Part II - fishing the Saryu for golden mahseer. Charlotte reports back on her second week in India

April 24th, 2015

PART TWO – FISHING THE SARYU FOR GOLDEN MAHSEER

We left at 0800 and set out on the very windy road to camp. Leaving the towering pines and the giant red rhododendrons, we climbed with the snow capped peaks of the Himalayas with Everest to our left. Majestic and towering, they gleamed white in the morning haze. The mountainsides changed to smaller, indigenous pines which gave way to terraces with flocks of grazing sheep. Occassionally we passed cows and horses grazing loose by the roadside, obviously used to not straying far. It is a long drive in; scenic to be sure and with a leg stretch or two en-route but traffic was kind to us in the main and the only hold ups we had were as a result of the heavy rains a few days before which had caused several small landslides. At one point we had a very polite stand-off with a Sikh bus (called Harry) but eventually we jostled past with inches to spare and we were soon on our way.

Having spotted the river to our left, we wound down and down until finally we arrived at the police check point. As the river is the border with Nepal, our passports were scrutinised once more before we were waved on our way and were soon pulling up at journeys end. Having extracted Sunder from the back seat, a short but steep walk had us down on the riverbank to be met by Sanju and the gear raft for the quick journey across to the other side of the Saryu and camp. Misty met us as we inelegantly got off the gear boat and there it was – home for the next five days.

Camp is very simple; Meru style tents, all with twin beds, covered porches front and back, fresh long drop loos (your flush is your shovel), shower tents and a bucket bath tent. There is a central dining area, with one long communal table and on slightly lower ground, the evening fire. There is plenty of iodised water for hand washing, anti-bacterial soap and, at night, the hot water bottle although really it wasn’t needed; the warm weather had arrived just ahead of us.  We settled in and tackled up after lunch and after a short siesta, headed out for about two hours on the stretch of the Saryu immediately in front of camp.

Misty was delighted that he had woken after the night time deluge and the land slide a few nights before to find a new pool, right in front of camp. It wasn’t yet warm enough for the mahseer to have started making their way up that far but the new pool will be named after the first person to land a fish there.  Sadly that privilege will have to fall to someone else as with no fish to any of our flies, we made our way back to camp to shower and change before dinner. It wasn’t long before the gin and takamaka were out of the bags and on the bar and we were sat around the fire.  Evening meals always started with popcorn or masala nuts followed by soup before we moved to the table for the next two courses. The food truly was delicious but there is a very real danger of being overfed, highly flavoured but not spicy hot. The hot stuff is on the table if you want it. After our first meal, the green chilli pot was placed in front of Andrew – it saved time.

Up at 0700 with tea and biscuits in bed, hot water added to the water container outside the tent, breakfast at 0800 and we were off by 0900.  With four fishing, we had a guide each and Kevin and Derrick set off in one direction while Andrew and I went the other. We were fishing the confluence of the Saryu and the Mahakali; for mahseer fishermen, this confluence is as famous as the Junction Pool on the Tweed is to British salmon fishermen. On our side of the river was the temple with prayer flags flying gently in the breeze which carried with the scent of incense and of curries cooking. On the other side of the river a ghat, a series of steps leading down to the river, also of spiritual significance. From my perch above the confluence, you could clearly see the difference in colour; the Kali was a milky green against the coffee coloured Saryu. The plan for the day was to be out all day and have a picnic lunch under the trees.

Tackling up the previous afternoon, I had quickly realised that I was going to have another challenge on my hands – that of casting heavy sinking lines, with heavy tube flies on my Hardy Proaxis 7#. It was a short and painful learning curve but having whacked myself on the back a couple of times, I decided that one false cast would be enough. The heavy rains a few days prior had given Misty his new pool with one hand but taken away our water clarity with the other and the river was a deep café au lait. Working the fly and fishing the pool down, I felt a hard bump and reacted with a hard strip strike; perfect for the bonefish it felt like but not much good on a mahseer.

Head hung low, I took a ten minute break to reclaim my mojo and ten minutes after I started fishing again, as my fly reached the end of its swing, I stripped once and had another massive hit. Much harder this time, it felt like a small GT had just hit my fly. Lifting the rod, I got the line back on the reel and let the fish run. Run it did and it took me straight into my backing, showing no signs of stopping as it headed right down past the confluence and into the Mahakali. Not looking forward to running after it across the boulder field, I was determined not to lose this fish and equally determined not to break an ankle. Just as I thought I was going to have to boulder hop, it slowed and with the backing eventually retrieved, we had few more short runs and a last wee tussle before I was able to bring it to the bank. Cradling the fish, Misty gently attached the bogar grip and removed the fly as I clambered down the rocks and into the water. I was surprised at how slippery the mahseer was but I was truly taken aback but the beauty and the depth of its colour.  Around 8 lbs, I was (and still am) a very happy angler. I have seen beautiful photographs of mahseer close up but nothing can prepare you for seeing one in person. Photographs taken, my very first mahseer swam swiftly off, leaving me sitting in the river, smiling rather gormlessly in the direction it had vanished.

Back up on the bank, Misty handed me my fly, a momento of a ‘first’ and one that I was delighted to have. As we sorted out the leader and chose another fly, I could see Andrew casting away down on the confluence and hoped that the fishing gods would also smile on him. The morning passed swiftly and it didn’t seem long before Lucky and Sunder arrived with our lunch which they set up in the scant shade on our side of the river.  From seemingly magic bags, they pulled out a table, shooting stools, cool drinks and a very comprehensive lunch which we took leisurely. It was now pretty warm and we were all quite happy to be doing relatively little.

Having spoken with Misty a little earlier about the ghat and the role they play, we suddenly saw a group of people appear at the top of the bank and work their way down to the river. It seemed that we were going to be witness to a funeral.  While we watched from the opposite bank, Kevin and Derrick were at the top of the ghat looking down on proceedings. Once the pyre had been built and the belongings put into the river, petrol added, it didn’t seem long before the remains were pushed into the river of life to be taken away on another journey. The family departed and we carried on fishing.

My afternoon basically crashed around my ears. I got my line wrapped around just about every rock there was, on every twig in the water and I lost several flies having going myself hooked on structure of some kind.  Around 1630, I hooked another rock fish and when pulling back my line before releasing it in the hope that my fly would spring free, it snapped. That was enough for me and I wasn’t going to push my luck any further. I’d had an amazing morning and it seemed that the price to pay was a bike crash of an afternoon. On the way back Sanju asked me if the line was mine; I told him that it was actually Misty’s at which point he burst out laughing and told me that I had to tell him! The rest of the gang arrived back in camp a bit later. Derrick had landed two mahseer on fly, two sinning and all of which he said were relatively small. Andrew and Kevin were obviously saving themselves for the following day.  I snapped Sunder rowing across to pick them up as the sun was going down.

Misty was very understanding about my snapped line but on the basis that he needed to protect his stock, offered me a line tray for the following day.  Having mocked my South African friends for years about using line trays, I found myself on the other side of the fence desperate to use one and realisation that I was going to have to eat humble pie in the not too distant future.

