I enjoyed a deep sleep under the stars chilled by a cool Red Sea and Sahara Desert breeze. Our boat the Scuba Libre was parked close to mainland Sudan last night. So close I was awoken to the call to prayer from a mosque in a distant village. The morning was colder than any I remember from last year and the wind was already up.
After breakfast Mike and I headed fishing with Mark. We rode the panga an hour over bumpy seas to a long mountainous island approximately five miles long and a mile wide. From the island we were in sight of the amazing Sudan landscape. There’s no saltwater fly fishing venue like this.
Our boatman dropped us off on the edge of a flat and anchored. He waits for us all day. Mark radios him when we’re ready for lunch and again at the end of the day when its time to return to Scuba Libre. To start our fishing Mark and Mike walked along the beach to fish the narrow flat while I lingered behind prowling the reef blind casting for anything that would eat.
I picked up a few interesting fish. One of them a favorite, the peacock grouper, one of the most beautiful fish in the ocean in my opinion, and another good looker, the orange-spotted trevally. Meanwhile Mike landed a bluefin trevally before Mark spotted the first tailing triggerfish.
As much as I enjoy species fishing the reef, when Mark hollered trigger I reeled in and waded to the beach. It’s the challenge of the flats I like the best. Like fishing the Ranch of the Henry’s Fork at home, the flats require a hunt to find the fish then a precise cast and presentation to catch them.
Here in Sudan the main targeted flats fish are yellowmargin and titan (also known as the giant or mustache) triggerfish. There’s a third called the Picasso trigger that’s too small for most anglers to care about, of course I’d like to add him to my list. And although uncommon, there are bonefish and Indo-Pacific permit.
It didn’t take long for Mike to interest some triggerfish in his crab patterns. When a trigger sucks up your fly it doesn’t mean you have them. These fish have small mouths with teeth like a mad dog and there aren’t many places for a hook to stick. Mike’s first trigger was the most suicidal Mark (who has fished the salt his entire life) had ever seen. The greedy fish ate Mikes fly repetitively but the hook kept popping out. With Mike’s leader all the way to the tip of his rod he went with a trout set and the hook stuck. Then the strangest part of all, the normally powerful fish didn’t fight and Mike had his first yellowmargin triggerfish.
The triggerfish normally put up a scrappy fight and Mikes next one did. He landed him and his two were the only ones of the day for us. We must have cast to thirty of them but they either followed the fly and didn’t eat or spooked from the cast. Considering these flats almost never get fished they were surprisingly tricky.
As for the South Africans, a couple more triggerfish were landed and Andrew caught this fantastic giant trevally (GT). While we were fishing today the Scuba Libre moved to the area we’ll fish tomorrow sheltered by what is called Snake Island. The wind is cranking and we just finished dinner.
We’re off to a great start. I’m chilling up top with our Sudanese boat crew getting ready to hunker down for the night. More to come tomorrow.