GLASS BENDING IN THE CYCLONES
Stepping off the 1:45 small charter flight onto Farquhar Atoll in the Seychelles, the first thing I saw was FlyCastaway’s Head Guide Tim Babich’s face, sporting a beard that looked like he had been standing a little too close to the fire.. Singed and bleached.. "Dre, its been HOT AS HELL" came out from between the parched lips.. Apparently the last 4 weeks had been the hottest and flattest the team had experienced in over a decade of fishing the Seychelles Outer Atoll.
Our sweaty excited group of 12, between gulps of water peppered Timmo and fellow Guide Wes de Klerk about the previous trip, conditions, fish etc, trying to glean what we had ahead of us for the next 7 days.
Being my 3rd trip back to Providence Atoll, the jewel in the Crown of Flycastaways Seychelles operations, I was nervous of super calm hot conditions. Providence is more of an enormous shallow Seamount than your typical Seychelles Atoll… with very little in the way of barrier reef, it is a 400 plus square mile navigational nightmare of turtle grass flats, channels, lagoons and god only knows what else.
I was immediately hoping for a little bit of wind and cooler conditions in our upcoming week… perhaps I hoped a little hard..
Conservatively less than 50% of the Atoll has ever been fished.. Its too big, too ever changing, too difficult to navigate safely with the extreme tides, and thankfully the good folks at FCA operate a very limited season of only 12 weeks a year, meaning it stays untouched and pristine. For most folks calm windless conditions sound ideal for flyfishing. However, calm conditions bring warm water. Having experienced a few days of “The Heat” on previous trips, which can turn unbelievably productive flats into desolate bath tubs, I was immediately hoping for a little bit of wind and cooler conditions in our upcoming week… perhaps I hoped a little hard..
The next 6 days saw our conditions go from hot as hades, to full blown chaos with our troop of merry pranksters catching the edge of Cyclone Kenneth which moved across Northern Madagascar on its way to punish Mozambique… This meant tougher fishing conditions for our group, with winds gusting upwards of 65 knots, and 8 to 10 foot seas buffeting the MV Maya’s Dugong, our mothership home away from home towards the end of our trip, and the return crossing back from Providence to Farquhar. But fishing trips are made of these kinds of adverse condition adventures… and with a fantastic group of well traveled and mad keen fisho’s on board we made the most of the conditions, and with the incredibly hard work of the FCA guide team, we fished hard, and got our just rewards.
My main focus was getting my Epic Boca Grande bent properly on some decent GT’s… And while heavy winds and rainy over cast conditions meant sighting these marauders over the turtle grass flats was tougher than usual, I got to put the Boca to work on some fin perfect flats Savages.. Fish of the trip for me being a thug of around 105cm that I spotted whilst trying to light a cigarette in the middle of a howling squall… Dropped the biggie, made a short cast to put the Beast Fly in his path, over water so shallow his dorsal and a good portion of his back were completely out the water , with barely any space to strip the fly, the fish charged the fly, eating with the leader knot well inside the guides… a couple seconds of white water thrashing at my feet as I set the hook hard, till he found traction and took off into deeper water… finally getting a chance to put the Boca to work, I clamped down as hard as I could on the Fortuna X3, and leant back into that sweet bend… what a feeling… He fought dirty, searching out coral heads and whatever else he could, but being able to lean hard and use the low down power of the Boca got him beat and posing for pics alongside a nice Bohar Snapper my buddy Warwick had skull dragged out of the shallow lagoon we were walking.
“There is more chance of dancing with the Devil on Providence than anywhere I’ve ever been”
High on the list was targeting the famed Bumphead Parrotfish on my 10 weight Bandit, but while we saw a good few of these fish, the building spring tides had them on the flats for shorter periods of time, so while we had a few shots, we didn’t connect with any of the Green freaks… they’ll have to wait for the next trip to tussle with the Bandit. But early in our week before the winds and rain really kicked our asses we had some great shots at Tailing Triggerfish. These little clowns have become a firm favorite for me, and having been handed my ass many times over previous trips, I was very stoked to get some good shots at these little bastards.
I hooked 4 over the first two days, with the first two pulling hooks after brief tussles, but the next two stuck solid! For such ridiculous quirky looking things, the power they possess is unreal. They’ll find a coral head, reef edge, or quite simple just bite through your hook given half a chance.. The Bandit went to town on these bastards, and I was super stoked to bring my two best Yellow Margin Triggers to hand in short succession on day 2.
you win some you lose some, but its always a blast.
The rest of the trip was a blur of smashing crazy numbers of Bohar Snapper, African Marble Grouper, Camouflage Grouper and all manner of other beasts on the flats.. With the GT fishing being tougher than usual ( we still managed 55 for the week ) we proceeded to go to town on the “2nd tier” species… In truth I’d travel just as far to chase these things as there are not many places in the world you can tangle with huge Grouper and Snapper in huge numbers in a foot of water whilst wading the flats. Great “Hit & Hold” fishing, where you literally take a wrap of line when you get eaten and hold cause they are heading back to their coral head with a ton of power… make or break… you win some you lose some, but its always a blast.
As Mike Dawes of World Cast Anglers, a man who has fished more places than most, who was one our trip says “There is more chance of dancing with the Devil on Providence than anywhere I’ve ever been”, and to me this sums up this place perfectly… fish, conditions, weather, chaos… it never disappoints… even in probably the toughest possible conditions, we all still experienced the trip of a lifetime..
Massive thanks to Tim, Wes, Brendan and Justin, the incredible FlyCastaway guides… these guys are quite simply the best… and the crew of the MV Maya Dugong, for taking care of this wild bunch of misfits, a MASSIVE thank you!
We’ll be back… sooner rather than later I hope.. My Bandit has an appointment with a Bumpie, and my Boca with a 125cm plus GT.
Fly rods used on this trip were: