Author: Wildfly Travel

Awesome new Dogtooth Tuna location

It is not often that anybody gets the opportunity to fish a pristine fishery these days. There are just too few of these untouched areas left on the planet. Last week myself and Brad Cartwright (of Wildfly Travel) had the amazing opportunity to explore one of the few of these areas that still remains virtually untouched. The idea was to check out the jigging and Popping potential of the area, with particular interest in seeing what the dogtooth tuna population is like.

Mike Mason, owner of Neptune Warrior, Invited Brad and I to come along and explore the fishing around Remire, where he has just secured a lease. Remire Island is part of the Amirantes group and has never been used for tourism before. It was previously a private getaway for the ex- president of the Seychelles.

We obviously jumped at the opportunity and headed accross there, with as much tackle as the airlines would allow us to carry, (actually a bit more). WE flew from JHB to Mahe, then from Mahe to Desroches and then did a boat transfer of around an hour and forty five minutes to Remire.

Below is our first view of Remire Island as we arrived. We knew that it was going to be a pleasant week with the little island to ourselves.

We were going to be fishing from Mike’s new Cabo Sportfisher, a really comfortable boat, which is a great fishing platform for jigging and popping. The plan was to explore the area and check out the potential. The Cabo has a fuel tank that takes a thousand litres of diesel, and that meant that our range was enormous.

Below is a picture of the Cabo parked in front of Remire:

We used an aluminium tender boat to get from the island to the boat each day. The tender boat is also great for getting into the shallows to access water around the various flats in the area.

Below is a pic of the tender boat:

The first morning found us exploring the shallow water around Remire reef on the Eastern Side. We worked water from 3m to 12m deep with poppers and stickbaits. Brad caught a 9kg GT with a light setup, casting a two ounce chisel plug. We also caught a number of bluefin trevally (kingfish), which were great fun on the light tackle. We had plenty of Bohar Snapper attacking our surface lures, and this was a great indicator that the area is in great condition. The big Bohar’s would be one of the first fish to dissappear if the area was being exploited. I caught the snapper below on a Darkstar Tuna 120 popper, which it smashed as if it was starving.

Despite the look on my face, I actually enjoyed landing this awesome specimen!

We then moved into some deeper water along the drop off in the same area. We noticed that the water was actually quite murky (by Seychelles standards), as the current was coming off the shallow reef and pushing over the drop off. We cast some poppers there anyway and had a number of attacks by sharks, as well as whoo, green jobfish and some large yellowfin tuna (in 18m of water!) Brad hooked a big yellowfin on light tackle and fought it for about half an hour before the leader knot finally had enough and parted. I landed one of around 35kg, using heavier popping gear. I tried holding the fish on the boat for the cameras, but had my teeth shaken loose as it thrashed around in my arms, so I dumped it overboard and felt sorry for myself, as I knew that my wrists and forearms were going to be properly bruised after that. I landed a doggie of around 15kg’s on the jig, and was stoked to see that they were indeed around.

We headed back to our Island in the late afternoon, to regroup and sort out our tackle and discuss what our plan was for the next day.

Below is a pic of the guesthouse that we stayed in on the Island:

The guesthouse is fairly simple, with everything one needs. Each room has twin beds, an en suite bathroom and aircon. There is a little self service pub, with unlimited ice and plenty of cold drinks. The food was truly excellent, cooked by Belinda, a Seychelloise chef, who has a way with seafood. While it is not a luxury resort, we wanted for nothing and really enjoyed the Island. I think it is ideal for groups of up to eight guys, who will have the place to themselves and be able to relax and unwind after a tough day’s fishing.

We decided to try the western drop off of Remire reef the following day, as the water would be cleaner on that side due to the current pushing onto it from the open sea. At the first spot we stopped along the ledge we could see dogtooth tuna below the boat, and our first casts with poppers had the doggies come charging to the surface to come and see what was going on. On about my third cast I had a doggie charging my Tuna 120 popper, just to turn away short. I decided to try and let the lure lie still in the water when it got near the boat and sure enough it was attacked with a vicious strike and I ws on with my fiorst doggie on surface lure for the trip. It wasn’t a huge fish, somewhere between 15 and 20kg’s, but was awesome to catch. Once we had figured out how they like the lures presented to them we started catching plenty of them on poppers and stickbaits.

