Mýrarkvísl, Iceland - Affordable Salmon, Trout and Char Fishing

November 18th, 2014

Mýrarkvísl is tributary of the Laxa I Adaldal on the north coast of Iceland and offers the perfect opportunity to have a private river system and lake for three to four rods combing brown trout, salmon and arctic char. It is an intimate river that holds a large head of brown trout along with a reasonable runs of good sized salmon through the summer. Mýrarkvísl flows across the Reykjaheiði plateau for the first 15 km making it perfect for dry fly fishing for trout. Further down the water course the river runs through a stunning canyon where it is often possible to see the fish you are targeting. The remaining 4 km meanders across the meadows by Laxamýri and into the Laxá in Aðaldal about 5km from the ocean.

The fishing season starts on 1 June with brown trout fishing and at that time it is not unusual to catch 10-15 browns a day with a fairly good average size. Later in June the salmon start making their way in small numbers and these fish being Laxa I Adaldal stock have a large average size. In June the focus is mostly on brown trout so there are not many salmon caught then. The river has a unique character with such diversity of fishing there will always be something to entertain from casting a nymph or a dry fly on the upper section to a rising trout, or trying to winkle out a large salmon on the hitch in the canyon pools. In early July the focus begins to switch to salmon and through the middle of July the numbers begin to increase.

Primetime for salmon on Mýrarkvísl is mid–July throughout August. The river like many rivers in Iceland used to allow worming for salmon and as one would expect the numbers dropped off dramatically. The river was therefore closed to fishing for the 2013 season to try to help the stock recover.  In 2014 the river reopened with new leaseholders and the rules were changed to fly only and catch and release. The 2014 season saw the benefit of closure with the highest number of salmon being caught in the past five years.  Mýrarkvísl, like other rivers that are part of the Laxá tributaries has a high average size and some years a 50% of multi winter salmon. The average size in 2014 was 75cm or roughly 10lbs.

Fishing on the Langavatn lake is also included. The lake holds a large stock of small arctic char along with good size brown trout making it a great option for families. Along with the lake is the little river Geitafellsá that runs through meadows just by the lodge before ending up in the Langavatn lake. The river is small and not dissimilar to a chalkstream, perfect for dry fly fishing. In June and July anglers can expect to catch good size brown trout & from late July the arctic char from the lake start heading up river for spawning in great number.

There are two accommodation options. The first is the Geitafell farm house offering self-catering accommodation with four bedrooms, bathroom, living room, shower and fully functional kitchen. Alternatively clients can stay at the fully catered Brekka guest house situated just down the road on the banks of the Adaldal.

The costs based on three rods will be £1,330 per rod self-catered or £1,660 per rod fully catered. These prices are inclusive of fishing licenses, accommodation and guiding. They do not include transfers, internal or international flights.

If you would be interested in further details or an itinerary then please contact Peter McLeod or Alex Jardine alternatively call our office on +44(0) 1980 847389.

Alphonse Fishing News: 1 - 9 November 2014

November 18th, 2014

The week started with strong South-easterly winds as this season continues to run late. The early season bonefishing has continued to impress and so have the triggerfish, trevally and permit catches. This week proved to be a big GT week with some real monsters landed on the flats, in the channels and along the surf line. The normal bout of tackle failure occurred as numerous anglers lost tackle to these big unforgiving ‘tackle busters’.

Andrew Martin managed to hang onto an unforgettable brace of big fish. His first GT measured 112 cm (63 lbs) and a couple days later he topped it with a fish of 118 cm in length and a 90 cm in girth (75 lbs). Stanislav Gorbounov also landed a personal best GT of 111 cm (60 lbs). The week got even better when Andrew Wood and Sergey Ivanyutin both landed “Flats Slams” comprising of a GT, triggerfish and bonefish all in one session.

Tight lines from Keith and the Alphonse team!

For more details on Alphonse or to hold space please contact Peter McLeod or call us on 01980 847389.

St Brandon’s Atoll Fishing Report: 1 - 10 November 2014

November 18th, 2014

The start of our second trip of in late 2014 saw us experiencing some really great weather and the fishing matched it every inch of the way. Our first day out and everyone climbed into some memorable bonefishing. Ivan who was new to game landed his first ever bonefish and went on to land several more before a gorgeous Indian Ocean sunset closed proceedings.

The weather however did not last for long as heavy cloud and some drizzle greeted our second morning. Not to be deterred we headed out as experience has taught us some of the most exciting skinny water fishing occurs when the sun is nowhere to be seen. True to form some big fish snaked along the shallows and we managed to stick a couple of dark back fatties. The weather cleared by the afternoon and the cool water temperatures ensured we experienced the sort of bonefishing only St Brandon’s can offer.

Our third day out provided our guests with a taste of the diversity St Brandon’s has to offer. Whilst Ivan and Chase were exploring one of the large coral ridges they saw a shoal of massive bluefin trevally crashing into a panic stricken mass of baitfish. Quick to react, Chase changed Ivan’s fly to something more suitable before moving into position. Ivan to his credit showed nerves of steal and delivered the perfect cast. Keeping his cool like a veteran he let the fly drift in the current until the bluefin started moving in for another round mayhem. The large bolts of blue charged fish rushed into the bait ball, Ivan made two aggressive strips and the biggest of the group rushed over and smashed the fly in shin deep water. Ivan set the hooked and the fish sprinted off! He fought the fish with intensity that ensured it came to hand fairly quickly and after some quick pics the fish swam off strongly.

