I wasn’t the only one on this trip who came with a fish species catching goal. Ed was determined to catch a bonefish. In the two previous exploratory trips to the Nubian Flats a few bonefish were seen and Rob caught one. But the boys of Tourette Fishing would like to see more to help promote this amazing fishery. As for me, today was dedicated to the triggers.
This morning was glassy calm. Calm sounds great to the inexperienced flats fly fishers but the truth is flats fish are always spooky and when it’s calm they’re ten times worse. This area in particular has numerous ospreys hunting the flats so we were at a disadvantage before our first cast.
Ed and I each worked to triggers in the early hours. Despite being calm I had an eat immediately but once again the hook pulled. I changed flies several times, not to choose better patterns but rather I was picking through my flies for the sharpest hooks. But all I managed to keep on was this strange camouflaged stocky hawkfish (Cirrhitus pinnulatus).
The flats went dead just as our light became perfect. We could see a mile and there was absolutely no sign of a fish. Ed and I realized our only hope to catch fish was teasing. Despite being calm, the waves from the bluewater were treacherous. We both reluctantly eased our way to where we could go into action.
Right away we brought in some giant trevally of a lifetime. Seriously, three buses came in on five straight teases. All were over 50lbs and one was black – a color phase trevally often take on. Any of them would have been all my 12-weight Winston could have handled. Unfortunately these monsters didn’t get huge by accident. Soon it was lunch time and a basically fishless morning was behind us.
In the afternoon Ed and I got dropped off at a new flat and I was on a yellowmargin trigger in a minute. I cast to him and he came charging. There was no doubt he was going to eat my fly and eat it good. Then, out the corner of my eye another darting shadow appeared and attacked my fly before the triggerfish. This fish took nearly all my new SharkWave line before he stopped and let me fight him back. I landed a respectable orangespotted trevally.
By now Ed was off on the other end of the flat poised like he was on fish. Between us another triggerfish tail emerged. I crept into position and dropped a cast with my crab. This trigger also charged my fly and ate it and I crossed his eyes. So I thought. Would you believe after one run he came unbuttoned? Frustrating! Too many opportunities blown.
Indeed Ed was on some fish. Just as I was cringing in defeat Ed yelled, “Bonefish on!” I reeled in as fast as I could and worked my way to him. I could tell by the runs he had a bonefish alright. “Take your time man – I’m on my way!” I shouted back. By the time I got there Ed caught his first Nubian Flats bonefish on the fly.
With Ed’s goal taken care of, now it was my turn. Everyone has menacing fish that no matter how easy or how hard the species is, they just can’t land one. I was beginning to think the triggerfish of the Indian Ocean might be one of mine. I had three more chances at triggers during the next hour but they either ignored the fly or I spooked them. I can’t explain how bummed I was. I kept trying.
There was about an hour left. Tomorrow we leave this place. Sure, there will probably be more triggerfish wherever we end up, but what if there aren’t? There weren’t many the first two days. I had to get one now.
There weren’t many fish tailing anymore. Ed and I had worked this flat heavily. Just as I was losing hope I spotted one more. He was in deeper water and although he was tailing he wasn’t breaking the surface. He was very hard to see and I felt like I had a fresh contestant. I did. I made one cast and the fish came charging only this time I connected. The yellowmargin trigger went screaming into the backing then he ran himself into a heap of algae. Sometimes this can work to the fish’s advantage and they get the fly loose, but this time it stuck. I took my time and beached my first Indian Ocean triggerfish.
After knocking off a few hero shots with Ed I looked down the beach. I wasn’t even on my feet yet and I thought I saw the largest triggerfish tail in the ocean. It looked gymormous! The strange figure was near the beach but in an area of deeper water off the flat. Ed headed back out to the flat I crept down the beach.
The closer I got the more curious the protruding creature became. It wasn’t a tail – or if it was, it was a huge fish and not a triggerfish. By the time I got to the area it stopped but there was a heap of mud. Naturally I dropped my fly in the area in hopes of something. Then I saw it – the dugong! One of the rarest mammals on earth was only a few feet away. I froze and the dugong swam right to me and ate algae by my feet. He was at least 8 feet long and I’ll guess him over 500lbs. It was actually a little concerning having him that close to me. At first I didn’t see any difference between him and a manatee. But then I saw his tail. The dugong’s tail was forked like that of a dolphin where as the manatees are round. Dugongs are also entirely ocean dwelling which the manatees are not. The pic is the best I could get!
Another spectacular day in Sudan is gone and only two more days left. Tonight we stuffed ourselves with fresh lobsters and crab. Time flies when you’re having fun. We move in the morning so the new waters should be exciting.