Below is a pic of Mike Mason with a Doggie he took on a Darkstar Ulua 120 which hit him with a spectacular smash and created a patch of white foam just metres from the boat:

Doggies in this sort of size range were plentiful, and we landed a few of them on that morning, before moving on to a pinacle that Mike wanted to explore with Jigs. On the way ther we saw some huge Yellowfin in the 50-60kg range jumping nearby. They seemed to be everywhere, but we weren’t after them and decided to leave them alone.

Mike put out some lures behind the boat at one stage as we moved along the underwater ledge (which is about 13 miles long). We quickly pulled them in and stowed the trolling tackle though, as we could never move more than 100m without hooking up to something, and we were never going to get anywhere. The sheer numbers and variety of gamefish was nothing short of astonishing. From small stuff like Kawa Kawa and rainbow runners, to Marlin, sailfish, wahoo, doggies, yellowfin etc. It was insane!

We arrived at the jigging spot and sent our jigs down and immediately went tight with some doggies and GT’s. We couldn’t land any small fish at that spot, because anything smaller than 7kg’s was eaten on the way up, and we are not talking getting taxed by sharks here. We had doggies taxing us, even eating smaller doggies and I had a fish taken by a very determined marlin, which ate the fish on my line 3 times before ripping it off the hook and heading off with its meal.

Below are two GT’s which I landed on consecutive downs with the Jig: First this one

Then this one

Enough to make anyone sweat, when jigging in 60m of water in 40+ degrees of heat and more than 90% humidity. Not for the faint hearted! We had a pretty good idea what was going on below at most times, as the water is very clear and we could see a long way down. We also had an underwater cameraman in the water most of the time and he just kept saying things like; “Oh Man!There is a big wahoo 20m that way and three huge doggies right beneath the boat”. This running commentary kept us going, even when the arms felt like giving up. Luckily for us most times a jig was sent down it was eaten, so there weren’t fruitless hours of jigging inviolved…

Below is a Black Jack head after a run in with a big Dogtooth on the way to the surface:

We trolled teasers for a bit, to try and get a sailie on fly, and raised a few sails and a black marlin of around 80kg, which would have been perfect on the fly, but sadly it didn’t eat the fly at the transom of the boat. The number of sailfish was pretty spectacular, and we had them coming in on poppers and stickbaits on pretty much every session. Below is a pic of Mike with one that he caught on a Darkstar Ulua 120 stickbait, while spinning from the boat:

Tropical species such as Black Trevally were fairly common on the jigs, and we also got a couple of longfin amberjack.

Below is a Black Jack that had a really long dorsal fin:

Another species that almost becvame a nuisance when fishing surface lures was the green jobfish, which were very aggressive and kept hitting both poppers and stickbaits.

We had some outstanding sessions where we hooked some really nice doggies on both topwater and jig. In fact we finished all our jigs before the end of the trip due to getting creamed by some massive doggies that were just unstoppable. I wasn’t too sorry to see the end of the jigs though, as that meant more time on the surface lures, which is my personal favourite way of fishing.

I hooked a monster doggie right below my feet one afternoon on popper, and couldn’t help myself screaming out when I saw the size of the beast that launched itself out of the water in front of me with my popper clenched in its big teeth. We followed it with the boat, staying right above it, to stop it from cutting me off oin the ledge as it headed for deep water. I had hooked it in 20m of water! only 100m away the water was 90m deep. Anyhow we safely negotiated the passage back to deep water with the fish below us, and as I was starting to relax and thinking of the fish as mine the hook inexplicably pulled…

Brad got a couple of nice doggies on stickbait too. The fish below was taken on a Sebile Stick Shad, also right on the surface and no more than 10m from the boat.

I finally got a good doggie on the surface as well, which was probably somewhere in the region of 50kg and gave me one hell of a pull. This one took a Ulua 120 stickbait and also headed for the dropoff, but we followed and the hooks held, so all worked out well:

All in all this was one of the best fisheries I have ever had the good fortune to experience, with mind numbing numbers of big doggies and other aggressive predators. The doggies had no problem coming to the surface to hit topwater lures, which makes it doubly amazing. The pic below is of a Ulua 120 stcickbait  3 hours after being taken brand new from the packaging and tied on, just to show you what I am talking about!

With stunning locations like this within our reach, it is great to know that we can enjoy this sort of bluewater action without having to travel halfway around the world to places like the coral sea. I firmly believe that this is one of the finest bluewater, big game fishing left on the planet. The rates are pretty reasonable by Seychelles standards, and the variety of fishing available is mind numbing. For example, we took a day off from the blue water fishing and waded the flats catching bonefish on fly, just to give our aching muscles a break. Where else in the world can you do that?

