The Milkfish – One of My Most Nemesis Fish

by | Apr 20, 2022 | fly fishing for milkfish | 5 comments

milkfishI always tell folks on my Yellow Dog hosted fishing trips, “Have a goal before you leave home”.  For this trip to Providence Atoll in the Seychelles I have eleven anglers and most want a giant trevally (GT).  I’ve caught plenty of GT’s so my hope is to catch my first milkfish.  There’s a catch though, tides for milkfish are only good the first two days of this trip.  Would any fishing partners be willing to divert from their goal on day one?


Providence-AtollThis is a custom, extended trip that’s nine days instead of the usual six.  Lucky for me, with the extra fishing days, Rich Roth and Randy Lee were willing to start right out hunting milkfish with me.  Rich was on my famous cancelled cyclone trip over here in 2019.  Randy was with me in Cosmo last December.  I’ve never fished with either of them.


SeychellesOur guide was Wesley De Klerk.  I fished with Wes on my first Seychelles trip back in 2014.  You’ll notice, instead of two anglers per guide its three here at Providence.  That’s because our mothership, the Mayas Dugong can only carry three skiffs and normally there are twelve anglers.


flyfishing-SeychellesWe’re anchored here on Providence Atoll on the Dugong.  We live on this boat the entire trip.  The fact that we’re in the middle of the Indian Ocean means we can’t just tie skiffs off the side at night.  Instead, the Dugong has a crane system that literally picks the boats out of the water at the end of the day and sets them on the deck.  In the morning they launch them back out.  It’s an awesome operation and it’s part of what makes this Providence trip so beyond all others.


milkfishWe launched the skiffs before 8 AM.  It was a beautiful day with a light breeze and plenty of morning sunshine.  There’re always a few puffy tropical clouds.  Wes had us on a school of algae slurping milkfish within minutes after we took off.



As host of this trip, I want my folks to have all the best chances at fish – not me.  Despite the ideal chance for my “goal” fish, I offered the opportunity to cast to the large school to Rich and Randy.  Understanding my craving, they both refused.  It felt awkward but I started casting.  I was using a Milky Dream fly on 12ft of straight 25lb Absolute Flouro with my 9-weight Alpha+.  My line was a floating Scientific Angler Amplitude Grand Slam.


What went on to happen a minute into my pursuit will go down in the history books.  The milkies were everywhere.  I excitedly went to work.  On my second cast the fly line got stuck under my boot.  To fix, I lifted my foot and did a hard snappy roll cast.  My fly accelerated through the air at mock speed and instead of becoming my next cast, the size 6 hook sank deep in my lower lip.  The day went from, “Welcome to Providence”, to holy crap, I think I’ve been shot!


The incident took me by surprise.  My face hurt like hell and the bleeding started.  Hooking myself badly has never happened let alone in my own lip.  I made a quick effort to yank it out but I’d forgotten to flatten the barb.  All the attempt did was stretch my lip and entire face out before snapping back in place.  Boy did that make it hurt more!


Good news for me, Randy is a doctor and he gave me a look and stood up, “Do you really want me to rip it out?”


Being the milkies continued to feed and I wanted back at it, I said “Yes”.


Randy reached to his hip and pulled out his fishing pliers.  It took two stretchy-lip attempts but thank God, on the second pull he got the fly out.  I bled like a stuck pig and absolutely trashed my new turquoise Simms shirt.  It didn’t stop me however.  Regardless of how embarrassing this was, I went back to work.


Ten minutes of hitting these milkies and I’d made no progress.  My lip was aching and the blood dripping down my shirt was annoying.  I had to clean up so I passed my turn on to Randy.  When I did so, I knocked my readers off my shirt and into the ocean.  I tried to snag them on my fly line but they were goners.  That is until Wes dove overboard and retrieved them.  I was having one hell of a day!


milkfishBy now Randy was fishing.  The angle of the sun was such that we could see the milkfish feeding a mere 30ft from the boat.  Randy tossed the fly out and fish on, a fish that not only put a hurt on me this morning, but I should mention I have fished for milkfish unsuccessfully in Farquhar 2014, Sudan 2014, Oman 2015, again in Farquhar in 2016 (hooked one), Baja and Dubai last December.


Milkfish are known for their fighting and Randy’s didn’t disappoint.  The fish ran so far into backing it was unreal.  I should mention, the reel on my rig is a test reel from Bauer.  I hate testing reels because failure can be devastating but over the first five minutes of battle everything was good.


SeychellesAfter six minutes however, the reel handle got loose.  The drag was good and we still had backing, but the handle was literally falling off.  Indeed we had chaos but Wes pulled out a Leatherman Tool and though a challenge, he managed to screw it back on tight during the fight.


milkfishIt was a long hard battle but after about 25 minutes, Wes slipped the net under the milkfish.  These fish are about as strange looking as they come with their huge eyes and sleek body.  This was a dandy of nearly 20lbs.  We rattled off some photos then let the beauty go.  Congrats to Randy on his first milky!


