The paradisaical beauty of these islands has long remained unknown since their discovery by Vasco de Gama in 1502. Only two and a half centuries after it was first colonized by the French, and then by the British. Their isolation has favored the preservation of an impressive natural environment, where marine life is absolutely not an exception.
Known worldwide as a heavenly place with white beaches and turquoise waters, the Seychelles are a group of 115 islands situated in the middle of the Indian Ocean about 800 miles north of Madagascar and about 1,500 miles out of the African coast. In this archipelago, it is usual to distinguish two main groups of islands: the Inner and Outer Islands.
The first are granitic and near Mahé, the biggest island located in Victoria, the world’s smallest capital. The most popular inner islands are Praslin, La Digue, Silohuette, Felicite, Curieuse, and many others known for commercials spots or as a setting for several films. At a distance of between 150 and 400 miles south-west, the Outer Islands rise with coral nature and are very different from the inner ones.
The Seychelles, once French and then British colonies, because of their history are a real mix of races, traditions and tastes, that they themselves called the “Creole style”. Seychelles is not just a place full of incredible natural heritage, but also a piece of land rich in history and tradition, in which the local government invests its foresight significantly on tourism. This is the main business of the country, where people are educated from childhood to hospitality, and understand and respect the conservation of resources. Despite the proximity of two very poor continents, Seychelles shows a stunning cleanliness as well a very good level of security, for example going out on the street at night with a camera on your shoulder would be not a problem, and it shows everywhere that there is respect for its enviable resources.
Giving a look at the map and reading a few reports of the French magazines a few months ago, I thought that these beautiful islands could be a paradise not only for couples on honeymoon but also for an intriguing journey looking for strong fishing emotions, and so I decided to pack my rods again.
Different islands, different techniques
In Seychelles, except for some protected areas, you can practice any fishing technique from fly-fishing in the flats and lagoons, to the spinning on the reef, the vertical jigging and trolling on the drop off. Also outside the reef, especially after sunset, there are several species of sharks that you can catch with bottom fishing at night. The engaging of exciting fights with real giants of the sea is first rate, but it is always good to release most of the fish you catch, because it is greatly appreciated from the locals and the Institute for Tourism. If it is true that you can practice all the techniques mentioned, it is also true that you can often not do them all in the same place (island) because of the shape of the seabed bathymetric and, as mentioned earlier for the characteristics of the island (granitic or coralline). For example, the extreme popping for GT and dogtooth tuna, the Farquart and Cosmoledo islands are renowned, whilst for fly-fishing; Desroches and Alphonse are probability the best; even also some of the Inner Islands are very good spots for fly-fishing. For vertical jigging and trolling you should try some good drops and usually the most interesting places are the ones that are located near the continental shelf. In the Inner Islands, there is in fact a granite plateau which remains constant between 25 and 35 meters, where there are no coral reefs and great leaps of bathymetric, so they present a very interesting fauna for diving, fly-fishing and light spinning from the shore or boat, but are not ideal for big game and other extreme techniques. However, even in this area there are good fishing opportunities around Silhouette, Bird and North Island where the bottom slopes are more abundant of big pelagic fishes.
The Outer Islands are a paradise for fishing for both their distance from the drop-off from the continent, and especially their reef matrix. Some of these are almost uninhabited and are the refuge of other fly- fishers, who have made a world almost exclusively for them. However, when they have a boat on site and are able to move from Mahe preferably by plane (the distances are considerable, and 150/400 miles is a lot, especially in the ocean where you take a cruise speed of between 8 and 12 miles), the possibilities are many and the only thing you need to worry about is to choose a good captain (although at this point, I noticed that there is professionalism and timely service by insiders). Having little time available, we had chosen a “wild” trip that was organized by the local tourism body, which put us in contact with Bluewater charters (www. bluewatercharter.sc). A beautiful Riviera 42 fully equipped for deep sea fishing has now become our home for a long time. Living abroad and having Platte Island as our destination, a coral island 80 miles south of Mahe, in the middle of nowhere, the charts show a strip of land of approximately 0.54 km2, which is the summit of a incredible underwater mountain range where in less than a mile you can grows from 35m to 1800m. Ile Platte (5 ° 52 ‘0 “S, 55 ° 24’ 0” E), together with Coëtivy Island, which forms a part of the Southern Coral Group is the most southern islands of Seychelles.
