Kendjam, Iriri River, Brazil; THE next big thing…

October 6th, 2015

We are approached with new destinations on a regular basis. Often it is a case of evaluating whether it suits our clients whilst also cutting through the marketing to unveil the true potential of what’s on offer. This is very much a case of separating the wheat from the chaff.

Once in a while we come across something really special, which helps us remember why we do what we do and why we love the industry so much. For me Tsimane in Bolivia was one of these places – a piece of me was left there I think as I got so attached to the place and the experience. The fishing was immense, but it was more than the fishing, it was the overall experience. The jungle atmosphere, the wildlife and also the indigenous tribe with their primitive hunting and fishing tools – I was envious of their simple, carefree lives.

Reflecting on Tsimane left me somewhat sad. I could not imagine or expect that anything similar could ever be unearthed again. In a time where every inch of the planet is seemingly explored or populated, how could another jewel be left lying dormant? Kendjam in Brazil was to be my saviour and I firmly believe could be the next big thing.

Kendjam is truly off the beaten track. Indeed, the last visitors before our exploratory trip in August (2015) was National Geographic (‘Kayapo Courage’). It is based around the Iriri River, which is quite unique as it largely flows over granite - this gives it the clarity needed. The Iriri then flows into the Xingu, which then flows into the mighty Amazon.

The journey begins in Manaus – a city with around two million inhabitants. A modern, vibrant city with several good hotels, bars and restaurants and certainly a place worth spending some time in; a visit to the fish market, for example, is a must for any avid angler. Manaus sits on the confluence of the Solimeos and Negro Rivers, which form the start of the Amazon with their mergence. To put this convergence into perspective; the start of the amazon at this point is 10 km across. The split is clearly seen as you fly over as the Negro is very dark and the Solimeos is very much like milk chocolate in colour.

Getting to Manaus is fairly straightforward, with direct flights from Portugal or several connecting flights via Sao Paulo. Upon arrival you are met and transferred to a nice hotel, where an overnight is also required on your return journey in most cases.

The following morning you are met at the hotel and transferred to the domestic airport for the flight  to the community landing strip in Kendjam, which is based some three hours South-East of Manaus.

The start of the journey brings home what you hear of regularly in the news where huge areas of forest are being cut and burnt to give way to intensive farming of either beef or soya. Smoke clouds obliterated the horizon, it was deeply saddening. However, soon enough this gave way to a carpet of green where the forest was protected for an unfathomable distance. Three brothers from Brazil created the National Park in which the Iriri flows and Kendjam is located; an area of some five million hectares of virgin Amazon forest.

The forest canopy is dense; so much so that you cannot see very much during the journey beyond the odd rocky outcrop, rivers meandering lethargically through the jungle, then just a carpet of green from the trees.

An excitement fills the air as the pilot announces ‘Iriri’, pointing to somewhere on the horizon. Soon the river is seen below; a truly unique system compared to anything else seen during the three hour journey from Manaus. Rapids can be clearly distinguished, as can the clarity, along with huge granite rocks and boulders, which form the riverbed. As we lose altitude the gradient becomes apparent, as does the topography with notable hills within the dense forest. One bare rock soon catches our eye; both for its size and for the lack of vegetation around and on it. This is Kendjam and where the people of Kendjam call home - Kendjam translating to mean ‘the standing rock’.

The landing strip is a rather glamorous term for what faced us. It was basically a track of cleared forest; not a long one at that! However, our pilot had traversed it several times and handled it masterfully, landing us with ease and confidence.

As soon as the dust settled, faces emerged from the surrounding trees. A welcome party soon formed and stood around with great intrigue as to what the contraption had brought into their home this time. I could not help to stand back and wonder what they must make of us. The way we looked, the clothes we wore, the amount of ‘stuff’ we brought with us and the materials that we held so dear, which, to them would be useless and would not help them survive or exist in this environment. It was nice to strip yourself back in this way and reflect on what is actually important and how we have become so materialistic. They really could not give a jot whether you had the latest iphone, trainers or even a ‘series XII spacecraft engineered super-duper molecular-nano graphite’ fly rod. Life is simple here and what enabled this to continue was also simple.

The guides introduced themselves and then took us through to the heart of the community to meet the elders and have an introduction to their way of life. We sat in the ‘hall’ where we were introduced to the chief and then also had an opportunity to introduce ourselves. All the men and most of the children had body paint, symbolising different animals and also formulating a primitive camouflage for hunting. This was a ritual but also something that was meticulously achieved and frequently reapplied. The women were the ‘artists’ with the ‘ink’ made from charcoal and fruit. We had the opportunity to have our own before heading to the camp – an experience not to be missed. I decided on having both my arms done (a snake on one and a turtle on the other), whereas others braved the face; not a wise move as it transpired, given that the paint lasted for a long time. Indeed, mine lasted for around two weeks – it was potent stuff. Going back through airport security must have been an indifferent experience for those with face art…

Soon the boats were packed with supplies, which included produce cultivated and foraged by the community along with those brought in by the airplane. The journey was to take some five hours, but time went very quickly given the environment through which we passed. The journey is spectacular, especially if you are a birder or a twitcher as the sky is alive with colour and sound. Fish could be seen darting for cover at every turn, forming a visual feast no matter where you looked.

