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Lemurs, Chameleons, Cool Frogs & Wet Luggage

April 10-12

Madagascar – Day 11-13

I wish I could tell you that since I signed off on the 9th that we had an on time safe flight to Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar before heading for the jungles, but we didn’t. If you remember, Granny and I were waiting for our flight in a bug infested terminal and some chick nearly got bit by a bat. Then it started raining in the air terminal. Well, from there things went from lousy to horrible. A massive thunderstorm started and went on for at least 2 hours. When I say we experienced torrential rain, I mean the clouds were dumping buckets of water. Our plane ended up being two hours late. Meanwhile, (we didn’t know it) our luggage was outside in the storm getting soaked waiting for the flight to arrive. Then when we finally took off two hours late, our short flight to Antananarivo became an adventure of its own. Our 737 got tossed around as if it was a Cessna in a hurricane and the plane got struck by lightning not once, but three memorable times! So, at 1 AM when we finally arrived in Antananarivo, we were exhausted, beaten and received our two bags completely soaked. Everything we own is drenched. What sucks is, NOTHING DRYS HERE. Oh well, we could be getting snowed on in Victor, Idaho!

Things have been better since the flight. We headed inland to Andisibe National Park. We hired a cool taxi/tour driver that I highly recommend named Jimmy Eliniaina Rabarison (jimmyblume_07@yahoo.fr) and he took us to the park for two days. Jimmy works with the Jenman Safari tour that lined us up at Sakatia Island last week. Anyhow, this isn’t a fish story so I’ll be brief, but you can’t come to Madagascar and not see the lemurs. Lemurs (monkey like creatures but not monkeys) are only found in Madagascar and Andisibe is home to many species of lemur.

On the way to the National Park Jimmy took us to see chameleons at a chameleon refuge. We saw the wild one yesterday at Sakatia, but at this refuge we saw about 20 different species that we could never just find on our own. Some were very well camouflaged by color while other had not only colors like their surroundings but they even looked like leaves, trees branches and even bark. It was unreal and well worth seeing. Chameleons might be one of the coolest looking creatures we’ve ever checked out. Enjoy the photos.

Once at the park we settled in at the Vakona Forest Lodge on the outskirts of Andisibe National Park and spent a day and a half hiking and checking out lemurs. We saw five different species including the Indri Indri’s the rarest and largest of all lemurs. Getting to see them is lucky. We weren’t just lucky but we got close to a group of four and as they navigated the trees above we stumbled through the jungle below and enjoyed them for over an hour before they vanished into the rainforest. Before this experience happened I would have told you seeing lemurs was no big deal, but this experience with the Indri Indri’s was spectacular. Absolutely memorable!

We’ve since traveled back to Antananarivo and staying at the IC Hotel a few blocks from the airport. First thing in the morning we begin the final leg of our Madagascar trip, true relaxation at Isle St Marie. Look on the north east side of Madagascar for a sliver of an island. Talk about being in the middle of nowhere, this should be it. And geographically, it should be great fishing.

Last Day at Sakatia Island

April 9, 2011

Madagascar – Day 10

We told Frankie our flight didn’t leave Nose Be until 7:45 PM tonight, yet at 4:30 AM this morning he woke us up in frenzy. “The flight to Johannesburg is at 7:45 AM not PM!” he shouted. At first I was really disoriented, remember its 4:30 AM. Where was I? What the heck was going on? Then I snapped to and said, “We’re not going to South Africa. We are going to Antananarivo”, I shouted back. All Frankie said was, “I’m so sorry. Please go back to sleep”.

That was a tough way to start the second day of relaxation. As you probably guessed, I couldn’t get back to sleep and felt lousy most of the day. And for that reason, today we really didn’t do much. However, to redeem himself, when Granny and I finally wandered up to the porch for coffee, Frankie offered a surprise. He had our first chameleon of the trip spotted for us to enjoy. Seeing a chameleon this trip was one of our goals, and it was done. And he was worth every bit of being a goal. This chameleon was the coolest lizard type thing I’ve ever laid eyes on. And as once again I caught up on my journal, looked at some of my photos and drank cokes, I checked on the chameleon at least ten times throughout the day. It was great!

At about 1 the crew served Granny our last Sakatia meal, a great lunch and I used my new energy to fish the last two hours before we had to leave. This was my third crack off the rocks by camp. Each time I scraped up only a small fish or two so I wasn’t expecting much. The tide was low but rising. On my first cast I landed a small snapper like the one the other day. I’m pretty sure it’s called the onespot snapper. Then I had some small fish follow but my fly was too big. I came up with a great idea; trail a tiny size 10 shrimp I use for boxfish in Belize behind my size 2 Clouser. Why not? We fish two flies for trout. On my very next cast I landed what I believe is a blackspot emperor fish AND a leatherback! A double in the ocean! Two minutes later (I am not kidding) I landed another double! This time it was a chocolate hind (grouper family) and a sand lizardfish.

