Posts Tagged ‘Flats’

One of my star casting students, Jenny Landry recently took a trip with her husband Brant to the flats of Belize searching for bonefish, and she caught plenty! I’ll preface these photos by saying I am not in the slightest surprised at how well she did – definitely one of the fastest learners of the double-haul I have ever seen! Needless to say, she is hooked – I hope her hubby realizes he’s just lost some serious time on the front of the boat. Great Job Jenny, and thanks for sporting the Tailwaters “team colors!”

Jenny Landry with one of many nice bones she caught in Belize. Photo by: Brant Landry

Jenny Landry with a Belizian Bonefish. Photo by: Brant Landry


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Yea baby!   Photo By:  David Leake

Yea baby! Photo By: David Leake

One of my favorite benefits of being in the fly fishing industry is having the opportunity to revisit epic fishing spots. In this case, my visit to Alphonse Island and the St. Francois Lagoon in Seychelles was my fourth. Unlike first-timers, the feeling of fresh exotic newness is replaced with a feeling of “home” that nostalgic guys like me cling to. Anyways, that was the case this year as well.


Our group of 10 anglers all set out from the USA on Thursday, March 26, 2009 bound for the tiny archipelago nation of Seychelles… 1,000 miles of the east coast of Africa deep in the guts of the gorgeous Indian Ocean. Included in our group of eager sports was a mix of guys and one gal as follows:


David Leake

Brent Boone

Cody Bell

Julia Hopson

John Bass

Todd Moncrief

Scott Matthews

Jim Cochran

Stuart Cochran

Roy Washburn


Some of the group booked their travel through Europe, while several of us elected to take the interesting route to Seychelles via Dubai, United Arab Emirates. After a hectic beginning with lousy weather in Texas (Cody, Julia, and Scott actually missed their connection — really long story), Brent and I departed Houston (IAH) on the 15 hour direct flight with Emirates Airlines to Dubai. Although I was fearful of going mad on such a long flight, the amazing in-flight entertainment system on the Emirates 777 kept me sane watching a couple of Bond flicks, Marley and Me, Revolutionary Road (terrible), Benjamin Button (pretty interesting), Yes Man, and a handful of others. Brent played Battleship a lot. I also sent a couple of emails to my girls and to my brother, John, as we flew over his home town of Vienna at 42,000 feet. I was even able to sort out (via email) a rescheduled charter flight for Scott, Julia, and Cody while on the Emirates flight to Dubai. The advent of email service on a trans-Atlantic airline flight was not as impressive as the fact that the flight attendants with Emirates speak Spanish, English, Arabic, Chinese, Hindu, German, Italian, and Dutch. Seriously?


We arrived Dubai around 7:00PM, met up with Jim and Stuart Cochran (father – son) who arrived a few minutes later with Delta, ate at the buffet in the hotel (curried chicken and Stella Artois), watched the Road Warrior with Arabic subtitles, and set off fast to sleep.

The Long Haul.  Photo By:  David Leake

The Long Haul. Photo By: David Leake

Dubai is sort of a microcosm of today’s world economy… grossly overleveraged real estate development, credit card millionaires in Italian sports cars, and over the top lavishness everywhere. I have never been to an Arabic land before, and I must say that Dubai is as far from home as I have ever felt. From the language to the dress to the flat sandy landscape, Dubai struck me as extremely bizarre. Brent summed it up well by saying, “Man, this is really some foreign shit. You know that?”.


The following morning we flew 4 hours to Victoria, Mahe Island, the capital of Seychelles. Other than wanting to drop kick the ugly French dude who cut in front of us in line during immigration, Mahe was very uneventful.  Next was a quick connection on board a twin turbo Beechcraft for the 50 minute flight to Alphonse Island. The island is shaped like an arrow head with the runway running down the center. When you are on approach you can see the huge surrounding reef systems that protect Alphonse and the neighboring islands of Bijoutier and St. Francois. On the interior of the coral system are the flats that meld with the reef to create the ultimate habitat for the most incredible mix of marine life. There is nowhere on earth like it….I was told this year that there are over 300 species of fish that inhabit the lagoon. That does not include all the turtles, whales, dolphins, birds, eels, insects, crabs, etc.


The arrival into Alphonse is always a bit surreal. You are greeted by the head of the fishing program (this year it was the young and enthusiastic Devan v.d. Merwe) and the manager of the resort, Tonya. You cruise in a golf cart through dense palm and coconut trees, avoiding the occasional coconut or Giant Land Tortoise on your way to the central resort building for orientation. The property has been developed to meet very high standards and is super plush and polished. Having personally spent nearly a month on the island, I have decided Alphonse actually may be the inspiration for the Dharma Initiative from the TV show “Lost”. It is so strange to see such sophisticated infrastructure and accommodation on such a remote tiny little island in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Truly the most impressive fishing operation anywhere. After getting situated and the gear rigged, we head for dinner and a night filled with sleepless anticipation for the first day in the greatest saltwater flats fishery in the world.