With the last set of rapids masterfully navigated the camp was in sight, located on a large sand spit, where the water flowed following winter rain but continued to recede in the dry season to expose a beautiful beach on which to call home.

Camp life was basic but adequate. It was, after all, an exploratory trip and no huge expenditure would be forthcoming before the viability was truly assessed. Furthermore, there were strict guidelines applied on what could be done, what could be erected, what could be brought etc. to keep within the confines of the Indian Community as not to westernise them, which was a common threat and worry. Indeed, the camp was an alcohol free zone and will continue to be in the future, as not to influence the community. We had individual tents and they were very comfortable. Each had a porch area and there was enough room to stow all your belongings.

The location is not for everybody. You need to be patient and have a sense of adventure to travel to such a remote location, as is the case with Tsimane in Bolivia. Perhaps even more so here, given the accommodation, but that will add to the appeal for some. Look beyond this and you will have an adventure like no other and truly feel that you are visiting where very few have ever ventured before – which is certainly the case here.

Wildlife abounds but very little is looking to maim or eat you – always a bonus! Indeed, no-see-ums and mosquitos are few and far between too; the dry season leaves little standing water and, therefore, few locations suitable for incubation. The jungle is surprisingly friendly, it really shocked me. I am always a good test for this; if there are biting bugs around trust me they WILL find me! I had a few bites, but nothing of any significance and it was always around the dawn/dusk period when a few emerged. There is no threat of malaria in the area or from leishmaniasis. Indeed, the only inoculation that you must have is for Yellow Fever, which lasts for some ten years and, therefore, my injection from visiting Tsimane still covered me.

Beyond that even the temperatures are pleasant; hot and humid in the day but night-time temperatures soon dropped to give a cooling sensation, which made for a good night’s sleep. Unlike Manaus, where the temperature remained high in the evening too, but in civilisation there was air conditioning…

There are things to be wary of, of course. After all you are in an extremely remote part of the jungle where undoubtedly some animals or plants exist that have yet to be documented. Very few snakes and spiders made an appearance - I saw two snakes, both the same breed, which were totally harmless and soon slithered away when they became aware of your presence. They were amazing colours; a banding of yellow, red, black and white – almost a nemo of the snake world. We once saw one sitting alongside a peacock bass; everywhere the peacock went the snake would follow, without fail. They lived in harmony in this environment. When the Indians were asked about this strange relationship they merely remarked that ‘they liked each other’, which was met with great hilarity.

There are caiman and whilst they were fairly abundant, they too were very wary of our presence – they would sometimes come into the shallows around the camp at night, but never any further. Indeed, they became camp pets more than a threat or nuisance. They were never hunted by the locals as their tradition dictated that a great flood would befall them should they kill one. Jaguars roamed the jungle and you could often hear their calls, especially at dusk. They were feared by the locals and, as a result, were hunted heavily. Again, they posed no threat to us, especially given our numbers – however, it made for an interesting midnight toilet dash, as during the exploratory week we had to entertain the long-drop…

Electric eels were also present, unbeknown to our guides at first. I saw a large pole-like object in the water as we drifted one day. Only when passing overhead could I see it was an electric eel sitting vertically in the water column. My report was met with disbelief at first, but over the next few days we saw a few more. Again, they caused no immediate threat, but the local Indians did confirm their presence and were fairly blasé about their danger.

You then had piranhas. A great sporting fish in their own right, but losing their appeal once they start to strip your flies down to bare hooks. They caused no reason for concern, and you could wet wade in their presence without fear. We swam at lunchtime to cool off and again they caused no issues. If you had a cut then you would need to think twice. Other fish caught would often get chased and bitten by the piranhas, which made part-finned fish commonplace.

The final creatures of caution were sting rays. They were abundant, but did not cause an issue in the clear water as they were easily identified – one had vivid circles along its back whilst the other was more of a brown colour and more camouflaged. When in heavy sediment deposited areas you would shuffle your feet rather than lift and drop, by doing this we avoided treading on them. They were, however, very much like saltwater rays in that other fish often hung around them; the peacock bass, for example, would often be hunting alongside.

On the other end of the spectrum you had tapir, howler monkeys and turtles to marvel at, along with a myriad of birds. The tapir were common and were not hunted by the locals. They could often be heard calling and the Indians would sometimes return their call and attract them to the water. The turtles were less fortunate and would be hunted by the locals; both in egg and adult form. They would often whisk the eggs with sugar and some dried vegetable or root. They would eat this mixture raw, after mixing it into a thick and crumbly paste. We tried it and whilst palatable it was not high on my agenda as a regular food item…

Much nicer food items existed in the jungle and I sampled the full banquet. Brazil nuts, limes, avocado, bananas, mini coconuts, and also chillies – a word to the wise; the little blighters are hot! As I found out to the great amusement of the Indians, who then named me ‘pimento’; I was hoping more for ‘king of the jungle’, ‘mastercaster’ or ‘kingfisher’, but the cap fitted, I guess.