Alena and Oleg were on a different island experiencing a similar scenario with guide Christiaan and two most welcome guests. Two big black GTs were cruising along side another shoal of massive bluefin. Oleg rushed into position and lined the fish up. He led the two fish by a few meters and they moved in closer. Two big strips and the lead fish tore into full speed and devoured his fly. He set the hook and the fish bolted off with immense power. Line was ripping off the reel before a loud “crack” and his the line shot back towards him. The fish had snapped the 50lb braided core fly line as if it was cotton. Guide Christiaan and Oleg dropped to their knees, but before they could deal with the emotion of what had just transpired the bluefin were pushing baitfish back onto the ridge. A quick repair job and they were again into the action.

MC secretly had his mind set on a permit after having multiple shots at these tricky customers over the first few days without any success. Content after landing some big bonefish and a big bluefin, we stopped at the last spot of the day. MC and Denton split up and during his brief walk MC noticed three fish move in front of him. They were moving quickly but he made a cast and as luck would have it one pinned the fly down. He set the hook and after a couple of nerve-racking moments he landed his first permit. Not a monster by any means but a gorgeous slab of gold and one that will never be forgotten.

MC’s trip was not done just yet though and on the second last day he, Denton and guide Christiaan began walking a ridge that has recently been producing the goods. Whilst watching another big shoal of bluefin working some baitfish, Christiaan spotted a dark fish patrolling behind the bluefin. It was a GT for sure! MC moved into position and made an accurate cast. A few big strips and the fished raced onto the fly and engulfed it. It bolted off through the coral garden with Christiaan hot on its heels and MC hanging on the other end. Fortunately they managed to clear the line from the coral minefield and landed his prized 104cm GT.

The last full day of fishing was a gift sent down from heaven! Perfect flats fishing conditions included a light breeze, sunshine and some skinny water bonefish. There’s nothing quite like it and no doubt was a reminder to our guests why St Brandon’s is such a special speck in the ocean. Although there were more than a few highs, Alena’s weighed 8 lb single in ankle deep water was one that stands out. A delicate cast, one strip and the fish tailed on the fly. What a way to end the week.

Thank you to all our guests for an extremely enjoyable trip. We look forward to seeing you back soon!

Until next week
The St Brandon’s Guide Team

For more details on St Brandon’s Atoll or to hold space please contact Peter McLeod or call us on 01980 847389.

Indian Ocean; space roundup at 14th November

November 13th, 2014

If you would like to fish one of the first two weeks on Astove, please get in touch. As the season gets underway and guides are already either in situ or getting ready to go, there are still rods scattered throughout the weeks on all of the operations so for more details or to hold space please contact Charlotte Chilcott or call us on 01980 847389

Species diversity coupled with very comfortable accommodation, it doesn’t get much better than this. If your preferred dates aren’t showing, please contact us as there may be rods held but so far unconfirmed.

6-13 December 2014 x 1 rod
27 December – 3 January 2014 x 2 rods
3-10 January 2015 x 8 rods
10-17 January 2015 x 7 rods
17-24 January 2015 x 2 rods
31 January – 7 February 2015 x 2 rod
14-21 February 2015 x 3 rods
21-28 February 2015 x 2 rods
28 February - 7 March 2015 x 4 rods
14-21 March 2015 x 1 rod
4-11 April 2015 x 4 rods
11-18 April 2015 x 3 rods

They say the best things come in small packages and Astove has all the makings of being GT central. Fish it first: there is a chance two rods may come free in the first week and there are still three rods available in the second week.

16-23 February x 3 rods remaining

23 February - 2 March x 1 rod
9-16 March x 6 rods
16-23 March x 1 rod
30 March - 6 April x 1 rods
6-13 April x 6 rods

Extreme saltwater fishing with the focus on GTs, for the remainder of this season, it remains a liveaboard operation.

14-22 November 2014 x 1 rod
29 November – 6 December 2014 x 3 rods

Pristine flats that are home to permit, big bones and smaller numbers of big GTs, St Brandons remains a liveaboard operation. Nothing this good, is going to be quick to get to but it has to be on your bucket list.

31 March - 9 April 2015 x 6 rods
22 April - 1 May x 4 rods
5-14 May 2015 x 8 rods

Challenge yourself against the atolls unique bumphead parrotfish as well as the GTs. With simple accommodation, Farquhar is all about the fishing.

3-10 December x 5 rods
4-11 March x 10 rods
11-18 March x 10 rods

1-8 April 2015 x 10 rods
8-15 April 2015 x 10 rods
15-22 April 2015 x 3 rods

For more details please contact Charlotte Chilcott or call us on 01980 847389.

Tapâm – Giant Jungle Tarpon in Nicaragua Opens

November 11th, 2014

When the movie “Tapâm - a flyfishing journey” came out in 2010 a lot of tarpon fans were dumbstruck. The 30 minutes long film was almost one continuous cocktail of rolling, jumping, hooked, lost, hard fighting and – sometimes – landed tarpon. It wasn’t classic flats tarpon fishing from a poled boat but instead the scene was set on a jungle river somewhere in Central America - and the two crazy fly fishermen didn’t fish from a boat but from float tubes instead!