A beautiful Seychellios Beach on Alphonse.  Photo By:  David Leake

A beautiful Seychellios Beach on Alphonse. Photo By: David Leake

Before I hit the daily breakdown, it is worth noting that the long trek half way around the world is well worth it. The bonefishing here is by far the most impressive on earth, but it is the diversity of species and stunning beauty of the place that makes it so incredible. You just have to see it to believe it.  Needless to say the folks in the travel department at Tailwaters can make that dream come true! 

THE GROUP...  Photo By:  David Leake

THE GROUP... Photo By: David Leake

Day 1 – “Milky Dream”

Here is the daily routine: Wake up at 5:30AM… eat breakfast at 6:00AM, board the mothership, TAM TAM, at 7:00AM, and sail 45 minutes to the skiff moorings inside the St. Francois Lagoon. The boat ride out to St. Francois is one of the most memorable parts of the trip. Everyone is strapping on gear, rigging equipment, and game planning while caffeine and beautiful ocean wake you up. Often you will encounter yellowfin tuna or milkfish feeding, whales, manta rays, dolphins, or other sea creatures on the way out past Bijoutier (“Gilligan’s Island”) and into the lagoon. St. Francois Lagoon is a labyrinth of flats, reef, coral heads, channels, etc…. tailor made habitat for bonefish, permit, trevally, milkfish, triggerfish, sharks, rays, turtles, etc. After a full day of fishing you return to Tam Tam at 4:00PM, arrive at Alphonse at 5:00PM, dinner at 7:00PM, and off to bed at 9-10. This regimented routine makes the week fly by.


One of the most sought after species on the flats is called the Milkfish (Chanos chanos). Although we have learned a lot about how to effectively hook and land these brutes, Milks still have lore about them. There is a common misnomer that they are herbivores or vegetarians exclusively. They feed on tiny invertebrates such as plankton as well as algae. They are not filter feeders, but they do skim along with mouths wide open inhaling their food (kind of like a whale shark). The hardest part about catching a milkfish is simply being in the right place at the right time for a predictable, surface feeding event with a large enough school of targets to increase the odds (which oftentimes won’t happen for months on end). Most often during large spring tides, milkfish will set up almost like trout feeding into the strong tidal currents flushing food off of the flats. Lucky anglers encounter them feeding on or near the surface with mouths wide almost mindlessly vacuuming everything in their path. Although they will certainly move to avoid your fly, they will definitely not move to eat your fly. Anglers fish with algae-like deer hair or craft fur patterns tied on a #2 Gamu hook and long slow strips through a school of milkfish. If the planets align, your fly will incidentally get sucked in and off to the races you go. Such was the case for lucky me on day one.


On the third or fourth presentation the line came taught, and one hour nine minutes later we brought this beautiful 25-30 pound specimen to hand. Pound for pound there is no stronger fish in the sea. It is almost like they a super evolved or are stuck in the Jurassic period. Either way, their physiology is different from all other fish I have encountered in that they simply do not ever get tired. Even when you land them, you must maintain a death grip in order to get a few photos. Our guide for the day, Mattieu Cosson, is from the Burgundy region of France and did a wonderful job for us. Matt is serious but was very amused by our silly American / Texan humor.

The Mouth of a Milkfish.  Photo By:  David Leake

The Mouth of a Milkfish. Photo By: David Leake

Got Milk?  Photo By:  David Leake

Got Milk? Photo By: David Leake

Day 2 – Mixed Bag

Brent and I fished with Devan v.d. Merwe today and had a little taste of everything. From chasing milks early to a nice bonefish session, to a walk to the reef looking for Triggerfish and GT. It was a fun day, but also most memorable for the education received on the politics, racial, and social issues that confront the continent of Africa today. Devon, a 23 year old from a small town in South Africa, is perhaps one of the most enthusiastic and optimistic guides I have ever been with. A good looking and capable outdoorsman, Devan and his equally attractive girlfriend, Ubre, have guided, hunted, and fished all over South-Central Africa together for their entire lives. He is the definition of a glass half full kind of guy… With 2 minutes left in the day, Devan would say something indicative of the eternal optimist such as, “Okay man… we’ve got 90 seconds left before we have to head back, but place a blind cast at 2 o’clock. I am absolutely certain that 80 pound Geet is going to be there”.

Jim Cochran, Roy Washburn, and Brent Boone on the TAM TAM en route to St. Francois.  Photo By David Leake

Jim Cochran, Roy Washburn, and Brent Boone on the TAM TAM en route to St. Francois. Photo By David Leake

Devan provided an interesting take on the racial conflict in S.A., and painted a real clear picture of his childhood growing up in the gorgeous yet extremely raw and dangerous, Dark Continent. He also indulged us with his native tongue, Afrikaans (a mix of tribal mumbo jumbo and Dutch), as well as several tribal languages such as Swahili. I confirmed that the images from the Leonardo DiCaprio movie, ‘Blood Diamond’ are actually a very accurate portrayal of the diamond trade in southern Africa.