The Indians had a great sense of humour. They would laugh and joke throughout the day and you could not help but connect with them. Indeed, I made a good friend in ‘Jocro’, who turned out to be the son of the chief. He was great fun, but beyond this understood what we were doing and was keen to help whenever possible. He had amazing vision and would rock-hop until the next target was found. He would also joke when you would inevitably over-cast into the bankside vegetation, simply stating ‘monkey’ as if you were trying to fish for them. However, at times they were deeply infuriating, but this was because they viewed the world differently, rather than being deliberately awkward or vindictive. If food was present then it should be harvested, simple. No matter if this was in the last half hour of your fishing day. They would start circling a pool chasing a turtle, or pull onto a sandbank to dig for eggs. This is their way of life. Such refinements will be made before the destination is fully opened to the market and was the case in Tsimane in the early days.

On the bird front; you would not be disappointed if this was a birding trip rather than a fishing trip. My good friend and keen birder, Lou Hegedus, joined me on the trip and he was able to identify an extensive list of what we saw and what he was able to identify. Indeed, the following list is in total thanks to him; hyacinth macaw, sun bittern, cocoi heron, striated tiger heron, rufescent tiger heron, blue & yellow macaw, scarlet macaw, blue headed parrot, wood stork, great jacamar, kiskadee, guan, snowy egret, great black hawk, yellow headed vulture, black vulture, blue & white swallow, anhinga.

As previously mentioned; when flying over the jungle it appears very flat. However, at eye level it is full of undulations, especially along the course of the river. Here the river has carved a channel through the granite, creating narrow shoots in sections then wide, shallow plains in others. The terrain is easy going on the whole and did not cause any issues; you could be as explorative or as reserved as you wished. For example, Lou had recently had both knees replaced and whilst he struggled in some sections took plenty from the day as a whole. It is definitely not for the infirm, but it is not reserved to the young and fit either. You just have to take it in your stride. However, the fitter and more able you are then the more you will get from the experience  – exploring the wide channels etc. Very much like Tsimane, in a way.

It is very easy to get carried away in such an environment and reflect on many things beyond the fishing. The fishing was essentially the icing on the cake. The river was a perfect blueprint with structure, depth and gradient providing the ideal habitat for the bounty that lay below. The river was like an aquarium and you could see fish of all colours and sizes scurrying for cover as we drifted overhead. What made the fishing special though were the technical differences of each species. You have three species of pacu present; each one with different feeding habits – some looking for leaves, flowers and fruit, others looking for dead-drifted weed. All immensely powerful and great fun to target and catch. You then have the peacock bass; a fish that really optimises ‘the take’. They are strong fighters, but it is the take that makes peacock bass special. If the bully of the water is more your thing, then you have the wolf fish to target. An impressive fish, but certainly not the brightest! Also present are matrincha (yatorana), which you can target on terrestrial dry-flies and are superb sport on lighter rods. The impressive vampire fish (payara) are also targeted. Beyond this already impressive line-up you have bicuda (a barracuda type fish), piranha, catfish along with some other species that are currently not targeted, but certainly could be. Indeed, with all these species present it is more like a saltwater destination than a freshwater one, which should make this a destination that appeals to both mind-sets.

Given the variety it was wise to have a couple of outfits set up at one time so that you could chop and change as needed. I had little time to prepare for the trip, so went with the assistance of Fulling Mill on the fly front. What they offered were perfect and worked well – it is great to finally be able to access some well-made mass produced flies on good hooks and dressed with good materials. The fish in the jungle are fly hungry, so you do get through a few during your stay – be warned. I will gladly recommend a few for your trip, should you need to purchase some.

It was nice to try out some new lines during the trip too. These certainly made the trip more enjoyable as you could get the larger flies to where they needed to be quickly and easily. The Airflo Chard Tropical Punch was nothing short of superb and I would highly recommend taking them for Kendjam. They have a very short belly with little tapering towards the front end that would otherwise cause hinging. This up-front weight also made for quick loading over the shortest of distances, which was critical if you were drift fishing long sections not accessible from the bank. Remember that you need warm water lines in such a location as your standard freshwater lines will turn to jelly…

Some species were extremely plentiful and were regular captures. Peacock bass would be found in every run and would average between 4-8 lbs. They are superb sport. Not that impressive after the first few seconds of the fight, but it is the take that makes them worth pursuing. They explode on the surface and create a lot of commotion in doing so – if you’re having a slow start to the day they will soon wake you up. I can now understand their attraction and why people would visit a peacock bass only destination, especially where they are caught in excess of 20 lbs. This is another strength of Kendjam; it allows you to experience several different species during your stay, rather than just one that you may not find that interesting. This then helps you refine your target species list in the future accordingly. Very much like a mixed saltwater destination then heading to eg the Bahamas to target big bonefish, Belize for permit etc.

