Running with the Buffalo’s and defending your Stumps on Providence – Part 1

The ice cold Inverroche 7 year old rum had barely hit the back of my throat when I heard “Buffalo!”…

I turned to look to see an evil grin on Wayne Osborne’s face, his glass of Soapy Coke raised in his left hand in my direction…

“What?”

“Buffalo boet…drink!”… Fuck… I looked down into my Yeti cup, held in my right hand, with close on half a litre of Stillbaai’s finest  Blackstrap treacle rum wrapped around a dozen ice blocks in it and thought to myself “Fuck, this is going to hurt..”

“Welcome to the Buffalo Club my boy….drink up”…

And so starts life on the back deck of the mighty MV Dugong, chugging her way across an expanse of warm blue Indian Ocean, in the middle of nowhere, on the way to paradise… Providence Atoll… Seychelles…

Rewind a couple weeks.. having just hit the send button on a reply to Gerhard at Flycastaways saying something along the lines of “Fuck it, I’m in… send me the invoice” I pushed back from my desk, took a deep breathe and thought to myself ” Shit, this is gonna hurt”…. then realized I better get my shit together..

It had been 12 years since I was last on the Seychelles outer atolls… April 2005… back then the Seychelles outer atolls fisheries were still in their infancy… St.Josephs had been in the press a fair bunch for its incredible bone fishery, and of course the crazy GT fishing, but the likes of Cosmoledo and Farquhar and Astove were relatively unexplored, wild and had that “Holy Shit!” aura about them… my late old man and I were lucky enough to find ourselves on what was dubbed the “Paydirt Trip” with Flycastaway, along with a motley group of feather chuckers, on a trip that was the first with clients to hit both Cosmoledo and Farquhar, which at the time were virtually untouched, and unexplored… the trip was, in a nut shell, mind bending… something I never thought I’d experience ever again…

Over the next decade, Seychelles and its insane fishing grew on the world stage to become the ultimate destination for any angler with even a remote desire to chase every desirable flats species other than Tarpon… videos like Gangsters of the Flats and Aqua Hulk from Jako Lukas, to big name ( and money ) productions from the likes of Confluence Films and others put these hallowed grounds firmly on the top shelf of bucket list destinations… Unfortunately for us Saffas, our crumbling exchange rate and the costs associated with visiting these waters put them higher and higher on that pedestal, and further and further out of reach of us regular folks whose arms were now even shorter, and pockets deeper… Coupled with this, my work season, ran pretty much exactly over the Seychelles fishery season, meant that I’d resigned myself to dining out on the memories of Paydirt, and likely never finding myself standing in the middle of an outer atoll Seychellois flat, surrounded by hungry bonefish and GT’s again…

Confluence Film’s incredible “Providence” movie, which screened at last years F3T really made an impression on me…  with the pirate issues Seychelles experienced for 6 years, and the fact this place was off limits for so long, along with its remoteness, and strangely unknown feeling, had me enchanted. If ever I was to head back to Seychelles, this is where I wanted to be… its vast, unexplored, angry and wild…. I wanted that… but never thought I’d get it..

But life has a way of throwing twists and surprises at you… A very busy decade and a lot of hard graft, a few lucky turns of events, and a blessing from my sister/business partner, as well as a pretty selfish ” No kids, no wife, my money, only live once” attitude, brought me to the point I now found myself… hitting the send button on that email to Gerhard, and realizing that I needed to suddenly get my shit together again.. Flies needed to be tied/sourced.. lines needed to be checked/bought… rum needed to be found…. flights needed to be booked…

I met the Buffalo Club outside the IDC Hanger office… along with the rest of the 12 anglers on the trip… I’d just spent 36 hours or so on Mahe, of which a bit was spent wading around the flat in front of Jamelah Guesthouse where I was staying, chasing maddenly difficult and erratic Goldies, and hooking up a few errant emperors and chasing small Milkies all over the show that for 45 minutes I thought were giant bonefish… The flights from SA to Seychelles and the charter flights from Mahe to Farquhar meant that all the Saffas on the trip had spent 2 nights on Mahe before meeting at the IDC hanger to get the show on the road..

6 Saffas, myself included.. 3 Brits, 3 Americans… All standing around, sweating, making small talk.. all eyeing each other out , to try get a handle on the other 11 souls we’d be spending 8 days with aboard a mothership in the middle of nowhere..

An hour and 45 minutes of  sweating,  with a near bursting bladder, on board the Beechcraft that shuttled us from Mahe, the wheels touched down on the concrete strip runway on Farquhar Atoll… I’d last been here almost 12 years ago, to the day… it was our fly out point at the end of the Paydirt Trip… I scarcely recognized it… Cyclone Fantala had not fucked around when she decided to flex her muscles across this Atoll… what I remembered as huge plantations of Palm Trees as far as the eye could see was now a scorched earth landscape of destruction… the few lone surviving Palm Trees looked like Skeksies from the Dark Crystal standing sentry under a low grey sky…


Ice cold beers now in hand, and greeted by head guides Tim and Matt, gear loaded onto the tractor and trailer we bumped our way down the track from the airstrip to the slipway on the other end of the island… The Buffalo Club had been here before as well, and all stared in awe at the destruction… the Radio Tower looked like one of those toy wire cars that had been caught in a lawn mower and tossed aside… In a weird way it was almost comforting.. the raw wildness of the Seychelles out Atolls I remembered so well was still there.. After seeing so many movies, magazine articles and such over the last decade I was worried that because so many other people had been here, seen it, written about it, made moves about it, that it would have lost its sense of anger and danger… the weird soul inside me who wanted these things was glad they were still there…

The infamous Farquhar Pet GT’s were waiting for us at the slip… having seen dozens of videos of these beasts, I was still gob smacked by seeing them in the flesh… these are true donkey class GT’s.. some of them pushing 40 kilos, and completely fearless… Tim’s warning before any of us got near the water of ” DO NOT put your hand or a camera or a GoPro in the water” seemed laughable until one of the Buffalos picked up a tennis ball size coral rock and tossed it into the water.. a dozen 20 to 40 kilos GT’s tracked that ball of coral through the air and absolutely CRUSHED THE FUCK out of it as it hit the water… Fuck that, I am not putting a camera or my hand anywhere near that water…

Gear loaded onto the skiffs, a fresh cold beer in hand, we made our way out to where the MV Dugong, home for the next 8 days lay at Anchor off the Northwestern side of the Atoll…

Climbing off the skiff onto the mothership, it all finally sank in…. this was real.. I was back…

Part 2 to follow… The Buffalo Herd starts to move, and the fast bowlers bring the heat…

One thought on “Running with the Buffalo’s and defending your Stumps on Providence – Part 1”

  1. Dean says:

    Excellent. Well written. Great fun to read. A great fishing (and drinking) with you Andre.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *