October 2005 – Mauritius Fishing Trip
20 October 2005
Getting ready for the trip to some islands in the Indian Ocean. Visited Ricko at Flyfishers Unlimited and picked up a bunch of flies, tippet material, sunglasses, goggles, etc. Quickly spent several thousand Rand – its amazing how one can dispose of money when you walk into that shop! Left a reel for Ricko to sell. Perhaps I can get some of my money back.
20:20. Got to the airport and met with some of the guys. Everyone was very excited, had far too much luggage, shirts were changing hands and foreign currency was handed around. Lots of discussions on techniques, catching sailfish, tying knots and a recent visit to Argentina. We were eight people – Gerrit Nel, Nick Hadjiphanis, Brian Reineer, Heini Rietmann, Raymond Kritzinger, Hanno Vlok and Raymond Moore.
The flight to Mauritius was short – around 31⁄2 hours. For dinner we had a choice of chicken breasts or fish and I went for the former, assuming that I would be eating lots of fish in the days to come. Some of the guys were in party mood and had obviously started drinking very early in the day. At least one of our party was loud, obscene, rude and offensive and I was surprised that he wasn’t dealt with by the airline crew. Several passengers objected to his obscenities but to no avail. I plugged in my Ipod, switched to Jimmy Buffett and turned up the volume. I tried to get some sleep in but it was difficult with all the swearing and shouting. Not a good start to the trip!
Got to Mauritius before sunrise and the airport was quiet, yet well organized. Every passport station was manned by a friendly efficient person. The party animals were still very loud, lots of profanity, and some of us sneaked ahead. One tube of rods went missing and we had to wait for a while to see whether it could be traced.
The drive from the airport to the harbour took about 30 minutes in a 12 seater Toyota bus. The buildings on the outskirts looked unfinished – raw concrete and desperately in need of paint. It was an overcast day, around 22 °C and a bit windy. We were going to have to hang around for most of the morning. Two of the guys were not well – too much booze! One of them collapsed while walking from the taxi to the boat and his drinking partner helped him along. They both passed out on one of the boats before we headed to the waterfront for breakfast. The taxi ride cost about R20. Most of us had an
English breakfast with cappuccino – the coffee costing as much as the breakfast! The group split up and some of us went grocery shopping – some chocolates and energy bars. We headed back to the harbour and had a long wait. Bought myself a bread roll with beef at a local canteen.
The boat that was supposed to take us to our islands had broken down a few days
back and we got a real old donkey. (See picture on right). No beds and very slow!
We started off at 14:00 and it was an incredibly long journey. We had mattresses,
no pillows and I slept on top of the engine compartment hatches with diesel fumes billowing out at times. I wasn’t feeling well for most of the trip and barely got up. I tried to listen to my Ipod but the motors were noisy and people regularly stood on me or tripped over me.
Gerrit put a lure out and it wasn’t very long before a Dorado took it. Geelslang (Raymond Kritzinger) tried to reel it in but never really gained any line until he snapped the rod! Didn’t get much sleep and was glad to see the sun come up the next morning. We were slightly more than halfway!
We got to our destination after sunset and there were two smaller boats waiting for us. Our accommodation was great with two in a room and cold showers. I could smell fish cooking. At this stage I should mention that as the venue was so incredibly good, the very best saltwater fly-fishing that most of us had ever experienced, I am not going to mention the exact locality of where we went.
Dinner consisted of fish steaks that looked like massive cuta steaks and potatoes. Communication was a bit of a problem with Dogman (Heini) speaking a little French. The fish was overcooked yet tasty. Everyone settled down quite early, sorted out fishing gear and was planning the next day.
22 October 2005
Woke up at about 06:00 and the guys were frantically sorting out tackle. Nick (my room mate) was amazing – he had the most tackle and gadgets that I have ever seen! We were heading for quite a large island, hoping to catch some bonefish. Some of the guys were throwing a few casts just outside the house and quickly got into some Wave Garrick. Breakfast consisted of cereals, bacon, pork sausages, very soft scrambled eggs and toast. (see picture on left)
We headed off to the island in two boats. The area looked great with crystal clear water no more than 1.2 m deep and eventually getting deeper with darker spots. We spread out and in no time the guys got into some Wave Garrick, Trigger fish and some other rats and mice. We had asked the guides about Bonefish and even showed them some pictures but they were not familiar with them. I got a strange elongate fish that looked like some sort of Pike on a Crazy Charlie. I then got smashed up very quickly by what I thought was a Bonefish. I then got a nice Bonefish, probably around 4 lb, and dragged it off to show the guys and the guides. Everyone was very excited and the guides said that they know the fish well and call it Banana fish. They also made it quite clear that they never fished for Banana fish as they had lots of bones. The whole fly- fishing thing puzzled the guides and they couldn’t understand that we hooked fish, brought them in and then released them!