Bad luck for me, after Randy’s fish, the milkfish school went down not to be found again.  We headed for the flats to wade for GT’s.  This was a good plan as no doubt, I needed a change to get my day in order!


GT-fishingWalking the flats was great.  All three of us got out around thigh deep.  Wes tows the boat and one angler walks 25ft off the bow and one the stern.  Wes sent me about a 100ft off to cover another flank.  It was incredibly calm and you could see wakes of various fish including triggers.  But the tide is right for GT’s so we carried the 12-weights only.


Fishing wasn’t exactly fast and furious.  There were a few little GTs around and we caught them.  But the large 100cm dream fish weren’t around.  We went about two or three hours and moved a few times but still couldn’t find them.


GT-fliesAt noon we were on the edge of a lagoon that was draining hard with the tide.  We weren’t walking but just watching.  That’s when I spotted a huge GT hanging behind a coral mass in the current.  Other than the massive size, this fish looked and acted like a trout as he weaved with the tidal current.  I made a long cast with my black GT Brush Fly.


Often, when you cast at a big GT they either spook or turn and eat your fly immediately, but this was weird.  The fish had no reaction.  I made a second cast and this time the fish swirled away – not really spooked but seemed annoyed.  He went over to another coral head and sort of slid from sight but I suspected he was there.  I made a cast to that location and there was an explosion on the fly.  “On!”  I yelled.


Jeff-Currier-GTsWes knows there are some ginormous sized GT’s here and knew I had one.  “Come to the boat Jeff!”, he screamed while gathering himself to begin to chase.  “Loosen your drag!”


Loosening the drag sounds opposite of what you expect but it actually puts the fish at ease and they don’t run as hard.  It gave me time to get in the boat before running out of backing.  Once in the boat I tightened my Bauer drag back up and we chased my GT.



About ten minutes of furry went on.  With a 12-weight rod and 100lb leader you can really put the heat on these GTs.  The idea is to land them fast so they can be released back strong and healthy.  Wes maneuvered the boat perfectly and I kept the pressure on.  Soon we landed the mammoth fish and sped back to the flat.  I had lucked into a 115cm GT!


Providence-AtollThe GT turned my day around.  I was back in action.  We ate a fast lunch then continued to wade the flats all afternoon.  We lost our sunlight for the most part but the skyline was replaced with absolutely incredible clouds.  Until you see the tropical parts of the Indian Ocean for yourself, it’s hard to explain.


flyfishingFishing was slow the rest of the day.  We picked up the random small GT – keep in mind, small ones are still one heck of a fish.  Eventually we gave up on the GT’s and Wes suggested we end the day on the milkfish school again.


milkfish-flyfishingWith the rust out of all our casting arms, Wes suggested two of us fish at the same time.  Being Randy caught the Milkfish in the morning Rich and I casted to the school.  We weren’t five minutes in and Rich hooked up.


milkfishJust like Randy’s milky, this one took off like a bat out of hell.  Rich’s reel smoked as line peeled off at a scary rate.  But Rich hung tough and about 20 minutes later Wes was reaching for the net.  This fish did not simply slide in.  Instead we had a five minute extra rodeo but at last, we got him!


Yellowdog-FlyfishingIts crazy how fishing luck works.  Both my boat mates caught my dream fish and I caught theirs.  Bizarre.  But I can tell you honestly, I love these battles with certain species of fish.  Hopefully tomorrow I’ll get another chance at a milky.


We returned to the Dugong well after 6pm.  These guides fish you hard and I love it.  It turns out that almost everyone enjoyed a great first day.  This is going to be an incredible week for sure.


To see more photos from this incredible Yellow Dog Trip be sure to visit my Instagram page @jeffcurrier65


Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing


  1. Brian I

    What a hell of a start to your week! Sorry the milkies got you that day, but glad you got to fish with Randy. What a great guy. And my goodness, what a GT! Congrats! Looking forward to what’s next!

  2. Tad


    Sorry about that – hope the healing process is fast and complete!


  3. Kristen J. Sorensen

    Ouch. I felt it. And your glasses overboard. You’re a good sport!!

  4. Jeff

    No pain no gain!

  5. Lane

    Ouch! I bet all those amazing fish made you forget the pain. Can’t wait to read more

Welcome to the Blog of Jeff Currier!

Contact Jeff

I started fly fishing at age 7 in the lakes and ponds of New England cutting my teeth on various sunfish, bass, crappie and stocked trout. I went to Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin, where I graduated with a Naturalist Degree while I discovered new fishing opportunities for pike, muskellunge, walleyes and various salmonids found in Lake Superior and its tributaries.

From there I headed west to work a few years in the Yellowstone region to simply work as much as most people fish and fish as much as most people work. I did just that, only it lasted over 20 years working at the Jack Dennis Fly Shop in Jackson, WY where I departed in 2009. Now it’s time to work for "The Man", working for myself that is.

I pursue my love to paint fish, lecture on every aspect of fly fishing you can imagine and host a few trips to some of the most exotic places you can think of. My ultimate goal is to catch as many species of fish on fly possible from freshwater to saltwater, throughout the world. I presently have taken over 440 species from over 60 countries!