St Brandon’s Blog: 11 – 21 Oct 2016

for-craig_2The third group of clients arrived on Raphael Island after a relatively smooth crossing. It was a pleasure to host Tony Hayes and Shaun McCain from Tongariro River Lodge on the North Island of New Zealand, and Matt McHugh and Toby Clarke from Fly Odyssey Travel. They had all been traveling for the better part of 2 days to get to the atoll so they were relieved to finally be on St. Brandon’s and to have a good rest ahead of the action packed week of fishing to come.

img_5295The first day started off in textbook St Brandon’s fashion and the reason why this atoll is rightly regarded as the finest Bonefish destination on the planet. We enjoyed some great skinny water Bonefishing to start off the day, many fish landed during the early morning low tide period. Our first Indo-Pacific Permit was also hooked by Tony Hayes who fought it perfectly only for the hook to pull a few agonizing feet from the net. As the tide pushed we went off in search of some ‘big nasty’s”, our plans working out perfectly with Tony getting a shot at a massive GT hugging a sand spit. His cast was spot on and after 3 long strips the fish ate his tan Semper and tore off into the lagoon. The fish pulled with incredible speed and power to the point where his fly line snapped. A sickening result but a reminder as to why fishing for trophy GT’s is not for the faint hearted. The rest of the day went to plan as the Bluefin Trevally were out in huge number smashing baitfish at will. Matt McHugh landed a solid 73cm fish and Shaun McCain also landed two very big Bluefin, one of 81cm and one of 82cm. Tony then got his own back by landing a stunning 83cm Bluefin that was wreaking havoc on a school of small mullet.

imgp1026The Bonefish proved to be slightly tougher on Day 2 with the bigger fish slightly cautious out on the flats. The great Bluefin fishing however continued and a number of big fish came to hand. Matt McHugh caught the biggest fish of the day with a huge Bluefin weighing in at 17lbs. The fish did not hesitate when it saw his articulated popper and took the fly with a gentle sip. Matt had to fight the fish very carefully due to the lighter leader used to trick the fish into eating, not to mention the mine field of coral around where it was hooked. The fish of the day however undoubtedly belonged to Tony Hayes, who after the disappointment of losing an Indo-Pacific Permit the previous day, landed a stunning 15lb Indo-Pacific Permit that was tailing on a coral ridge. After a grueling 37minute fight Tony kept his nerve and the fish slid into Brendan’s net. The huge sense of relief was quickly eclipsed by ecstatic celebration and congratulations from all involved. It is truly a fish of a lifetime and a fitting way to get your own back on the tricky St. Brandon’s Permit!

img_5614Some superb Bonefishing resumed on Day 3, with all the clients all enjoying picking silver targets in ankle-deep water during our morning session. A number of good fish came to hand, the average around 6lbs. Along with the many Bonefish landed there were a few big Bluefin around, the guys managing to get a few to eat a well presented fly. Some big GT’s were also sighted but unfortunately the stars didn’t align and we never connected.

Day 4 was dominated by more epic skinny water Bonefishing and multiple shots at Permit …..we will leave it at that!

for-craig_5The awesome Bonefishing continued into Day 5 with Tony Hayes and Matt McHugh both landing very respectable 8lb fish. Many fish could be seen tailing across the flats and all the guys enjoyed picking individual fish to cast at. The Bluefin Trevally were out once again and although they seemed to be much more picky when it came to eating a fly, Shaun did manage to land a 70cm Bluefin that was once again smashing schools of mullet.

imgp4834Good numbers of Bones were landed on Day 6, however the day belonged to the monster GT’s St Brandon’s has to offer. Sighting and opportunities presented themselves throughout and the day and although on the scorecard we did not make much of an impact it was a thoroughly thrilling day hunting down the alpha predators of the atoll. The Permit too were around in solid numbers and despite Matt McHugh hooking into one of the yellow tailed devils, the hook lost purchase and the fish swam away %$#^$%^%#$^! The Golden Trevally were also out, our guests landing 5 in the day and together with Shaun huge10lb Yellow Dot Trevally we wrapped up another thrilling day out on the flats.

for-craig_4Day 7 and Day 8 provided great Bonefishing as per usual, Shaun McCain land his personal best Bonefish with gorgeous a 9,5lbs specimen coming to the net and being weighed. In addition we had numerous opportunities at Permit throughout the two days but ultimately the fish had the final say.
All in all a very enjoyable trip with some incredible fishing. The blog probably does not do it justice, but how do you describe Bonefishing of this caliber week in and week out without getting slightly numb to it. Quite simply we are spoilt rotten! We would like to thank Tony, Toby, Shaun and Matt for joining us on St. Brandon’s for a very memorable trip and look forward to seeing them back out on the atoll with us in the foreseeable future.

Until next time

The St. Brandon’s Guide Team

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