A Seychelles Fishing Adventure

A look at the great variety of game fish available around Desroches Island, in a spectacular and idyllic Indian Ocean setting.

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The Seychelles ... the name conjures visions of idyllic islets amidst perfect white-sand beaches and turquoise lagoons. And a recent visit proved it's all that — and, for sport fishermen, much more. In a distance of no more than two miles we caught bonefish on pristine flats and sailfish on poppers in blue water. This gallery offers some idea of the fishing we found around Desroches Island. Watch for the feature in the March issue of Sport Fishing magazine to see more great photos and get a better idea of what this fishery is like. We caught lots of green jobfish like this one, a fast-swimming and hard-fighting member of the snapper family. George Large, general manager of Yo-Zuri America (left) caught this bad boy on a popper from an anchored mothership before breakfast. Capt. Brad Simpson holds it for the photo.
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The Morning Mists of Mahe, main island of the Seychelles
After one night at the absolutely stunning Constance Ephelia resort, we flew from the main island of Mahe to Desroches, about a 35-minute flight on a twin-prop plane.
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Coming and Going - The Daily Flight
The daily afternoon flight to Desroches from Mahe offloads supplies, often returning staff, and new guests, and carries off those ready to fly out. Transportation around the island is by golf cart ("buggies"), bicycles (supplied) or foot.
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In the watery world of the Indian Ocean, the Seychelles are tiny dots that barely rise to the surface. Desroches Island is denoted by the "A"; Mahe is the relatively large to the left.
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An Angler's First GT -- And It's a Good One!
George Large makes no attempt to hide his glee. He's waited a lifetime to catch a good giant trevally. This one, close to 50 pounds, engulfed a **Crystal 3D Minnow Deep Diver **on a stormy afternoon.
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Snake or Fish?
The always interesting perspective of my GoPro Hero3 makes for a striking photo of a pickhandle barracuda brought boatside by angler Frank Yerich of Houston. He's fishing from the resort's 39-foot Wellcraft Scarab with twin Yamaha 250s.
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My, What a Long Rod You Have!
The dramatic view of George Large's bent rod is again courtesy of my GoPro. A school-sized yellowfin tuna gives Large's light spinning reel a workout as Capt. Brad Simpson prepares to release it at the boat.
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Tuna on Top
The waters near St. Joseph's Atoll proved to be teeming with tuna on top, and the schoolies like this one were all over Large's Sashimi Bull Metallic popper.
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Ferocious Tyke
Frank Yerich speed-jigged up this young dogtooth tuna. He was fortunate to have hooked a manageable size on his Shimano TranX levelwind. We discovered that slightly large doggies are formidable opponents indeed.
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The Bad Boy of Tunas
That's an apt description for dogtooth. Hooked on the rear treble of this large Crystal 3D Minnow Deep Diver Jointed lure, this 70-pound tuna couldn't crush the lure in its jaws. That gave me a shot at boating it, which I did after a 45-minute battle on 20-pound braid, fishing a new Cabo PTs spinner by Quantum -- inaugurated nicely with many screaming runs that tested its ceramic drag system.
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Shallow-Water Surprise
Dogtooth tuna (closely related to the bonitos) are very different from yellowfin in that they are armed to the teeth -- with teeth, they're solitary (not schooling) and hang around reefs and passes. This specimen turned up in less than 40 feet of water quite near Desroches Island.
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Did You Want Your Tuna Steaked or Filleted?
Actually, George Large was hoping to get his dogtooth tuna whole, but marauding sharks dashed those hopes and left him with this chunk, minus head and tail. We threw it on ice and had amazingly white-meated tuna that evening.
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A Flat Without End
Of course, that's a bit of an exaggeration, but one gets that sense, wading these vast shallows, where you won't see a person outside of your small party all day.This is inside of St. Joseph's Atoll, about a 30-mile run over open ocean from Desroches.
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A glance at a nautical chart shows why Desroches Island Resort likes to take anglers over to St.Joseph and Poivre islands and the shallows that stretch for many miles to the north and south.
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A Respectable Bonefish
We didn't see any of the schools of hundreds of bones reputed to hang out in St. Joseph's Atoll, but we did find a few smaller schools and managed some success. Here, George Large is about to release his first Seychelles bonefish.
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Let Me Gooooooo!
This bonefish appears to be talking to the camera just before it's unhooked to dash away.
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Sharks: Hot on the Trail
It wasn't unusual to have sharks rush hooked bonefish. At times, we could count a dozen or more large blacktips and lemons milling about in 3 or 4 feet of water around us.
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When a Grouper Resembles an Exquisite Piece of Art
Many Indo-Pacific grouper are astoundingly beautiful, few more so than this blue-spotted grouper I caught on a crankbait fishing the flats.
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Pacific Permit.
A striking pre-release photo of a St. Joseph's permit taken by Mark Hatter.
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Villas at Desroches Island Resort have air-conditioned bedrooms (though I never used/needed the mosquito netting).
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We were often throwing or pulling plugs for fish much larger than the lure designers had in mind. That sometimes required changing hardware to accommodate our "heightened expectations" for these lures, as George Large was doing this evening in the villa.
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Time to Head Out
Depending upon the tide, a short run via inflatable from the beach to the center console is in order.
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Bluefin Trevally
George scored this big bluefin trevally while casting a Yo-Zuri Sashimi 3D Popper over shallow reefs. Bluefin may range from deep reefs to shallow flats.
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Chaos in the Cockpit
Triple headers of wahoo and, particularly, yellowfin were the order of many days.
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An Ocean of Yellowfin
Sometimes it was hard to stop popping for tuna, with so many targets to throw to in the ocean around these islands. Here, Capt. Kyle Simpson (brother of Brad) leaders another for a release.