The Tapâm-movie created a huge of buzz in the fly fishing community and we all wanted to know where it was, and how we could get there. Fishermen knew right away that they would like to experience fishing of that calibre – but nine out of ten also came to the conclusion that though the float tubes really did make the film more memorable, they themselves would prefer fishing from a boat instead of drifting around like an oversized red bobbin on a deep river only a short distance from the sea…

Well, it didn’t amount to any Tapâm-fishing from float tubes, boats or anything else for us drooling poon-fanatics anyway. Understandably, the guys behind the film were very secretive about exactly where the fishing had taken place.

It took a few coincidences, a little luck, two flying Dutchmen, an American-Nicaraguan couple and a Scandinavian fishing nut – but from spring of 2014 everything has moved on so fast that we no longer need to keep it secret. The negotiations with the local Indians has fallen into place, a small lodge in the jungle is under construction on their land and new boats have been ordered. In early 2015 we will see the opening of what must be the biggest tarpon-news in decades and we are delighted that Aardvark McLeod have been chosen to be the exclusive agents in the UK.

Fishing will occur in the exact same location where the Tapâm-movie was filmed. This unique fishery is on the Atlantic coast of Nicaragua – in a nature reserve where only the local Indians can decide who are allowed to fish there. We are proud to offer exclusive fishing in one of the world’s most interesting tarpon hot spots!

Fly fishing for tarpon here will be with sinking, intermediate or floating lines, according to the conditions. There is a reasonable amount of blind casting, but when the exploratory group fished this spring they noticed that several times a day did tarpon were chasing bait so hard that the surface turned into a frenzy of jumping baitfish. Under those conditions they would strip flies so fast that those big poons would inhale them in huge swirls right below the surface.

During six days in May – on a full moon week where the fishing tend to be tougher and without any prior knowledge of the area – two fishermen hooked 23 tarpon. They saw fish in sizes we won’t even mention. Without any doubt, the area is home to tarpon of way more than 200 lbs! To land them – on a fly rod – is obviously an entirely different matter.

Our first season runs from mid-January until the end of May. Though there will be great interest in fishing this new destination it has been decided only two boats per week will fish. When the 2015 season has closed the decision will be made as to whether this fishery can carry a third boat. Also to aid in conservation and prevent overfishing from the start every third or fourth week will be “closed” throughout the season. It will coincide with full moon weeks where the fishing can be a little tougher anyway and by doing it will ensure the fishery is rested.

If you would like to experience the first season on this unique destination you must act relatively fast. We haven’t even posted the destination on our website yet, just a few phone calls to friends and partners with a love for tarpon fishing.

Most weeks are already partly or fully booked but there are still open spots in 2015. Of course, we are already taking bookings for 2016, too. The price per week, 6 days fishing (excl. flights) is from €3300. We can offer the following:

16 – 26 January 2015       2 rods

11 – 25 April 2015             2 rods

23 – 30 May 2015              4 rods

The route in will be international flight to Managua with an overnight in Managua and then from Managua to Bluefields. We can only recommend that you also watch the movie. It can be found in tackle shops or you can buy it online here.

For more information on this new  destination or to check availability for next season please contact Peter McLeod or call +44 1980 847389.

St Brandon’s Atoll Fishing Report: 21 - 30 October 2014

November 11th, 2014

We knew we were in for a really enjoyable week when we met up with our group of guests on board the 21-30 October 2014 trip. Needless to say, excitement levels were high among both guests and guides as we began our journey to the finest bonefish destination on the planet.

Upon arriving we jumped straight into action with the teams revelling in some classic skinny-water fishing for big bones, as well as racking up the numbers as some of our large resident shoals hoovered up a well-presented fly. It had been a good first day and with the group mingling well, stories about their own personal experiences on day one flowed well past dinner.

Despite a tricky very early morning low tide, we managed get everyone consistently into the some solid fish over the next two days. Granted it was not fireworks by St Brandon’s standards but good enough to keep even the most ardent bonefish enthusiast more than happy. As the low tide started to move further into the morning sessions we were able to fish our spots of choice and ambush the fish as they were moving onto the flats. This resulted in more classic skinny-water fishing to bones between 6-8 lbs, which is exactly why St Brandon’s has become such a coveted fishery. There is simply nothing quite like seeing the slow determined motion of a large bone as he moves up onto the flat with the tide behind him. His tail and dorsal fin glisten in the sunlight and the excitement mounts as your fly lands softly 2 feet away from him. It’s what saltwater flats fishing is all about and a real privilege to share with our guests.

As the week developed further some really good bluefin trevally also started to make an appearance. They, along with the odd brute GT could be seen tracking big nurse sharks as they scoured the flats. These are great scenarios to encounter fish and so after some well-presented flies a few monsters came charging off their host and devoured a well-stripped fly.

By the second to last day everyone had caught more than their fair share of bonefish and so attentions turned towards searching for a GT. Two shoals of 50 plus fish were spotted during this time, however luck was not on our side when it came to the GT’s this week. On one occasion a single strip after a well-presented cast resulted in a GT rushing up to and engulfing the fly. Sadly the hook never found purchase but that’s GT fishing for you. The permit too proved tricky to hook this week. Despite multiple sightings and opportunities at holding and tailing fish we just could not manufacture a hook up. A real pity as there was some really nice size fish around.