Although we had cloudy conditions today, Brent managed a nice 20 pound GT on the Lollipops Wreck a few minutes before we headed back to TAM TAM. The weather began to clear on the boat ride back, and we never saw any rainy clouds the rest of the trip.


Day 3 – “Oh Shit….. G.T.!!!!”

Today I fished with Scott Keller, an American who currently calls Sun Valley, Idaho home. Scott is a 49 year old veteran of the guiding profession, and is without question the worldliest angler I have ever encountered. He has guided in several countries with multiple seasons in places like Tierra del Fuego, Alaska, and Mongolia. His laid back charisma is very cool, and he oozes with confidence and experience. Scott has guided everyone from Jimmy Carter to Jack Nicklaus, and quietly tells interesting stories of his angling exploits. My fishing partner was Stuart Cochran, the 35 year old son of long time client and friend, Jim Cochran. Stuart is an extremely funny guy and I really enjoyed fishing with him. We predominantly cruised for GTs all morning before making a spur of the moment decision to head back out to the reef and to “Little Wreck”.


Note: One night back in the 60s a bunch of Japanese commercial tuna fishermen wrecked three of their boats on the reef surrounding St. Francois. It is kind of odd fishing next to their massive rusted out hulls. (I think they are haunted by Japanese sailors feasting on their spoiled catch of yellowfin.)


As soon as we made it to the reef following the 45 minute walk, we began fishing for bonefish. After catching a few nice bones I decided to take my 12 weight from Scott as we waded closer to the surf and the likelihood of encountering a Giant Trevally. I had my 12 weight on my pack as I cast to a school of bonefish that spooked abnormally… What was that all about? Low and behold, the old bully GT presented himself at about 60 feet and closing. “Oh Shit…. GT!”. Hurriedly, I chunked down the bonefish stick, unhooked the 12 weight from my pack, stripped off some line, dropped the fly, and boom, he ate it.


Words cannot describe the power of a large Giant Trevally. The only way to appreciate it is to get your hands on an Abel Super 12 reel and crank down the drag to 100% and try manually to pull of some line. You are lucky to pull off one foot of line without breaking a finger. Now, consider that an 80 pound Trevally completely spooled Devan the day before with this same reel cranked down 100%. You fish for GTs with super heavy gear… 80-100 pound straight fluorocarbon for your leader, 5/0 – 8/0 gamugatsu hooks, and 50 pound gel spun backing is the norm. Devan’s monster took his fly line and 350 yards of backing in just a few seconds. Devan badly bruised his hand on the handle of his reel trying to palm the spool in vain trying to stop the beast. GTs over 50 pounds require you to be chasing them in a skiff as landing one of foot is nearly impossible without a 14 weight. They are incredible fish.


My fish cooperated nicely after a huge run into the backing (with an Abel Super 12 cranked down 100%) and we luckily avoided all the coral heads, sharks, and razor sharp reef. When he came to hand a few minutes later he tipped the scales at 45-50 pounds and 103 centimeters (40 inches). Poor Stuart was turned into a pack mule with our cameras, packs, rods, and gear while we chased him around. After some great photos we exchanged high fives.

45 Pound GT on the Reef.  Photo By:  David Leake

45 Pound GT on the Reef. Photo By: David Leake

The Giant Trevally (Caranx Ignobilis) is the true bad ass of all game fish in my opinion. His round head, monster shoulders, and elaborate fins are built for speed and power, and he has no predators other than large sharks and humans. He literally eats everything, and his incredible eye-sight combines with his quickness to make him a lethal hunter. While adults spend much of their life in deeper water, fish well over 100 pounds often feed on the flats in skinny water or cruise in riding the waves on the reef to ambush unsuspecting prey. There is nothing more impressive than watching through the face of a wave as a big GT surfs his way inside the reef. The combination of hurried panic to cast and huge dosage of adrenalin is very addictive. There is also no eat more impressive than the mighty G.T. The deliberate and crushing speed of the monster when he zeroes in on your fly is scary to the point where you almost don’t want him to eat it! Once you witness the spectacle that is the “GEET”, it gets in your blood, and you become obsessed with trying to find one a bit bigger than the last one.


Day 4 – “The Bataan Death March”

Today I fished with John Bass of Fayetteville, Arkansas. Brent and I met John in December 2007 at Casa Blanca Lodge in Mexico. We have become fast friends and he has booked a few trips with us, including his second trip back to Alphonse. “Big John” is a very tall man. A retired educator, John is also one of the most kind and humorous gents you will ever meet. The consummate story teller, John always has me rolling with laughter. He is a diehard University of Arkansas fan, and likes to reminisce about the glory days of the Longhorn / Razorback rivalry. John is a ton of fun…


Our guide today was James Christmas of South Africa, the pack mule of a guide who showed us the back side of St. Francois at low tide en route to the most remote reef section in the fishery. We caught several nice tailing bones in no more than 5 inches of water before trekking further to the reef. We also saw the home of “Boris” the 7 foot barracuda who resides on a very distinct coral head. (I like to think he was named after the Russian Mobster “Boris the Blade” from the Cohen brothers film, Snatch.) Although we saw a few nice geets in the surf, we had no viable shots. However, wading through the stunning aquarium-like tidal pools was worth the effort. Hundreds of species of fish, eels, rays, and turtles (not to mention lemon and nurse sharks) swarm around your feet.