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Diving Plug Gets Nailed
Lipped diving lures were as readily gobbled up by marauding tuna as were poppers.
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A Sea Full of Wahoo.
The vicious strikes of wahoo, especially when we trolled** ****Sashimi** **Bonitas**, kept drags singing around St. Joseph's.
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Doubled Up on Jobbies.
While green jobfish aren't a schooling species, they're abundant in Seychelles waters, so catching a double or even a triple was never out of the question.
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Sashimi as Fresh as It Gets
Although many know sashimi is best after being chilled and aged for some time, this very fresh yellowfin was not half bad!
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Not Bad for "Field Cooking"
Although ingredients and cooking options were a bit more limited on the big power cat A'Mani, that served as our home base for our brief time at St. Joseph's, Fabio, the boat's skipper and cook, managed to come up with some mouth-watering dinners.
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Potpourri off the mother ship.
Taking advantage of some time before dinner, Capt. Brad Simpson decided to make a couple of casts with a Yo-Zuri Sashimi 3-D Popper **from the stern of the catamaran.** He was promptly rewarded by a surface blast from this rainbow runner, a great light-tackle opponent that present quite a challenge as it ran just under the A'Mani's hull, past the anchor line, but with patience, skill and luck, he landed the sleek jack.
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Half Fish, Half Crocodile?
While brother Brad was busy trying to keep his rainbow runner in the clear, Kyle hooked up this big houndfish (aka garfish in these parts) on a leadhead jig and plastic tail. On 10-pound braided line, the fish jumped like a mini-marlin.
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Houndfish up Close.
Found in warm seas all over the world, the family Belonidae (needlefishes and houndfishes) seldom venture below the surface, which they patrol ceaselessly for anything small enough to eat that they can run down.
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A Gorgeous Grouper.
Yet another crew catch from the anchored A'Mani, this large specimen of yellow-edge lyretail (variously known as a swallowtail or coronation trout) displays amazing colors. The species is in fact one of the most common in shallow waters where it dashes up from rocks or reef to clobber any small organism -- or lure.
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Brad Makes a Buddy.
The large batfishes that cluster in groups off the stern to eat just about anything organic that washes off/from the boat are remarkably unafraid of people. Brad proved that by grabbing this one from a stern platform and holding it up for a quick photo.
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Untimely Demise for a Batfish; Unexpected Breakfast for a Barracuda
The log-thick great barracuda that hung around the anchored A'Mani, didn't miss a chance to make a meal of one of the many batfish swimming off the stern.
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Not Much Gets Past a Red Bass
Called red bass throughout Australia, Lutjanus bohar is correctly known as a two-spot red snapper. In the Seychelles, they're just called bohar snapper. Whatever its labeled, the species is one of the most aggressive shallow-reef predators, readily following and smashing topwaters as well as diving minnows like this Yo-Zuri Crystal 3-D Minnow Sinking lure.
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Bohar snapper boatside.
George brings in a red bass.
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Even Giant Trevally Tire Out....
... but it takes a long time, as George Large (right) discovered during his second day on the water off Desroches Island. This large GT smashed a Yo-Zuri Crystal 3-D Minnow Deep Diver.
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Bluefin Trevally.
While the bluefin is remarkably colorful for a trevally, it's hues nothwithstanding, the bluefin is a typical trevally when it comes to the tenacity of its fight when hooked. This one hit a Yo-Zuri Sashimi 3D Popper just off St. Joseph's.
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All Lit Up.
A wahoo comes in showing its most vivid, characteristic light blue bars against the dark blue background.
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Bycatch?
Another wahoo was the target while trolling this Bonita at a considerable clip, but this yellowfin beat any wahoo to the prize.
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Tuna on a Tear!
When this yellowfin homed in on a noisy popper, it left a trail of white spray 20 feet behind it.
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A Jobfish Shows Its Colors
Green jobfish shows striking blue tips on its fins.
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Yes, It Really Is a Snapper.
Sharing a long, sleep shape with only a few species of snapper (such as queen snapper), jobfish are nevertheless a member of the same family as red, grey and cubera snappers, Lutjanidae.
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Movin' Mighty Slow
Desroches Island has a considerable population of giant tortoises. Big ones, like this fellow, are estimated to be more than 100 years old.
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Beware of Falling Coconuts.
This tortoise displays the result of spending long hours inert beneath coconut trees. The wound did not appear fresh and, so far, the beast seemed to be doing just fine.
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Formidable Arachnids.
Large spiders of this species build impressive if sloppy webs high between trees around the island.
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Monster of the Flats
Anglers prepare to release a huge giant trevally on a St. Joseph's flat (photo by Mark Hatter).
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Ferry via Inflatable.
Anglers and mate will jump off the inflatable and onto the Wellcraft for a day of fishing out of Desroches Resort. (Hopefully they didn't forget the rain gear.)
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Rosy Jobfish, Mystery Grouper
A lovely (and mighty tasty) rosy jobfish went for the metal jig of Frank Yerich (foreground), while jigger George Large caught what the skipper labeled a very rare grouper -- which Sport Fishing Fish Facts expert Ben Diggles later identified as a dot-dash grouper. Had we realized, this could have been entered as the all-tackle record for the species. Ah, well... next time, George!
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Another Grouper, Showing its Colors.
The nearshore waters of the Seychelles are loaded with small, aggressive grouper of striking colors.
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Painted Grouper.
Casting or trolling diving plugs designed for fresh water (but with two thin trebles replaced with a heavy single hook) evoked strikes from a great variety of fishes, including this grouper in eye-popping hues.
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When Life Imitates Fish.
George Large emulates the open-mouthed silent scream of a coastal trevally.