All in all however, our guests enjoyed some world class bonefish fishing (the largest weighed fish coming in just over 8.5 lbs) as well as some really exciting bluefin, GT and permit fishing. We would like to thank each of them for joining us this season, you were great fun to fish with!

Things are however looking really good on the atoll at the moment so keeping check on us as we have a feeling some really special fish are just around the corner!

Until next time, The St Brandon’s guide team.

For more details on St Brandon’s Atoll or to hold space please contact Peter McLeod or call us on 01980 847389.

Alphonse Fishing News: 22 October - 1 November 2014

November 11th, 2014

Repetitive sounding fishing reports are indicative of how constant this season’s good fortunes have been on a weekly basis. The reports might sound similar, but the smiling faces in the photos have varied on a daily basis. Although this week’s weather has been largely unpleasant at times the fishing has still been impressive with continued catches of triggerfish, GT’s and permit.

Paul Davidson managed a beautiful permit of 8 lbs, which he enticed from the back of a feeding stingray. Later on in the week Stephen Thomas came close to the second permit of the week when he lost a trophy fish after a long fight. There was a distinctive splash of colour in the daily selection of photos as nine great looking triggers were caught and released for the six days of fishing. The GT’s were around creating their normal havoc, which started with Keith Melidoni breaking the 100 cm (45 lbs) barrier on the first day. Braden Beck hooked up a good GT after seven fish charged the boat and fly. Henry took a walk to the surf with Scott Keller and the two of them were astounded when they saw a GT that was apparently too big to be a GT! The manta rays and milkfish have started to move into the lagoon which boasts well for the up and coming weeks. Stephen Busch and Terry Ring were the first anglers to “hook up” but sadly lost both fish were lost after lengthy fights. The fish of the week had to be Frayser White’s monster barracuda of about 40 lbs (160 cm).

Another great week, tight lines from Keith Rose-Innes, Devan Van Der Merwe and the Alphonse Team.

For more details on Alphonse or to hold space please contact Peter McLeod or call us on 01980 847389.

Brazil; Marie River peacock bass fishing, lodge report.

November 11th, 2014

Marie River in Brazil has been fishing extremely well in its inaugural season, with more big peacock bass being caught than anywhere else. This is where the world record peacock bass on the fly will surely be caught - it’s only a matter of time.

Here’s a recent trip report  (by John Sherman):

Our week was a challenging one due to water levels. The river rose 10ft the week we were down there and the fishing was about 1/2 to 1/3 as good as previous weeks, the water was on the rise every day, with the exception of the second to last day.  With that being said everyone in the group had multiple good days and 4 fish over 20lbs were landed! My first fish was a 19lb’er and my second fish hooked broke a TMC 600 SP 3/0 (easily in the 20lb class), and my third fish hooked was a 20.5 all in the first hour of the 1/2 day of fishing!  What a way to start!!  We had a few slow days where we caught about 10 for the boat and a few excellent days where we were well over 30.

I can imagine how good the sight fishing would be with the right low water conditions (Almost all of the white sand gravel bars had multiple feet of water over the top of them). I saw three fish on the trip and got all 3 to eat.  I think you will attract many of the saltwater flats anglers down there by properly promoting this aspect of the fishery.

I was very impressed with how well the operation was run, given it was the inaugural season and with the remoteness of destination. The staff, food, boats and guides were all excellent. The way the Native guides worked with the Brazilian and Argentina guides were like they’ve been doing it for 10+ years, and both guides provided value while fishing.

Season is impressively good and the numbers tell the story:

Oct 1- Oct 29th - 4 weeks opening season:
Average number of Peacocks caught per week: 460
Average number of 10 plus pounders per week: 23
Average Number of 18 plus pounders per week: 12
Total number of 20+ pounders in 5 weeks of 8 anglers: 22 (Average of 5,5 fish over 20 pound class per week)

Prime of the season is September-November, with the cost of a week currently set at US$5,950 + US$595 for the reserve fee. This is based on the 2014 season, but little change is expected for the 2015 season.

For more details on Marie River or to enquire on availability please contact Steffan Jones or call us on 01980 847389.

Farquhar Atoll; Hosted Trip Report by Peter McLeod, 22 - 29 October 2014

November 6th, 2014

The isolated atoll of Farquhar in the Indian Ocean has been a favourite spot of mine for several years now. It still offers wild fishing experiences but from a land based operation. This year I returned for my third visit. Farquhar will challenge you as a fisherman, teach you a huge amount about giant trevally behaviour along with numerous other species and offer you some unique experiences not to be found anywhere else. Although the GTs may not be as numerous as Cosmoledo or Astove, I have always seen some of the largest specimens here. It is a technical fishery and under the expert tutelage of the guides the results can be hugely rewarding. Our team flew on Emirates via Dubai, and then stayed at the Crown Beach Hotel on Mahé. The following morning we boarded the IDC Beechcraft to Farquhar in a high state of excitement.

On arrival we were welcomed by the guide team and taken down to the guest house on the tractor. Immediately I could see some radical changes had been made to previous and it was lovely to be reunited with Mona who was now managing the house and staff. Mona ran one of the live aboard operations that I fished back in 2007 and she was hugely efficient then. Her new team was welcoming, smiley and nothing was too much trouble. The whole area around the house has been cleaned up, raked, flowers planted and the palapa has been decorated with palm fronds creating an altogether different atmosphere to years gone by. The fresh coconut drink finished the welcoming feel followed by lunch.