John Bass on the backside of St. Francois.  Photo By:  David Leake

John Bass on the backside of St. Francois. Photo By: David Leake

Unfortunately, the walk back at dead low tide with a high sun was a lot less leisurely than the slow, fish filled easy wade out to the reef. Both John and I each felt the sun big time on the death march back to the boat.


Day 5 – “Stuck on Your Hard Drive” Bonefishing Session

My fishing partner on day five was Scott Matthews of Horseshoe Bay, Texas. Scott is the type of angler who simply enjoys catching bonefish with the proper conditions. He is self admittingly not interested in the trophy species, but would rather be entertained by racking up the numbers. More than once (in Alaska and in Louisiana) we have had the philosophical debate over the stages a fishermen goes through during his angling career. Stage one is to simply catch lots of fish… Stage two is to catch only big fish… Stage three is to simply go fishing. In my opinion, it is only when you reach stage three that the trophy fish become a more regular occurrence. It is almost like the fishing gods feel like you have paid enough dues so they put you in the right place at the right time to catch the big one as a result. Anyways, Scott will attest that he is still in stage one (despite having traveled the world throughout a very impressive angling career).



Day five presented perfect bonefishing conditions. Our tide for the week gave us three spring tide days (perfect for GTs and Milks) and three neap tide days (ideal for St. Francois bonefish). Scott and I just had one of those days where it all comes together. A light breeze was off the left shoulder, the sun was at our backs, and the bones were happy. This was the type of bonefishing session that earns Seychelles the title of “best bonefishing in the world”. For several hours we enjoyed the falling tide and thousands of bonefish coming into easy range. Although you will find schools of bones in St. Francois, the ideal bonefish sessions occur when singles, doubles, and triples funnel off the flat towards you at a steady pace. You have plenty of time to scan the hard, white sand for the biggest fish in view, and present the fly. As soon as you release him, all you have to do is look up and find another one. Absolutely incredible! This kind of day offers an opportunity for the most novice casters to have great success, and the more experienced anglers a time to hone skills and learn something new about bonefish behavior. These type of fishing experiences make you a better angler and are the most memorable. As the guide Devan said, “Today’s memories will be stuck on your hard drive for a long time”.

Scott Matthews and Your's Truly with nice double.  Photo By:  David Leake

Scott Matthews and Your's Truly with nice double. Photo By: David Leake

We wrapped up the day with a late lunch and a move to the “hologram flat”, named for the myriad of mixed water colors that converge there. We tagged a few more bones, had a run in with a 6 footer lemmon shark who nearly ate my foot as I cradled an exhausted bonefish (long story involving me stepping in a hole and falling down while Devan beat the shark away with the butt of my 12 weight), and had a lot of laughs. Our other goal at hologram was to find a permit. Although we did not land one, I had at least 50 good shots at interested (but not interested enough) permit in skinny water. We moved to TAM TAM flat (couple hundred yards from where the TAM TAM is moored) and Scott hooked a monster trigger with one minute left in the day. Even though he came unbuttoned, it was truly a great day… a day that will indeed by saved on my C: drive forever.


Day 6 – Why I will one day return to Seychelles….

The last day of our trip was not as epic as the previous, however Scott and I again enjoyed a nice morning bonefishing session before cruising over to a channel for lunch. The idea was to stake out and wait for a big GT cruising through on the falling tide while Scott and James waded around looking for bones and triggers on a nearby finger flat.


What was learned was never to question the guide when he suggests blind casting a bit… James indicated he had seen a “100+ pound” GT cruising said channel twice before at a similar tidal stage. Scott and I rolled our eyes simultaneously as we busted out the lunch. Not five minutes later, James exclaimed, “100 pound GT! On that Ray! Get Ready!”. I looked at him like he was pulling my chain when he said with his South African accent. “Dude, no shit… Get up he is right there!!!!”. A fire lit under my ass and I was on the deck ready to cast when we caught a glimpse of the beast cruising lazily off the flat disappearing into the depths. It was as if the bastard knew it was my last day and wanted to give me the bird as he sauntered away laughing. Needless to say, that is also an image I will never forget, and I will be back to stick him next year.

Bonefish representing Tailwaters Fly Fishing Company.  Photo By:  David Leake

Bonefish representing Tailwaters Fly Fishing Company. Photo By: David Leake

Coming Home… The trip home was uneventful. We made it back to Love Field as tired puppies.



