(Click on a thumbnail to view larger image)
4 flights, 18 1/2 hours aboard airplanes, luckily not so bad airline food, several time zones and over the Atlantic ocean, Mediterranean sea, red sea and finally into the Indian ocean, and we were in paradise- living aboard a 70+ foot catamaran moored on a remote atoll in the middle of nowhere. One of my dreams- to be in a remote paradise, living on the water, surrounded by fish day and night. We had finally arrived. The question I had been asking myself for months and more recently while enduring the long flights, was is it worth it? Is all of the travel and expense of the trip worth it. I had been dreaming of going to the Seychelles for over five years ever since reading about it in a fly fishing mag. Living board the Illusions was awesome- we were always on the water. Our group of nine consisted of six Americans & three South Africans. Mike and Sue Hoey from California, Dr. Steve Pericak & Rufus Williams from the east coast, Eric Berger, my roomie for the trip and photographer extraordinaire, and Leigh Pedersen, Graeme Field and Jeremy Stewart from South Africa. It was a good group and we all got along well, sharing stories and cocktails at the end of each day. It was a meticulously maintained ship and was super comfortable. Chris and Des, the owners, took great care of us-thanks guys! Short rides to the cuts and flats and we fished off of the boat a couple evenings also, where we caught a small shark, spangled emperors and hooked a large GT. One of the evening highlights was feeding the 25-65 lb GTs that hung by our boat at various anchorages on the atoll. They devoured our left over fish and meat and would take the fish carcass right from Captain Chris's hand! Fishing was varied. There were plenty on bonefish which averaged 4 lbs. We also had several shots at permit up to 15 lbs, landing two smaller specimens. The bones and permit were found inside the atoll on the hard sand flats. We also found some cruising GTs in these areas. Bones were big and reliable. Several 8+ lb fish landed. Permit, triggerfish, grouper, spangled emperor fish, Giant trevally & bluefin trevally were all in the mix. As well as many 30+ lb bumphead parrotfish hooked but only one landed and photographed. Speaking of photography, check out some of Eric Berger's pics at this website: http://anglingdestinations.com/photoimages_display.php?cid=11&sid=00. He takes great shots, and his discipline is unmatched--there were at least two days when I believe he left his fly rods on the mothership, and only brought his camera! I could not do this, for fear of missing out on some wild fishing action. The outer areas of the atoll were more rugged. Turtle grass flats with deeper sand holes interspersed abutted the surf and this is where the greatest variety of fish were found. Triggerfish, bones, spangled emperors, bumphead parrotfish, blue fin and giant trevally, and many other exotic species, roamed these areas. This is where the best GT fishing was found often in waist deep water with waves crashing into your chest. The GTs liked large streamers and large stripping crabs like merkins. These should be tied on either owner aki or gamakatsu SL12 hooks. Hunting GTs was exhilarating but not for beginners. The better and faster you could cast a 12 wt-while wading waist deep with waves breaking on your chest-the better your odds of hooking up. To catch these fish on the flats or in the cuts and holes adjacent to the flats is incredible. Talk about a rush when you spot a 25+ lb fish coming at you, cast to him and watch him charge your fly and engulf it and then its chaos as he runs like a torpedo pulling line. We used commitment rigs for the GTs. A straight six foot piece of 80-100 lb flouro. This will test your knots and gear to the fullest. Its what the most experienced Seychelles guides use. Amazingly I only lost one fly line and that was because my fish ran along some coral and cut about 80' of my line off. Two broken rods and two lost lines was our tally for the trip. Not bad. It was an adventure I will not soon forget. Was it worth it--hell yes!