All the gear was pulled out as most of the contents of a tackle shop appeared on the veranda. Four of us went out to take a look at Home Flat that afternoon, but apart from some big triggers dancing in the deep water and a squadron of bumpies playing in the bay the tides were really too high to see anything on the flat. It was great to get the arm going though and get kit in the right places before the following day. That evening I was awarded the “Downstream Mud Mullet” wig, thanks Tim!

Day 1 – Slamming it

The first morning dawned clear and bright, and as always at the beginning of the week I was up at the crack of dawn sipping coffee on the balcony. This two was a huge improvement on previous visits with freshly filtered ground coffee already there by 0600. My fishing partner was to be John Pollard guided by head guide and guru Tim Babich in one of the new skiffs. Built in Mauritius and shipped over they are fantastic craft and perfect for Farquhar. Two 25 HP 4 strokes with a centre console, casting deck and leaning bar they are very fuel efficient and comfortable. Tim took us down to Hell of a Place to begin with, a really good area of turtle grass flats punctuated by white holes that the fish like to sit in. Unfortunately the light was bad and with the fast dropping tide we only saw one big GT bow waving across the flats in the morning light but we did not manage to get a shot in. We split up and waded down either side. John had shot at a GT coming up tide on the left and spent a long time chasing his first big yellow margin trigger. The trigger charged in on the fly but John sadly did not hook up. With the tough light Tim moved us down to Trigger Happy as the edge is white sand dropping to aquamarine water. Jumping out into waist deep water it was not long before a fish came cruising down the white edge.

John fired out a great cast, dropping the poodle well in front. The fish tuned into the splash and charged ten yards to hammer the fly before heading for deep water. As this was John’s first GT he played it steadily but was stunned by its power. Finally Tim closed in and tailed it, a lovely fish of 65 cm, and a great way to start.

Wading a little further we encountered a marauding pack of bluefin trevally and I pulled one out of the pack on my Hardy Proaxis 9# and a bead crab. Shortly after another blue shape came cruising out of the deep some distance out. I started stripping off line and waded further out to intercept, casting as I went. The new Rio GT line sung out through the rings and the cast landed a little short. Again this fish was in hunting mode and immediately reacted as the black and purple fly hit the water. The GT accelerated to attack speed and closed the distance before smashing the fly. I set the hook and cleared the line. As this was a test for the new Hardy SDS 12000 reel I cranked the drag handle and gave the fish very little line. Pumping and winding the large arbor made keeping in contact with the fish easy - not even allowing it to see backing. In short order I landed a beautiful fish of 82 cm.

With the tide rising fast we ran across deep water to hit the ridges for the push. This is a broken coral strip that has two channels on either side that creates excellent rips as the water rides over it and a perfect place for GTs coming in from the ocean side to hunt. We saw bluefins and some sharks cruising in, but the water was rising too fast and we had to move. I spotted a couple of big GTs up against the beach of Goulette looking for birds, but they moved off before we could get close. As we went past the sand spit between Goulette and South Point a football of a trigger fish was acting like a GT and hanging out at the end, chowing on anything washed down. John and Tim waded down and as his crab wafted out towards the fish it bounced in to investigate, but turned around and sulked on a bommie in deeper water. However, another trigger fish came out of no where and hoovered the crab.

John landed his first trigger in style and with time on our hands Tim ran us over to Red Carpet to finish the slam on a bonefish. That would be easy… right? The school of bones were in deep water by now, always a challenge. After a few close calls, a heart stopping moment with a big permit, a distraction with a huge 60 lbs cuda that we hooked and lost, John finally managed to land his bonefish and complete a slam on his first day in the Seychelles. GT, triggerfish and bone all in one day.

Back at the lodge we discovered that others had also had an adventurous day. Roland starred with sailies, raised one, hooked it, but came off as did not turn on the fly.  Tony and Dave had been fishing offshore and caught tuna, a 500lbs bull shark and a lovely GT of 117cm. Quite an eventful first day.

Day 2 – Trigger Time

As the sun glimmered over the horizon it again looked to be a clear morning full of promise. As Wes, Roland and I headed out of the bay the pets congregated around the boat. Wes putted up the channel while he explained our plan for the day as we were going to try and raise a sailfish on high tide first thing. We trawled a conehead teaser for an hour but no luck, so we ran down to Goulette, and then out to Ze Plateau. Wes moored the boat up on a stunning turtle grass flat whose top edge dropped into the blue.

Having seen some action along the edge Roland and I chucked a few casts over the edge and caught two GTs in quick succession. During the battles a marble grouper and a giant rock cod came to try and eat them which added to the excitement.

As the three of us waded on up the flat on the drop I was buzzed by a stunning blue GT in front of small shark which made a sharp exit before I could get a cast out. A little further on there was a lot of activity on the surf line.  As we hopped from coral head to coral head I suddenly saw a good sized lemon shark about 20 yards ahead heading back out again. I yelled at Wes and pointed it out and then we all rushed towards it to see if it had any friends. The shark was attracted by the splashing and turned round to investigate so Roland landed his fly just next to its head. The shark grabbed it immediately and charged off bending Roland’s 12 weight in a flat curve and ripping line off the reel. At about 2.5m and roughly 200lbs this lemon was probably the largest thing he had ever hooked on the fly. As the waves crashed over Roland and Wes the battle continued. He fought it for approximately 15 mins and nearly had it beat, but its sharp teeth finally cut the leader in the surf. Roland needed a swim to cool down after that, but it was one hell of an eat I will never forget.. Like an angry dog.