A lot of the guides are new since my last trip in 2007, but the level of experienced competence exuded by the entire staff is as tip top as ever. It was very nice to see my old friends, Jude Morel and Sergio Samson, two of the saltiest Seychellois dudes you will ever meet. Both have been there since the “early days” of Alphonse starting back in 1999 — and each have 18 month old kids on the ground (Julius & Sergio Jr).


I regret I did not get to fish with the infamous guide, Wayne Maselau, during this trip. Wayne is also one of the fishiest and most interesting guys you will ever meet. Wayne helped pioneer the flies and techniques used for the milkfish, and helped name numerous landmarks in the infamous lagoon. He is close friends with many of the big trevally at St. Francois as well. Wayne is the poster boy for the “man crush”, and has the knowledge, experience, and South African machismo to back it up. Everyone loves him.

Sergio, Jr.  Note the family dreadlocks.  Photo By:  David Leake

Sergio, Jr. Note the family dreadlocks. Photo By: David Leake

Captain Sergio at the helm of the TAM TAM.  Photo By:  David Leake

Captain Sergio at the helm of the TAM TAM. Photo By: David Leake

Jude and Young Julius.  Photo By:  David Leake

Jude and Young Julius. Photo By: David Leake

I raise my glass to the entire Alphonse crew of guides and staff… the old ones and the newer ones. Here’s to Vaughn, Devan, Scott, Jude, Sergio, James, Mattieu, Wayne, Tonya, Ubre, Sharon, Jusef (sp?) the bartender, the chef (cant remember his name) and everyone behind the scenes. Thank you for taking care of our group and the rest of our clients all season. You are fine people and I cannot wait to see you all again.

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This time of year traveling is a bitch….our original itinerary was to leave Dallas at 3:20 for a one hour flight to Houston and a 6:30 departure for Dubai.  Well, after sitting on the runway in Dallas for two hours and multiple sub-plots in between, we finally left Dallas at 4:50, landed in Houston at 5:50 did the OJ through the airport and made it to the gate with 1 minute to spare.  The flight on Emirates airline was incredible….that is the best airline I’ve ever flown, 15 hours but it seemed like 5.  Overnight in Dubai and early morning departure to Victoria, Seychelles.  1 hour layover and 1 hour flight to Alphonse Island.

Upon arrival, you realize quickly you are in paradise.  Coconut trees, white sand beaches, tropical birds, everything is green and beautiful.  The weather is typical for the tropics, warm and humid but very comfortable.  We are quickly whisk away to our chalets which are very nice and comfortable, after unpacking we head to the fishing center to get geared up.

David rigging up. Photo by: Brent Boone

David rigging up. Photo by: Brent Boone

Day 1:

The days are very regimented, wake-up 5:45, breakfast at 6:00 meet at the fishing center by 7:00 load up on the Tam Tam by 7:15 and off for the 45 minute run to the skiffs.

Relaxing aboard the Tam Tam. Photo by: Brent Boone

Relaxing aboard the Tam Tam. Photo by: Brent Boone

David and I are fishing together today….when we arrive at the skiffs, the weather is somewhat questionable.  Thunderstorms in the area and very bad light for the flats.  We head out for a morning bone fishing session and quickly hook up with several 4-6 lb fish.  After about 3 hours, the sun comes out and we head out to look for Milkfish.  Milkfishing is an art unto itself.  Milks don’t actively feed, they slurp algae from the surface.  We quickly locate a school of fish on the surface and David takes the first shot.  It takes no more than 5 casts and he’s hooked up.  After an eventful 1 hour and 9 minute fight, we land a beautiful 25 lb fish.

After a short break we search for more Milks.  We find many more schools and have several great shots but no luck….I couldn’t coerce one to take my “algae fly.”  At 4:00 we meet  back at the Tam Tam and head back to Alphonse.  On the back of the Tam Tam we notice several big GTs (Giant Trevally), Trigger Fish, Surgeon Fish and Bat Fish.  They love bread!


Giant Trevally eating bread behind the Tam Tam. Photo by: Brent Boone.

David with a Batfish. Photo by: Brent Boone

David with a Batfish. Photo by: Brent Boone

By the end of the day, the 24 hours of travel, the long fishing day, and the heat have caught up with everyone.  We are all ready for dinner and a good night’s sleep.

Day 2:

David and I again fish together and our goal for the day is a big Geet.  Our guide for the day is the eternal optimist, Deven.  Early on we search the edges for GT”s and about 11:00 we embark on a 3o minute walk to “Big Wreck”.  The wreck is a Japanese tuna boat that ran aground during the 60’s.  Again, the light is poor and spotting fish is difficult.  David fishes the surf and sees several big GTs but no luck.  I fish for triggers and other reef fish while waiting for the tide to push.  Once the push begins, the big GTs come in behind the surf and look for baitfish in the holes.  Deven points out one of his favorite spots for GTs and on the first cast a huge Geet crushes my fly….he comes straight at me and I’m not able to get a good hook set.  I re-cast into the same spot and again a big Geet crushes my fly….I get a good hook set and it’s off to the races.  I have to negotiate coral and pieces of the wreck but land the fish relatively quickly.

