I had a mediocre sleep in cabin 4 of the Maya’s Dugong. I’m a poor sleeper in life and especially when there are fish to catch. At 4:50 AM I couldn’t toss anymore. I headed upstairs to the back of the boat with my 12-weight Winston and fed out a huge Clouser on my 700 GR Sonar Big Water Taper Max Sink. At sunrise, as head guide Matt Cosson arrived to brush his teeth, I battled this small giant trevally hooked in the side!
After a 7 AM breakfast our first guided day for my long awaited Yellow Dog Host Trip to Farquhar began. Guides organized their boats and pulled to the side of the Maya’s Dugong. My guests loaded in with heaps of fly rods and fish catching expectations. There was a buzz in the air.
Todays fishing began at the peak of high tide. Instead of wrestling high water on the flats all of us fly fished for sailfish for an hour. Each boat raised at least one. Sammy got an excellent shot at this one. The fish came in so hot he swam right to the motor. Sammy got him to eat the big pink and white sailfish fly but couldn’t connect. Sails are trickier to hook than you might think.
Our guide was 22-year-old Justin Rollinson. Justin, a South African, wasn’t here in 2014 so it’s the first time we’ve met. Like every one of the Farquhar/FlyCastaway guides, Justin was excellent. Before a fly hit the water, he gave us a rundown about safety then our fishing itinerary for the day based on tides and conditions. This rundown is something I wish all guides gave because it helps me as the angler to be prepared as well.
At 9 AM we left the bluewater to walk the flats. Most fishing at Farquhar is done wading. I have lots of flats experience so I let Sammy and Justin head out then I lagged behind and walked a slightly different line. There were quite a few tailing triggerfish right off the bat.
I love the hunt and although my eyes aren’t tuned like the guides that do this daily I can spot enough fish to keep me out of trouble. The first tailing fish I cast to was this handsome and colorful blue spangled emperor fish.
Most the tailing fish I saw were emperors. I cast to a few triggers but they were ridiculously spooky and never flinched for my fly. I picked up a few random fish including a species of wrasse that none of us can identify tonight even with the fish book. He’s colorful and although most of us thought it to be an immature Napoleon wrasse, Matt saw a much larger of these recently. If anyone can help here please shoot me a note. I would greatly appreciate getting this species correct on my list.
Fish identified as a floral wrasse (Cheilinus chlorourus). Thanks Damien Brouste!
While Sammy and Justin meandered a mile down the flat I kept my slow pace investigating more than the ever so common species of the flat. That’s when I noticed a school of bumphead parrotfish (bumpies) moving from the surf to the flats. Within a minute, they settled raising their enormous green and brown broom size tails.
Catching two bumpies changed me last trip. I love this underrated game fish of the flats. It was time to get serious. My heart jumped a few beats. I wanted another and went into an unexplainable focus. I tied on an orange crab then crept like a cat to get close to them. Though shaking from the thrill, I placed a perfect cast. The best technique is a sidearm cast so your crab lands soft rather than with a big splat that often spooks a flats fish.
Bumpies aren’t known as easy to fool but the situation was made to be. A bumpy from the middle of the pack waltzed over to my fly. He tailed and I gently pulled. I could tell from his movement he had it in his mouth and sure enough I went tight. You don’t set. Instead I let him take about five feet of line then I pinched my line tight. No need to set here because actually you want the fly to pull out of his beak like mouth and catch safely outside the teeth in the corner of the mouth. Easier said than done but when it happens – boy do they run!
The fight from a bumphead parrotfish is no less than terrifying. They don’t look like they’d be fighters when seen wallowing across a flat, but trust me, they take off like a train and if you don’t stop them they break you off in the coral. It takes guts to try to stop them. I was using my 9-weight and when I locked up my Bauer Reel my Winston was bent from tip to cork, stressed to its maximum. You better have a good rod or it will shatter for sure!
I’ve had much practice either stopping fish or losing them. As I get older I prefer to catch them so I put the cahoots on this bumphead. He pulled me from my feet a few times but fortunately me and my rod hung in there and we broke the funny looking fishes spirit. To the delight of me and Justin, the first bumpy of Farquhar since the cyclone has been caught.
After some serious photographing, we released the big bumphead unharmed. They squeak when you hold them forcing you to feel bad. We did our pics as quick and painless as possible then I watched my big boy return to his friends. A lesson learned I’m sure – don’t eat orange crabs!
The rest of our day involved Sam chasing bumpies with the help of Justin. The big blue green fish were everywhere. But it was reality check, no doubt I’d been lucky. Almost every bumpy school Sammy cast to spooked. It was tough and it turns out fishing for bumpies was tough for everyone today.
The day result for my group as a whole was fair at best. There were no GT’s caught which is unusual. In fact, few were seen. But there were lots of nice bonefish caught and the folks had their opportunities for bumpies and triggerfish. The most unique catch of the day was this golden puffer fish by Lance. They basically spooked the funny fish and he inflated. He refused to deflate in their presence so they photographed him for fun. Yes, this picture is real!
The nice thing about a slow fishing day when your living off the Maya’s Dugong is that when the guides are done fishing doesn’t mean you’re done. After dinner, we dredged heavy flies on sinking lines from the back of the boat. All kinds of havoc took place with bigeye trevally and baby dogtooth tuna being most of the action. But there were several fish we lost before seeing. Here I am struggling to hang on to one of the escapes.
One of the best catches was Sammy and this bohar (two spot red snapper). These snappers grab a fly with a burst of speed back to bottom that until you experience it can’t be explained. This beast should not have been landed because he got Sam stuck on bottom. However, guide Peter saved the day and slowly pressured the toothy fish from the rocks 80feet below the boat.
The food is good on the boat and the staff here is excellent. I’m afraid dinner and a couple beers has settled in and I’m heading for bed. The first day may have been tough on most my folks but soon they will learn, here it only takes one fish. Their fish will come but patience is a virtue. We must also keep in mind this was the first day. Day one is the tune up. I suspect tomorrows results will be better for everyone.
The Seychelles are truly one of the great saltwater fly fishing destinations left in the world. To learn more or even better, join me on my next trip here, contact me or Yellow Dog Flyfishing Adventures!