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(Editor Note: Subscriber Ronnie Butler, picked to explore a new Remiere Island fishery in Seychelles as part of our Angling Report FREE Fishing program, got as far as the security checkpoint at Heathrow Airport in London this past October only to learn that his trip was in jeopardy because the Seychelles Coast Guard had suddenly closed boat access to most of the outer islands and atolls. Butler was supposed to focus on Remiere Island and, incidentally, get a look at their Desroches Island offering, both of which require boat travel. A series of quick phone calls confirmed that his itinerary was unaffected by the closure. Whew! Needless to say, Butler made it to his flight, fished and then filed this mixed report. Seems the Remiere Island venture is still a work in progress, while Desroches is clearly of interest to a certain kind of angler, especially those traveling with non-fishing companions. We want to thank Untamed Angling, the developer of this trip, for inviting the Angling Report to have an early look at the destination before all of the kinks had been worked out. We look forward to filing follow-up reports as this fishery matures. Subscribers who would like a crack at FREE Fishing trips in other parts of the world need to upgrade their subscription to Online Extra. See the box on page 3 for more details.)
This past October, I was selected for the Angling Report FREE Fishing trip to Remiere and Desroches islands in Seychelles, provided by the Argenti- nean company, Untamed Angling. Remiere is Untamed Angling’s new “pure-fishing” program. It complements their more luxurious offering on Desroches Island, which, by the way, has already been reported on in these pages (See Article ID 4183 in our Online Extra database). I should note up front that weather was a factor on this early-season trip. We had poor conditions overall with five out of eight fishing days seeing clouds, rain and even some thunder.
The base for both operations is Desroches Island, 45 minutes by air from Mahe, the capital of Seychelles. Desroches Island (www.desroches-island.com) is a five-star, holiday destination with 200 beds in single-story luxury suites all facing a fantastic swimming beach, plus 26 amazing “Villas” with a private plunge pool, huge ensuite baths, palatial living areas and your own private chef. Desroches is not a dedicated fishing destination by any means. It’s perfect, though, for a mixed holiday with your family or a non-fishing partner.
Untamed Angling has an exclusive arrangement to equip, manage, and staff the fishing operation on Desroches. They offer a package of six days of fishing with daily trips out to fish Poivre and St Joseph’s atolls, plus blue water options. The fishing for bonefish and permit from Desroches is heavily influenced by the tides. As a consequence, at the start of the week, you create a fishing schedule that will allow you to do the kind of fishing you most enjoy. Their approach is pretty flexible.
The run out to the atolls is done in a fast, 28-foot Dille-Cat with two 200-hp engines. The run can take an hour or more in bad weather (which can shorten the fishing day) and can be bumpy and uncomfortable. We typically left the dock at around 7:30, with breakfast on the Cat, and were ishing by 9 am. My guide for Poivre, Llewellyn, was a very knowledgeable South African, with a lot of Seychelles experience, much of it on Poivre Atoll. I felt very confident in his ability to find and put me onto fish.
Poivre is mainly a wading fishery for permit and an occasional GT, with some fishing for bonefish from a 17-foot skiff. I saw several groups of eight to 10 permit tailing on the edge of the surf line here. These were good fish, a couple possibly going 20 pounds, and they did what permit do best: they looked, followed and then swam off. The permit provided a lot of excitement though I ultimately came away unsuccessful with that species. The same is true with GT; I carried my GT rod but saw none.
My day at St Joseph’s Atoll was focused on bonefish and sharks. I knew from a previous visit to this atoll that there were likely to be large numbers of lemon and blacktip sharks. The sharks are there for the bonefish and, although it may sound a bit hairy, I never felt threatened. My guide, Matthieu, was experienced, meticulous, a good companion and he had a steady nerve when faced with big fish. The tide was dropping when we arrived, and we immediately found numerous three- to 10-foot sharks cruising the flats. They provided fantastic sport on a 12-weight. In three hours, our three rods managed to land two lemons and two blacktips, the best a nine-foot lemon. When a 150-pound fish (with teeth!) takes the fly 30 feet from you in two feet of gin-clear water, it’s pretty exciting!
The rest of the day we fished for abundant bones. Just be aware that the sharks follow you around here and take a lot of the fish you hook. On the second half of the dropping tide, we saw clouds of bones in the four- to six-pound range leaving the flats. At one stage, I cut the hook off a fly just to see how many takes I could get. The answer: dozens. We saw no GTs but, truthfully, never really looked in the right places. I did not experience the blue water fishing at Desroches but I have no doubt it is comparable to what I saw at Remiere.
You need to be able-bodied to fish these atolls. Poivre has some challenging but perfectly viable wading on coral. St Joseph’s has a good sand and turtle grass bottom but currently has no skiffs. Fishing here means four to five hours of walking per day.
So, what is my overall assessment of the Desroches fishing? It’s challenging, varied, interesting and exciting. But the overall set-up is not your standard “fishing package.” It may not be to everyone’s taste. Personally, I am pretty hardcore when it comes to fishing, and I just felt that this Desroches package had too much emphasis on the luxury for me as a lone angler. On the other hand, bringing a non-fishing partner here and sharing sumptuous evenings together after enjoying days on the flats will be very appealing to some. That’s particularly true now that live-aboard options are out of the picture in Seychelles for a while, at least.