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20 lb Geet at the Wreck. Photo by: Deven

At dinner, everyone is beginning to get rested up and acclimated to the new time zone.  The food is incredible: “Catch of the Day,”  Typically tuna or grouper or mahi mahi.

Day 3:

Today my fishing partner is Scott Mathews and our guide is the infamous South African, Wayne.  Our goal this morning is Bonefish with the occasional opportunity for a Permit.  We arrive on “prawn beds” flat at about 8:15 am.  Wayne told me on the way that he routinely sees permit on this flat early in the morning.  We get out of the boat and immediately see two permit heading our way.  I take the fish on the right and Scott takes the fish on the left I have about 15 seconds to get my line out and make two false cast before I lay the perfect 50 foot cast about 10 feet in front of the permit.  I strip it one time and he’s on it.  He tails, and it’s on….I’m using a 7wt Sage Xi2 with and Abel Super 7.  It handles the fish just fine and I land the fish in about 15 minutes.  Check out the cool new hat from Twintail Clothing Company!  Could it be more fitting?

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Indo-Pacific Permit. Photo by: Brent Boone

While I was busy landing the permit, Scott caught 12 bones with the biggest being around 7 lbs.  After the permit, I joined Scott on the flat and we wore out the Bonefish.  Scott caught about 25 in two hours and I must have caught 15 including a big barracuda that cut my line after about 15 seconds.

After lunch Scott and I fished a flat known as “Guantanamo Bay”….Wayne says this flat has the largest concentration of Permit in the entire atoll.  He’s right…we’re immediately on Permit.  Scott has a great shot, the permit eats his fly turns to run and breaks the 25 lb leader.  Over the next 3 hours we have at  least 15 shots at picky permit.  Along the way we see a 6 ft Lemon Shark that is a little too curious.  We conclude the day with some more Bonefishing and it’s back to the Tam Tam by 4:00.

Day 4:

My new fishing partner is Dr. Roy Washburn, our guide is Matthiew the Frenchman.  Our goal for the day is Geets and Milkfish.  We spend the first 2 hours looking for milks, we find several feeding pods and Dr. Washburn makes 40 good casts but no luck.  After a while, it’s time to look for Geets.  We head outside of the reef to the west side, along the way we see two huge Green Turtles mating.

Sea Turtles mating. Photo by: Brent Boone

Sea Turtles mating. Photo by: Brent Boone

We are fishing about 400 yards outside the reef in about 25 feet of water.  The waters is so clear you can’t image what we see, green turtles, hawksbeek turtles, barracuda, rays, sharks, parrot fish, surgeon fish, milkfish, and I must not forget, the most important: Giant Trevally.  I’m on the deck and Matthieu say’s “Huge GT at 2 o’clock.”  I turn to my right and see a huge GT sitting at about 40 ft.  I make 2 false casts and land the fly 5 feet in front of the fish.  The image is still burned into my mind.  As the fly is falling to the water, the fish sees the fly in the air and meets it as it hits the surface….it is an incredible collision.  I feel the Geet and make 3 big strip strikes and he takes off, burning line off my reel.  As I clear the slack line, I can feel the power in this fish, but all of a sudden…..there’s nothing there –  he’s gone.  What did  I do wrong?  Did I give him too much slack?  I’m completely dejected but what can I do?  By this time its time for us to walk to the surf.  We park the boat in an area called “Ratrays”, eat lunch and then head off to the surf.

Dr. Washburn fishing in the surf. Photo by: Brent Boone

Dr. Roy Washburn fishing in the surf. Photo by: Brent Boone

We’ve been at the surf for 30 minutes or so and have seen 3 or 4 GT’s but nothing close enough to cast to….Roy casts to several trigger fish then all of a sudden, Matthieu says “Tiger!!!”  There is a huge tiger shark in the surf about 100 feet away.  GT’s are known to follow tigers so we immediately start to follow the tiger looking for GTs.  The tiger is riding the wave so he’s getting closer all the time….luckily the tiger never sees us but there were no GTs on him.  We continue our trek down the reef and all of a sudden I see this GT riding the surf right towards us…he ends up in a small pool write in front of me about 25 ft.  I make a short cast and once again I’m hooked up to a big GT.  He runs and takes all the slack line and then all of a sudden, “Snap!!!”  my fly lines breaks.  Again, I’m completely crushed…I go to my knees in disgust….mistake, I’m standing on coral, I cut both my knees but that’s the least of my worries.  What have I done wrong this time?  Turns out, the line caught on the frame of my reel…..my mistake!  We fish for another hour and then head back to the Dolphin Skiff for the short trip to the Tam Tam and then back to Alphonse.

