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You might come here for the fabulous fly fishing for bonefish, but you’ll leave with GT fever. Four degrees south of the equator, a thousand miles from nowhere, deep in the azure waters of the Indian Ocean, I finally set foot upon the Seychelles Islands.
During the past few years, friends filled my ears about their spectacular trips here with stories of release after release of bonefish from morning to night. As a Miamian with a decided passion for fly fishing the flats, all those stories resonated in my head until I could resist no more. But I quickly learned that bonefish represent only one target species in these enchanted isles, and not the most popular at that.
The Seychelles Islands consists of 115 granite and coral islands – 41 inner granite islands and 74 outer coral reef atolls and islets – situated north of Madagascar off the east African coast in the western Indian Ocean. Mahé, the main island with the only international airport, measures 13 miles long and three miles wide with a mountainous interior surrounded by over 70 beautiful tropical beaches. The capital city of Victoria offers an abundance of fine hotels and restaurants.
First listed on charts in 1506 by Portuguese explorer Fernando Soares as the “Seven Sisters,” the Seychelles (pronounced “say shells”) appeared to be so insignificant that when the British ships Ascension and Good Hope arrived at Mahé in 1609, they didn’t even stake a claim to the island chain. In 1756, the king of France claimed the islands and named Mahé the Isle Seychelles. Skirmishing over the islands continued between the French and British for centuries, but in 1976 the Seychelles became independent. Today’s population represents a mix of descendants of French and British settlers, African slaves and probably a few pirates.
Rather than staying in a hotel on one of the islands, I opted to try a mother ship operation through Flycastaway Outfitters in Johannesburg, South Africa. Flycastaway offers four mother ships from November through mid-April that can each accommodate 10 anglers per week at either Cosmoledo or Providence Atoll.
I chose to stay aboard the 115-foot schooner Sea Pearl at Providence Atoll, spending a remarkably adventurous time with co-owner Arno Matthee, who also served as one of our guides.
Being new to the Seychelles – and the only American in the group – I especially wanted to immediately prove my mettle by catching some big ones. However, I quickly learned that tidal stages dictate what you fish for at a particular time. For example, you won’t find giant trevally on the higher tides and, being present this trip during a full-moon phase with dead lows each day around noon, when the flats go dry, the fishing of course shuts down. So, we’d fish early in the mornings and late in the afternoons, trusting the guides to know where to go.