Providence Part 2: 13-20 October 2015
I try my best to contain my own excitement during the buildup to a trip by not thinking about it too much. If I do it feels as if time just passes too slowly and the agony of waiting to be out on the water can just get to be too much. Over the years I have learned to control it, but despite my best efforts once I have put boots on I’m a lost case. I turn into a gun-dog pre hunt, frothing at the mouth & running in circles chasing my own tail.
During the beginning of the trip, especially the first morning anglers tend to get super excited and everyone wants to be on the water. However after a few days the familiar routine sets in and I go through the motions like a robot. The days are long and exhausting and when we get back after a long day on the flats we wash our tackle, go for a shower, have a drink & dinner and fall over. Your body needs the rest, 10 hours on foot in saltwater under a tropical sun takes it toll. In the morning when we I get up I try to have a quiet cup of coffee before breakfast. My body wakes up slowly, or at least slower than it used to. Before I know it I’m sitting on the back deck again checking my pack and putting my boots on. Once all the guests have left we load the mountains of camera equipment and fishing gear onto the tenders and head for the flats. Miraculously as I step from the skiff and see the first fish the world is suddenly perfect and my body not tired anymore. The next eight hours is usually a blur of looking for fish, catching fish, casting at fish…everything an angler basically dreams of. Its only when the light gets flat and the sun starts bouncing from the ocean surface and I have to pull my bandana over my face that I catch myself thinking about resting. Soon we will be back on the mother ship and the routine will start again. Routine sucks you in!
The first week back on Providence was no different and went past way too quickly. Before we knew it we were back on Farquhar and welcoming a new group of guests onto the Dugong. There were many familiar faces that greeted us including some Providence veterans from years ago. Sadly at the same time we were also greeted by what turned out to be the beginning of one of the worst weather periods we have ever experienced in the Seychelles. Matt Cousson, the Farquhar head guide also joined the guide team for the week and it was good to have him onboard. The last time I saw him was 4 months ago in Costa Rica. As the week progressed the weather deteriorated progressively. The wind became stronger and intermittent overcast conditions made spotting fish difficult. Despite this the group fished hard and landed some memorable fish. In general it seemed there were fewer GT’s on the flats than the week before. Our suspicions were confirmed at the end of the week when we spotted huge numbers of swimming crabs offshore. They make an easy meal for any game fish and pull a lot of fish from the flats, think of it like a massive hatch going of on your favorite trout stream.
The Confluence Films crew kept the pressure on Tim, Camille and myself us and we couldn’t let the tough conditions get to us. We kept fishing hard and I had some of the most memorable fishing I have ever experienced in the Seychelles. Towards the end of the week the physical fatigue started taking its toll. I walked into the saloon on the second last morning whilst everyone was busy kitting up, Camille was sitting in the corner taking a “power nap”, conserving every ounce of energy. I joined her for a few minutes until it was time for us to get ourselves ready. Little did I know that the day ahead would be one of my best ever in the Seychelles.
We started on the south point of Providence North Island where the film crew needed to get some drone shots. As the tide fell we made our way towards the northeastern edge of the atoll and this is where it all happened. Before we even had the boat in position we could see various shoals of Bumphead Parrotfish tailing on the flat. We radioed the camera boat to stay close to us and headed for a secondary cut close to the surf where we wanted to anchor the tender.
I dropped the anchor and looked back up the flat only to see a shoal of Bumpies steadily feeding in our direction. I grabbed a rod and looked for the camera boat, they were still about a hundred yards out, slowly making their way towards us. The fish kept coming closer. They seemed to move quicker than the camera boat and soon were in casting range. If I didn’t take the shot now they would drift into the tender boat and spook. I made one cast and placed the fly on a sandy patch ahead of the fish. Seconds later the shoal moved over the fly and I could see the lead fish distinctively turning on it’s side to inspect the fly before dipping on it. I set the hook and the shoal took of, heading past the boat towards the surf.
The camera boat arrived and just as they had the camera out the hook pulled and the fish was gone. We could see several other shoals of Bumpies and I was confident that soon I’d have another opportunity at one of these incredible fish. I grabbed my 12# from the boat headed down the edge of the secondary cut. I hadn’t walked 20 yards when I saw two big GT’s rushing onto the flat ahead of me. They went a couple of yards up the flat, turned around and wet back into the cut and disappeared over the turtle grass. I called Tim and we both readied our 12# rods and started heading in the direction of the GT’s. Moments later we spotted them, a shoal of about 30 big fish tailing on the turtlegrass bank like Bonefish. We both started casting and soon hooked up to good size fish. They put up a huge fight in the cool water, when we landed they both measured just over the 100cm mark. What memorable fish and an experience to share with one of my best friends.
That seemed to set the tone for the day, Camille hooked several Bumpies and landed her first one. In fact I think she might have landed more than one, there was so much action I cannot recall al the details. I know Tim also landed a Bumpy and I hooked 6 in total and landed 2 for the day. In-between we caught Triggerfish, Yellow Lipped Emperors and other Grouper species. At the end of the day on the way back to the mother ship I realized that Indian Ocean flats fishing simply doesn’t get any better than what we experienced that day. The prolific fish life and multitude of species truly is a fly anglers paradise and we were blessed to experience it at its best.
Needless to say it is great to be back on Providence Atoll. The sheer diversity of species and the scenarios one finds them in making it a rare rare privilege to share!
We look forward to many more days out there in the future, no doubt leading to countless more stories to tell!