Early morning Jungle Tarpon - Amazing film from Nicaragua.

May 22nd, 2015

An incredible little film about the jungle tarpon in Nicaragua at Tapam Lodge. Our first group of clients go in this week and we can’t wait to see how they get on!

For more information or a detailed itinerary please contact Peter McLeod or call +44(0)1980 847389

THE BAHAMAS; WHICH LODGE AND WHY…

May 19th, 2015

Although saltwater anglers now travel much further afield search of a wider range of species to target on fly as well as bonefish, the Bahamas continues to provide one of the finest bonefishing experiences to be had. It not only provides genuinely good opportunities to target big bones but also many other species including permit, tarpon and snook. There are a fantastic array of lodges who have made it their mission to cater for the non-fishing spouse and families ensuring their experience is as fine as that of their fisher folk. The added benefit of the Bahamas is that it is a direct flight to Nassau on British Airways and only a short island hopper to most of the lodges.

Here is a brief introduction to some of the great lodges in the Bahamas:

Andros South

The lodge here very proudly claim that they are not a luxury lodge but far more a lodge for people who love fishing. The accommodation is comfortable but casual, the service is excellent, the food is good and the focus is on fishing. The fishery on South Andros is huge, varied and productive. They fish in four parts of the island; tidal creeks on the East Side, hundreds of small keys off the southern tip of the island, the West Side which is known for large fish, inland ponds and creeks in the middle of the island. Some areas tend to hold large groups of fish while others are home to larger fish in smaller groups. It is our experience that first-time and experienced anglers alike have a great time on the flats of South Andros. There are lots of opportunities for both wading and skiff fishing, depending on your preferences and the conditions.

Tiamo

Also located on Andros Island, Tiamo was built as a boutique luxury spa which also has some excellent fishing. There are varying degrees of accommodation, excellent service and food and spa facilities. They have excellent guides and boats that can take you off directly from the beach in front the lodge. From a fishing perspective the Bahamas is mostly a bonefishing destination, but Andros does have some of the largest bonefish in the Bahamas. The chalets have been recently remodelled, with some of the beach front cabanas having plunge pools in the private decking. The cabanas are on the beach, sheltered from other guests by mature shrubs but only a very short walk from the sea. There is a central pool, bar and dining area and there is a spa and small gym on site for non-fishers. See the current special offer at Tiamo HERE.

Crooked & Acklins Trophy Lodge

A fantastic new operation that allows you to fish both Crooked and Acklins Islands during your stay, both offering varied fishing for a multitude of species. The diverse fisheries found on these outlying islands give you access to permit, a very healthy population of triggerfish, jacks, snapper, tarpon, snook, shark and barracuda to name a few as well as the resident bonefish population. It is a true mixed fishery in an unspoilt and largely unexplored location. Beyond the fishing, you have uninhabited outer islands with wild populations of iguanas and flamingos.

H2O Bonefishing

H2O Bonefishing is one of the, if not the most diverse saltwater programmes under one roof anywhere in the Atlantic and Caribbean. The lodge is located in the town of Freeport in Grand Bahama. Grand Bahama Island has some of the most expansive flats in the Northern Bahamas with shallow flats extending 25 miles to the west and more than sixty miles to the east of the island. Their fishery is just a part of the 2500 square mile Little Bahama Bank. Not only is there a large area of backcountry fishing but fishermen can enjoy the island’s ocean side flats which are well protected and offer miles of white sand, marl and turtle grass flats. Add to that a great offshore fly fishing and light tackle options for dorado and a variety of different tuna species, headlined by the larger and more powerful yellowfin tuna then anglers have a very diverse fishery to experience.

Delphi Lodge

The lodge was modelled on a British Colonial house overlooking a beautiful cove and beach on Abaco Island. Built by Peter Mantle who used to own and run Delphi Lodge in Ireland, the operation runs in a similar way to a typical British house party where everyone sits at one table hosted normally by Peter himself and creates that group feeling. The lodge was very much built with non – fishers in mind and has an infinity swimming pool right outside. The fishing on the marls is primarily skiff fishing, one guide between two fishermen and the bonefishing is abundant, although their size is smaller than found elsewhere in the Bahamas. Although there are no spa facilities on site there is a small spa and treatment centre just down the road. The food at Delphi is excellent and complimented by a very good wine cellar. While the rooms may not be as private as those at Tiamo (by the nature of the shared deck), they are equally comfortable and well appointed.

For more information on any of the Bahamian lodges please contact Alex Jardine or call our office on +44(0)1980 847389.

Nubian Flats - Fifth week 11 - 18 May 2015 report

May 19th, 2015

After a short two week break, the second stint of the 2015 Nubian Flats season kicked off again, and to say that we were excited to get back out there is a huge understatement.

For Week 5 of the season we were joined by a group of friends of South Africa.

The weather forecast really looked good with only 5 knot winds predicted for the week before dying down completely towards the end of the week.

