Mahe was a regular weekend destination for me. Close friends, The Eish Bar and endless challenging grass flats made a good change from my slow paced, sand flats life on Praslin.
This weekend was nodifferent to the many other weekends that JD or Fab had picked me up in the Blue Bomber at the Cat Coco dock. I’m sure we’d watched Rugby at The Eish Bar the evening before and probably had a good few Seybrews too.
The next day we went fishing.
At that time of year the SE pumps almost daily, often hitting 18 or so knots. It thumps straight across the majority of the flats on Mahe and Praslin; a strong SE will cause a great deal of frustration and anguish as casts are blown awry and vision is all but destroyed by wind chop and clouds. The months that are winter in the southern hemisphere make for tough fishing and generally sees one on the flats at day break (when the wind is only marginally lighter) or not at all!
We had recently made an interesting spot discovery – a man made structure and reclaimed land protecting a backwater flat from the relentless wind. It here that we headed that day. It was the sort of spot written off without a consideration – we had walked past many times without even glancing in its direction.
I can’t even remember why exactly we ended up discovering it! We had been chasing Goldens and Permit all morning and were ready for eggs and bacon. It may have just been the smooth silky water of that protected section of water, the enticing allure of not having to squint through chop glare and the idea of casting without having to make trigonometry calculations in order to land your fly in the zone thatmade us look. Who knows? But we did. And there lay two bonefish on the edge of the channel. And they were big. Surprisingly big. We didn’t catch anything that day but we saw several large fish, including a few Goldens, cruising the deep water of the channel.
So we ended up there again, hiding from the wind and hoping for good. JD walked the flat and Fab and I spotted from the man-made wall. It felt like spotting trout or yellows from a dam wall. It gave us an awesome view point but we had to be careful; our sandy and sky coloured shirts, which work such a treat on the wide open spaces of a flat suddenly stood out like a sore thumbs against the bright tropical green background! And the Inner Island fish are spooky!
We all got fish that day.
But it was JD’s that stood out. It was a beautiful Bonefish that fought like a prize fighter. After JD hooked it on the channel edge, it headed through a narrow gap in the reclaimed land, straight for the open ocean. Then, as JD was plunging after it into the depths of the channel, the fish made 180degree turn around a rock, wrapping his flyline properly, and headed back into the lagoon. It swam right under Fab and I before heading past JD. And it looked heavy. Pig heavy. JD had a good swim, unravelled his line, thanked the fish for not changing direction again and swam back towards the flats in tow of the fish which was well out of sight over the flats again. Once he had feet on sand, proceeded to land it. It had shoulders of a prize-fighter. “Heaviest Bonefish I’ve ever caught” were JD’s thoughts.
Now I realise that when you look at the JD and the fish, you probably think that its a pretty average size bone, but what one must do to understand the fish’s size, you need to realise that JD is 6’5″ and build larger than many rugby players…