We had a different plan for the following day; up at 0500, out by 0600 and with breakfast on the river. Watching the sun rise over Nepal, while walking down to the river was really very beautiful. Breakfast arrived a few hours later; Indian style vegetarian scotch eggs; they made my morning I can tell you. This time, Andrew and I were on the other side of the river, fishing the right hand bank of PJ’s pool down to the confluence.  The move over to the far reaches of the pool took us up and over the Saryu version of the Eiger. Once that had been inelegantly scaled, a Mowgli jungle trail awaited me and all I could think of as I made my slow way up, was that I hoped that there was a quicker way home!  Down the other side it was equally steep but at least it was downhill. Eventually in place, we fished down until about 1100 to start the trek back to camp.  This time at least the way out was steep but easy under foot and I eventually made it to the top. When I recovered enough to speak, it was to discover that Andrew had landed a 3 lb mahseer so although not a beast, it meant that the skunk was out of his fly box and we could both relax.

Back in camp, it was time to wash up for lunch and then go and see Ester before heading out again about 1600. After the trauma of the Eiger in the morning, I was delighted to be told that I would be fishing PJ’s again, this time starting where we had stopped in the morning and working down to the bottom of the run.  I had just finished telling Matt how the mahseer the previous day had taken my fly at the end of the swing when it happened again. As my fly stopped swinging, I stripped once, short and fast, and bang. Fish on. However this fish didn’t run. It sulked. Short bursts were followed by a tussle which eventually degenerated into a tug of war.  A smaller fish at 6 lbs, it actually made me work harder!  It was a beautiful fish with lovely colouring on is belly.

Andrew, fishing the other side of the pool but much further down had landed two fish with Bobby; the first earlier in the afternoon around 5 lbs.

His later fish, was a very nice 10 lbs mahseer, caught not long before we had to call it a day. Particularly satisfying that they were all caught on fly.

Back in camp, it turned out that both Kevin and Derrick had also brought mahseer to the bank so we were a bunch of happy anglers that evening.  Earlier in the day we had listened to thunder rolling in for a while and watched the most amazing storm follow it down the valley.  The wind was so strong, I was convinced that my tent was going to take off … with me in it … while I was off seeing Ester after lunch. The rain caught up with us that evening and although we had one small reprieve during the night, it absolutely hammered down.  I am sure that the first thing Misty did in the morning was check that his ‘new’ pool was still there and hadn’t been washed away in the night.

We woke to more rain and low cloud and no realistic chance of fishing so we had a later breakfast at 0800 following which Kevin and Derrick tied flies with Misty, Andrew read in his tent and I managed to catch up with the journal. The rain stopped about mid-day but the river was now very dark and had risen a fair bit.  It was probably fishable for the sinners but not realistic for those of us who wanted to stick with fly.  While we were lazing around, Bobby had walked down to the confluence to see how the Mahakali was doing and that too was dirtier than the day before.  Derrick and Kevin went along with him with their sinning rods but came back with no tales to tell.  Andrew meanwhile had walked upriver with Sanju and discovered old watermills, wheat being harvested as well as plethora of birds … none of which he could remember.  He also learnt how to use berries to write with – something he proved a couple of days later.

Dinner that last evening was moved to the other restaurant – a lovely high spot at the far end of the beach, overlooking Leopard Beach. It was Tandoori night and the sound of the Sanju and Bobby slapping chapattis dough against their hands was accompanied by the forlorn sound of the Nightjar singing his solitary song.

The following morning dawned clear, the river had dropped and although still very coloured was beginning to settle. We were on the move; heading down to the fly camp on the Mahakali for the night.  Andrew and I would return the following day but Kevin and Derrick were meeting up with a local gooch expert and we would say goodbye to them there. With overnight bags, we hopped on board with Kevin and Derrick in the front on the paddles, Misty at the back on the oars and Andrew and I just hanging out in the middle taking photographs as we went. It is a wonderful 10 km drift with a few grade I rapids to keep you cool. Along the way, Misty pointed out the marks on the wall that the mahseer make when they are scratching for alternative food sources.

It didn’t take long for the fly camp to come into view; a smaller and simpler version of the main camp, with a similar layout and the only difference being that loos and the bucket bath tent are shared, one between two tents and that dining here is buffet style, eaten on your laps. Once settled in, Derrick and Kevin went back upstream with their gooch rods and bait while Andrew and I spent a couple of hours fishing below camp.

We saw snow trout rising but being best targeted on dry fly, with the visibility being so poor the guides thought that our efforts would be better spent on mahseer. Similar to our barbel in looks, but like the Spanish variety they have a love for feeding on the surface.  If an excuse is needed, it’s a good one to back for. Andrew and I, along with Misty and Bobby, were off early and heading back to camp. As the recent rains had ruined some parts of the footpath, Misty had opted to row us upriver, past the damaged section of trail while Bobby and the two local porters took our bags back along the trail. When we met up later in the morning, Bobby confirmed it was the right call to make as in some parts the trail was completely gone.  With the high water and the strong current, and with his throw bag line attached to the raft, Sanju left from rock to rock pulling us over the eddy walls.

We rowed / towed for about 1 km upriver, crossing the river as needed. It’s easy to forget that the far side of the river is Nepal but there is a noticeable difference in the hillsides; deforestation on the Nepalese side is much more obvious and there was recent evidence of some big landslides on the hills facing camp.   We left Sanju and his raft to return downriver  while we scrambled up the rocks to the path which we followed for about 2½ km.  It’s a lovely walk, easy underfoot with the river to your right in the most part. We met Bobby and Lucky at the trailhead and were back in camp by about 1030.

Post lunch, we were back on the road around 1530, heading down to the bridge to fish once more; neither of us covered ourselves in glory; Andrews largest mahseer of the afternoon was about 2½ lbs while mine was about 1½ lbs, soaking wet and with the fly in its mouth. On the positive side, it is good to see juvenile fish as its a good indicator to the health of the fishery. We made our way back to the car in the dark and it was a quick shower and change before heading down the beach to the far restaurant. It was glorious evening; clear skies, twinkling stars and the ever present lonely evening song of the Nightjar.  During the night we had rain again and as it was still drizzling first thing we decided to skip the fishing and leave early. Once Misty had finished what he needed to do in camp, we said goodbye to the staff who had looked after us so well and headed back to the chillier high passes to break the journey back to New Delhi.

After a short picnic with pine cones levelling out the bonnet, we said farewell to Misty and Lucky, they headed off in their separate directions. Misty home to the Ramganga before heading to Bhutan and Lucky to take the next group of anglers to the river for their first mahseer experience. Meanwhile, Andrew and I met up with David who was to accompany us back to Delhi and make sure that we made it to the airport on time the following day.

Thinking the adventure was over, we were a wee bit wrong as our planned route from the train station back to the hotel didn’t go quite according to plan. The taxi driver we ended up with was obviously not telling the truth when he said he knew where we were going. The first inkling of this was when he lept out of the vehicle at some traffic lights and ran off.  The three of us looked at one another in astonishment but as he’d left the keys in, we weren’t that bothered, assuming he’d come back at some point.  When he did it a second time, we knew where we were and he just wouldn’t listen; eventually we made it the last 200 metres up the road and round the corner to the hotel.  Poor David; it doesn’t matter how well you plan, or how often you check and reconfirm there is always the chance that a curve ball will swing your way. As people who love to travel, we all know that you just have to roll with it. Make a plan, sort it out and carry on.