The first morning we woke to a slight breeze and clear skies and as planned, we headed out for the whole day. Upon arriving on the flat, it did not take long before the first tailing triggers revealed themselves. Most of these triggers were pretty aggressive and with a delicate approach were interested in almost all the fly patterns we cast at them. August managed to land two very nice triggers in the process and although we hooked a few more they unfortunately got away. Some medium size bluefin were in the area as well and kept the guys entertained. We finished the day off teasing in the low light and raised some really good sized GT’s and bohar snapper but unfortunately no one could convert.

The second day the weather improved even more, glassy water and no wind, rendering the day almost completely calm. One boat headed out to the PlayStation while the other headed back to the Big Island for the day. We quickly found triggerfish in crazy numbers and some really good sized ones as well. However, as with any trigger fishing, they weren’t handing out any gifts. In almost near perfect weather, ones approach and presentation had to be top notch, almost extra-terrestrial level like. We had countless opportunities but by the end of the day, the triggers won the battle and left us empty handed. Again we finished off the day with some teasing but only managed to raised a couple GTs and the odd bluefin.

Over the next three days some heavy clouds rolled into the area and made sighting fish extremely tough in the early morning, especially with the extremely glass conditions. We still managed to find a good number of triggerfish tailing, but as soon as they dropped their tails they went completely out of sight. All was not lost however as by lunchtime each day the clouds would burn off and we found ourselves surrounded by countless triggerfish, both titan and yellow-margined specimens. They were being slightly fussy, although Shayne and Simon kept the scoreboards ticking over and brought some nice triggers to the net. One of the highlights was when we managed to stalk right up close to an estimated 25lbs permit tailing in skinny water, in the overcast conditions. The fish was tailing hard, but lady luck was not smiling on us as before we could get a cast in, a bird flew in low and spooked the fish.

Some guys opted to fish offshore during these lowlight conditions and caught some really nice Spanish mackerel, barracuda along with some yellow spot & bluefin trevally.

On the finally day the sea was completely flat and not a breath of wind or clouds in the air.
Both boats headed back to the western side of Big Island for the day.
It was not long before the flats were crawling with triggerfish again and we had fish tailing all around us. Two to three fish tailing right next to each other and at some stages the guys were almost spoilt for choice at which fish to cast at. The triggers however were still not handing out any gifts and if the fly was not presented delicately, they gave you the fin before darting into the distance. We did manage to hook into some very nice yellow-margined trigger but the fights always ended with a mangled hook or broken tippet.
In between all the trigger tails we had shots at some very big GT’s but failed to convert any of these. The sight of a meter plus giant trevally coming right at you in knee deep water with speed, can be very unnerving. It’s not always about the fish you land though and being granted the privilege to witness these spectacular beasts hunting in such shallow water is an absolute wonder of nature and left everyone in awe.

We finished the day off with some mind blowing snorkelling before heading back to the Port, bringing a very fun week to an end.

A special mention goes out to Warren Pretorius who managed a spectacular 45kg Sailfish he hooked and landed behind the mothership while we were moving to a different anchorage. The fish unfortunately died during the fight but what great catch!

Till next time

Mark, Fede and Stu.

Nubian Flats - Fourth week 13 - 20 April 2015 report

May 19th, 2015

Week four, also the final week of the first stint of the 2015 season, came within a blink of an eye. We were joined this week by a group of friends, Piet, Christo, Riaan, and Johnathan from South Africa. They were also joined by Thomas from Holland and Leo from Italy.

Unfortunately the weather seemed that it’s still had some cards to play and the forecast for the week seemed gloom! Two “sort-of” decent day’s followed by what looked like to be winds from the movie Twister for the rest. Nonetheless, we had two days of predicted fair weather and were keen to make the most of them. A positive attitude will always bring positive results.

So at the dawn of the first morning, we had a quick breakfast before heading out for the full day on The Island. The wind started to settle down again but was still fairly strong. One boat headed to the eastern side while the other boat tackled the west.

The day started off with really cold, high waters and the fish were scarce. However, as the day grew older, the water temp started to rise and so did the numbers of fish. Soon we were casting to a good number of triggerfish although they were beyond tricky. Spooking for almost anything you cast at them while some just plain ignored your fly. The lads persisted though and managed to lift some nice fish for the camera’s. Piet and Leo took the spoils with two triggers each and Thomas came very close with two bluefin and a solid GT on the tease, but got dealt a bad hand and lost all three of them.

On day 2 we woke to beautiful weather and one could feel the excitement around the breakfast table among the guests and most certainly the guides. One boat headed back to the big island while the other headed straight to the PlayStation.