Desroches aside, my primary mission on this trip was to assess the experimental, land-based fishing around Remiere Island, which is approximately four hours from Desroches. We traveled there on the comfortable, 48-foot Sarcelle, which is pretty stable and good for trolling or teasing if that is on the agenda. The plan for Remiere is to offer six day’s fishing with one day at each end on Desroches.
Remiere is a small, super-pretty island with flats all around. Only five people live on the island. We stayed in a very nice old guest house with two big bedrooms and a large living area. The other option here is a brand-new lodge complex. It was complete but not furnished and had four air-conditioned bedrooms and an open-plan living area. This will be Untamed Angling’s base in the future. Personally, I liked the old building better. A superb chef accompanied us, and the island has gardens with fresh herbs and vegetables, which, coupled with the fresh fish we caught, made for some brilliant eating.
We only had a few hours fishing on Remiere itself at the beginning and end of each day due to the tides, but in that time we caught several three- to five-pound bonefish, a couple of three-spot pompano and a decent bluefin trevally of about five pounds. Frankly, the bulk of the flats area looked a bit lacking in topography to me, but that sameness could have been due to the tidal situation. With different tides, the area could show more diversity. Considerably more fishing effort than I was able to put in is needed to establish the potential of the flats fishing here.
We devoted one day to fishing the “reef” (actually more of a shallow shelf) that encircles Remiere about one kilometer offshore across a deep channel. The plan is to have skiffs to reach the reef. As with Desroches, most of the fishing is planned to be by wading although I felt that fishing from skiffs would be beneficial on some tides once the guides have the whole situation more dialed in. The wading is good but if you choose that option you should be aware that you will be on your feet for long spells. Most of the fish were concentrated in one channel and around the outside of the reef on the surf line. This is the kind of place where you need to embrace some difficulty and treat it as part of the total experience. That was particularly true of the day I devoted to this area, as the barometer was all over the place. Suffice to say, we did not experience “amazing” fishing. I did catch a very good bluefin trevally of around 10 pounds and another angler took a golden trevally about the same size. We saw two other gangs of bluefin and a big shoal of permit (20-plus fish in the eight- to 15-pound range).
The fishing at Remiere generally involves a lot of walking, and it is very tide-influenced. Short fishing days on the flats are likely to be the norm, especially on the kind of tides we fished on. Fortunately, those short days can be augmented with very good blue water fishing. We caught wahoo, bonito and yellowfin by teasing them to the back of the boat. Sadly, however, we did not manage a sailfish.
My one day on the reef at Remiere was sandwiched between two days on African Banks, a pseudo-atoll lying approx 20 kilometers (1.5 hours) north of Remiere Island. The island at African Banks is small but the fishing there was quite attractive. Four- to five-pound bonefish were evident in numbers and we caught 15 to 20 per day among four rods. I saw a couple of bones that might have gone eight pounds. We also saw bluefins and GTs but had no viable shots.
African Banks also has an adjacent reef and flats area, so there’s plenty here to explore. Cuts and channels dissect the flats and there’s good-looking GT habitat in both the surf line and the cuts. We positioned ourselves in a cut on a pushing tide and saw four GTs come onto the flats, then leave right away. We saw numerous milkfish but found no hotspot like the one at Alphonse Island that has been written about so much. I did catch a bonefish here, but we never saw numbers that would indicate a prolific fishery. We also caught several ancillary species on the flats, including yellow-lipped emperor, queenfish and bohar snapper.
We fished the Remiere area for only three days on only one tide cycle each day, in lousy conditions with a very mobile barometer. The guides and the boat crew worked hard to counter these conditions. I would be lying if I said the fishing I experienced put me in a position to properly evaluate this fishery for the future. The flats looked generally good and we wondered at times why we were not seeing and catching more fish.
In reality, the guides have had only tiny numbers of “guide days” here so far in which to learn a complex fishery. In my view,
they are going to need at least two full monthly moon phase/tide cycles with concentrated observation of fish populations and movements before any real conclusions can be made. To be fair, Untamed Angling agrees with that view, and they have an open mind about how the actual fishing program will develop.
In my opinion (which I expressed to Marcelo Perez, the Managing Director of Untamed Angling, who had come out with us), they are still a full season away from being able to offer viable trips to Remiere Island to full-paying clients. The location is fantastic, the lodge is nice, new and comfortable and the logistics are coming together. Ultimately, however, Remiere Island is still a work in progress. Much has yet to be learned and set up before it can be sold as a properly established fishery. I look forward to hearing how the rest of the season’s exploratory trips shape up.
On a personal note, I would like thank the owners of Desroches Island and all the staff of Untamed Angling for their good company and excellent hosting. I appreciated every bit of it. – Ronnie Butler.
(Postscript: Currently, the Desroches package is priced at $7,600 per angler for six days and seven nights. Tentative price for the Remiere package is $7,200 per angler. You can reach Untamed Angling through their website www.untamedangling.com.)