Would I go back? Absolutely. I came away from a tented camp operation, on the Indian and Nepalese border, that has no electricity, no Wi-Fi, no cell phone cover and fish that are difficult and challenging on a good day far more impressed than I have been with operations that have all the bells and whistles you could want.

If you have made it this far through my epic report, I thank you for taking the time to read it and I hope that, like me, you will be inspired to try something different. To push your boundaries as an angler.  To travel somewhere new with an open mind. I loved every second of my journey - even climbing the Saryu Eiger - and would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

If you would like to read the Part I of the journey, from New Delhi, Ramganga and Corbett NP, click HERE

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

Adding this paragraph in post trip; it was so great to hear that Kevin (with a very nice double figure fish below) and Derrick landed nice mahseer after we had left - I’m delighted that it all came good for them on the mahseer front.  The gooch were a little more reticent but they have them to go back for along with the snow trout.  My thanks to them both for the photographs and for letting me use them.

Part I: India … the first report of Charlotte’s epic journey from New Delhi to Corbett National Park via Ramganga

April 23rd, 2015

FULLFILLING DREAMS - INDIA
It has been a long held dream of mine to go to India, but I obviously wasn’t meant to be there until this year as despite being asked, it just wasn’t possible for one reason or the other. Misty broached the subject once more last July and it finally seemed that the time was right. My annual hosted week to Alphonse is in March and Misty’s dates were for the week after. Although it meant being out of the office for three weeks, the logical route was Dubai directly to Delhi. So why does the tale of this fantastic trip start in the middle?  It is because every trip starts with a dream and this was mine.

PART ONE – GETTING THERE
Why did I so want to go to India? Firstly because I love travelling and time in Nepal many years ago had given me the burn to see more of this part of the world. Secondly because I really wanted to catch something that the Peter, Alex and Steff hadn’t. Knowing that I wouldn’t have access to power while on the river, I bought myself a notebook and have to admit that I have enjoyed writing my thoughts down, rather than typing them. I looked out my old Zambian trip book when I got back and as you can see, not only has the book size quadrupled, my sketching ability has deteriorated over the years!

Leaving the humidity of the Seychelles behind, it was long day between Mahe and landing at Indira Ghandi International Airport; a gleaming expanse of glass, polished brass and acres of hoovered carpet. It is easy to navigate around and quick to get through. With three entry forms to complete before you land – Health, Immigration and Customs, there was much flourishing of stamps but all were handled very quickly. I had been surprised at how frequently my visa was scrutinised in London and Seychelles, with much cross checking on computers and whispered conversations between airport staff. Once there, it didn’t even warrant a glance by the immaculate immigration officer …. I guess if you have made it that far, they assume you have all the necessary paperwork!

Having had my bags examined in detail when I left Mahe, I had a nasty moment when I couldn’t see the Kis case anywhere, imagining it still sitting in the back room of Mahe’s security zone. My worry was short lived and, having exhausted the goodwill of a United representative who was, I think, actually offended to be asked to help an Emirates client (he didn’t have a badge so how was I to know?). I found the tube lurking behind a pillar and once loaded set off towards the exit.

The Imperial Hotel staff who met me at the airport couldn’t have been more helpful and my driver, Mr Dominic, responded to my endless stream of questions with immense patience. Set back from the road in the ‘British’ part of New Delhi, the Imperial Hotel feels hidden away and while there is little that surprises me about hotels now (yes, I know I am tempting fate with that comment), I was charmed by the hotel itself and can’t remember ever being in one that smells so nice – whether they are Lilly or Jasmine diffusers I couldn’t work out but whatever it is, it smells good. The rooms were large with plenty of storage, big bathrooms and acres of marble to be careful on with wet feet. Marble features highly in the hotel’s design with long gleaming corridors that lead ‘somewhere’ – whether to a courtyard or a restaurant, to a terrace or to the pool. Harking back to the early 1900’s, there are prints and portraits on every wall, bronze busts around every corner and gleaming elephants adorn the many hall tables and nothing is too much trouble for the always smiling staff.

Having arrived mid-evening, I met up with Andrew in the lobby, a brave soul who had decided to accompany me to the Saryu because he fancied ‘something different’. Normally only found on saltwater flats, we were both heading into the unknown and had a quick catch up over a Kingfisher or three before heading down our very long, deeply carpeted, corridors and to bed.

Breakfast on the terrace the following morning was truly pleasant; overlooking the immaculate lawn and with the occasional kite soaring overhead, it was hard to believe that we were in the midst of a bustling city. Having been warned by an old India hand that the kites used to dive bomb diners, I adopted a protective hunch over my breakfast only to realise that the umbrellas were a pretty good deterrent and all I was achieving was some odd looks. Post breakfast we set off with our guide to experience Old and New Delhi; adopting the tourist look without too much difficulty.

Starting off at the Palace and India gate, before moving on to mosques and temples, the biggest challenge was the traffic. The plinth behind India Gate that used to bear a stature of George V (he has been banished to the outskirts of the city) is still waiting for something to occupy it.

Our guide for the morning pelted us with questions about India’s history; he’s obviously not used to getting answers as when we did try, he carried on regardless. I found I couldn’t look at Andrew as I knew I’d burst out laughing and truly didn’t want to offend our enthusiastic chatterer. Our tour took us to Raj Ghat, a beautifully laid out memorial to Mahatma Ghandi. The gardens surrounding the memorial are beautiful and with the hustle and bustle of the main road behind you, it is incredibly peaceful. The perfume of the flowers on the breeze was delicate and the kites were soaring above in their dozens: I was humbled as I stood looking at the homage to a great man, thinking on all that he achieved.

Sadly the Red Fort was closed (as it was Monday) and the closest we got was leaning over the wall looking at this stunning architecture, wishing we could get inside to walk around. Leaving the serenity (relatively speaking) of New Delhi behind us, we set off to explore the heart of the old city. Mad and bustling, it is a cacophony of sound and smells and humanity. What initially looks chaotic does have an order. Of a sort. Feeling incredibly sorry for my poor rickshaw man, we set off for a very speedy tour of the old town; barrelling past fruit sellers and carts piled high with produce of one sort or another. The roadside barbers were in need of trade but Andrew went conveniently deaf when I suggested he give it a try.

Eventually our ride brought us to one of the oldest and busiest markets in New Delhi, Chandi Chowk and from there to the Gurdwara Sis Ganj Sahib, one of nine historical gurdwaras in Delhi. Although a place of worship for Sikhs, people of all faiths are welcome and having respectfully covered our heads, we entered its very quiet but welcoming halls. Although a place of worship, teaching and reflection, it also has a langar where anyone can eat for free; all the food is cooked and served by the volunteers of the Sikh community and the food is vegetarian to avoid any offense to race or religion. Amidst the steam from the giant cooking pots, groups of women sat talking while making mounds of chapattis and behind them, the endless mountains of washing up were being tackled with smiles and good humour.

We ended our morning visiting the Lodi Gardens which spreads over 90 acres and is home to several tombs, the oldest of which is the tomb of Mohammed Shah, built c1444.  Started in the 15th century, the gardens are serene in their simplicity and are home to several mausoleums. The most striking of the buildings is Humayun’s Tomb, memorable not just for its architecture and the beauty of its setting but for the fact that it was commissioned by a woman, Humayun’s senior wife, for her husband. Reportedly the first garden tomb on the Indian subcontinent, this Persian influenced building is constructed of red sandstone while the tomb itself is made of yellow and black marble. Since being declared a UNESCO world heritage site, it has undergone a fair amount of restoration and you could be forgiven for thinking that it looks more like a palace than a tomb. It houses not only Humayun and his wife but also a high number of tombs of subsequent Mughal emperors and their wives. The influence of this beautiful building with its double dome, landscaped gardens and reflective water channels is seen in the Taj Mahal, built a century later by Humayan’s great grandson, Shah Jahan, in memory of his wife Arjumand Banu Begum.

We called it a day at that point and retired to the peace and quiet of the hotel to sit by the pool (Andrew) or repack (me). Having eaten once more on the terrace, it seemed criminal to retreat indoors but no matter how long I put it off, I had to repack …. again. The Seychelles kit had to stay behind so the 9#, 11#, 12# and 14# went into the Kis case along with my flats boots (still slightly damp), Seychelles fly boxes, gravel guards and various other bits of kit that I wouldn’t need on the Saryu. We knew we were in for an early start but it was still a shock to hear from David, one of Misty’s brilliant co-ordinators, that he would be picking us up at 0430. Although much quieter than the day before, the streets still busy with tuktuks and scooters jostling for position on the ride to the train station. The station itself was a heaving mass of humanity and with bags put through the x-ray machine, it was a question of push to the front to grab it on the other side. Once through that maelstrom, all was quiet. The platforms full of people sleeping, surrounded by their luggage.

We were on the move, in our first class carriage by 0615 and although reminiscent of the 1960’s dentist’s chair in Malawi that still haunts me, the seats were very comfortable with plenty of leg room.  Bags were stored overhead and the carriage has A/C with fans to fall back on if it conks out. The Orient Express it isn’t, but it was clean and comfy. The advice given over the tannoy to ‘mind your mobile telephones when using the lavatory’ made me wonder how many had been lost down the bowl. And why. There’s no way you’d want to retrieve your phone – even if you could – if it took a dive down the bowl (which I reckon was big enough to swallow an iPad). Throughout our journey hot drinks, breakfast and a later snack were provided by ‘Meals on Wheels and five hour journey took us through fields landscaped by barley, rice and wheat. At journeys end, David handed us over to our driver for the trip up to Ramganga River Lodge, Misty’s base camp and home.  We were met at the trail head by Matt and Dinesh, loaded ourselves and bags into the jeep for the short journey up to the trailhead and down to camp.

Set high on a bluff overlooking the Ramganga, the camp has beautiful views in either direction. The opposite bank of the river is part of the buffer zone of Corbett National Park. There is a very cosy, open sided, central area and while simple it is very elegant with some fantastic J&R Guram safari chairs that are  are amazingly comfortable. The rear wall is covered with photos and there is even a Topi sitting on top of the coat rack. The rooms themselves are mud clad which works to keep the rooms cool in the hotter months and all are individually decorated on their exterior walls. As the walls are plastered after every rainy season, so the paintings change as do the artists. There are eight rooms, some single buildings and some duplex all with twin beds, flushing loos, bathroom sink and beautiful brass buckets and scoops for the daily ablutions and hot water is delivered for you to mix up to the required temperature.  As Misty was up on the Saryu, his wife had us organised and briefed in very short order and we soon sat down for a fantastic lunch before heading to our rooms to get tackled up to fish a few hours before supper.

Floating lines and lighter flies were the order of the day and although we had been warned that sight fishing for mahseer is a tough game, we made our way down to the river, past the temple (offering a short prayer as I passed) and across the boulders to the clear waters of the Ramganga. We could see the mahseer but they weren’t interested in anything I presented to them; stripping fast or stripping slow didn’t entice them at all as we worked our way down the bank. We saw several fish rise and one very chunky fish jumped at one point but with the light beginning to fade, Andrew and I met up and, both bearing tales of empty hooks and made our way back up to the lodge. The dogs were returning from their afternoon rambles to have their leopard collars fitted for the night and we headed off to shower before dinner.

I am clumsy; I fall in and out of boats on a pretty regular basis and if there is something small to fall over, or a hole to fall in, I normally do.  The ‘nice’ mugs in the office are kept far away from me,  scissors live on other’s desks in case I inadvertently stick them in me.  Imagine then if you can, my worry when confronted with a beautiful, heavy brass bowl (minus handle) to use for my evening ‘shower’. I wasn’t worried about the bucket bath – in truth I have bathed in some very unusual places in my travels – but I was terrified that I’d drop the heavy bowl onto the beautifully laid and decorated tiles in my ‘shower’ and smash them. Or my toes. Never in the history of bucket baths has anyone been more careful sluicing water around with soapy hands.

Sitting round a fire and chatting is a such an easy pleasure and with the clear night sky above, a crackling fire in front of me I finally felt that I had ‘arrived’.  Nibbles and French onion soup around the fire started off the evening meal before we headed in to the table to sit down and enjoy a veritable feast which culminated in the best rice pudding I have ever had the pleasure of eating. As Andrew doesn’t ‘do’ puddings, I had his helping as well before staggering off to bed knowing we had another early start ahead of us.

Up and off at 0530, we took a packed breakfast with us, walked back up to the jeep (rather regretting my over indulgence of the pudding), drove back down to the main road to meet up with our driver. Once loaded, we set off back the way we had come, heading to Corbett National Park, about 45 minutes away. It was a steep and winding road with stunning views and even worse driving than encountered in Delhi. Once at the park gate, with overnight bags only, we met with Ritish and Nando who were to be with us for the duration of our stay in Corbett.

Jim Corbett National Park is India’s oldest park, established in 1936 to provide a safe haven for the endangered Bengal tiger. It is very diverse; in part hilly and heavily forested. In part marshy with riverine belts and with open grasslands surrounding an enormous lake. Jim Corbett was born in India of British parents and had an innate love and understanding of the country and its people. He risked his life to  track and kill man-eating cats but never killed until he was confident the animal was indeed a man eater. In the foreword of Man Eaters of Kumaon, Corbett writes:

‘The wound that has caused a particular tiger to take to man-eating might be the result of a carelessly fired shot and failure to follow up and recover the wounded animal, or be the result of the tiger having lost his temper while killing a porcupine’.

Deeply concerned about the fate of the tigers and their loss of habitat he played an important role in the establishment of what has become Corbett National Park. His is a fascinating story and I am indebted to Rob who fired my imagination about this remarkable man as we sat chatting in the Seychelles the week before I arrived in India.

We stopped for breakfast at Sarapduli, one of the small national park bungalows before moving on to explore the park. Our base of the night was Sultan, another of the small bungalows within the park and now the only unfenced accommodation within the park ….. probably why I liked it so much. Built in the late 1800’s, the building is in need of some love and attention but has a unique character with its thick wooden doors and high ceilings. The evenings are chilly and the hot water bottles tucked into the beds at night were very welcome. The mattress didn’t  have a lot of ‘give’ though and when we met at breakfast the next morning Andrew and I were both walking a little stiffly!

In our time in the park we saw an astonishing number of birds and while we heard plenty of alarm calls, spoor and scat we sadly didn’t lay eyes on the lord of the jungle. The lantana, an invasive species of shrub is so dense that his lordship could have been lying six feet away from us and we wouldn’t have seen him. In the areas of the park where lantana hasn’t been able to get a toe hold, it is easy to see how well the tiger’s stripes camouflage them in the leaf covered, dappled shade of the towering trees.

On the grasslands by the lake, we saw a herd of elephants moving slowly down to the water, protectively huddled around a very young calf – small enough to hide right under the mother’s belly. On the same stretch of grassland was a vast herd of male white spotted deer, about 200 strong. As we paused on a riverbed to scan in either direction, an enormous male sambar walked calmly from the shade, across the road and with one last disdainful flick of his tail, vanished as quietly as he had come.  While the tigers were conspicuous in their absence, we saw female sambar, female white spotted deer, golden jackals, wild boar, black faced languor’s, rhesus monkeys and plenty of leopard and tiger spoor.

One the riverbanks were the uniquely snouted fish eating gharials (Gavialis gangeticus) – log like from a distance and much larger than I thought they grew. From our vantage point above the river, the crystal clear water did nothing to hide the enormous gooch lying just off a sand bar and several trophy sized mahseer hanging in the deeper pools. We also had the pleasure of watching an otter sunbathing on the sandbank, rolling in the hot sand before slipping back into the water and heading downstream.  We watched as he worked his way back and forth across the river and then, to my utter amazement, goosed a muggar crocodile (Crocodylus palustris). Clear as a bell, I saw the otter swim straight at the muggar, turn and flick it with its tail and then scoot out of reach. The muggar swung around, and lunged at the otter, water flying everywhere and while the scaly beast tried to recover its equilibrium, the otter was busy chasing fish the croc had set afleeing. Dangerous but clever.

The forest was alive with birdsong and while I tried to keep a list, I was woefully hopeless but amongst those we saw and heard were pied kingfishers, barbetts, sunbirds, woodpeckers, black drongos, Pallas’s fish eagle (including several juveniles), serpent eagles, peacocks, red jungle fowl and Kalij’s pheasant.  In one fantastic display, we had several male peacock in the road in front of us, all displaying their magnificent tail feathers as they ponced along the road, determined to outdo one another.

With one last, slow game drive we were lucky enough to spot an elephant just to the side of the road. It took a while before she was willing to come out and she wasn’t happy with us being there. Eventually she settled and was followed out by a tiny calf; so young it still hadn’t worked out what to do with its trunk. It was absolutely tiny and we were only offered a fleeting glimpse before she hustled it back into the safety of the undergrowth. Leaving the elephants and the elusive tigers behind, we headed to the park gate to say goodbye to Nando and head off on the next stage of our journey.

On the steep and winding uphill section out of the park we passed an incredibly overloaded tuktuk. There had to be at least 20 people squashed in it and it could barely move. Arriving into town on the other side of the hill, the tuktuk came flying past us, sari’s flapping out of the sides as it used its excess weight to gather momentum before the next incline and make up for lost time. We met up with Matt and a South African couple who were heading to Corbett. Over lunch we picked their brains about flies (use what Misty gives you), tactics (there are none), stripping methods (try everything) before loading everything into the car and setting off for the long drive to Dhanachuli. Sunder, who is the master of all in camp, was travelling with us and basically we packed around him as he had the back seat. All I could see was a big smile from amongst the bags; I was slightly worried that heavy braking might see him squashed but this is India …. There’s lots of braking, but none of it is heavy!

We climbed up, we climbed down. We wound around and around, amazed by the vertical cultivation that must have taken generations to achieve. Used to a relatively flat Hampshire, I was absolutely fascinated by the terraces, growing everything from wheat, millet and barley to rice and potatoes.  Wild cherry trees, apple and apricot shared space with wild mangos. The terraced hillsides eventually gave way to hillsides covered with towering pines, mainly Scottish pines introduced by the British both for lumber and to prevent erosion … after they had stripped the hillsides of its native cover. Rhododendron trees towered amongst the pines, covered in deep red blossom and as we climbed we were aware that the air was getting cooler.

Arriving at our hotel, we climbed up to reception to be greeted with a local drink made from Rhododendron flowers before climbing again up to our rooms. This too is vertical living. There are ten very individual rooms, in fact the whole place is very individual and querky – where else would you find a Vespa in a display case as part of the external buildings? Hot water bottles and fan heaters very necessary here as you are so high. We met with Derrick and Kevin, two other Brits who would be joining us on the river, enjoyed some excellent red wine by the fire courtesy of the owner – I think we were all surprised to learn that it was Indian wine and it truly was delicious. Rich and smooth, I wish I had thought to photograph the label!

An early night had by all as another early start was planned for the next morning. At one point in the night I heard a loud bang from next door; Andrew’s bed was so high he had a step to get in it and I did wonder if he’d managed to fall out. I forgot to ask the next morning as we set off once more but there weren’t any visible bruises. This leg of our journey was towards warmer climes and the reason I was here - the beautiful, armour plated Golden Mahseer of the Saryu and Mahakali.

Please contact Charlotte Chilcott or call +44 (0)1980 847389 if you would like further details or to chat through options for a multi-centre trip in India.

ICELAND; SEASON OPENS SOON, LAST AVAILABILITY

April 21st, 2015

As spring slowly creeps over the land of fire and ice we are looking forward to the opening of the salmon season with growing anticipation. Trout fishing in some areas has already commenced with some large trout being caught on Lake Thingvallavatn. The guides and operators are scouting the rivers to see what has changed over the course of the winter and also looking for those first salmon to appear in the pools. Although much of the prime space in Iceland has been sold there are still a few opportunities you may wish to take advantage of.

If the start of the trout fishing season here in the UK is making you itchy to get out on the river and you might be looking for some truly epic trout fishing this summer, you should consider joining Alex and Charles Jardine’s hosted trip to Laxardal 9 - 12 and 12 - 15 July for the phenomenal trout fishing there. We have a few rods remaining during the prime week of dry fly fishing in the season if you would like to join them with three and six day options are available (£1,780 - 3 days, £3,560 - 6 days).

Laxá in Kjos remains one of our favourite rivers as it combines fantastic lodging with perfect hitching water and personifies everything we love about fishing in Iceland. Six rods are still available 26 – 28 August for two days fishing at the cost of £1,420 per rod. This would be ideal for anyone looking to hit the prime sea trout run and add on a couple of days to an existing slot or combine it with a quick Iceland break. We also have 13 – 18 September available for 4 rods for 5 days fishing. Cost is £3,290 per rod and would be ideal for a back end salmon and sea trout combination.

Two rods have just become available on Grimsá 25 – 28 June (£2,475 per rod) and 5 – 8 July for three days of fishing (£3,800 per rod). This time frame is perfect for those looking to hit the larger fresh fish as the runs are building. The Grimsá is a wonderful river system with a huge variety of water from canyons to open plains along with the chance of large salmon up to 20 lbs. It is still very much a single handed river though that adds to the excitement. One rod has also just become available in absolute prime time 20 – 23 July costing £5,040 for anyone still looking for an prime rod in Iceland.

After new management the Laxá I Dolum has once again become popular, mostly as the number of rods have decreased along with a dramatic drop in price now making it a much better prospect. It is a typical west coast river for single handed hitch fishing located a little further north west of Langá. The lodge has just undergone a refurbishment and we can offer one rod 11 – 14 August for four rods (£2,550 per rod) and 4 rods in 14 – 17 August (£2,550 per rod). This week has a 6 year average of 139 salmon to 6 rods.

On the Langá there are still rods available in prime season with eight rods in 8 – 11 July at £2,750 per rod, two rods in 14 – 17 July at £3,840 per rod and 4 rods in 23 – 26 July also at £3,840 per rod. The Langá continues to be one of our most popular rivers. Not only does it remain consistent through tough conditions but all the pools are easily accessible by vehicle making it the perfect place for those who don’t fancy rock hopping. The numerous pools provide perfect hitching water with small flies and light tackle.

Not around very often we can offer 4 rods on Fnjóská 14 -20 July for six days fishing (£5,050 per rod). Winding its way through rocky canyons before emptying its cool water into the sea, the Fnjóská is a perfect salmon and sea run Arctic char river. The 40 kms of fishing are split into two sections; the lower for salmon and the upper for sea run Arctic char. This challenging river has runs of 7-8 lbs fish with occasional salmon up to 20 lbs. The river is stunningly beautiful as it powers its way down its course, and the strong current can produce some exceptional battles. This eight rod river is perfect for a small party looking for a challenge and the prospect of a big fish. Cost is including full board and lodging, guiding and transfers from Akureyri.

If you would like any further information on any of the above rivers please contact Peter McLeod and Alex Jardine or call our office on +44(0)1980 847389.

Alphonse 28 March-4 April - bonefish bonanza

April 20th, 2015

Alphonse is synonymous for its magnificent Bonefish population as well as the sheer diversity of predatory fish that feed on these shallow water speedsters. Great weather, neap tides and anglers who focused on Bonefish made for a fantastic week of exciting fishing. You’ll see the results below which ended up with a total of 631 Bonefish, 3 Trigger fish, 6 GT’s (Biggest of which was 106cm), 2 Permit, 2 Milkfish and a Sailfish. On day 3 John managed 40 Bonefish, a Yellowmargin Triggerfish and a Permit in one session. Selina landed the biggest GT of the week measuring 106 cm and finished the day with 34 Bonefish. Great fishing week anywhere on this planet!

Catch Notes:

Day 1: Great weather - 138 x Bonefish, 1 x Yellowmargin, 2 x GT’s
Day 2: Strong Winds - Concentrated on Bonefish - 122 x Bonefish
Day 3: Great Weather - 198 x Bonefish, 2 x Permit, 2 x GT’s (106 cm, 1 x Yellowmargin, 1 x Sailfish
Day 4: Great Weather - 193 x Bonefish, 1 x Moustache Triggerfish,1 x Milkfish (35lbs)
Day 5:Great Weather - 83 x Bonefish, 1 x Milkfish (35lbs)
Day 6 :Great Weather - 95 x Bonefish, 2 x GT’s (84 and 81 cm)

Tight lines from the Alphonse Team!

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

Los Roques, Venezuela - March trip report 2015, by Gunter Fink

April 14th, 2015

When my long-time friend and fishing buddy Lutz Schepers at Aardvark McLeod Germany called me asking whether I would like to go to Los Roques in Venezuela I couldn’t resist . As one of the top three flats destinations in the world Los Roques is on every serious saltwater fly fisherman’s bucket list before he dies and a dream come true. Lutz took care of everything at the Aardvark McLeod offices and with only two weeks’ notice we were ready.

To prepare for this trip, especially regarding productive flies for this area Peter McLeod gave us detailed advice as having visited the destination on numerous occasions he knew what was hot on the flats and we organised some last minute flies tied by Fulling Mill for minnows, crab and shrimp imitations in different colours and small sizes. We departed to Caracas from Frankfurt Airport on the morning of the 7th of March. Ahead of us we had planned two days to relax on the main island of Gran Roques followed by six days of fly fishing with the guides from Sightcast.

After a 9 ½ hour flight we arrived in Caracas; Venezuela. At the airport Jon Jac was waiting for us for the short transfer across the road to Marriot Playa Grande Hotel for a night before we flew out to Los Roques the next morning. Luckily the flight was very early so after a few beers and lots of fly fishing talk we got to bed for a couple hours sleep. At 0500 Jon was already waiting in lobby to get us back to the airport to catch the flight to Gran Roques - by 0730 we set foot on this pristine island. The friendly guys from Sightcast took care of our luggage and delivered our now group of 5 fly fishers to Posada Aquarela where all of us received the keys to our rooms. After a hefty breakfast the “fishing fever” overtook control and we couldn‘t wait to unpack our gear and get to the beach to check out what was going on. Not before receiving some advice from Carlos (the head guide) to spare the bonefish at the main beach since they are “spooky” and almost uncatchable. The beach he recommended was on another island called Madrizqui and only accessible by boat. This problem was solved by our extremely friendly hosts from Aquarela who organised the boat ride and a proper lunch box. An hour later we walked the beach of Madrizqui sighting for our primary target - good sized bonefish.

Beachcombing
After a few minutes strolling along the beach we spotted good sized bones - but spooky. Lutz found his spot and after a few casts he hooked one on a Los Roques-Minnow. That’s why the bones are here. They feed on the baitfish near the surface like trout when chasing caddis flies.

We managed to hook and land half a dozen good sized bonefish - all on size 6 to 8 Los Roques minnows along with some nice blue runners who gave incredible fights on 7 weight rods. All in all it was a remarkable start before lunch time. A perfect relaxed day ended with a delicious 4-course-menu and for sure a few beers.

Another Day Beaching
Next day off we went to the island of Crasqui. It took a little longer because of strong winds a good sized waves. Soaking wet we arrived on a long white sand beach. Vast fishing grounds as far our eyes could see.

Here again we had some success with small minnows presented to cruising bonefish chasing small baitfish on the beach edges. Fishing was slow and we hooked only a few fish but as this was our relaxing day after a long hike we enjoyed the sun and the refreshments out of the lunch box.

Days 3 to 5
The first proper days fishing with our guide Enrico und boatman Alex brought us to the pancake flats on the outer skirt of the Los Roques Archipelago. Soon Enrico spotted small groups of feeding bonefish, all of them between 5 to 7 lbs. We chose small Crazy Charlies or bonefish bitters in size 6 or 8 coloured tan, brown or white depending on the fishing ground and bottom colour. Casting was sometimes quite tough because of the strong wind. Therefore getting in the right position was crucial to set up a proper cast and decent presentation. This was key to not spook the tailing bonefish. Taking that into consideration we managed to catch and release very good sized bonefish during all these days. On every flat we could spot good fish in decent numbers and even stepped on large schools of feeding bonefish with more than hundred fish. All in all we encountered bonefish heaven where we found fish on every spot our guide brought us. What a great experience.