And of course to top it off, the Seychelles is just one of the most scenically spectacular destinations there is, with its beautiful clean water, turtles nesting on the beach (we had one laying eggs right in front of our guesthouse in broad daylight), sooty terns, frigate birds roosting on the island and a peace and serenity that is only shattered by the smashes of marauding gamefish and screaming of tortured drags…

Details of this trip are available from Brad Cartwright at Wildfly Travel, give him a shout and get a quote, it may just be worth doing something like this once in your life, before it goes the way of all the other fisheries out there. I am going to host two trips there next year, which can be booked through Brad, so give him a shout and find out more about it.p>

I Want to Break Free

I used to send my children to their room when they misbehaved just as teachers intern naughty brats with detention and every military institution will confine you to your quarters for inappropriate behaviour, so it is no wonder that we all had an adverse reaction to lockdown.

Why are we being punished is the psychological undercurrent, despite the rationale.

As a nation who live, by and large, outdoors, not being able to enjoy the safe wide open space seemed ludicrous and within the first month, we all felt the walls closing in. The large contingent of anglers in South Africa were gobsmacked that you couldn’t stand alone on a river, dam or shoreline getting some fresh air and needed exercise. Then the final straw was taking away our fundamental right to choose to have a responsible drink!

I get that you cannot congregate and celebrate your catch of the day or toast another fisherman’s trophy, but to prevent grown-ups from enjoying a drink in the sanctity of their own house, what’s next, an ankle monitor?

Fisherfolk are by nature positive people. When you think of the odds stacked against any angler every time they throw a line into the big blue, you have to be. And experience has taught us, be prepared to come home empty-handed, so we’re no strangers to disappointment. But, this is enough to drive a man to drink, ironic no?

Thankfully we are now allowed to enjoy some recreational angling, albeit only within your province, which is hopefully a precursor for allowing all responsible South Africans to travel within your family group and experience the beauty of our beloved country. So as long as it’s legal, here are a few suggestions of iconic fishing destinations to visit within our borders.

  1. The great Orange River – it’s a spectacular contrast of serene arid landscape and the largest river system in South Africa, from below Augrabies Falls, this desert wilderness can be explored by canoe and riverside camp. The fishing is simply off the scale and it’s an adventure that the whole family will enjoy.
  1. The majestic Drakensberg – this mountain range covers a multitude of breathtaking locations and many rivers, all teaming with Trout, from the foothills in the village of Nottingham road to the escarpment of the Southern Berg and through to the Eastern Cape, it’s an incredible road trip that every fly fisher should take.
  1. Cape Vidal – within the world renowned iSimangaliso Wetland Park, this protected marine reserve not only offers some of the best salt water angling in the country, but it’s unique habitat of alluvial plains and coastal forest is home to four of the big five and incredible wildlife, it’s the perfect combination of a beach and bush holiday.
  1. The Wild Coast – the unspoiled coastline of the Eastern Cape is what draws rock and surf anglers to the many seaside villages renowned for foot-print free beaches and lazy lagoons. It has some incredible hiking trails, with many famous landmarks and in the right season you are almost guaranteed to witness the migratory whales.
  1. Your local watering hole – alas this certainly doesn’t refer to the pub down the road, but the multitude of dams and fishing holes that are within an hour or two’s drive, all of which haven’t seen a rod in the last four months! The local tourism industry is what you should support, making sure that these establishments dedicated to local anglers are there for many years to come.

Remember when travelling, double-check the latest legislation for any further restrictions that Mrs. Zuma decides, in her infinite wisdom to shackle us with. Social distancing like hygiene is common sense, so there’s no tongue in cheek when I urge everyone to be wise and take all the necessary precautions to put the brakes on this terrible pandemic.

As a fisherman, it’s natural to want to find someone to blame, after all we have a bible of excuses of why we didn’t catch fish as it’s never our fault, but this Corona catastrophe is past pointing fingers. I would only appeal to our incumbent leaders to take a leaf out of our great Springboks playbook who have given the rock legend’s Queen’s anthem ‘We are the Champions’ real meaning to all South Africans.

You can not force a person’s support, give us the respect and right to choose. A relaxing beverage consumed responsibly at home is what you can do to prevent us from feeling like another of Freddy’s famous songs.

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