Matrincha, or yatorana as they are known elsewhere in the world, were extremely sporting, especially on light tackle. They love hugging overhanging banks and trees, awaiting terrestrials to drop from above. They could be caught on small baitfish patterns, but dead-drifted or slowly twitched dries were far more interesting. They were very strong for their size and would not give up easily. They were often found in big shoals where a couple would be caught before they got wary – they were quite intelligent fish and would soon understand ‘the game’, which they deserved credit for given that they had never seen an artificial fly before.

Pacu were captivating. Infuriating at times, but well worth the effort to try and understand. They are pretty technical, which really got my attention and set a challenge. Thankfully a lot of what was tried did work and all three of the pacu species were caught during the week; some off the top with others in 20 ft of water! Again, they were the same overarching species, but the three sub-species had really different characteristics and look. They are VERY STRONG! They really pulled you around once hooked and no wonder they have been nicknamed the freshwater permit. Lou really had the pacu worked out and would often pick off a few when I was catching the easier targets; I saw this as me clearing the path for him, of course - nothing to do with incompetence…

You then have quite possibly the stupidest fish swimming; the wolf fish. They are top of the food chain and have nothing to be afraid of. As such, they just go about their business knowing that they are safe. They are lazy and lethargic. They are not scavengers, but have the attitude of one. They are fully capable of bursts of speed, as we witnessed when one attacked a small catfish, which seem to be their primary food source. However, from a fly perspective you could present it virtually as you pleased and with the least amount of delicacy possible yet still get a reaction – finally a fish matching my capabilities. Indeed, when a wolf fish decided that it wanted your fly it was just a question of waiting for the take most of the time. They have incredibly hard mouths and would often throw the hook. Amazingly they would then take the fly again on the next cast, even though they had just been fighting for 30 seconds or more. Their fight was ‘ok’, more of an impressive looking capture than a fighter. We got a few to around 15 lbs during the week, with very few seen below 6 lbs or so.

The freshwater barracuda, bicuda, were present in decent numbers but were hard to hook given the speed they intercepted the fly, often continuing in the direction of the fly ie towards you once they had engulfed the fly. By the time you took up the slack line the bicuda had thrown the hook. My largest was also my first and in true form of not knowing what the week held we released it without an image.

Payara (vampire fish) are present in good numbers. A large shoal lived near camp and were particularly active in low-light conditions; their large eyes made them perfect hunters in such conditions. Patience and a lot of trial and error produced one to the fly along with some further follows and pulls. However, we did not have exactly what we needed to catch them, so they remain one left to be fully capitalised on.

As you can see you could pick a species a day and have a fresh challenge and enjoyment by doing so. It is a diverse and rich fishery that will continue to be as such given what is proposed for its future in regards to rod numbers and season length. It is an experience like no other and one that I would urge you to undertake if you enjoy the prospect of something a little more rustic, yet truly off the beaten track. Needless to say; if you enjoyed Tsimane then you will love Kendjam – hence my continuous references and comparisons.

The journey back to the landing strip was long; the river had receded yet further during our stay, which made the passing tricky. I’m sure it was partly because of this but also because the end of the adventure was in sight, which dawned on us during this journey and gave us time to contemplate on the somewhat surreal experience.

Returning to civilisation took some acclimatisation. Everything seemed noisy and uncomfortable. Mobiles rang, emails pinged and car horns tooted. What I would have given to have returned to the simple life of Kendjam at that point. However, that is what makes what we do and the sport we choose to pursue so special; it allows us to access what you would not normally access otherwise and gets you to the extremes of the planet. It also allows you to flitin and out of experiences, getting attached to some that form something pilgrimage and passing others by as a bucket-list destination.

We are the only agency in Europe to have visited Kendjam, so don’t leave your trip to chance on the advice front. Price is US$6,500 to include the charter flight to/from Manaus. The season will run from June to October, with just July and August being sold initially. To be among the first to experience Kendjam or to find out more please do contact Steffan Jones by email or call the office on +44 (0)1980 847389.

Cuba, Santa Maria - New management and exploratories

October 6th, 2015

From the beginning of this month the area on the north coast of Cuba around Cayo Santa Maria comes under the new management for next season. There will be improvements to the operation, new boats and fishermen will now stay at the guest villas of Las Brujas overlooking the marina. This will cut down on transfer time, although for those that wish the fully inclusive Melia hotel option is still there.

The new operators will be expanding the fishing area, and as such are running a series of exploratory trips from October this year to January 2016. Each week will attempt to explore new areas and expand the knowledge of the team on the ground. Although primarily a world class tarpon fishery Santa Maria holds huge promise for bonefish, permit, barracuda and jacks.

If you are looking for a bit of an adventure this autumn and would like to aid in the exploration of the area the prices will begin at US$2,990 per rod for a week.

If you are interested in travelling to Cuba or for more information contact Peter McLeod or Steffan Jones or call our office on +44(0)1980 847389.

Los Roques, Venezuela – Top Tip 2, Fight them on the beaches

October 6th, 2015

One of the most unique elements of the fishery at Los Roques are the wonderful long white beaches. Patrolling along the small gullies in the sand just off the beach edge can be found some truly massive fish on their search for one of their favourite meals, minnows. What sometimes appears as a dark band against the beach edge is in fact a very high density of pin minnows, and much of the fishing stems around them. Before my first trip to Los Roques I had never before encountered aggressive bonefish, they had always been the “ghost of the flats”. The bonefish have developed a symbiotic relationship with the pelicans at Los Roques. They maraud around the beach edges, and as soon as a squadron of pelicans lumber into the air and crash into the schools the bonefish are upon them, often almost inside their mouths as they steal the stunned minnows. It is an extraordinary sight to behold.

By using minnow patterns off the beaches such as the Los Roques flash minnow or a gummy minnow you can change the timid bonefish into a fry bashing streak of silver. Beware to use heavy breaking strain leader or you will lose a lot of flies as many fish are lost with the ferocity of the strike. As you wander along the beach with rod in hand look for the white lines in the grey mass. This will be a bonefish. As they cruise through the minnows they part on either side leaving a clear trail in the sand and a straight line to your target. Battled are fast and hectic as the fish head for deeper water when hooked in an attempt to cut you on the coral outcrops.

Off the dock amongst the hubbub of daily life that is Gran Roques one can often see huge bonefish milling around under the dock that quite simply take you breath away with their size, some being well into the mid teens. They seem to be completely un-phased by boats, swimming children and even fishermen…much to our annoyance! At the end of a days fishing there is nothing more fun than to try and catch a few with a rod in one hand and a cold beer in the other. Occasionally someone will get lucky and hook one of these monsters. However landing them amongst the boats and ropes is somewhat of a challenge! Heavy leaders are definitely needed in this case as some occasions it develops into a tug of war.

I also love watching the pelicans dive into the minnow shoals and then spot the bonefish trying to remove minnows out of their mouths like a pack of hyenas. In the picture below it is possible to make out the fins of a couple of large bones trying to make off with the pelican’s meal. This symbiotic relationship occurs all over the archipelago, and I have not seen it enacted anywhere else.

I remember one instance clearly in my mind’s eye after a long day on the flats. Having returned to the lodge I had wondered back out to the beach with some special floating minnows someone had given me. I cast it out amongst the pelicans and attracted the attention of a tern. The tern dived again, and I tweaked the fly away from it, a game I was getting quite good at. Each time it swooped on the floating minnow I continued to pull it away as the fly inched its way towards me standing high on the dock. I was standing on the L shaped pier in Los Roques bay, and as the sun dropped towards the horizon at the end of another perfect day I took another slug of beer before putting it down to concentrate as the tern was coming in for another attack. This time as it pounced on the minnow another massive dark shape appeared from below the surface and rolled up on the fly before disappearing into the cloud of minnows again. The tern squeaked, the line went tight for half a second and the fly was spat out. Too slow on the strike…… again.

If you missed the reasons why to go to Los Roques click HERE. 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.

Tsimane, Bolivia - fishing report for 12 -19 September 2015

September 29th, 2015

Pluma Lodge

Overall Conditions:
The weather is very stable, cool mornings and warm days , evenings are normally cool. We had several cloudy days and nights with thunder and lightning but the rains never came.

Weather Conditions
The weather conditions remain optimal for fishing. Not much changes from last week.

Water Condition
On Thursday the water became muddy as it rained a little in the mountains. Fishing was crazy for a couple of hours until it cleaned. The Secure river also became muddy. We fished on the muddy water with large flies. On Wednesday we had another large run of dorado and many small sabalos. In shallow places the dorado tried to bite our engine propellers.

Guests caught (5 person) in total 83 dorados, 32 pacus (2 over 30 lbs on dry fly) and 5 yatorana during the week. The biggest fish was a dorado of 31 lbs caught by Eduardo Cohen in middle section of Pluma river.

Secure & Agua Negra Lodge

Overall Conditions

The good conditions of the weather promised us a week of long days of sun. We had caught many dorado of good sizes the previous week, especially in the Secure River; therefore we waited better results this next week.

Weather Conditions
A lot of heat with very high temperatures during almost every hour of the day, full sun and very luminous days. In hours of the nap, after the lunch, some blasts of hot wind crossed the air.

Water Condition
In connection with the ambient temperature, the water in all the rivers was very hot, with very clear rivers and of a very low level.

The fishing was very difficult due to the conditions of the time and of the water. The best results were achieved in the high part of the Secure river, near Asunta and Secure Lodge. Fishing in the oxygenated currents that are formed among the stones, the biggest dorado was caught. The Agua Negra river showed many dorado and pacú, but the low level of the water demanded to the maximum the know-how of the fishermen and a technical casting and presentation of the flies.

