By Gerald Penkler
Getting married is great, especially when the honeymoon takes you to Praslin Island in the Seychelles for a week and your wife is happy to fly fish too. Praslin is a gorgeous little island, a short flight or ferry from Mahe.
We had an amazing time swimming, sunning, cycling, snorkelling, and some great fishing variety too.
Fred Davis kindly shared some good pointers about the fishing beforehand. Knowledge he gleaned over the two years he lived there. Leonard Flemming also gave me tips after his Alphonse trip and with this I had armed myself with boxes brimming with tan Clousers, Alphlexo crabs, Merkins and velcro crabs.
Flying from a wintery UK we landed in Mahe to soak up the glorious sunshine & warmth.
Hopping onto the 15 min charter flight to Praslin island you cannot help but fall in love with the turquoise water and beautiful reefs and flats. I can only imagine what the fishing was like here a century ago.
From the airport, a short taxi ride (fixed rate of 300 rupees) delivered us to our base at Coco de Mer hotel, which is conveniently located close to the Grande Anse flats and the prospect of bones, permit or golden trevally.
Armed with an Accuweather doom and gloom forecast we made the most of the first day of sunshine, snorkeling and soaking up the warmth. Sadly days 2, 3 and 4 brought heavy and long periods of torrential rain, severely reducing water visibility.
However, the cooler weather was great for cycling to Anse La Blague – a spot with the odd bonefish and some reef species. I would recommend driving rather than cycling as what we did not realise was the huge and long 30 degree inclines. The sports centre man will also have a rather bemused look when you return late.
On day four or five we had some sunshine and decided to try Grande Anse flats. The water was not very clear, but we headed out at low tide to work our way along the various sand spits searching for bones, permit or goldens on the incoming tide.
There were large schools of mullet and milkfish moving around. After failing to spot a bone after an hour or three, I was regretting not having some algae or mullet flies on me. However, I did spot a little permit suspended in a foot of water that greedily ate a shrimp pattern.
The flats are covered with crabs – the reason behind all the Merkins, Alphlexo and velcro crabs. Crabs are fast, but have limited endurance – a fact Suzanne put to good use chasing them down until they were too tired to run any further… making a close up pretty simple.
After the flats trip and conditions that were not ideal, I changed tack and decided to focus on catching lots of species instead.
Coco de Mer provided SUPs which were amazing fishing platforms. I can see why they are growing in popularity as a fishing ‘vessel’. Standing up, sitting down or kneeling and they provide a solid and stable platform.
On the last day I took the SUP out pretty far. Too far in fact, but the fishing was great and I found that if you sit on the SUP and paddle with your feet you can slow your drift substantially and position yourself correctly in the breeze. Next time I will take my fins along too.
My mind did start playing games with me, especially when drifting over a deep dark area with my feet dangling enticingly below…This was fun fishing as every few casts the line would go tight and I loved the anticipation of a new or odd species. These included a few job fish;
A slimy blue spotted cornetfish;
and a fascinating sling jaw wrasse, which has a bony extendable tube jaw for a mouth.
The variety of species is incredible, especially considering that these waters are very heavily fished. And while most fish were small, I did lose an enormous houndfish (1.5m+) that tail-walked and thrashed its way to freedom and then twice had a barracuda or Spanish mackerel floss their teeth with my leader.
From the various beaches you can pick up plenty of half beaks;
pursemouth (a spinning rod with a tan clouser are a great combination);
and even a squid…
Close to the end of our stay we took out a kayak to explore less visited beaches and treated ourselves to amazing snorkelling, seeing turtles, some smaller titan triggers, plenty of parrots, wrasse, surgeons, a moray eel and even an enormous bumphead parrotfish. After snorkelling and draining the batteries of the underwater camera , it was time to put in a few casts and once again had fun catching brassies,
and bluefin trevally.
During the trip I saw three golden trevally, all large. One while snorkelling, one tailing and another literally 2m from my feet. However, these will have to wait until I visit again. I hear that anniversaries in the Seychelles are also popular…