It did not take long for the fish to make an appearance and soon the flats were crawling with triggerfish! So much so that at one point guide and guest were spoilt for choice with tails all around them. To make things even more complicated, in-between all the trigger tails a couple shoals of bonefish decided to crash the party along with some bluefin trevally, barracuda and two really big permit. Thomas managed to hook one of the big bonefish but his run of bad luck from the previous day continued and not long into the fight his hook pulled again. He quickly followed up though and finally put his bad luck to rest(or so we thought) by landing a very nice titan triggerfish right before lunch. By the end of the day however the fish still came out tops and we got showed again that triggerfish deserve a lot of respect. Just because they are tailing hard doesn’t mean they are easy fish. Pinpoint accuracy and delicate presentation is required and even when you gets these right, they will still decided if you are worthy.

Day 3, as predicted, the weather went really fowl on us. We woke to heavy winds and rough seas. We decided to give it a go anyway. One boat opted to rather go an do some popping offshore while Thomas and Riaan braved the one small flat close to the mothership. We found some triggers on the flats but one, the wind made casting incredibly tough, and secondly the change in weather really put the triggers off the feed. One could just see in the body language that we were out of luck in a big way! We opted to do some teasing in the late afternoon but after 2hours of teasing and not a single fish showing interest, we decided to call it a day and head for a steamy cup of Italian coffee on the mothership. Meanwhile the popping boat had some success. Piet got some smaller GT’s, a nice barracuda and bohar snapper while Johnathan got a new PB 85cm GT.

Day 4 the weather got even worse with winds almost in access of 40knots. It was pretty clear that fishing was not a real option but we did manage to sneak in at least 2 hours of teasing in the morning which got us one small bluefin but that was it. The rest of the day we took shelter on the mothership as the wind got even stronger, ripping the canopy on the mothership to shreds!

Over the next two days the weather gods decided to smile on us a little and the wind started to die down. 15knot winds is not considered as ideal fly fishing conditions but after days of 30+knot winds it felt like a slight breeze and more than manageable. So for Day 5 we split again with two guys heading for the flat while the rest went popping offshore. The flats were icy cold from all the wind and water levels very high but at least we could get out and fish. We managed to find some triggers but they were extremely skittish and near impossible just to get a fly close to. The teasing session in the afternoon however produced the goods. After a couple teases, we had a solid bohar snapper come in and wreck  complete havoc. After eating Riaan’s black semper at his rod tip, it took off in spectacular fashion, breaking his rod in the process.

Riaan ended up fighting the fish by hand but managed to land a beaut 7-8kg fish. We were running low on daylight and decided to squeeze in five more teases. On the second tease, a monster GT exploded behind the teaser like a grenade and came in very, very angry! It followed in all the way and when the tease came out, ate Thomas’s fly in one massive explosion, again at his rod tip, before making his way back off the flat and popping his loop on the coral. A very unfortunate end to the day for Thomas. Meanwhile the popping boat had some success landing 4 GT’s with Piet taking first prize by landing a whopping 20kg fish.

The final day the wind dropped some more and so did the water level, at an alarming rate. The water was still icy and fish were few and far between. We found some triggers in patches of warm water but they were still fussy and not planning on handing out gifts either. Thomas’s bad luck continued though. He managed to hook the only trigger for the day but the fish took him right off the flat and straight into the coral. The guide at hand was so desperate that he went in pursuit, diving between the coral, trying to get the fish out but was left with only a tan merkin stuck in the coral, and no trigger.

A very unfortunate end to a really tough week. The weather made the going beyond tough and hopefully this was the last of it for now. The “calm” days really showed the potential of the Nubian Flats and if this unseasonal weather decides to leave us alone, we will be in for a cracking second half of the 2015 season.

Thats it for now.

Till next time

The Tourette Fishing Nubian Flats Guides Team

Farquhar Atoll, Seychlles: Blog 15-22 April 2015

May 11th, 2015

Sadly our time on the atoll for the initial half of 2015 was drawing to a close, but with ten excited guests arriving on the atoll, we were determined to put in a stellar performance for them! We had some serious tidal movement during the course of the week, so together with an influx of cold blue water onto the atoll’s flats and some favorable weather forecast, we were optimistic the fishing would live up to our expectations.
The week got off to a flyer when Peter hooked and landed his first Permit on the first day. This brought the total number of seven Permit for the season! Fishing for Bonefish on the inside of the lagoon, it’s not unusual to see small shoals of Permit cruising the shoreline.  A small adjustment to one’s technique is needed and then our focus shifts towards reading the fish’s body language. After a couple of short strips the quivering tail is a sure indication the fish has eaten the fly.  SET SET are the instructions that generally follow, following which the fight is on.  Although Peter’s fish was the only one landed during the trip, every guest enjoyed the experience of presenting a fly to the Holy Grail of the flats.

The bewildering Bumphead Parrots were widely spoken about on the first day, with most of the anglers expressing a keen interest in targeting the huge tailing critters. With numerous crab patterns presented to these fish, Ian as well as Hendrik managed to hook fish…sadly however the coral edge shredding the leaders prematurely. Peter however came across a shoal tailing over some small isolated turtle grass patches on a large white sand flat.  After presenting his fly to these larger than average size fish he managed to entice one really large fish to eat his fly.  Fish on!! The fish screamed off with the rest of the shoal, however with the backing emptying off his reel at a frightening speed the decision was made to follow the fish with the boat. After an epic forty-minute fight our hearts however sank as the hook simply pulled free and the fish disappeared into the depths. Thankfully not all was doom and gloom with Gareth showing the patience and nerve needed to land one of Farquhar’s blue and green giants. Congrats Gareth!