End of the day on the Tam-Tam. Photo by: Brent Boone

End of the day on the Tam-Tam. Photo by: Brent Boone

Day 5:

Again my fishing partner is Dr. Washburn, our guide is the legendary Scott and our goal is a big GT.  We spend the entire day searching the deep coral edges of the flats.  Roy and I take turns on the front but it turns out to be a long day.  We see several fish and have a couple of good shots but nothing seems to be interested in our flies.  The most exciting part of the day was a HUGE barracuda that I hooked and fought for 4 jumps before he cut the line.  He was at least 6 ft long and weight probably 50 lbs.  I sure wish I would have had a wire leader on!!!  No fish landed but a great day non the less.  Great companions in the most beautiful place in the world.  Who could ask for more than that?

Scott and I chasing down some rays. Photo by:

Scott and I chasing down some rays. Photo by: Dr. Ray Washburn

Day 6:

The final fishing day of the trip and again I am fortunate to be fishing with Dr. Roy Washburn and our guide is Wayne.  In the morning we decide to have a bonefishing session and go to a flat known as “The Highway”….true to bonefishing in the Seychelles there is an endless supply of large singles.  We each catch 12-15 fish and we decide it’s time to look for GTs (sense a theme?).

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I was out-fished again! Photo by: Brent Boone

For lunch we go to a spot called “Coral Gardens.” I snorkeled there earlier in the week and Roy had to check it out.  We anchored the boat ate lunch and had a quick 15 minute snorkle.  The place absolutely comes alive when you stick your head under the water.  100’s of species of fish and the most beautiful coral you can imagine.

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Dr. Washburn and I at Coral Gardens. Photo by: Wayne

After a short break we head off in search of GTs.  After and hour or so, we see two huge black spots about 250 feet ahead of the boat.  Waynes speeds up the boat slightly to get ahead of them so I can make a cast.  No pressure but Wayne says “Brent, these are two 100 lb fish, you have to make the cast of your life.”  I’m anxious but very calm, we approach to within 120 feet and I begin to make some small false cast to get some line out….I’m just about to try a 90 foot cast and they make us!  They turn left and it’s all over.  Easily the biggest fish I saw all week.  We’ll it’s time to go home, we head back to the Tam Tam.

Day 7:

Our plane doesn’t leave Alphonse until 5:00 pm so we have time to fish in the morning.  David and I head out early on the North side of the island to look for GTs in the surf.  It’s early and there’s not much light but on the way out, we see some wakes.  We assume it’s bonefish so I make a cast in front of one of the wakes and hook up to a Trigger Fish….it’s a great fight on a 7 wt.

Triggerfish. Photo by: David Leake

Triggerfish. Photo by: David Leake

Look at those chompers! Photo by: David Leake

Look at those chompers! Photo by: David Leake

We make our way to the surf and look for GTs for about 3 hours…we see several big GTs and make a few casts but no real good shots.  We finally decide to call it good and go back and get ready to go home.

We rinse off all our gear, lay it out to dry and relax until our plan arrives.


Packing to go home. Photo by: Brent Boone

Our long journey home begins once we leave Alphonse at 5:00.

Photo by: Brent Boone

Boarding the plane at Alphonse. Photo by: Brent Boone

We have a 6 hour layover in Victoria, Seychelles, a 4 hour flight to Dubai, 2.5 hour layover then a 16 hour flight to Houston, 2 hour layover and a 1 hour flight to Dallas.  All in all, I would endure the travel again – for the fishing.  Without doubt, the best fishing on the planet.

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David and Brent have returned safely from the Seychelles, complete with a thousand stories and pictures to match! They are both going through their respective travel journals, and will  have their full posts up soon! For the time being, enjoy this sampling of the photos to come…..

Brent and David with their respective tans. Photo courtesy of: David Leake

Brent and David with their respective tans. Photo courtesy of: David Leake

David hefts a brilliant Bone. Photo by: Brent Boone

David hefts a brilliant Bone. Photo by: Brent Boone

Brent with his first Permit!! Photo Courtesy of: Brent Boone

Brent with his first Permit!! Photo Courtesy of: Brent Boone

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Well, word has finally trickled in from the far side of the globe, and David and Brent have successfully made it to the Seychelles for the start of our hosted trip. We will hopefully have a few updates as the trip progresses, with a full report to follow once they return!

Where is that place again?

Where is that place again?