Days 5 to 8
Talking to Chris of Sightcast prompted us to look for places where we could cast to feeding permit. There are not as many on the flats at this time of year as on the high tides they normally experience between November until January, but good fish can be spotted cruising the flats to feed. With Javier as our guide we probably have the best permit spotting guide on our side in order to get decent chances of hooking what I call the “Diva”of the flats.

And yes, Lutz and I had to learn how tricky it is to approach permit on the flats. Sometimes it is a combination of frustration and motivation at the same time, but that is why it is so exciting. After one day with Javier on the flats we saw several large permit of incredible sizes up 20+ lbs which left us completely infected by the permit-virus. Not a thought on bonefish anymore - just permit was on our mind.

Javier proved to have the capability to spot permit in distances to 100m and more - none of us would have been able to spot cruising permit - except Javier. With that in mind we decided to go for the uncertainty within the next three days. That happens when your mind becomes set on permit hunting and chasing! Permit fever had taken hold…

For sure fishing for permit follows its very own rules - less fish, deeper water, fast moving fish and quit a distance to wade when chasing fish across the flat. This and the concentration needed when casting to fish that are not necessarily feeding takes its physical toll and at the end of the day we felt deep fatigue in our bones. Even fighting hard with tough conditions I managed to get three strikes on my “Xcalak Shrimp” imitation but no hook-up. Sometimes I tell myself this was a fairly good result - but also at the same time I feel disappointed missing the chance of a lifetime - maybe!

Permit fishing is permit fishing and although we did not have much luck hooking one of these big fish they were there. We saw good size fish tailing every day but maybe due to low water conditions or other reasons - only the permit knows why we got skunked. This is the hard way most every fly fishermen concentrating on this species must endure. So we do - but nevertheless it was worth every hour spent on this top destination. And for sure it won´t be the last time we got there! As I said - its hard work and lots of trials to reach the saltwater fly fishing pinnacle of achievement but “I´ll be back!”

Last Day / Last Call
On our very last day Lutz did not fancy staying at the posada until the late afternoon flight to Caracas. He persuaded me to take the boat to Madrizqui - the place we started our venture! There wasn´t much hesitation from my side to agree. We got to the spots of our very first day - and here we had sightings again and good fish moved in and out to feed on minnows. The same game the same flies - and again good fish too! But this time I wanted to hook one of “uncatchable” cruising beach-bones - and indeed they refused all of our presentations so far. Then two big bones approached my area of vision - with one cast way in front of the fish I let the fly sink to the bottom until the fish came in sight - perfect situation. A slight twitch - and the fish disappeared passing my fly one on the left the other on the right - crazy fish! It was time for the last beer on Madrizqui. Then again another big bone approached - I couldn’t resist - another good cast - the fly sank to the bottom - and a veeeery slow retrieve - stop - again veeery slow retrieve - the bone reacted and approached my own fly creation - another veeery slow retrieve - the bone got aggressive an took the fly right in front of the rod and steamed away in a hard run but there were no obstacles in sight only white sand bottom. After a hefty fight I could beach the fish to release him unharmed. What a feeling after all the trials!

Conclusion
Los Roques is famous for its superior bonefish and permit habitat. I would highly recommend it for all fly fishing enthusiasts who want to hone their skills in fishing for bonefish and permit. All year round there are perfect conditions and in certain times there will be the chance of casting for tarpon too. If you are looking for a “Grand Slam“- the possibilities are there! I will return - maybe in November at high tide - to test my skills with the “Glorious 3” of saltwater fly fishing. It was absolutely a wise decision to trust a well-known and reliable travel agency like Aardvark who will take care of the local arrangements with top quality guides with knowledge and enthusiasm - every day of the trip.

If you are looking for a value for money flats destination that provides a service well beyond its price tag then you should seriously consider Los Roques and take advantage of empty flats. If you are interested in travelling to Los Roques or for more information contact Peter McLeod or Alex Jardine or call our office on +44(0)1980 847389.

Nubian Flats - Second week 30 March - 6 April 2015 report

April 14th, 2015

For the second week of the 2015 Nubian Flats Season we were joined by returning guests and old friends Eric Heyns and Chris Rooseboom. They were teamed up with friends AJ, Riaan, Werner, and Richard Wales from Cape Town.The wind was still strong and the forecast showed that the conditions would be tough for the first few days.

The first morning everyone was more than amped to go out on the flats despite the tough conditions. The water was high and really cool but the triggerfish were out in good numbers. The strong wind made spotting these fish really hard but by the end of the day everyone had plenty of shots, although not everyone converted these chances into fish.

Triggerfish are extremely difficult fish to catch. Firstly, they are really hard to get close to. Secondly, they can be incredibly fussy when it comes to eating your fly and lastly, when you finally hook one, chances of him either clipping your hook like a side cutter or just plain letting go, is a very real possibility! All of the above make them that much more desirable to catch. Addictive is the right word that springs to mind when thinking about triggers.Just being able to get the eat is a massive victory. By the end of the day we did manage to land some really nice yellow margined triggerfish. Special mention has to go out to AJ who landed  a really massive specimen of a yellow margined triggerfish.

On day 2 the wind continued to make the going tough, but was still manageable. The visibility on the flats was less than the first day, and on top of this the permit, bones, bluefin and GTs, that were on the flats in good numbers the week before, were hard to come by. Fortunately the lack of these species was made up for with the ample shots at tailing triggers. The wind made the going really tough but on a positive note, the extra noise and movement in the water allowed the anglers to come really close to tailing fish, making presenting the fly a little easier. We succeeded in fooling many triggers to eat the fly and landed some really nice Yellow Margined Triggers with the odd Titan in between.

The wind continued to gain potency and we resorted to some teasing in the afternoon before heading back to the mothership for some shelter. The going was tough but Richard persisted and landed a really nice bluefin trevally and a decent GT in the roughest of spots.

Unfortunately the wind reached gale force speeds during the night and by the morning of day 3 we had to call off fishing, and spend the morning tying flies and rebuilding leaders.By late afternoon the wind died down and we headed out for a quick session in one of the semi sheltered areas close to the mothership.What was expected to be a slow session turned out to be a little gem. Eric alone hooked 7 triggers and landed 4. Between the other anglers on the flat we got a couple more triggers and also had a good shot at a solid meter GT that somehow missed the fly 3 times before spooking. A couple more big GTs came in over the flats, but we didn’t manage to get a fly in front of them. The most memorable catch of the day though had to go to Riaan who sighted, cast to and landed a solid 8 plus kg Bohar Snapper on the flat.

Over the next couple days the weather improved drastically and so did the numbers of triggerfish on the flats. The guys landed some really good sized fish and got schooled by many more! We also had some shots at milkfish, bluefin, barracuda, GTs and incredibly big bonefish but to no avail. One bonefish in particular was well over 12 pounds, and although it took its time to inspect the crab pattern, in the end it decided against eating it.

We are still hoping for a photo with one of these monsters. This is something to really relish, the thought of cracking the code on these monster bonefish, as they are like no other bonefish we have ever fished for in the past. Big, spooky and more selective than the permit.On the last day a big frontal system moved over the area again bringing heavy clouds with it.