The GT as always was at the top of the list for most anglers and the guides planning sessions were mostly based around choosing areas that should hold good numbers of GT’s.  The account was open when Peter landed the first GT for the week, which just so happened to be the largest fish for the trip. His 101 cm fish earning him the highly coveted “red cap”.  The tally soon gained momentum as Ian tussled with and landed two good fish on the third day and his third GT for the week on the fourth day.  Hendrik, Magnus and Yves too all managed a GT each, bringing the total number to 7 for the trip. GT fishing is however not for the faint hearted and as such does not always end with smiles. Sadly due to some ill luck and tackle failure more of Farquhar’s alpha predators were lost prematurely. Nonetheless, seeing that big bucket mouth opening and the fish charge in on the fly is something that will never leave you. Their power and ferocity is addictive to see and we cannot wait to get back in Sept to do battle once more!

The Bonefishing as per usual on Farquhar provided constant action for those eager to target them. Whether it was picking out fish over pure white sand on the inside of the lagoon or tussling with dark backed fish scouring the marl flats in the surf zone, Farquhar continued to deliver superb fishing for the Grey Ghost.
All in all a very enjoyable week and a great way to end our season! Thank you to all our guests during this week and throughout the season. It was a privilege to share Farquhar’s diversity and special fish with all of you!

Until later this year…… tight lines!
The Farquhar guide team

Please contact Charlotte Chilcott or call +44 (0)1980 847389 for details and availability.

Flyfishing for billfish in Guatemala

May 11th, 2015

Our friends and clients Joern and Maria have recently returned from chasing billfish in Guatemala, the sailfish capital of the world. We hope you enjoy their trip report below:

Since my lovely wife (and fishing buddy) and I started looking for saltwater species on the fly we have travelled mostly to Seychelles. Having had the opportunity to catch some sailfish on both Alphonse and Desroches we have become somewhat addicted to billfish.

Looking at the world map with that in mind, Guatemala is one of the best places to target sailfish on fly– calling itself the sailfish captial of the world.

The only direct flight from Europe (we did not want to enter immigration in the USA and lose two days travelling out of our fishing time) is with Iberia via Madrid directly to Guatemala City.  We were welcomed by heavy thunderstorms and rain when we were transfered from the airport (a two hour drive) to Puerto San José where the operation is based.

After the long journey there, we were happy to have an early dinner and a short rest as the following day was going to start early.  The pickup for the drive to the marina is every morning at 0630 and takes about 30 minutes.  There, we were welcomed by Captain Gemma and his crew and set off for our first day out.

The captain and his crew are full time hired specialists who have caught hundreds of billfish. They are very friendly, reliable and service orientated. Every day we had fresh fruit during the morning, a freshly prepared burger or self caught Mahi Mahi for lunch and cold beers in the cooler.

From the harbour we headed out every morning  in search of the right water; the journey time will vary but takes between 1½ to 2½ hours each way. A fair amount of non-fishing time but you have to move to where the fish are.  And we found them.

After reaching the fishing grounds the teasers were put out and not long after that the first sailfish comes up and hits the teaser. We were on fire. The first day we raised the incredible number of 30 fish in one session. This turned out to be the best day and numbers dropped every day. Teasing for billfish is unpredictable. You can be lucky to tease up ten fish in 30 minutes and the other day not see a fin for five hours (which happened to us on day four).

But we all knew the fish ARE there and there might be different reasons for not teasing them up; moon phases, temperature and water movements all play their part. The last day we “only” teased up seven fish and had no hook ups. The sea was flat as a mirror and as far as I know sailies like waves and water movement. Certainly with it so still, the fish had too much time to have a closer look as the fly in the crystal clear water.

The weather was beautiful all five days and beside jumping fish (even unhooked you see sailfish jumping) we saw hundreds of dophins following the boat.

Teasing for sailfish is an art! Our guides seemed to instinctively understand when to change the color of the teaser or the length of the teasing line. Once a fish hits the teaser the whole crew worked as a team like a well oiled machine. Everybody knew what to do as we had four teasers out and the two deckhands were responsible for bringing them in, in the right order without losing contact with the fish.

After hooking up on the fish and waiting for the jumps, the Captain will try his best to bring the fish in as soon as possible by reversing back towards the fish. The shortest time it took  us to land a sailfish was approximatly 5 minutes – the longest took 15 minutes.

Day one was very effective, and as I’ve said before, out best day out. From the 30 fish we teased up we hooked up on 15 and landed 7.

At the end of five days we had raised 71 fish, hooked 29 and landed 15. Hooking and landing a sailfish are different stories as they usually will start jumping right after the hook up to get rid of the fly.