Ten Anglers caught in total 138 dorado, plus 20 pacú during the week.

The biggest fish was a dorado of 24 lbs caught on the Secure river by Agustin Krause.

For more details please about Tsimane contact us or call on +44 1980 847389.

Alphonse, Astove and Cosmoledo newsletter

September 29th, 2015

The new Indian Ocean season is upon us and just as the nights draw in and there is definite nip in the air, the images of clear blue water, sparkling white sand flats are a welcome addition to our inboxes.  Below is the pre-season newsletter covering Alphonse, Astove and Cosmoledo.

For more information on Alphonse, Astove or Cosmoledo please contact us or call +44(0)1980 847389.

May 2015 marked the end of the incredible 2014/2015 seasons as we wrapped up at Alphonse, Desroches, Astove and Cosmoledo. Our fleets of boats were hibernated, the gear packed away and guides sent home to recharge their batteries. Four months have passed and our teams are back at the various destinations and in full swing with pre-season preparations. There will be significant improvements at all our destinations, which we won’t mention and will leave as a surprise for our guests when they arrive. It’s the fond memories of last seasons catches that keeps the team going as they prepare the boats and skiffs for their annual migration to the moorings in the St François lagoon, on the beach and in the lagoon at Astove, on the deck of the Maya’s Dugong and in the channel at Poivre Atoll. The off seasons rest and continued conservation ethics ensure that these magnificent ecosystems rejuvenate and stay pristine, wild and exciting for all the seasons to come.

Alphonse Island is known as one of the most comfortable saltwater fly fishing destinations you are lightly to find. Guests enjoy single accommodation, an incredible atmosphere in the evenings, twin skiffs, magnificent bluewater opportunities and the incredible flats fishing at St François. It’s arguably the best bonefish destination on this earth and most definitely the best milkfish destination. The big GT’s, barracuda, triggerfish, bluefin trevally, snapper, tuna and sailfish make Alphonse one of the most diverse and exciting destinations on this planet.

The new Astove Atoll Lodge is finally completed and allows six lucky anglers per week the exclusivity of one of the wildest atolls on the globe. The lodge is situated 150 meters from the famous “Wall”, where the flat sheers off and drops to over 1000 meters in literally 50 meters. It’s a place frozen in time, where the daily dramas of a pristine wild and hostile ecosystem plays out in front of your very eyes. It’s known as the destination where you have the greatest chance of catching a really big GT, that’s if you can hold on. There are great permit opportunities in the inside of the lagoon, tailing triggers on the flats edge, incredible skinny water bone fishing and an array of other species that make this destination unbeatable.

Cosmoledo has become known as the GT capital of the world with more GT’s frequenting the flats than at any other destination. The variety on offer is astounding, with areas never fished. The triggerfish, bonefish, permit, barracuda, snapper and grouper make this destination complete. The trips which commence with a flight into Assumption atoll, where you are met by the 130ft Mayas Dugong, an ex-research vessel, which has been upgraded and modified into a mother ship catering for long range fly fishing expeditions. Twelve guests get the opportunity to fish this wild and untouched area comprising of two atolls and eight islands.

Places are filling up quickly at the various Alphonse Fishing Co destinations so please contact us ASAP to book your stay and ensure a fantastic Seychelles fly fishing experience.

St Brandon’s season kicks off for 2015

September 29th, 2015

And its off … St Brandon’s 2015 / 2016 season is underway and their wading boots are getting wet on this incredible fishery! To say they’re excited is an understatement knowing what lies in store for both guides and guests. Massive bonefish in skinny water, tailing permit, 15lb plus bluefin trevally and ‘truck-size’ GT’s…this is why St Brandon’s is in a class of it’s own.

Last Chance For 2015

Some last minute openings on the atoll during prime season have just made themselves available:

• 31 Oct - 9 Nov 2015 (NM 11) - 1 rod open
• 11 - 20 Nov 2015 (NM 11) - 3 rods open

For more information on St Brandon’s Atoll please contact us or call +44(0)1980 847389.

Great Sailfishing in Guatemala

September 29th, 2015

Guatemala fishing has been consistently good throughout the summer months with mostly calm seas and plenty of bait concentrated 20 miles or so offshore to attract and hold predators. The billfish tend to be a bit more scattered, but there are plenty of dorado to make up for it - with some bulls in excess of 40lbs !

Now that we are into our 13th season (time flies when you’re having fun !)………we are hoping that the big marlin show up in the early part of the season November/December. Last year we raised a lot of juvenile blues in the 200-300lb class but also some big fish over 500lbs - you just never know this time of year ! We do know however that the sailfish are here and already they are concentrating in decent numbers. There has been cloud cover for the last week or so, and our satellite images have not been good enough to really give us good direction - so we have been going out “prospecting:” until we find some good blue water and concentrations of bait.