Gerrit got a nice Kingfish and a very big Bone fish, bigger than anything I have ever seen.
We got back to the house at about 13:00 and had a lunch consisting of dried fish, rice and lentils. Some of the guys went out with the boats but I stayed behind with Geelslang and headed for a channel. We got lots of Wave Garrick and saw a few sharks. We decided to head across the channel by boat to fish a drop-off with the wind from behind. I got two small Kingys on a Clauser. We got back to the house at sunset and everyone had a good day. Geelslang broke a rod earlier and Rinkhals (Raymond Moore) spent much of his time changing lines.
Gerrit and the rest of the guys on the
boat got a large Bourbonne – a Rock cod-like fish that weighed in at about 8 kg. Nick made some sushi – awesome!
Dinner was chicken and chips with red wine – really good. We managed to get to bed by 22:00 but Nick, as could be expected, was still gearing up for the next day and needed another hour or two! (See picture on left)
23 October 2005
Up at 06:00 but heard Geelslang scratching around before 05:00 wherafter he headed for the drop-off for Kingys. We had some cereal, toast and fruit and geared up for the next island. Geelslang got a
few small Kingys and the usual quota of Wave Garrick. In fact, Wave Garrick were becoming a real problem and at times you couldn’t leave your fly in the water for more than a few seconds without getting a Wave Garrick on the other end!
The trip to the island took more than one hour by boat. We headed for the lea side of the wind and waded about chest deep. The fishing wasn’t quick but productive. A few of the guys got Bonefish and lots of small Kingys. I got into three nice fish that took me into the backing and snapped off quickly. Nick got into a very nice Barracuda and had it on for at least 15 minutes before it snapped off. It leapt into the air several times. At 11:30 we decided to head for the next island where the guides claimed we would get Bonefish.
This island is surrounded by sand flats and looked great for Bonefish. The second boat didn’t even get to us – they saw some nice sand flats about a kilometer from the island and started fishing right there. Both Geelslang and Brian were into Bonefish before I had my second cast. We were using Clausers, Crazy Charlies and Permit flies and everything worked! All of us got into Bonefish and some beautiful specimens were landed – by far the largest Bonefish that I had ever seen. Some of the fish had us into the backing in seconds. Bonefish are still king when it comes to fly-fishing. I was using my 9 weight Thomas and Thomas and a Ross reel. The Ross had a faulty braking system but Nick fixed it the previous evening.
We eventually caught up with the other guys and got some food from them. Needless to say, everyone had lots and lots of fishing stories to tell. The boat trip back to the house took about 11⁄2 hours and we were all tired. Back at the house everyone unpacked and relaxed. Some of us went to the drop-off with spoons but nothing. It was a magnificent day – some amazing fly-fishing. Between the 8 of us we landed more than 200 decent Bonefish – it is extremely unlikely that we will ever repeat the day again. Awesome awesome fishing and without doubt the finest Bone fishing in the world!
24 October 2005
First guys up at 05:00 and they quickly woke up the rest of us. Gerrit and Rinkhals had some serious discussions until the early hours of the morning, discussing the day’s Bone fishing, then repeating the same story! Then a quick drink and the same story again. We didn’t get much sleep and they didn’t seem to need it!
We had a good, hot breakfast – bacon, fried eggs, sausages and toast and then headed off for some flats not too far from the house. Apparently a good spot for Capitano. We waded into knee-deep water and I was casting a white Clauser. I spotted a nice sized fish, casted about two meters away from it and it changed direction immediately and took my fly. It had me into the backing a few times. It turned out to be quite a nice GT, my first decent Kingfish on the trip. Everyone headed further out onto the flats. Rinkhals was still drenched – he took a tumble when he got off the boat and was totally submerged, disappearing for a second or two!
Some of the guys got Bonefish but the spot was not very productive. We went back to the boat and headed for the previous Bonefish spot, about one hour away. It was overcast, quite dark and rainy. The trip took more than an hour and some of us got very wet. The ride was very bumpy.
We got onto the flats and the wind was pumping. I took my camera and some of the guys were into nice Bonefish in no time, sight casting to individual fish. I wanted to return to the boat to get my gear and Polaroid glasses but the boat was gone. They went fishing for the pot and only got back about an hour later. Some really nice Bonefish were coming out and at times three to four guys would be hooked up at the same time. I eventually got my gear and quickly hooked a beautiful Bonefish. Heini took some pics. Gerrit and Nick headed for the drop-off on the northern side where they threw some monster flies at GT’s. I got into some Pompano and although they were small, they were fun to catch. The GT guys saw two very big Kingfish but got nothing. The boat trip back was wet and painful – a bumpy ride. They really need to get some cushions.