As the tide pushed us back up the flat away from the reef line below the turtle grass the flat opens up to a stunning white sand area punctuated with small coral heads, a perfect trigger fish environment. I had one good shot at a nice Triton trigger which came scurrying over to eat my crab and after a score of nips spooked before I could hook him. Shortly after that a little further on I saw a trigger that looked like a small football scurrying around a couple of coral heads. As the wind was coming over my right shoulder I put a back hand cast out with my Hardy Proaxis 9# and the crab dropped nicely a foot away from the tailing trigger. I let it sink and then gave the crab one short strip. The trigger immediately came scurrying over and as I gave the crab a long slow strip I could feel it nipping at the fly. Finally everything went tight and he was on. The fish was not happy and charged off across the flat doing its best to wrap me round every little coral head along the way. I splashed along behind trying to keep up and undo the knitting as Wes caught up with me. I really thought I would be pinged on the coral any second as I was only on 16 lbs leader. After a few heart stopping moments in which Wes managed to unpick further coral close encounters I managed to raise its head and Wes tailed the extremely cross Triton trigger. I was overjoyed as this was my largest trigger by far and we estimated it at a beast of 9 lbs. I was shaking for some time afterwards and that was my trip made right there.

Wes dropped us at a deep edge on a tidal highway to do a little dredging while he went to fetch the boat. Roland and I lasted no more than 15 mins casting the 700 grain lines and we retired to a coral bombie on the bottom to watch. Looking over my left shoulder I suddenly saw a big GT sliding down the tide hunting in holes. It looked like a giant trout dropping back in a river current. I threw a cast at it on the 700 grain line, but as the line hit the water like a ton of bricks it spooked. Typical GT behaviour though on the incoming tide. Roland had a great shot at a big Napoleon wrasse tailing on the flats while we had a late lunch and then we went over to Goulette to hunt the beach. Goulette is an extraordinary island, it has the largest nesting site for sooty terns in the Indian Ocean, approximately 400,000 pairs.

The GTs have already figured this out as an alternative food source and being the opportunistic predators they are, cruise around the island looking for birds. They will actually track them in flight and come out of the water to eat them. We’re not just talking fledglings either, they will eat adults as well. Unfortunately I had nothing in my fly box that would represent a full grown sooty tern! We wandered around the island and saw a few big fish coming in on waves looking for a meal. Roland had one fish charge his fly, but the fish missed it. Round the back of the island I climbed the high beach and spotted.

There was a classic draw where two currents met leaving a cloudy area between two cold rips, and sure enough a pair of GTs patrolled on the waves. Every so often they would smash through the cloudy water to eat unsuspecting baitfish holed up there. Although Roland put some really good casts to them unfortunately they were not playing the game. Our little group finished off at Red Carpet again allowing me to catch an obliging bone to complete slam. Another eventful day on this incredible atoll.

Day 3 – The Long Walk

My morning coffee run this morning revealed an overcast sky and some large clouds in the distance. Spotting was going to be tough today. My fishing partners for the day were Julien and Peter as guide. Julien is the editor in chief of the French fishing magazine Voyages des Peches. Peter had planned a bit of an expedition for us today with a long walk from South Point on the high tide wading all the way across to Napoleon Dynamite and then back again on the push.

We investigated various cuts on the ocean side, but also then lagoon side as the tide dropped out. While wading down the inner edge looking for triggers I saw a GT cruising up the aquamarine water. I quickly pulled the 12# off my back, tucked the 9# between my legs and stripped off the line before throwing a hurried cast at an intercept angle. A pack of bluefin trevally immediately tried to eat it, which sparked interest from the GT that accelerated to attack speed as it rushed in looking for a meal. With mullet leaping out of the way the fish engulfed the fly and then… Nothing.. failure to hook, argghh! Ah well, that’s how it goes sometimes. Julien and I had one more encounter there where the fish spooked, and then two more big GTs came uptide… but we were holding the wrong rods. I bumped into a big Napoleon Wrasse and Julien had his first casts at bumpies, but lady luck was not with us.  By the time we had waded back for lunch the boat was high and dry.

After lunch Peter led us round South Point heading north along the Long Walk. There were plenty of large bones on the incoming surf, Julien caught a nice 5 lber, saw a big cuda in the surf which again refused my offering, and then smashed a few bones out of a school. As we pointed our weary feet in the direction of home I spotted one big single bonefish nosing through the waves. I cast up wind and dropped the crab a little distance away to ambush it.  When the fish was a foot away I gave the crab one small twitch. The bonefish immediately reacted and pounced on it like a cat with a mouse. I strip struck and battle ensued. Every time I hook a big bone I forget how powerful they are and this was no exception. Line peeled off the reel and I held the rod high above my head to stop the leader being cut on the coral. After a couple more screaming runs I gained control and finally brought the fish to hand. It was a lovely bone of approximately 7 lbs. On the way home a lovely nurse shark came into the shallows allowing a chance to see it close up which was fascinating.