Returning to our Villa at about 1800 every evening our chef prepared a meal that he suggested the night before.  Always tasty and well prepared.

Day two started with a hook up after 10 minutes teasing. Nobody realised after the first jump that it was not a sailfish but a striped marlin! After a long fight of 1.5 hours on a Sage Salt #16 on a fully closed Mako reel I finally managed to land this beauty.

A sailfish on a fly is something special. A marlin on a fly rod – estimated 200 lbs – is something remarkable.  We were lucky enough to land the fish because the hook was bent due to the size and the brutal force of the fish.

It might be the only marlin landed the whole week  - we were competing with at least four other boats for the kudos of landing a marlin. To show the triumph to the competitors the Captains fly their marlin flag. As there is no flag designed for fly fisherman we added my fly to the flag (as I had tied it myself, it added to the pleasure).

Beside the marlin Maria “only”  landed one sailfish on day two.

The following days were pretty much the same with a lot of swearing, shouting, teasing up and losing fish.

We had an epic week with lots of excitement and we hope to be back for more big fish soon.  In the meantime we are off to visit other parts of Guatemala with our rods – and our arms – having a short rest.

Please contact Charlotte Chilcott or call +44 (0)1980 847389+44 (0)1980 847389 for details and availability.  From 18 June 2015, Volaris will be operating two flights each week to Guatemala City from Cancun and Guadalajara.

Astove Atoll, Seychelles; 13-20 April 15 – big permit, GT’s and “Flats Grand Slam”

May 11th, 2015

Sadly this week marked the end to our first 10 weeks at our new Astove Atoll Lodge. True to what Astove has continued to produce during this season the fishing results speak for themselves.  The big Bonefish were around with Henry Henley managing to top the 10 lbs mark with a magnificent fish. Jeremy Block had a dream week by starting with a flood of GT’s on his first day, steadily catching more on a daily basis and topping his GT experience by landing the biggest GT of the week measuring 114 cm, which was battled on the edge of the “The Wall”. His week got better when he landed a “Flats Grand Slam”, comprising of a Triggerfish, Bonefish and a GT. When you think the week couldn’t get any better Jeremy landed a 12 lbs Permit. A bitter sweet experience for the guides as it was enticed from a shoal of 40 Permit swimming along a white sand flat inside the lagoon, almost as to tease the team as they packed up to leave for the off season.

Tight lines from the Astove team!

Please contact Charlotte Chilcott or call +44 (0)1980 847389 for details and availability.

Alphonse Island blog; Charlotte’s hosted week, March 2015

May 8th, 2015

Everything has a beginning and this is where my amazing three week trip began. Alphonse. Tiny little jewel sitting in the Indian Ocean. Those of you who were brave enough to wade through my India blog can attest to the fact that I can type as much as I talk.  I do however find it remarkably difficult to write about Alphonse.  I have had plenty of time to think about WHY in various planes, trains and automobiles recently and have decided that it is because both Alphonse and St Francois are so all encompassing; there is so much to say, so many photographs to share.

This time however, I had an unusual incentive … when I got back from India and started catching up I was rather saddened to see that I had been left out of the Alphonse blog! It was like I had not been there so I thought I had better get on and write my own tale of a week of losses, of stunning achievements (not mine), of unbelievable happenings but most importantly of a fantastic group of people who I had the absolute pleasure of spending a week with … as you can see, quite a dapper bunch for the flats.

Overall, it was a pretty tough week in terms of the fishing but despite that there were a number of great fish landed. Although we have experienced better fishing conditions on Alphonse in March, to add some perspective, where else in the world could you experience similar conditions and still catch the fish we did?

Our first day had poor light, big wind chop and the neap had a mid-day high so we were primarily in search of triggers.  None were landed but plenty were seen and cast to. I had one trigger follow my fly and essentially crush it into the coral rather than eat it.  In spite of the conditions, John, Peter and Janie all landed 20+ bonefish.

Sunday dawned hot and still and remained hot and still. Joern and Maria were out on the bluewater boat and landed three sails and three bonefish - each getting their Bills and Bones for the week giving the bell a hefty ring later that evening. Phil and Joe were the graveyard crew with a heap of bones between them - 40 to Phil and 30 to Joe. John, having brushed the cobwebs off his kit after 10 years of non-use proved that what caught 10 years ago can still catch today by landing a much sought after Alphonse moustache triggerfish. A very nice one to tick of his list on his first trip out the Indian Ocean. Michael caught a magnificent 119 cm GT; I think that the look on his face says it all.

I also had to confront my nemesis that Monday; a GT.  On one hand initials of something that I have no trouble getting to grips with – gin & tonic – on the other, the giant trevally which has proved to be somewhat more problematic. Bulldogs with fins. Bullies of the reef. Snapper of my leaders. Cutter of my fly lines. Straightener of my hooks. There have been testing moments along this path, despondency behind my buff. No-one reading this can have any idea of the silent pressure I have been under in this GT obsessed office. I needed to actually LAND, rather than LOSE, one. It was bordering on the embarrassing; two trips a year to arguably the best mixed species saltwater fishery in the Indian Ocean and I kept losing a fish that, quite frankly, isn’t that picky.