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About a week ago, two of our favorite fishing buddies went to Louisiana to chase Bull Reds, and had quite a time. Dr. (he didn’t go to 6 years of evil medical school to be called “Mr.” thank you) Dennis Burns and Bill Seals. Here is the report from Dennis, and a few mind-blowing pictures to boot:

Sometimes it’s tempting to grumble about fly fishing options in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, particularly during the ’80 degree-one-day-freezing-your-butt-off-the-next-day’ fluctuations that we usually see around here this time of year. It turns out that great fishing isn’t as far off as I thought. A few months ago, my fishing buddy and spiritual advisor (OK, I’m kidding about the spiritual advisor part) Bill Seals contacted David Leake about whether there were any saltwater options within easy striking distance of Dallas that offered (a) good fishing, (b) reasonable accommodations and (c) good food. Without missing a beat, David said, ‘Sure! I’ll set it up.’ Thus began our first trip to the Louisiana coast to visit the Woodland Plantation and to fish with Capt. Bryan Carter. An 80-minute flight from Dallas to New Orleans, followed by an easy 45-minute drive south (punctuated by a fuel stop at Cafe du Monde and a neat visit to the National World War II Museum) took us to the Woodland Plantation, a mid 1800s inn outside of Port Sulphur that offers guests comfortable rooms, and superb food and drink at very reasonable prices. Many of you have probably seen the Woodland Plantation without knowing it – it’s pictured in a line drawing on the label of every bottle of Southern Comfort! After fortifying ourselves with such spirits, a great evening meal and a restful night, Bill and I hooked up with Bryan early the next morning for an introduction to south Louisiana Redfish on the fly. To experience Bryan in a guide situation is memorable – he’s got the sharp eyes and instincts for finding fish that you would expect from a veteran saltwater guide, coupled with a deep knowledge and appreciation of the beautiful – and fragile – ecosystem represented by the coastal Louisiana saltwater flats. He shares his knowledge freely and well. He’s also enough of a smart-aleck to keep you humble – and in stitches – through the whole fishing experience. Man, can he put you on to fish!

Dennis Burns with a nice Red early on. Photo by: Bill Seals

Dennis Burns with a nice Red early on. Photo by: Bill Seals

Bill Seals with another nice Redfish. Photo by: Dennis Burns

Bill Seals with another nice Redfish. Photo by: Dennis Burns

My most memorable Red came on the first day…..something about beginner’s luck, I think. My story, of course, is that I had to cast 800 feet into a 30 MPH headwind to hook the fish, while my buddy Bill’s story has the fish ramming into the boat, knocking itself out, and me reaching over the side and inserting a hook into its mouth. The truth is somewhere between – perhaps a bit closer to Bill’s version than mine. I hooked the fish at a fairly modest distance on an EP (Enrico Puglisi) crab pattern that Bryan favors this time of year, and after a bit of a fight (during which I wondered if my 8-weight Scott S4 was going to survive), managed to bring him to the boat – a beautiful 34-pound fish that was, for me at least, the fish of a lifetime!

The monster being brought in. Photo by: Capt. Bryan Carter

The monster being brought in. Photo by: Capt. Bryan Carter

Dennis Burns with his Redfish of a lifetime. Photo by: Bill Seals

Dennis Burns with his Redfish of a lifetime. Photo by: Bill Seals

Captain Bryan Carter holds Dennis' big fish on the boga. Photo by: Bill Seals

Captain Bryan Carter holds Dennis' big fish on the boga. Photo by: Bill Seals

Over the next couple of days, Bill and I had the privilege of landing many more beautiful reds in shallow water, as well as the occasional Black Drum and Sheepshead. Had our Redfishing skills been a bit more “honed” (as opposed to non-existent!) we would have more than doubled our numbers. Bryan – and the fishery – are just that good. The days on the flats ended at about 3:30 each day, once the angle of the light on the water made spotting fish a difficult proposition. Not a problem though – the days on the water were full of wonderful fishing and experiencing the special environment of the coastal Louisiana saltwater flats, and the hospitality of the Woodland Plantation was there for us at the end of each day. We’ll be back! – Dennis

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Sunday I managed to sneak away from Dallas to fish in the quiet glory of South Fort Worth, to hunt for the Golden Bonefish. With me in this adventure were Matt Jones of Tailwaters and photography fame, and Carp guide extraordinaire Joel Hays.

The conditions could not be more perfect – light breezes (if any), the sun high in the sky with cobalt blue all around. Just as a little bit of icing on the cake, the water was about 6″ lower than the last time Joel and I headed that way, exposing the flats even more – all that we needed was to start shooting at all the huge tails we were sure to see. Did I say “sure?” Perhaps a poor choice of words.

Upon arrival, we noticed that we were not alone – about a dozen bait slingers were already  on scene, attempting to nab the elusive native (read: stocked) Rainbow Trout found in the Trinity River. We were able to see one of these that had become Heron food, but that was all. After some serious stalking, we quickly realized that we were excellent at creeping up on ducks(as evidenced by the dozen or so mallards that scared the living crap out of us as they flew out from under the bank), and that ducks do an excellent job creating muds similar to those that Carp make.

We managed to “see” two fish, but only flashes of their bodies, so getting a bead on them was not the easy task we anticipated. Needless to say, it was a low percentage game, and we definitely finished with nothing to show except a bit of a sun tan.

All that doom and gloom being said, we discovered exactly WHY we had a lack of luck – we carried not only a very, very nice camera, but a landing net as well. Instead of the two jinxes negating each other, there was a multiplication factor. Live and learn, live and learn.

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