Back at the lodge Roland and John had had an adventure fishing with Matthieu. He and John had both hooked bumpies in the surf at Trigger Happy. Roland was bitten off by one and hooked another which smashed through the surf with school. He and Matthieu followed in after it falling off coral heads with the surf crashing over them. He was obviously getting a taste for it! They finally landed the well deserved fish which was approximately 45 lbs.

Then over at Goulette on the inside edge a big GT came in on the waves and tore into his Olive Semper before charging off back into the surf line. Taking line they followed it into the current and finally managed to crush its spirit against the pushing tide.

Matthieu taped it at 101cm. Roland went on to catch his bonefish and complete the slam, but not without hooking a big permit on his first cast that popped the leader. Now that really would have been a day to remember.

Day 4 – Sail Ho

I have to admit that on waking I was feeling pretty stiff and sore in the morning after the long walk the day before. The sky looked heavy, but as the tides were still high in the morning John, Brenden and I opted to see if we could not raise another sailfish. Farquhar is one of the few destinations in the world where the prime sail fishing grounds are only five minutes from the flats and the lodge. As the teaser skittered across the surface the heavens opened and heavy rain began to fall. After an hour of trolling suddenly from the depths came a really hot sail thrashing at the teaser with its bill and lit up like an electric blue bolt of lightning. Brenden teased the enraged sailfish all the way to the back of the boat as it made sideways slashing attacks and John managed to get a fly to it. It hit the fly immediately but in all the excitement John did not set the hook and the fly came free. Almost immediately it ate again and charged off in the opposite direction. John managed to clear the line until the last loop threw itself around the reel handle and the line parted like a gunshot. We were then treated to acrobatic display as the sailfish tore across the surface, and we could still see the pink popper in its mouth. By the time it came clean out of the water for the sixth time the fly was gone and the fish subsided back into the deep. I think we were all slightly in a state of shock and a reminder how powerful those fish are.

We raised one more in the chucking rain, but could not get it into the back off the boat so moved into the inside of the lagoon and headed to Shlatzy. The tide was nearly all the way out but there were some excellent bones cruising along the beach edge.  John caught five before nailing a fantastic 7 lbs fish on a sand prawn. I weighed it on my Boga grip out of interest.

I caught one 5 lbs fish that gave me quite a scrap, then Brenden took us by boat round the to the back of Napoleon Dynamite for the push. It’s a stunning spot with white holes in the turtle grass, a perfect hunting ground for Mr GT. John hit one small GT on a blind cast but there was nothing else showing so next stop was the sand spit that John had caught his trigger on near Goulette. I saw some really big bluefin, had one shot at a big GT that came in on the surf but could not hook either. Time for home and a cold beer. Seemed it had been a quieter day for everyone, and not surprising considering the weather.

Day 5 – Go North

By day five everything has hit a rhythm and you feel you have been on the island a long time. Roland, Brenden and I had a very cool plan for the day which after the previous days success started with sailies first thing for an hour or so.

We raised one but could not get a cast, and so headed back into the lodge. One of the tractors then drove us back up to the runway on the north of the atoll so we could fish the whole of the Paris to Dakar flats. These have very little pressure and as the light was good there was a high state of excitement. As the flats came into view it looked perfect.

The tide was dropping and there was a large amount of piscatorial activity going on. There were some encounters with GTs, bumpies, and an hour long window of shots at numerous triggers. I was in heaven, had plenty of follows, a couple of nips and one hook up that ended shortly in tears, but a huge amount of fun.

Roland and I both caught nice bonefish, Roland caught a nice trigger in the surf and a stunning blue spangled Emperor, and then we walked back down the length of the runway pretending to be Aeroplanes (I will never grow up) to a waiting tractor to take us back to the boat. About 20 mins run off the edge of the atoll from Deposé is a raised pinnacle ridge called Mexican which is the home of large things. It is only possible to get to on calm conditions and with another boat as back up. It has always eluded me on previous trips.

This is blue water GT fishing, so as Roland had not done this before Brenden explained how he would throw out the teaser and attract fish to the boat. It is very exciting as a big GT smashes the teaser off the surface and second chuck out Brenden hit a very angry fish. It charged into the boat, Roland whacked his poodle in front of the teaser and the fish grabbed it before giving Roland one hell of a battle. Text book. After a few close calls with it trying to go under the boat Roland got it to the side and Brenden landed it, a fantastic fish of specimen of 92 cm. In all we teased up 15 GTs but no further hook ups. Arriving back that evening there was much joviality as Julien had caught a trigger slam with a nice GT.

Day 6 – Bumpy Time

The mission on the last day was to get Julien into a bumpy. Tim was guiding us and had a cunning plan… a plan so cunning you could pin a tail on it and call it a weasel. We tried to raise a sail briefly, but the water had turned pretty green, so we ran down to Deposé to check for GTs around the island. Deposé is breathtakingly beautiful, azure water lapping against white sand. The bonefish obviously thought so too as a large tail was sticking out of the water against the beach. I cast my crab a little high in the waters edge. I have found that the bones on Farquhar are best ambushed well ahead and as the bone approached gave the line a gentle tweak. The bonefish came straight in and as its tail came up I strip struck.