We set out that Monday morning; James, Geoff and I. Our plan for the morning was that we didn’t have one. James knew what he wanted to see; conditions he felt were right, and he asked us for forbearance as he putted us along, hugging the coral heads, not rushing and moving seemingly aimlessly in search of ‘something’. He was convinced that conditions were perfect for the Kappel shoal to put in one of their rare appearances. What is the Kappel shoal? Like a mythical creature on an ancient map, much is spoken about the shoal is seldom seen. It is a group of nurse sharks with an attending posse of GTs. Rumoured to be anything between 5 and 15 GTs (and upwards), I have to admit to having had my moments of ‘yeah, yeah’.

Geoff was up first on anything that came by and when James shouted ‘GEOFF. CAST. NOW’ he lept to his feet and manfully got his line out while he scouted the water and tried to see what had roused James. He saw it just before I did. A big, dark shadow that morphed into several nurse sharks feeding along the coral edge. The GTs were feeding on the small fish that escaped the sharks disturbance only to find themselves in more serious trouble. Geoff’s fly was exactly where it needed to be but the GTs were already feeding deep and couldn’t be interested in a juicy morsel on the surface: the enticement that a NYAP normally offers was ignored. They sunk out of sight, Geoff sunk down in his seat, James sighed and we moved quietly off, hoping to pick the shoal up again.  We saw teasing signs every now and then and when James asked if we could bear another half hour of searching, we were very happy to do so.

Our search took us from one coral head to the next, tempting splashes leading us along. Eventually we came to a small pancake which James deemed to be suitably ‘fishy’. He was towing us when he shouted ‘Charlotte. Rod. CAST’. At that point I hadn’t seen anything but cast at 12 o’clock. As the fly landed, I saw the nurse shark moving down the flat towards us, travelling diagonally left to right. There were two GTs on the shark, one either side and one slightly further back than the other.  I picked up and recast, this time slightly further to the right, about six feet ahead of the shark. With stripping encouragement loud from both James and Geoff, it was almost in slow motion that I saw the GT on the far side accelerate toward my fly. It swam over the shark and in front of the foremost GT. The bucket maw engulfed my fly (a Mayo Mullet baitfish pattern) - the sheer power of the take giving me a death-like grip on my rod. The air around me vibrated with ’SET SET .. SET IT’ from James closely followed by ‘CHARLOTTE DON’T YOU DARE LIFT YOUR ROD’. The line burnt through my fingers and inconsequentially I remember wishing that I hadn’t left my thicker Simms gloves (a nice gift, thank you Gordie) drying over my bathroom taps! As the reel screamed and the line, and then the backing, ran and ran, I could see the second GT swimming further out, not spooked and almost waiting for the other fish to join it. The shark on the other hand was so close behind my fish that at one point it swam over my leader. I squeaked very loudly then as I had visions of my leader being cut by the shark. I cannot be the only angler who has muttered ’please don’t come off, please don’t come off’ under their buff and after a short but brutal fight, I had regained my backing and line. Although he has a long reach, trying to tail my GT and hang onto the boat must have come close to splitting James asunder. Eventually we got ourselves sorted out and with the GT safely tailed, I could finally take the GT skunk flag down. And there it is; 90 cm so I’m told and a priceless memory of a hot, still day on St Francois.

Tuesday dawned hot and still but thankfully with a little more wind than the previous day. We were made to work for our fish but Maria landed a very nice giant triggerfish and Pelham landed a yellowmargin triggerfish. Phil had a cracker of a day landing both a sailfish and a bonefish to give him a Bills and Bone - the third of the week.  Joe and I were both unlucky on triggerfish and John and Rob had the graveyard flag with 20 bones each, all landed in what has become known as ‘Sonic Boom’. Michael added a permit to the special count for the day.

Yousef took Peter and I outside to look for milkfish; they had been feeding on the surface both inside and outside of the lagoon and conditions were good. Light glistening on the water got the heart rate up only to be dashed as over eager eyes searched for the reflection of light off the open mouths of feeding milkfish. It wasn’t long before Peter was casting over them as a long line of manta rays paraded past on the other side of the boat. He had one touch, many casts but the milks went deep and while we could see them swimming below us, they didn’t resurface for a while. Deciding to give them a little longer, Peter threw his 12# one direction while I dredged with my 12# in the other. Neither of us had any luck and as the milks hadn’t resurfaced, we headed back in. Ignoblis rock was well out of the water when we parked up on the edge of a finger flat to search for triggers and were surprised to see a small group of milks daisy chaining in one of the small bays. Peter and Yousef went to try their luck while I walked up the flat in search of triggers. I wasn’t long before Peter had a bend in his rod and - with some initial irritation - had hooked a very respectable brassy trevally on a milky dream.  Released in very short order Peter quickly returned to his challenge of targeting the milks, hooked it and … they left me on the flat.

