me the answer. Rather simply stated, Fly fishers don’t fish; fly fishers live in paradise, if only for a brief time. And as we flew off into the sunset, “What a wonderful world, ohhh yeahhh!”
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