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Among the envelope-pushers of world angling, excitement is beginning to grow about the bonefishing around the Seychelles, a group of islands in the Indian Ocean north of Madagascar. We have mentioned these islands before in connection with the somewhat limited blue water fishing they offer. Talk of bonefishing around the islands is new, and boy is it hot talk!
The islands came to our attention last month when we received a flyer from Scott Haywood of Angling Destinations in Sheridan, Wyoming (*). Haywood is offering what he calls an "exploratory trip" to the Seychelles this fall for four anglers at a cost of $2,600, plus airfare. At press time he said it appeared he had all the anglers he needs for this trip. "I am not promising anything on this trip. It is an exploratory pure and simple, and everyone booked to go knows that," Haywood said, carefully dampening expectations.
The flyer Haywood sent out was much more upbeat, however. It quotes sources who call the Seychelles "…better than Christmas Island" and claim there are "world-record possibilities here… flats never before fished." The intriguing thing about all this, of course, is the fact that the current all-tackle bonefish record came from this part of the world (South Africa, to be exact). Also, these islands are lightly populated….
Intrigued, we e-mailed our saltwater fly fishing contact in that part of the world, Charles Norman (*) in Johannesburg. Norman is a booking agent who specializes in African destinations and everything he has told us in the past has checked out. His take on the Seychelles is bullish indeed. He writes:
"Ref your message about bonefish in the Seychelles. It’s true they are there in large numbers, including very big fish well over 10 pounds, along with various trevally species (world record class bluefin trevally of 16 pounds and up), plus a fish we know as milkfish, scientific name Chanos chanos, which looks a little like a bonefish, but is much, much bigger. These fish are not normally taken on rod and line, but I know some have been taken on small shrimp flies recently. That’s the good news. The bad news is the logistics.
"These fish are not being caught in the main Seychelles group, but rather in the Amirantes, part of the Seychelles but a separate group of flat, coralline islands about 250 miles southwest of the main group. There is only one lodge in the Amirantes, on an island called Desroches (pronounced Day-rosh). There are three weekly flights between Mahe, the main island, and Desroches. There is only one boat on Desroches, a very good, fast 38-foot sportfisher called Cookie Two. Desroches is about five miles long and one wide, a deserted coconut plantation with nothing on it but the lodge. There may well be bonefish around Desroches, but the two main areas are the islands of d’Arros/St. Josephs, which are 28 miles from Desroches, and then the three islands of the Alphonse group, which are 60 miles from Desroches. The Alphonse area seems the real key spot, with massive flats and bonefish, milkfish and trevally that literally swim around your legs while wading. No human population at all.
"Problem is, day trips to this area from Desroches are not possible, Cookie Two not being an overnight boat. Just about the only option is TamTam, a 40-foot live-aboard catamaran based in Mahe. She’s 20 feet wide and has a 30-foot tuna tower. It’s sponsored by Shimano and can troll up to 20 lines at a time. It is by far the most successful sportfishing craft in the Seychelles.
"TamTam can accommodate only four clients in two (small) double cabins. She’s very stable and roomy, but not fast – cruises at about 12 knots. Therefore, the ideal option is to fly into Mahe/Desroches, pick TamTam up there and continue on to the Alphonse area for however long the clients want. We can book all of the above. Regards…."
After receiving the above, we called Haywood, who said his upcoming trip was indeed going to be based aboard the TamTam. He had no idea what the airfare was going to be, and he admitted there were still some "logistical details" to be worked out. "We still have a bit of time here. I’ll keep you posted on developments," he said. – Don Causey.