The water was rising, a big lemon shark was cruising, Ignoblis was disappearing and Yousef was probably having kittens. Alex very kindly picked me up and give me lift over to the boat where Peter landed a very nice milkfish.

Peter and I had parked up with Yousef for lunch, gliding into the beach where a large school of mullet were bunched up in the shallows, almost breaching themselves on the sand. They moved in and out but never moving very far and we could see just beyond some turtle grass the torpedo shape of a barracuda patrolling.  While the mullet schooled, a couple of very big bonefish sneaked up behind us and casually swam right in front of the skiff. As we had lunch out, we watched aghast as one very unphased bone circled around us, eating the proffered chilly beef. Two brassy trevally worked their way up and down the school of mullet, staying well away from the barracuda but not settling enough to take a fly. Lunch done, we moved off in search of the cause of the bigger disturbance we’d seen not long before while at the same time Geoff and Michael had quietly appeared a little further down the sand spit. Bad move on our part as not long after we had moved off, a shark and GT came through followed by a permit who came within casting distance of Michael who put his fly just where it needed to be and with Brandon proving very handy with a net, and no doubt all of them having their hearts in their mouths, Michael landed this very beautiful slab of silver and gold.  Later in the week he added a very, very nice GT to his list for the week.

Wednesday belonged to Geoff and two very special sights that I hope never to have repeated. One involved Geoff, alcohol and a push bike and the other a permit of which more later. Kicking the day off with a GT and a milkfish in very quick order, Geoff had to work a wee bit to land his bonefish and get his Grand Slam. A truly exceptional achievement.  Again, the look on his face says it all and I doubt very much that the memory of that will fade any time soon.

The not so glorious part of Wednesday belonged to Peter and I .. and a permit.  Sneaking along the flats with Kyle, Peter walking some way behind us and in the other direction, Kyle and I were chatting when he froze, grabbed my arm and whispered something. ‘WHAT’ I said loudly as I hadn’t heard a thing. ’Permit. Straight ahead’. I cast but just wasn’t accurate enough but the permit didn’t spook or twitch. It didn’t run. One rather too close presentation made it back off slightly but it endured my attempts stoically for a while before running out of patience with me and moving off to find a more competent angler. As did Kyle. Left to my own devices, I saw a dark shadow moving up the flat once more and hollered to Kyle and Peter that they now had a permit coming their way. It peeled off before it reached them and some time later, Kyle had worked his way back towards me gesturing for me to follow up the finger flat. As we walked up, Peter about 30 metres in front of us, a permit entered from stage right and swam directly down towards us.  I landed the fly where it needed to be, right in front of the permit. I twitched the fly once. Left it and twitched it again, my fly now about six inches in front of a small lump of coral. The permit had followed, it had seen my fly and as I moved the fly slowly the permit followed. Heart in my mouth, I’d forgotten to breath, so completely absorbed was I in my fly and the fish. I couldn’t believe my eyes when the lump of coral grew a tentacle and pinched my fly from in front of the permit. I had landed myself an Octopus. There was a significant lack of ladylike language for next few heartbeats followed by a silence broken only when Kyle said ‘well, you can unhook it’.  Mirth had now overtaken us as I brought the Octopus towards us, very pale in colour with tiny patches of orange. By this time it was climbing up my leader and I deposited it on a real lump of coral where it promptly changed colour to a deep rusty brown and orange. It was truly beautiful although the permit would have been much nicer. With some judicious wriggling, it finally shook off the fly and the two of us turned round to find Peter in pursuit of the permit. It allowed itself to be cast at a few more times before leaving us for more rewarding entertainment.  The upside? I got a free drink and an Alphonse ‘first’; apparently no one else has caught an Octopus on fly; a new species added to the catch list!

Thursday dawned choppy and windy.  Janie and I were fishing Alphonse and Janie’s quiet day started off as Yousef and Brandon walked us out to the surf on Alphonse while the rest of the group headed out to St Francois. Janie did not stop casting all day; every time I looked across she was fishing and also fitted in a couple of refreshing dunks to cool off in between.  The push was slow in coming and we while we saw a good number of triggers, they weren’t settling. Janie saw a couple of GTs and we had some nice big Bluefin trevally cruising in the surf. I had another fly crushed by a trigger and we were back home in plenty of time for lunch. Janie and Jacqui relaxed and enjoyed the peace and quiet of Alphonse for the afternoon.

A mixed day overall; Joern and Maria had a very quiet day as did John. Michael frustratingly lost two triggers which Geoff was no doubt rather rude about as triggers have been his nemesis for many years.  Peter was despondent not catching a GT but having been route marched through scrub, beating a path through the mangrove, James had taken Phil and Joe to a very sweet honeyhole which produced a 90 cm GT for Joe and a 110 cm GT for Phil.  Mixed day, mixed blessings; such is fishing.  Out on the bluewater boat Rob had a sailfish and bonefish, scoring him a Bills & Bones.

