Seychelles By The Sea Shore
By Captain Doug Sinclair, New Smyrna Beach, FL, USA
Bonefish appeared everywhere along the reef. Curious and nosy, they inched
their way within a couple of feet of my wading angler. How strange this was.
I never saw a Florida Keys Bone act this way. Maybe it was the lack of
humans fishing these waters. The coloration was interesting too. They matched
the bottom sand with a white, almost silvery hue with grassy green backs, light
colored dorsal fins, and their unmistakable big eyes and red lips. This Bone
moved within camera distance and wasn't phased at all by our presence.
Brad backed off a ways. The bones were too close for a cast. He let
them nose around a little and then they moved forty feet away. Circling
the party and the guides, they moved out in a larger circle heading away.
Brad made a long cast to lead some of the bones. His cast landed softly
on the water, yet frightened the fish ahead of the cast. They moved out briskly
but didn't scatter as is so typical of our Florida species. These bonefish were
about six to nine pounds. The water depth kind of dictated their size as larger
fish might have had more problems in the shallow water. The flat was about
two miles across and roughly twelve to eighteen inches deep. Many species
of fish including Jack Trevalle, Blue Tails, and many, many sharks inhabited
this flat. Judging by the number of bonefish, it is possible that these were
easy targets for marauding sharks.
The second pod of bones moved in on a collision course with Brad's fly.
One strip and the water exploded with tails and fins splashing and cutting
lines across the flat. One hook up and the rest of the pod panicked and
split off in a number of directions. In all the confusion, we had forgot
about the sharks. The mêlée of splashing and movement got their attention.
Yet, we were zoned in on this hook up, the wide open run this bonefish
was making with Brad's line, the pull on my 10wt Nti Redington fly rod.
This had to be the farthest trip made with a Titanium Rod. The Seychelles are
a group of about ninety granitic and coralline islands east of Africa in the Indian
Ocean, northeast of Madagascar. It is about 2.5 times the size of Washington,
D.C. The archipelago was ruled by the United Kingdom from 1814 to 1976,
when it became independent. The climate is mostly tropical marine, humid
with two seasons, dry and wet. This was March and it was fairly hot with
average daily temperatures around 29 degrees Celsius and twelve hours of
daylight. Meaning you could literally fish until you dropped.
The original name of Seychelles is "Seven Sisters," given by the Portuguese.
Once as a French Colony, it was named after Moreau of Sechelles, the
Minister of Finance under the rule of Louis XV. Later the name was
changed to Seychelles by the English.
Brad watched as the bonefish cut across the flat. Without a flats boat you
have no choice but to follow the fish and hopefully slow and turn him before
he cuts the line on the coral reef. These bones instinctively headed for open,
deeper water. But they had company as well.
Brad was so intent on his fish that he didn't hear the splashing and commotion
behind him. Because of the expanse of these flats, it is necessary for the guides
to carry extra equipment including rods, reels, lines, tippets, water, and folding
metal deck chairs. Prodding along carrying all this equipment is quite a task.
Brad was just starting to turn the bone and bring him back to the guide when he turned.
"What the hell are you doing? That's a twelve hundred dollar rod and reel."
One guide was using the butt end of the rod and thrashing it into the water.
He kept hitting the shark on the nose to discourage his interest in this meal
Brad was bringing back for picture and release. The little reef shark was
very persistent and eventually left.
This made the fight Brad was having with the bonefish all the more interesting.
The bone didn't want anything to do with the sharks. Brad landed this nice
Fighting these fish can get pretty exhausting. Walking across two miles of flats,
however hard the bottom, is still taxing on the body. The heat, the sun, the
reflection from the water, and the clothing that protects your body from the
elements all has an effect on your stamina. Want to loose weight? This
isn't a bad way. Seriously, though it is important to drink a lot of fluids.
But like a camping trip, everything you take out on the reef you must bring
back. So the guides get plenty of exercise too.
Brad released his bonefish and took a short break on the reef. One of
Seychelles biggest problems come from pollution caused by deserted
oil tankers that are run aground off the reef. The islands now have a
ban on marine dumping, hazardous wastes and ship pollution. They
are protecting their natural resources such as the marine environment,
fish, copra, and cinnamon trees. Cinnamon is a welcome aroma that
drifts across the reef. Trade winds are ever present. Light winds are
a welcome companion to the fly angler and the day's heat.
Brad moved closer to a drop off near the reef line in about twenty inches
of water. He could see black Trevalle and blue tail swimming freely in the
deeper water. A hook up here had to played just right. There would be
no chasing after the fish, and we had to be extra careful with the sharks,
although they weren't really aggressive. Could this be the fly angler's
candy store filled with a plethora of game fish? The bigger fish require
different tactics and handling. The edges to their tails are razor sharp
serrated scales. To handle a fish a towel or glove is a necessity.
Brad managed a blind cast into the blue water. The water depth was
highlighted by different gradations of blues and greens, with the darker
water being deeper. He started a slow strip of his bunker fly. The big
eyes and yellow tail and flash of this fly caught the attention of a blue tail.
The fish did a one-eighty, turned and took another look. Right at that instant
a Black Trevalle came out of nowhere and hit the fly hard from the back and side.
Brad's rod bent to the butt. He pulled up once and set the drag down
on the large arbor reel. Line was smoking off the reel. I was worried
that this fish would pull Brad too close to the reef. Just about when I would
have cut the line, the fish turned and made a run up the reef and on to the flat.
Brad dropped the rod to the side, tightened down on the drag, and pressured
the fish so fast it seemed like he stopped with anti-lock brakes. Brad hauled him
around, got the picture and let him go.
Hot, sweaty, tired and hungry, it was time to make the trek back across
the flat to the waiting zodiac. Eight hours of exhausting fly fishing - a
testament to dedicated anglers that will go the distance to fish new areas
and learn about other cultures. Brad made many more catches in the
six days in the Seychelles. It was good practice for his adventure with
me fishing the Redbone Celebrity Tournament in New Smyrna Beach, FL.
Catch & Release: Protect the Species - It's the thing to do. ~ Doug
Doug is a fly tier, photojournalist, casting instructor and saltwater fly
fishing guide from New Smyrna Beach, Florida. A United States
Coast Guard Licensed Captain and IGFA Certified Captain/Guide,
he is sponsored by well-known outfitters including Action Craft Flats
Boats, The Orvis Company, Redington Tackle Company, Ocean Waves,
Eagle Claw, Scott USA, and Billy Pate Reels.
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