27 November 2011

Seychelles 2011

Cody and I returned to the Seychelles for the best Bonefishing on the planet.  Again, travelling on a Tailwaters hosted angling trip, Cody and I, along with 10 other fly fishers and Matt adding to his photography portfolio, journeyed from Dallas to Houston to Dubai to Seychelles islands of Mahe and then Alphonse.  This was Cody's third trip to Alphonse Island and my second.  The 14-hour flight from Houston to Dubai went relatively smoothly.  Staying in the Millennium Hotel was a nice respite between plane flights.

Being south of the equator, Alphonse's spring is just beginning, and we endured rainfall daily throughout the week.  The first day's rainfall and winds were so high, that we were island bound for the day, because the Tam Tam could not cross the channel.  The Bonefish were skittish and hookups challenged most everyone at the beginning of the day, but by mid-morning, all anglers were hearing their reels zing with those oh so wonderful Bonefish runs.  I even added to my species list with one of the Triggerfish Trifecta--a rather large Picasso Triggerfish.

With the sun shining and rain abating, Brandon took us out to the reef after lunch.  Cody cast to some skittish Yellowfin Margin Triggerfish, but with no luck.  We scoured the horizons for Triggers, Geets, and other reef fish, but the barometric pressure's inconsistency turned the fishing off.  We returned to Alphonse, and Cody caught a nice Bonefish to end the day.


Monday found us riding Tam Tam south across the channel past Bijoutier to St. Francois Lagoon.  Scoty took us Bonefishing on the "Gravy Train" flat, and we had a field day.  I wanted a Permit, and we saw one tailing just across the channel flat, but that was it for the morning.  Cody hooked up with many nice Bonefish, including a 4-pounder.  In 2009, I used my 8# rod, but on this trip, I designated my 7# for the Bonefish.  The fights were longer, but I was working on a game plan, so I had to dedicate rods for certain species and leave them rigged that way.  After lunch, we searched for Bluefin Trevallys, Permits, Triggerfish, and Giant Trevallys.  The last 30 minutes of the day, we located feeding Milkfish, which feed very similarly to Catfish eating food off the surface.  Since Milkfish only eat algae they skim off the top, it was important to cast the fly in their feeding area.  Their mouths when feeding, are about the diameter of a Styrofoam cup.  Cody cast to within two inches of a feeding Milkfish, but it rejected his fly.

Tuesday, Wayne and Alex took us bonefishing again, but I told Alex I only wanted to catch the big fish, since I was targeting Bluefin Trevally for an IGFA world record.  Alex worked on spotting the "big" ones, and I conserved my energy.  It was great fun watching Cody hook up with a 6.25# Bonefish, and we had a very nice doubles Bonefish.  Wayne took us to a reef, where I hooked a gorgeous Blue-Spangled Emperor fish, and had Honeycomb Groupers steal my flies away from very big Bonefish.  I cast to some Triggerfish, but the fly line spooked them.  Permits were still evasive.  At lunch, I couldn't resist the schooling Blue-Spangled Emperors and Parrotfish, so off I waded and eventually hooked up with a fish (but it broke off before I could identify it); then, I stumbled upon a Triggerfish who had his fly stolen by a Tomato Grouper.  Before leaving the area, we saw Geets from afar feeding on the Mullet.  The afternoon was spent targeting those Bluefin Trevallys for the record, when we literally stumbled upon a "sunbathing" Geet.  Cody cast to the fish, but it nonchalantly moved off its reef to the coral beds below.  I was exhausted and beginning to feel the record was beyond my grasp.

Wednesday was spent with James targeting big fish.  First thing in the morning was a nice Permit feeding off a Stingray's mudding trail.  I cast to it three times, but the Permit only fed to the right of the trail before it became curious enough to check us out, and then swim away with fright upon seeing us.  Cody cast to a Geet, stripped in his line, but it wound around his reel and fighting butt.  The Geet's wake from chasing Cody's fly was huge, but Cody stopped stripping due to the line chaos.  James wanted Cody to keep stripping the fly and told Cody the next time his line became entangled to continue stripping until Cody hooked-up with the fish.  After the hook-up, Cody would probably have to jump forward off the boat's bow, and while jumping, that would give Cody the time he needed to untangle his line and fight the beast.  It was all I could do to keep from laughing, because the scenario is quite plausible, but it just sounded hysterical to think of all that multi-tasking.  We hit some reefs looking for the Bluefins, but we didn't find any. 