The fish were feeding and I was really making the best of it. But that came to an abrupt painful end because as I caught one more chocolate hind I slipped and fell on the razor sharp rocks. The body did not feel good. At first I thought I busted my ankle. It hurt like heck and was stuck all deform-angled between two rocks. I worked it loose and despite the throb the toes all wiggled just fine. It was just a scrape on the tough skin of the side of my foot. Once I realized where that pain came from and I’d be fine I noticed blood all over my right hand and that my yellow sharkskin line was turning red. I sliced the tip of my index finger on the oyster shell covered rocks. Luckily the wound was small-lots of blood but nothing to freak over. Regardless of no serious injury I was done. My ankle ached, my finger was bleeding and it was almost time to pack up anyway. I called it.

At 5 PM we said goodbye to our crew and took a boat from Sakatia Towers back to Nose Be, Island. Then we taxied to the airport where we are presently waiting to fly to the capital of Madagascar, Antananarivo (Tana). We will stay in Tana tonight but leave early in the morning for our next adventure.

As I type, we are in the most bug infested airport imaginable. It’s like a horror movie and the geckos are the size of Komodo Dragons! There are people swatting bugs like it’s a war. But what just made our misery all worth it was, a minute ago a bat flew in here and cracked his head on the widow. I like bats, that part made me sad. However, he fell to the floor and started hopping his way along, it looked awful. The lady closest freaked and ran out of here while most every one else just watched in shock. Then, to our disbelief, some lady started crawling on the floor trying to catch it with her bare hands! Yes her bare hands! She was crawling under seats and over roaches, beetles, ants, and all kinds of crazy insects. Then she got the bat, but dropped it just as he tried to bite her. What an idiot! I love travelling!

Rainforest rain is starting to fall and blowing into this shabby terminal. Time to turn out the computer.

Stay tuned!

Fly Casting for Kingfish

April 7, 2011

Madagascar – Day 8

I literally lit up my computer here to type away at today’s blog and an obnoxious cockroach that was obviously attracted to the light blocked out the screen! Yikes! It would have been worth it if only he hissed as I swatted him away. Shucks!
Anyway, there’s not much to write about today. On George’s advice we dedicated the morning to fly fishing for kingfish. A kingfish is what most of the world refers to as “trevally”. In many parts of the Indian Ocean, particularly South Africa, Mozambique and apparently Madagascar; they call all the trevally a “kingfish”. And a king he is. I can contest to that because in 1996 I landed a 90lber on Paris Flats in Christmas Island. Luckily, on that day I was specifically targeting them so I was using a Ross 12-weight. Had I not been, I would never, never, never had even a remote chance. They are extremely powerful fish. (Now every bug of night is attacking my headlamp. This will be very fast.)

We hit about four of Georges favorite trevally spots. All were rocky islands with beautiful coral reef and strong tidal currents. I got tossed around pretty good launching casts first with big poppers, then big streamers and then finally dredging with heavy Warpath Jig flies. Not only did I not see a fish. Not even a follow. George and his mate were dragging a live sardine suspended behind the boat while jigging bottom with bait and all they caught were two little groupers like the one in the picture – absolutely gorgeous. I wish I could have nailed one of those on the fly. But fishing was truly SLOW. The sea can definitely go quiet on you. Tides change. Weather, which has been beautiful, can also change in ways we don’t notice such as wind and barometric pressure.

Unfortunately we fished for trevally unsuccessfully all the way till about 1 PM. Our original plan was to go till noon then bottom fish like we did yesterday but time slipped away. We then began the slow trip home hunting for birds and tuna. We found a school of feasting yellowfin right away and Granny got one good cast to them without a strike and we never saw them again. We travelled slowly for over an hour before finding our next flock of diving birds. This time there were frigate tuna everywhere and Granny and I each picked up a mere one. Then they were gone. There must be plenty of natural food in the water and they just wouldn’t eat our flies. In fact, one tuna puked up an assortment of foods from tropical fish to baby squids. Well, at least we didn’t get skunked and have Carpaccio again for appetizers for us and the crew at camp!

Today was our last fishing with George. George was a real treat to fish with. It’s hard to know if you are hiring the right guy when visiting a remote country like Madagascar but we lucked out. Not only was George very knowledgeable of where the fish live in his waters but he was a great guy with a lot of fun ideas to make our days enjoyable. I’d recommend George to anyone wanting to fly fish in Madagascar.

Damn! The cockroach just spun out in my beer glass. It’s time to turn off this headlamp and enjoy a cold one in a new glass with the Carpaccio and Granny and the staff. We don’t need to get up early in the morning so time to have some fun. Tomorrow we are chilling out as they say. That’s tough for me to do so we’ll see. I’m sure I’ll fish from the shore here and do some snorkeling. The snorkeling is supposed to be some of the best in the world.