There are usually fewer charter boats fishing in late summer, so we really have to co-operate with one another when looking for signs of billfish lest we spend all day burning fuel running around the wide blue ocean ! There has seemed to be two seperate breaks for the last two weeks, one at about twenty miles but the other closer to forty miles from the dock. When charting a course in the morning, the hope is that we find the break at twenty and get lines in rather than having to continue running out for another hour - but whatever it takes to find and catch (and release !) fish.

Despite the clouds, the weather has been pleasant for several weeks, with calm seas and a warm breeze out on the water. The calm seas help us to spot any sailfish that are cruising on top from a good distance away - and sometimes even get close enough to cast a bait rather than just troll the area. These are great opportunities to really get a billfish “lit up” as they are switching from swimming to predator quickly and if we can turn them on to a teaser, they tend to be very aggressive and easy to cast a fly to.

If you haven’t been to Guatemala before or had the opportunity to cast a fly to a lit-up sailfish 20ft from the stern of the boat………it is a thrill to be remembered for a long time. Our boats are in the water and the crews are ready to fish - so if you are considering a trip, please get in touch as the prime dates are filling up fast. We look forward to welcoming you - or if returning for another trip, to seeing you again - to the best sailfishing in the world!

For more information on Guatemala bluewater fishing please contact us or call +44(0)1980 847389.

Tanzania Tigerfish Week 1: 12 – 19 September 2015

September 28th, 2015

Pre-Season preparations for the Tiger fishing season in the Kilombero Valley are usually a big undertaking, and 2015 did not disappoint. The Ruhudji fly camp was built from scratch, and also wired and plumbed with running water for the first time ever, while the Dhala Camp accommodation on the Mnyera were completely overhauled, with new permanent banda structures being erected. These were bold undertakings with such a narrow time frame before the season opens, but with the pressure cranked up, the Kilombero North Safaris staff got everything in place and completed, and we were ready to welcome our first clients of the season.

American Dave M, a real fly fishing journeyman, and jack of many trades, and Hakan U, also an experienced angler, and our first Swedish client were greeted by a very excited camp and guides, and good looking water conditions. With slightly below average rainfall, the rivers had been able to drop significantly, and were clearing up by the day. Temperatures were still slightly low, but these too should rise quickly given the right conditions.

With just the two clients on the one boat, and the freedom of the whole river, we set to work trying to connect with some of Tanzania’s finest. With Dave photographing as much as fishing, and Hakan opening up with a double digit (11 lbs) tigerfish, the tone for the rest of the week was set on the first afternoon.

Our first full day took us up into the hallowed waters of the Upper Mnyera, where we experienced a very quiet morning session in Kasingo rocks, despite some very comprehensive coverage of good looking water. Hakan rescued the session at the death with a 10 lbs fish just before lunch, and after resting and regrouping in the shade for a bit, the afternoon session was eventually ground into submission by relentless quality casting from the guys. Hakan added a fish of 12 lbs, while Dave chipped in with timely contributions of smaller fish in between checking off his extensive photo list. A quality first full day on the water, and spirits were high going into the rest of the week.

The lower Mnyera produced another couple of double digit fish for Hakan, while Dave’s unique tactic of fishing a floating line with a very heavy tuna fly was proving very effective for attracting smaller fish and the occasional big bump. Another long day in the sun, but with action throughout the day and plenty of crocs and hippos for Dave to continue shooting photographs, it made for one of the better Mondays in a while!

While busy trying to figure out what the river is doing in the new season, always in the back of a guide’s mind is what might be happening at Kasingo rapids, the enigmatic playground of the Mnyera tigers. Tuesday was our day to find out, and we set off walking, fishing, and bush burning our way up. Another quiet morning session was shattered by Hakan plugging into a big strong fish at Double Up. To see a tiger rookie apply the necessary skill and pressure to pull an 18 lbs steam train right out of the rocks was inspirational, and everyone was overjoyed to see this fish landed! Despite another couple hits and bumps, we were denied any more action until Dave landed a strong 6 lbs fish off the boat at the end. Despite so few fish, Hakan’s fish and the beauty of Kasingo were truly appreciated, and duly captured by Dave and his assortment of camera equipment.

Wednesday saw us transfer over to the Ruhudji River, and our early departure rewarded us with a spectacular elephant sighting not long before clocking in at fly camp. Hakan wasted no time in acquainting himself with a 14 lbs welterweight, while Dave’s uncanny prowess at attracting severe heat from smaller fish holding in very tight pockets started to come to the fore and made for quality viewing!

With low clear water, and clearly cut drop offs and channel, drifting the Ruhudji is enthralling stuff, with many of the takes and follows very visible, it made for some very memorable fishing. The Ruhudji 8 lbs fish is a notoriously strong target, and the class of 2015 definitely seems to be upholding this proud tradition. Dave for sure will not forget in a hurry the take and run of one particular specimen late on day 2! With a solid register of 10-14 lbs fish, and multiple smaller fish plus a couple of bigger tugs, the Ruhudji was great value, and the evenings out on the sand bank will be logged as genuine quality time in great company.