A wet night brought a cloudy and overcast Friday, again with a mixed bag of results. Wayne took Peter and I into Cosmic and round the back, through the gully. I’ve never been able to access it before and it was pretty special seeing a part of the St Francois that I’d never seen before.  The theory being that the GTs push up through into this one way backwater, the bones are essentially trapped and the GTs have a killing time. Final fishing days are always a little sad; you know your week is done and some of us finished on a high, some not so but it was a great week with great company.   Peter and I had another permit encounter, this time under the watchful eye of Wayne.  Jeff was out shadow guiding and he and I were wandering along, near the edge when we both spotted ’something’. Jeff realised very quickly it was a permit and I shouted to Wayne and Peter to come down to us chop chop.  They did and Peter put in a lovely long cast, right where it needed to be. With no interest, he picked up and cast again, the permit turned, the fly was twitched and followed.  I stopped breathing again watching this unfold in front of me when the smallest bonefish on St Francois darted out of no-where and took the fly and then proceeded to mess around while Peter desperately tried to unhook it.  With Peter occupied, I cast at the once more obliging permit, twitched my fly and saw the fish change direction and follow.  Once more holding my breath, I was absolutely focused on that permit and didn’t the little Bluefin trevally until it was too late. It took my fly and the permit took off. Have we paid our dues to the permit king? Probably not but success has to be getting closer.

Rob’s elegant hat was finally outshone by his magnificent GT.

Pelham and Janie once more managed to avoid my attempt to get fishy photos from them but they could wade but they couldn’t hide  ….

GT Friday lived up to its names and the day had to belong to John with this very large, metre plus GT. I’m still not sure who was more excited -Yousef or John.

What trip would be complete without a stop to admire the pets on the Alphonse mooring, some of them are seriously big and I am always amused watching the very round football like triggers darting amongst the monsters.  Although we have tried hard to convince her otherwise, Jacqui remains adamant that a day by the pool, drinking wine, reading or cooling off in the pool beats a day on the flats. There is notable difference between cooly elegant lady awaiting our return and the hot, sticky and tired group of anglers arriving.

With rain and wind again in the night I was lying in bed thinking of contingency plans for flights, all of which was wasted effort as Saturday morning dawned breezy but clear.  We said goodbye to Joern , Maria and Michael who were all staying on to fish again. Settled in at the hotel once more, we were comfortably based for the period between flights and with an early dinner done, I waved goodbye to everyone heading back to London and went to repack - again - for the next leg of my journey.

Please contact Charlotte Chilcott or call +44 (0)1980 847389 for details and availability.  If you would like to join Charlotte on Alphonse in 12-19 March 2016 please get in touch. Further details are also available on our website so please click HERE.

If you would like read Part I of Charlotte’s Indian journey, from New Delhi to the Saryu via Corbett National Park, please click HERE.

Part II of the Indian odyssey can be reached HERE.

Alphonse Island, Seychelles; 11-18 April 2015, double GTs

May 5th, 2015

It’s hard to believe that the Bonefish numbers could get any better than this seasons previous weeks, but as the South-Easterly continues to make its mark and the coolers waters flood the flats so do the Bonefish.  Every day produces more than 100 Bonefish with Wednesday ending at the 199 mark, which elevated the weeks tally to 732. There were 13 GT’s with 2 of them measuring over a meter and weighing approximately 60lbs. Brent Till’s 109cm GT was part of a double hook up, with Russ Ford landing a 98 cm fish at the same time.  The week hit an all high when Kay Jones landed a  “Flats Grand Slam”, Whitney  McDowell a Milkfish of 35lbs, Susanne McDowell a huge 52 cm Yellowmargin Trigger fish and David Balderson another 109 cm GT. It simply doesn’t get any better.

Tight lines from the Alphonse team.

Please contact Charlotte Chilcott or call +44 (0)1980 847389+44 (0)1980 847389 for details and availability.

Astove atoll, Seychelles; 6-13 April, a big GT and a flats ’slam’

May 5th, 2015

It was a first time experience for most of the team this week with 4 first timers to Seychelles and 1 “soon to become angler” casting his first fly.  John Caeser (dubbed John Trevally) had an unforgettable start to his trip by landing the biggest GT of the week, a very impressive 116cm, 78lb GT and on the first day. The story does not end there as not only was it his first ever fish on fly but also his first fish that he had ever caught. Beginners luck personified! Michael Pilch had a session he will not forget too soon when he landed a “Flats Grand Slam” comprising of a Triggerfish, GT and a Bonefish. The final GT tally for the 5 anglers was 32, which average out to 6,5 per angler.

Tight lines from the Astove team!

Please contact Charlotte Chilcott or call +44 (0)1980 847389+44 (0)1980 847389 for details and availability.