The fishing however was hot from the start. Barely 20min into the walk we were already presenting flies to tailing fish and the majority of them were incredibly big in size. So much so that every fish we hooked, ended well into the backing. Luck was not on our side though. Richard and Riaan hooked 5 really great triggers and both, on each occasion, were left with broken tippets and mangled hooks. Between Chris and Werner they presented to 15 fish each, and although they hooked a few, were still left empty handed by the end of the session.

In the end though we got 4 triggers to hand before being chased back to the mothership by the strong wind at 15:00, bringing the trip to an end. Over the week the weather made the going very tough  but the guys persisted and did very well. It was really good to share this week with such a great bunch of fly anglers that were happy to accept the good, with the bad hand we got handed with the weather.

On a final note: To all guests that will be fishing with us on the Nubian Flats in the near future. try to limit the use of any hot orange in your crab patterns. Thats it for now but be sure to check in next week for another update from the Nubian Flats. The weather for the next 7 days looks dead calm, and we have got a score to settle with some permit, GTs, and some massive bonefish. I am sure there will be plenty of shots at the triggers.

Till next time
The Tourette Fishing Nubian Flats Guides Team

Both the Aardvark McLeod hosted weeks on the Nubian Flats in May are now full, but there is still some limited availability for the those intrepid anglers wishing to join the adventure:

11-18 May 2015 – 6 rods
8 to 15 June – 4 rods

The cost is €2,750 per person excluding international flights via Dubai to Port Sudan which are approximately £600. Accommodation is on a shared cabin basis with shared boat/guide.

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

Casa and Playa Blanca Fishing Reports 21-28 March 2015

April 7th, 2015

Another charmed week with great weather and hungry fish. Mild winds overall trending out of the South East, temps in the high 80’s, scattered clouds and mostly good visibility. 21 permit for the week and two grand slams. Some pretty epic snook and tarpon fishing, including one amazing double of a 20 lbs permit and 40 lbs tarpon for Barry C. and Tim F.….of course the camera failed due to a fishing bag sunscreen spill!

Tarpon rolling out in front of Casa Blanca well within range for several afternoons in a row, in targeting them anglers came up with some very nice jacks. Fishing off the pier at night was pretty strong as well, with permit, tarpon and jacks coming to hand throughout the week. Bill and Liz A. had a pretty stellar week as well, catching 12 permit between them and some very nice ones at that.

For more information on Casa & Playa Blanca Lodges please contact Aardvark McLeod or call +44 1980 847389.

Alphonse 21 to 28 March 2015 – Flats Grand Slam & 9 lbs Bonefish

April 7th, 2015

The run of flat calm weather continued on from last week and so did the great fishing. The GT’s were around in good numbers with fish being caught both on the flats and in the surf line. Joern Heiner managed to get a GT almost every day and Chantal Chone managed two GT’s in a single day. The triggerfish were mostly on the pancake flats with Maria Mazura landing two moustache triggers in two consecutive days. The milkfish turned up for a short period when guide Dave Marshall paddled over to a small group of feeding Milkfish only a few hundred yards from the moorings. After a few casts the line went tight and Bill Nevis kicked off the day by landing a 30 lbs milkfish in under 40 minutes. The bonefishing is a constant with anglers having incredible fishing. The outstanding part of the bonefishing of late is that there have been some really big fish landed in the 8 lbs range. John Dale took it one step further by breaking this season’s bonefish record with an estimated 9 lbs (72 cm) that was caught while tailing with its back out of the water. The angler of the week was John Dale when he went out and achieved his first “Flats Grand Slam” comprising of a good GT, a bunch of bonefish and giant triggerfish.

Another spectacular week on Alphonse.

Tight lines from the Alphonse team.

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

Desroches Fishing News 1 April 2015 – Sailfish & Permit.

April 7th, 2015

The last few weeks of fly fishing at Desroches have been outstanding with amazing catches both on the flats and offshore. The sailfish have been around in good numbers with numerous being landed on fly. The permit fishing at Poivre has been brilliant with shots at over 40 on the last trip, one magnificent fish being landed and another lost. The bonefishing has been outstanding with some really big fish landed in the 8 lbs range. There is no better place when you are looking for a 5 star destination with a couple days of fantastic fishing.

Tight lines from the Alphonse Fishing Co team at Desroches Island.

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

Farquhar Atoll - 18 to 25 March 2015

April 7th, 2015

We welcomed 10 very enthusiastic anglers onto Farquhar this week, at least half of which were friends from past seasons. It was made clear from the get go that the iconic bumphead parrotfish and infamous giant trevally would be our anglers preferred quarry for the week. This is not an unusual request, but Farquhar would show once again she has plenty more to offer.

Father and son, Bruce and Brett both managed to hook bumpies early on, however Brett was the only one to land a good specimen. As it turned out this was unfortunately the only bumpy landed for the week, despite countless sessions stalking and casting at these mesmerizing tailing behemoths. Cyril, who was particularly eager to do battle with the bumpies enjoyed absolutely no luck on this front by hooking and losing two fish during the course of the week. The reality however is they not only require solid casting skills, but you definitely need a bit of luck to go your way when trying to stop a 40 – 80 lbs fish on a 9 weight.

Old faces Gerard and Bully showed their experience by capitalising on two opportunities that were presented to them on the flats, each of them landing a GT a piece – the biggest of which measured a solid 82 cm. This spurred on the need to land a fish over a metre. They subsequently headed offshore and Gerard came up with the answer landing a gorgeous GT of 114 cm. Shortly thereafter Watty landed a second fish over the one metre mark with his prize measuring an impressive 117 cm.

A special mention must go out to the first grand slam of the season. Guided by Brendan Becker, Bully managed to land a beautiful permit in the morning that had broken away from the shoal to chase down and sip up a Gotcha styled fly. This was followed by an exceptional bonefish that after tailing hard on the fly, set off on a series of long runs before coming to hand. Their efforts quickly shifted to the coveted GT and after hours of searching, a simple slap (Bully slap) of the fly next to an eager specimen GT resulted in a slam that left both angler and guide ecstatic. Congratulations Bully, this is an exceptional achievement!

Farquhar is historically not known for huge numbers of permit, however this season good numbers are being seen on an almost daily basis. So much so that Keith landed our sixth in just three weeks. Keith has travelled to some top destinations trying to catch these fussy buggers but to date he had experienced no joy. Guiding has many highlights, but the one that tops everything is seeing the joy on a client’s face after he has landed a fish that has eluded him for many a moon. Congratulations Keith on your “holy grail”!

Seasoned angler Bruce focused most of his attention on targeting Farquhar’s triggerfish. After showing great finesse in presenting a crab pattern to dozens of the wily devils, a giant trigger chased down and crunched his fly resulting in a very happy angler. He later added to his species list by calmly flicking a crab pattern at a school of Golden Trevally who were tailing hard over a turtle grass flat. Our first for the season, the beautiful fish measured a whopping 81 cm, which according to the length to weight conversion table would have broken the world record by three pounds. Although the intention of the fishermen is not to claim the record, this is still a truly amazing catch!

All in all a great week was had by all with some truly memorable catches being made. Like all fishing, the stories of the ones that got away will remain embedded in the memories of the anglers and remembered as fondly as the ones which came to hand.

Until next week

The Farquhar Guide Team

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