Dinner was magnificent – fresh fish fillets with some sort of yam and fresh salad. The guys sat
around reminiscing and discussing strategy for the next day. Gerrit and Nick were keen on dragging teasers and throwing big flies over reefs while others chose the sand flats.
25 October 2005
Another early morning, bacon, sausages and scrambled eggs and in the boats by 08:00. We had to wait a while for our skippers and then needed to refuel. We returned to the spot that we fished the first day. As we approached along the shoreline we saw rows of big Bonefish. Everyone spread out quickly and a few nice Bonefish were hooked. Lots of Wave Garrick, Pompano and Blue fin Kingfish while Brian landed a nice GT. Hein got smashed up several times and Nick got the fish of the trip – a 26 lb GT! (See picture on left)
Did some exploring on the island and saw some wild chickens. They ran like crazy! Also saw a Tropical House Gecko (Hemidactylus sp.) amongst some old buildings. And lots of wild cotton. We packed up at 15:00 and headed home.
Some of the guys took their fly rods and surf rods with plugs to the drop-off but no joy. Hanno rigged up a live bait and put out a Blue fin Kingfish and was smashed up. I spent most of the afternoon photographing birds, many of them on eggs or with chicks.
Dinner was spicy rice and Bourbonne cooked with tomatoes and mushrooms – another fantastic meal. Most of the guys were tired and quick to get to bed – some by 20:00!
26 October 2005
Up at about 06:00. Geelslang was wandering around at 02:00 with a candle, making coffee and waking up the rest of us. He needs help! We had cereal and toast for breakfast and headed off to another island. I went in the big boat and the ride was much nicer than in the other one. I was first off the boat when we got there and hooked a nice Kingy with my first cast. Then a few Bonefish and a nice GT – its
stomach was bitten open by a shark as I was about to land it. Then a few more Kingys and I got a Golden Kingfish which turned out to be the fish of the day. Everyone had a good time, hooked lots of fish and some really nice Bonefish. (See picture on right)
Both Geelslang and Heini had large Bonefish chopped in half by sharks. The piece that Heini recovered weighed 5 lb!
The sight-fishing was awesome and I fished with Heini and Rinkhals for quite a while. Lots and lots of beautiful Bonefish. I used a white Clauser most the time – it wasn’t great for Bonefish but attracted the attention of the Kingys. I was, like previous days, using my 9 weight T & T with the Ross reel and as the fish were not tippet shy, used 20 or 22 lb tippet. The 15 lb fluorocarbon snapped far too easily. We were often surrounded by sharks and Hanno counted over 20 at one
time. We headed home at 15:00 and everyone had a great day. Again the very best fly-fishing ever for me.
Dinner consisted of potato mash and fillet steak – very good food. Gerrit and I got involved in a philosophical discussion and we were in bed by 22:00.
27 October 2005
Up at 06:00 and another continental breakfast. Heading for an island about 2 hours north where there are (apparently) some very big Kingys. Brian has been there before and found it quite depressing. The island is a weather station and some fish are also dried there. It was far from impressive when we got there. I was using my 12 weight custom made 3 piece and the Abel reel for the first time. I walked into some waves and quickly got a Blue fin Kingy but very little action otherwise. Saw Geelslang getting drenched by a big wave!
Nobody got anything worthwhile but spotted some big Kingys. I gave it another bash and got another Blue fin Kingy. We decided to head for the sand flats and fish for Bonefish – a 45 minute ride. Both Rinkhals and I went with Hanno to a spot on the wild side where he saw lots of Bonefish the previous time. They managed to get some nice fish but I was struggling. I put a Clauser through a school of Bonefish but nothing! Changed to a Charlie but still nothing! I then walked over to the opposite end of an island where Heini and Gerrit were into some nice Bonefish. I spotted a really nice fish, casted a Clauser about half a meter from it and it took the fly the moment I started my retrieve. Had a good fight and enjoyed fishing the 12 weight. (See picture on the right).
We were home by 15:00 and had an early evening. I knocked some Tropical House Geckos off the walls to amuse the guys – they had a good laugh.
28 October 2005
Back to Mauritius on the slow boats – another awful ride. We stayed over in Port Louis for a night before flying back home the following day. The guys spread out – some went shopping but I chose to go for a back massage and it was very good. It was a very special fly-fishing trip and will go down as one of the ultimate trips of my life.