Sitting at the Seychelles Airport and looking back at the first half of the season in Farquhar, I cannot help but reminisce and think of some of the crazy fish that swim in these warm tropical waters. My body looks like it has been through a war; cuts and bruises everywhere from running around trying to land these monsters. One battle wound came when I tried to swiftly bring a sailfish into the boat for a quick pic…let’s just say he was still a bit green and proceeded to have a duel – with his bill as the sword and my leg as the challenger. That’s not to mention trying to land a 90lb Bumphead Parrotfish and getting a massive tail to the face and the business end of the bump to the chest.
This time of the year there is something that happens at a very specific spot on Farquhar that is simply mind blowing. Giant Trevally feed on birds! Yes, you have heard right, they jump right out of the water to get hold of a low flying bird. I’ve been guiding in the Seychelles for 8 years now and I have seen these fish do many strange things, like eating crabs off rocks and on one occasion in Cosmoledo, I saw one attacking a bird sitting on the water, but this was just off the charts. These GTs have figured out the young birds at this time of year are learning to fly. Sometimes the birds are unable to take off efficiently and either fly too low or land in the water. Needless to say, that would be the demise of the bird. I can assure you, it is a quick and explosive death as the GT inhales the whole bird and will probably proceed to eat another 10 for the day. It is out of this world but unfortunately only happens for one or two weeks of the season and sometimes it happens before we get there. It is also a very tricky time of the year as you have a good chance the trade winds are still blowing. Luckily we made it in time this year and the first two weeks of the season were packed with GTs.
The Seychelles has always been well known for bad ass GTs that terrorize these flats, but there are other amazing fish living around the lagoon edges and areas of deeper water who are not afraid to come crashing onto the flats for a quick meal ticket. Be warned – these fish might wander away from their homes but when stuck with a fly, they will go straight back, so hold on! There are so many fish in the Seychelles that some are not even IGFA recognized for a fly rod. They are all great and we filled our boots once again this season with a wide variety of fish – many kinds of Snapper, Grouper, Trevally, and one of my favorites, the Napoleon Wrasse. They are really hard to get but are just the most amazing fish to look at. I managed to land a fish of over 100lb this season with a client, which was a monster, but they can grow up to 2m in length and over 400lbs!
Another fish that is prolific on these flats and just great fun to target with our clients are the Triggerfish. They are the most amazing looking fish, very colorful and super strong. Their main attraction is that they tail in very skinny water where they feed on the turtle grass and mottled coral bottom. They look very goofy but don’t be fooled, they will run you a long way and have a serious jaw that can crush your fly. Sometimes even snapping your hook in two pieces. This season we did stick a few, but they still have the better of us on numbers hooked to numbers landed.
And then there is our good friend the Aqua Hulk or better known as the Bumphead Parrotfish. They will amaze or even freak out most new comers to the Seychelles flats. The normal reaction is “You mean you want me to cast this 9wt rod with 17lb tippet and a crab to those green tailing monsters?” And I would reply, “Jip and buckle up, this is going to get interesting…” As mentioned, I did manage to land a 90lb monster with one of my good friends and clients, Mark Jensen (A hard core South African fly fisherman!).
We also have our lovely little friend the Indo Pacific Permit, who are around just to tease anglers and guides. It is really a love/hate relationship. We did manage to land one so far this season, but again that is 1 in a 100 seen. It was a great catch though as it was followed by a 70lb GT and a big bonefish, which we call a Grand Slam here in the Seychelles.
So this half of the season has been filled with some weird and wonderful fish landed. Lets see what the second half brings…
Heads up on Tackle
The Seychelles is probably one of the most ruthless environments on the planet when it comes to fly fishing and the tackle required. Not only do you have monster fish wanting to rip your rod, reel and line apart, but it has one of the highest salt levels in the world. So if it comes out on top here, you can take it anywhere else with lots of confidence! Here’s what I recommend for my fly reel setup.
You need a reel that has lots of smooth drag able to stop the fish in its tracks. If you do not break his spirit, he will break yours! You will see your backing here alot, so also make super sure that it is premium quality. If you are fishing here, you have come a long way to not see the fish swim away with your fly line and you with your tail between your legs!
Tight Lines ~ Jako Lucas
Jako Lucas is a Hatch Pro Staffer and guides with FlyCastaway, the premier outfitter and guide service in Farquhar, St. Brandon’s, and Cosmoledo Atolls of the Seychelles Islands. To book a trip with FlyCastaway, please visit their website at FlyCastaway.com