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing Website

One Flight Left

We are about done with our 18 hour layover here in Johannesburg, South Africa. It’s a complete flip – flop in time zones so we slept fair at best. I woke up around 4 a.m. and sucked coffee and managed my Fantasy Baseball Teams. Looks like the Chicago Cubs already lost one. Rats! Then I hit the gym here at our hotel and struggled through a work out. It’s tough to do anything after a 15 hour flight but I feel better from it. Now its time to head back to the airport and find our flight to Nosy Be, Madagascar. We get off that plane about 7 p.m. Madagascar time. I doubt I’ll have email access but you just have to check. The next definite entry will be around the April 9th. Until then, hopefully we will be catching fish and meeting our goals.

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing Website

Wow Long Flight. . . Easy on the Ambien

 

You could say we were a little surprised this morning when we woke to the wheels touching down in Syria. We got on the wrong flight last night! No water. No fishing. And no fun at all! Just kidding. Happy April Fools !!!!!!!

Actually we’re in South Africa. We’re more that 3/4th the way to Nose Be, Madagascar. It was exactly 29 hours from Victor, Idaho to Tambo Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa. This is the third time Granny and I have passed through here in route to other countries in Africa, but it is the first time we ever had to overnight here.

Only a few years ago we would have sprawled out in a dark corner in the airport. But being this is our anniversary we opted to taxi to the Protea Hotel in Johannesburg. Of course we are exhausted and jetlagged but I insist we head out and check out the town. Who knows when we’ll be in Joberg again? So we are drinking SF beers and watching the Chicago Cubs game on my computer.

Does life get any better???

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing Website

Going, Going, Gone to Madagascar!

 

Opening day of baseball is one of my favorite days. My Fantasy teams (all three) are ready to rock. The Cubs are still contenders and life is great. But this opener is more special than ever, Granny and I are on our way to Madagascar to celebrate our 20th anniversary. How did she do it!
Yes indeed this is a fishing trip. Is there anything else? We chose Madagascar because from what I saw on web images, there are some of the most exotic looking palm covered beaches I’ve ever seen. Furthermore and most important, I Google Earthed the place and noted that the surrounding waters look to consist of flats, coral reef, channels and plenty of blue water. It looks absolutely incredible for fly fishing! And being that this tropical island is less than 1000 miles from the ever so famous saltwater fly fishing waters of the Seychelles, this could be epic!
If we travel this far, why not just go to the Seychelles? Well, it’s as simple. The Seychelles fishing packages are super expensive and winging it like Granny and I often do, is next to impossible. Madagascar however is cheap and it appears you can wing it. So off we go.
The bad news is however, research on the internet has not been all that promising. Although the blue water fishing for marlin is first class, the inshore fisheries where we can fish on our own may be dismal. The only reports we found (and very few) were that all water you can walk to has been virtually fished out. Not good news for us. However, we aren’t scared. Sometimes places get bad rap from anglers just because they don’t have the “popular game fish” such as bonefish. It can be like; an angler says his fishing stinks near his home because there’s no trout. Yet this very angler has a trophy bass lake a block from his house. Anglers can be pretty stupid sometimes.
We’ll see. I’m not too worried about catching some fish and having a great time. Our goals are feasible. Granny and I both need to see that famous cool-as-heck-rotating-eyed Chameleon. We’d like to see some lemurs. And if we’re lucky some bad-ass snakes. We also need to get some rest. A winter of constant work, shows, travel and a postponed Brazil trip have taken its toll.
Most important to me however, I want to catch five new species on the fly. I’d love one of them to be a milkfish, an Indian Ocean triggerfish or a dogtooth tuna. The other four species can be anything cool from a small colorful grouper to a new trevally species. I’d also like to get some killer photos and come home with another great PowerPoint presentation to take on the road with me next season. That’s about it.
Granny and I said goodbye to the snow at 4 AM this morning. We drove over Teton Pass and flew from Jackson, Wyoming to Salt Lake City and now we are headed to Atlanta. We have a four hour layover and tonight we board the 15 hour flight to Johannesburg, South Africa. We will overnight in Joburg then Saturday fly to Nose Be, Madagascar which is a small island on the North West side of the main island of Madagascar. From there the plan is to catch a boat for a tiny island called Sakatia and there’s a bed and breakfast type place that we will base out of for a week. From there we plan to head to the mainland and take in a National Park. Then to an island of Madagascar’s east side called Isle St. Marie. Whether I have internet access along the way is unknown. However, stay tuned. I will write about every day of the trip and post them when I can. Like other journeys that many of you have followed before, every day will e accounted for even if I have to post some when I get home.
The “Currier’s Blog” is back on track!
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