After lunch, we hiked a 1/4 mile to the surf and searched for Bluefin Trevallys, Lemon Sharks, and Triggerfish.  Only one pair of Bluefin Trevallys appeared, but the 10# rod's line was entangled, so there was no casting to them.  I did spend the majority of my afternoon casting to Triggerfish, 15 of them to be exact.  Four of the Triggers had the fly stolen from them by three Honeycomb Groupers and one Bonefish.  I did hook-up with a Triggerfish and ran like a mad women possessed on the reefs following the fish to avoid hang-ups on the coral.  Now, running on the rocky, uneven surface is difficult enough, but I was supposed to run with my fly rod above my head all the while reeling in my fly line.  I became entangled on a coral, but James, all 6'4" of him, ran ahead and created enough slack in my line so we could get it unwrapped from the coral.  I continued following the Triggerfish, steadily reeling in, but it made a 90 degree turn, and the angle we were now located from one another caused me to pull the hook from its mouth, instead of creating a solid hookset.  Thus, it was Triggerfish Off!  At the end of the day, the Milkfish were in a feeding frenzy, so I cast into them hoping for a hookup while they were inhaling their algae, but no such luck.  Cody caught all various and sundry of reef fish, including a Picasso Triggerfish, a Goatfish, Bonefish, Honeycomb Grouper, Tomato Grouper, and the most wildly colorful Surge Wrasse.  The return hike was not too bad, but I was glad to reach the Tam Tam for some R&R.

Devan guided us on Thursday, and due to the high tide, we boated and beached on St. Francois Lagoon.  Devan knew an area where Bluefin Trevallys conglomerated abundantly.  We were all working hard to set the IGFA record, so the morning was dedicated to the Bluefins.  The sun shone resplendently, so we fished for them until noon, and then headed to Helmut Knoll and the channel east of Bijoutier for lunch and dredging.

We switched to sinking lines, big, bright flies, and got our retrieving arms ready to strip.  What a blast!  Cody caught a 13.5 pound Dogtooth Tuna, a species first, that put a huge bend in his 12# rod--amazing.  He caught a 7.5 pound Bluefin Trevally that was breathtakingly gorgeous.  Cody caught a Bonita, brought it to the surface, but it ran again, and three Giant Trevallys chased after the Bonita.  Cody declared that it's ass was his.  When the Bonita came to surface, it had its tail, but we could see a piece of its side was missing.  Devan told Cody to free spool the line, and Cody tried to catch one of those three Geets using the Bonita, but they'd had enough.  When Cody brought the Bonita in to the boat, he discovered that its tail actually belonged to the Geets!  I caught a Russell Snapper and to my absolute delight, a Moontail Sea Bass.  Talk about brilliant colors--truest red body, a crescent-shaped moon tail tinged with sunshine yellow, and a myriad of yellow-ringed pale lavender spots all over its body--beautiful!  Dredging is truly like selecting a grab bag and receiving a great prize.  We never knew what fish species we hooked until it was near the surface, and then it was to a round of oohs and ahhs, with Devan explaining what we had caught.  The blues, greens, and water clarity allowed us to see fish, but until we had it netted, it was a great guessing game.  Dredging was hard work, but it yielded some great species and a whole lotta fun!

Friday was our last day to fish, and Devan knew that I really wanted that IGFA record, so he paired us with Andrew Mayo.  We again spent the morning fishing for the Bluefin Trevally on St. Francois Lagoon, and just as the tide was receding past the point of no return, I hooked a fish that could set the record.  We followed all the IGFA requirements, and then began fishing for something other than a record. 