Fishing & Techniques
Techniques will be more profitable in this area, given the characteristics of the seabed; this is essentially for surface trolling and vertical jigging. With regards to the trolling, most captains fish with 6 to 8 rods, generally using 50 pounds with reels that are in proportion, while on the outrigger some opt for the 80 pounds, thus leaving the outer two baits that in theory are reserved for Marlin. Blue and Black marlin are well represented and, together with large yellow fin tuna and tailfish, are the most targeted by the captains. However, this portion of the Indian Ocean gives much satisfaction also with medium-size fish: trolling on the drop off, you can catch wahoo, dogtooth tuna, barracuda, jobfish, mahi-mahi, skipjack, rainbow runner and other pelagic that often offer double and triple strikes at the same time.
Vertical jigging range of possible prey is enormous; it could range from black jack and giant trevally to several species of snapper and grouper. Among the most popular prey, tuna are definitely among the most militant, as skippers give them a lot of respect while doing a full catch and release. As far as equipment goes, recommended was a 50 Lbs coupled with a Stella 20000 or another reel that has good drag and power, as well a good recovery ratio. With regards to the line, we have used braided; from 50 to 80 pounds, with a final nylon or fluorocarbon of a few meters. The classical solution is a dubbing with a Bimini twist, or a Bristol Palomar knot to connect the loop to the leader, but if you want to take away the pain a truly interesting solution is a wind-on leader. These, similar to those used for other techniques such as fly-fishing or trolling offshore, are already pre-terminal leaders with one end providing a slot formed in Kevlar which makes a loop-to-loop doubling of the Bimini twist and then you have a terminal nearly free of knots. This gives a lot of confidence in fishing with double-extra large prey. Among the wind-on there are different types; very interesting ones of Sufix, produced in different weights from 30 to 150 lbs (Recommended for the VJ tropical in the 80/100 and 120/150 for “extreme” cases) is nylon fluorocarbon. Among the jigs that have worked best, certainly the most hydrodynamic long jigs, given the strong current often found on the drop-off and a few shorts, are always very popular with benthic fish.
A problem of fishing on the drop-off may be the presence of shark which results to bring up only the head of the fish hooked or anything. When the situation becomes unsustainable, it is better to change your spot or try to jig “higher” in the water column, perhaps focusing on pelagics. However, the abundant presence of sharks can be a very interesting diversion in this corner of the Indian Ocean. The shark fishing at night is truly exciting, and to think that the species captured are so many; lemon shark, the white-tip shark, black-tip, tiger, nurse, hammer, etc. The technique is normally anchoring to the bottom and fishing, with 80 lb strong rods, hooks specially made for these predators, and ends made of sturdy steel cables. When natural baits are used with preference for steaks and heads to trigger in large mouthfuls, among the best bait is fish rather than fat. Some captains recommended to set it a bit in the sun because they become very fetid, stinking and then more priming because these fish have highly developed olfactory receptors. Even for these giants of the sea, little or no commercial value (although shark–fin gathering is widespread even here for trade with Eastern countries), it is always good, after taking pictures of course, to release these beautiful animals.
Although fishing is really exciting, it would be a shame to go to Seychelles and not visit some places that are considered unique in the world. For example, the island of Curieuse, there is a veritable oasis of giant tortoises of Aldabra (Dipsochelys elephantina), who only live here and the Galapagos (although they are two different species and those of Seychelles are slightly larger), animals that can exceed three hundred kilos in weight and overcome two hundred years of age. Another interesting destination, a few miles from Curieuse is the Coco Marine Reserves, where you can snorkel among colorful fish and play together with sea turtles. Finally, another “must” to visit is the Vallee de Mai on Praslin which was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. The uniqueness of this place is the presence of the Coco de Mer, a palm tree that reaches 40 feet tall and over 800 years, producing a knob of enormous size, the shape of the fruit resembles the lower half of a woman’s body and without the support of a floating hull this actually prevents the natural spread of the seeds (the largest in the world) between the islands. The Coco de Mer is native to this island only.
Tips & Getting There
The Seychelles is easily reachable with the island’s national airline, Air Seychelles (www.airseychelles.it), which serves direct flights on Mahe. From Mahé it is possible to move between islands either by boat or by air to the Outer Islands. Although considered a typical holiday honeymoon destination, Seychelles has in recent years pursued a political interest aimed at drawing visitors and tourists of different categories, from backpackers, students, families and also top level businessmen and provide excellent accommodation but within reasonable prices (we are talking about 50-60 euros up, depending on your needs). The advice is also to have a look to at the excellent website of the TB Seychelles (www.seychelles.com), where they recommend, in addition to all destinations, highlights of all tourist facilities and above all, a charter dealing with sport fishing, depending on the type of fishing you want to do and your destination.
Published in July 2012