The fished rushed out onto the flat, but almost immediately one of the black tip sharks we had seen further down came flying up the channel attracted by the commotion. I gave the bonefish no more line and Tim started throwing lumps of coral at its head. Finally I managed to clamp down and just yank the poor bone up the beach. Well, it was better than the alternative. It was a lovely fish of about 5 lbs. As the three of us walked round the other side we encountered another bunch of 5 – 8 lbs bones tailing on the beach edge. Julien caught a lovely fish of 6 lbs on a spawning shrimp that took a lot of line… but no sharks to harass it this time.

After that it was onto Have, looking for GTs, nothing, so Tim took us over to the wreck to look for bumpies. Large green tails greeted us as the schools grazed amongst the coral heads. Julien’s chance was here so I left them to it and waded uptide in search of triggers. What I found was a big GT sitting in a white hole on the dropping current. I switched rods, took the 12# off my back and put the 9# between my legs. Frantically stripping line off the SDS 12000 I cast a grey mullet up to the fish. It turned on it immediately, charged towards me and planed with his mouth out of the water. There was an explosions of spray, but no hook up as the fish spooked down and past the other two. Gutted.

I carried on, spooked a yellow margin and then turned around to find Julien hooked into a bumpy that they had been working on. What ensued was an epic battle as Julien kept his calm and played the fish steadily. I managed to separate it from the rest of the school and then bring it under control. The wreck made a lovely backdrop to the fight, but Tim felt he should go back to the boat to get the net. Finally he arrived back and after a couple of nail biting moments scooped it up. A big old parrot of 30 lbs. Julien was ecstatic as the one fish he had really craved was a bumphead parrotfish. It transpired he had lost one shortly beforehand, his Velcro Crab pattern sheared by their fearsome bolt croppers of a beak, so this made up for it. Mission accomplished.

Tim took us back to the white sands of Have. As Tim pushed the boat I suddenly caught sight of a large fish near the coral break… At first I thought it was a good sized GT but the movement looked all wrong. Then suddenly a large sickle tail came out of the water as the fished ate some unsuspecting crustacean and I could see it was a seriously big permit. I grabbed the boat and Julien slid off the boat with Tim to try and have a cast to the other species he was obsessed with. What was one permit suddenly turned into four and the excitement between us was tangible. His first cast was perfect.. The snapping shrimp went in, the fished moved to investigate and we all held our breath…. But then it behaved like a normal permit and just carried on… They are the devil fish indeed.  As we turned around to go back to the boat the three of us suddenly found ourselves facing a massive GT that had come into investigate the splashing thinking it might be food, and needless to say I could not get a fly to him before he moseyed off in the other direction. By this stage the weather was deteriorating rapidly and there was a huge rain squall heading directly for us. Coats on, hoods up, time to head for home.

John and Roland had also had an epic day with John hooking a bumpy right off the boat at Coco Pops but got bolt cropped. Roland hooked a big one in the deep water and he and Matthieu had gone swimming again. Matthieu had waded well out into deeper water, holding the leader away from the coral to try and land it with the net. They had that fish to the surface three times, but as it was hooked in the top lip it finally rolled on the leader and clipped it. Another epic battle and a brilliant way to end the trip.

Despite having some inclement weather during the week our group experienced some fantastic fishing. I am hugely impressed with the upgrades to the operation from the new boats to the hugely improved service and food. The chef was on hand in the morning in the Palapa to cook everyone’s eggs to their taste, Mona was never far away and her team were hugely attentive. The boat lunches also are now excellent, so that whole side of the operation is vastly improved.

Farquhar is by no means for everyone and if you are thinking that catching GTs in the fly is relatively easy, it is not. You need to hunt them in their own environment and understand what motivates them to put yourself into the right place at the right time to maximise your chances. We saw a huge number of fish over the course of the week, but it is not always possible to present a fly.  It is a wild fishery which changes on a daily basis, and hunting big GTs around this atoll will teach you a huge amount about how they behave, some of the idiosyncrasies they display and why I have grown to love them so much. It is a technical fishery and the more you put in the more you will get out. I also know of few places that can offer the species variety including the truly unique bumphead parrot fishery and an excellent bluewater fishery 300 yards from the flats. The current guide team is exceptional under the watchful eye of Tim Babich. Thanks to Tim, Matthieu, Wes, Brendon and Peter for looking after us and sharing their knowledge.

Four of us caught five slams in six days and in all the team caught 49 GTs on the flats and offshore. The largest was caught by Tony at 132cm which was a beast, and five fish over a metre we caught. We certainly should have added a couple of sailfish to the roster as 28 were raised and cast to, but it just did not go our way. Three bumpies were landed although quite a few more were hooked. Farquhar sits nicely in a niche all of its own, and I know will continue to attract those that wish to explore her vast flats. I will certainly be returning to further my education…

For more information on Farquhar Atoll or to check avaialbility for next season please contact Peter McLeod or call +44 1980 847389.

Desroches; family paradise in the Indian Ocean

November 4th, 2014

Desroches Island Resort is a rare gem in the clear blue waters of the Indian Ocean. Desroches has a wide range of accommodation from the original sea facing chalets to four and five bedroom Villas with their own private pools and caters for all ages so it is a perfect family destination. For the anglers in the family it is no slouch as the images below can attest to. For more details on Desroches or to hold space please contact Charlotte Chilcott or call us on 01980 847389.