The weather and the light were not to our advantage.  The storms blew in around lunch time, and since we were near Tam Tam, we made a run for her to have lunch in a dry setting.  Devan, Alex, and Robert and Ian (father and son from Johannesburg, South Africa), Scoty, Jared, and Will all had the same idea, so we ate a nice lunch and waited for the bad weather to abate.  Eventually, the rains stopped, but the cloud cover remained.  Andrew asked if I wanted to try to set another IGFA record, which I did, so we targeted some more Bluefin Trevallys.  The winds were too high for us to dredge Helmut Knoll, so we stayed near the coral reefs around Bijoutier.  Cody did catch a few Peacock Groupers, Russell Snappers, and a small Moontail Sea Bass.  I caught a couple of Russell Snappers, but I was just worn out from stripping so hard all week long, so I mainly enjoyed watching Cody fish.  Even though the conditions were unfavorable, Friday was a great day!  Andrew worked really hard to help me catch a record fish, and we caught some beautiful species, which Cody and I dubbed "Aquarium" fishing. 

We slept late, Saturday morning, packed our bags, hung around the lounge, walked the beach, fished, and relaxed, while waiting for our Beechcraft to take us to the island of Mahe.  We took group photos, boarded the plane for an hour-and-a-half flight northeast, bid goodbye to Robert and Ian, stored our luggage, and went to Eden Island for a long supper at Bravo!  Our bill for 13 people was a little over $1,000.00!  We were all shell-shocked at the mugging we were getting.  Our iced tea bill alone was $40.00.  At 21:00, we divied everything, paid our bill, caught our taxis back to the airport, checked in, and waited for our 23:50 flight to Dubai.  The airport was stuffy and crowded, mainly because the flight to Heathrow was delayed for over an hour.  Fortunately, the flights to Qatar, Frankfurt, and Dubai were on time, and off we flew.

We landed in Dubai around 5:00 and were able to clear customs and security by 5:30.  I showered, changed clothes, and we walked around the airport looking for the Dunkin Donuts booth that was there last time.  Dunkin Donuts is no longer present, but we found a tribe of Africans sleeping in the floor, a Cinnabon store, a Marble Slab Creamery, and a place to rest before catching our 9:30 flight to Houston.  We boarded at 9:00, and I fell asleep rather quickly.  While sleeping, we taxied, then waited 35 minutes on the tarmac before taking off; thus, we were behind schedule with trade winds not in our favor. 

After a 16 1/2 hour flight, we eventually arrived in Houston at Bush Intercontinental at 17:45; however, we had missed our Houston to Dallas flight--the last Continental flight of the evening.  So, as we were clearing Customs, we were dialing Southwest Airlines and booking flights from Houston Hobby Airport to Dallas Love Field, where our cars were located.  Customs was easy to clear; locating our bags was a chore, but we did find them.  David arranged for three taxis to take us 35 minutes, a $75.00 cab fare, south.  We waited in line 45 minutes, but checked our free-flying bags and headed to our Gate.  At 20:05, we loaded the very full plane for home, where we landed 55 minutes later.  Bag retrieval was a little slow, but we found our bags, trekked to our car, and headed to Whataburger on Mockingbird @ Lemmon.  Oh, that was a great #7 with real Iced Tea!  We arrived home to our bed at 23:00.  As Judy Garland sang John Howard Payne's infamous words, "There's no place like home," I was truly believing it at that moment.

Yes, the trip is a veritable beating; yes, we fly eight planes round trip; yes, we have to pack everything we need but keep the "need" to 33 pounds; yes, the food is absolutely outstanding, and yes! I would do it all again!  (However, I might not fly non-stop to Dubai anymore.  No plane is comfortable after 16 hours; no plane!)

3 comments:

  1. great report and a awesome trip!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. One of these days i'm going to have to make that trip. Looks like you had a great time.
    Bill Seals

    ReplyDelete
  3. Casey and Bill--thank you both, and y'all you should book a trip with Tailwaters the next time they go, or book a rod slot on your own. The food, chalet's outdoor showers, and fishery are the best anywhere, hands down!

    ReplyDelete

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