The ideal start to the season came to an end, with two first class gentlemen. Plenty of good fish and the whole story extensively and very skilfully documented by Dave. With the water levels continuing to drop, and clearing all the time, the temperature rises, the fishing can only get better. Looking forward to the coming weeks!

For more information on Tanzania tigerfishing please contact us or call +44(0)1980 847389.

Tanzanzia tigerfish; 2016 availability

September 21st, 2015

Like the swallows (although with less speed), Charlotte is heading south to Tanzania in early October in search of Tanzania’s tigerfish.  Although she knows the region well from her safari wanderings, Charlotte has never fished in Tanzania and is keen to get out there and will report back post trip.

In advance of that, and spurred on by several recently enquires, the 2016 availability received to date is below.

If you are quick enough to book before the 2016 rates are published, the operators will honour the existing 2015 rate so if you would like details, please contact us or call +44(0)1980 847389.


24 September – 1 October 2016
1 – 8 October 2016
8 – 15 October 2016
29 October – 5 November 2016
5 – 12 November 2016

There are two camps and two river systems, with the eight anglers split into two groups of four, swapping mid-week. Tigerfish are your prime target and with an average fish weighing in at 8lbs, the Tanzanian benchmark for what they class as a trophy tigerfish is raised high at 20 lbs and over. The two river systems combined offer guests access to over 120 km, 7 km of rapids and a unique fly camping operation which allows you to fish remote stretches of these unspoiled rivers. Bush camps and mobile fly camping (mobile tents erected prior to our arrival) under the African stars ensure that the African safari experience is as much a part of this trip as the trophy tigers you can expect to encounter.

The rivers have received very little fishing pressure over the years and the strict fishery and anti poaching controls that are in place ensure that this system remains as pristine as it was 100 years ago. The system is also extremely rich in bait fish (predominantly red finned barbs) and the combination of these factors has resulted in this population of tigerfish obtaining these fantastic sizes.

For more information, or to hold space, please contact us or call +44(0)1980 847389.

Los Roques, Venezuela – Top Tip 1, Pancakes in Reverse

September 21st, 2015

As there was a considerable amount of interest generated in Los Roques after last week I would like to share a few tips over the coming weeks that I have learnt from fishing this stunning archipelago over the years. This week I am going to concentrate on the pancake flats.

The pancake flats of Los Roques are one of the facets of the fishery that are truly unique and are almost iconic to this particular destination. The pancakes are essentially raised areas of coral covered in turtle grass and sand which vary in size from ½ to 3 acres surrounded by turquoise deeper water. Schools of bonefish along with big singles and double nose their way onto the flats as soon as there is enough water, often sneaking on with their backs out of the water amidst the turtle grass. It is the nearest thing you will get to dry fly fishing for bonefish as it is technical. You need long leaders, small flies and a stealthy approach as these fish can be spooky. They will hear a clumsy footfall and move off. It is one of the few places that you will see large groups of bonefish tails with the sunlight glinting off their tails like small flags. For me it is one of the most exciting ways of catching bonefish I have experienced anywhere in the world.

The ideal time to get on these flats is first thing in morning with an incoming time. The prevailing wind is normally on your back then and with the low light you can see the fish but they can’t see you. I have also found that ambushing fish with your flies gives the best results. See the fish approaching, drop the fly in a couple of metres ahead and let them move up to it rather than try and put it near their head. This will stop you getting stuck in the turtle grass and also prevent you spooking the bone. Use unweighted flies and don’t be afraid to go down to 12s or even 14s. I like Amber bonefish bitters or sand fleas on the pancakes as that is the best imitation of the small shrimp they are rooting out amongst the turtle grass fronds. If you get stuck in a leaf try to stop yourself yanking it free. I have even left flies before and bonefish have eaten them off the grass.

My best advice though I learnt while on one of my hosted weeks in April 2010. I was fishing with Phil Mellor and the first pancake flat we waded the sun was right in our eyes with the wind at our backs. We ended up stepping on every fish before we could see them. There were plenty of fish on the flat as they waved their tails at us in salute, closely followed by giving us the fin! I then turned round to Raphael and said that we would do the next one in reverse into the wind. Now it was as if someone had turned on the lights and the entire flat was lit up. Granted casting directly into the wind presented more of a challenge, but by using a high back cast and keeping a low forecast it is possible to tuck the line under the wind and I immediately spotted three cruisers heading towards me.

I punched line straight up about 15 yards and dropped the fly on a sandy spot as they came on. When the fish was a foot away I gave it one small tweak and the fish instantly turned and snaffled my size 12 bonefish bitters. Well, he was not expecting that and charged up the flat instantly stripping me down to about 80 yards of backing before heading off the edge into deep water. Incredibly exciting and exactly why I love it there. Although it felt huge it turned out to be only about 4 lbs. Phil and I were then treated to a show. As the light dropped the entire pancake was covered on waving tails, jogging in the evening light. We just did not know which way to cast as we were just surrounded with tailing fish.

If you missed the reasons why to go to Los Roques click HERE. 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.