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Seychelles, Alphonse and St. Francoise Atolls 09-24-1998

Northeast of Madagascar and east of Nairobi, in the vast expanse of the western Indian Ocean, lie the idyllic Seychelles Islands. The 115, mostly coralline islands, are sparsely spread over 1.3 million square kilometers. Southwest of the main island Mahe, about an hour by air, lie three postcard perfect coral atolls and the best bonefishing on the planet Earth. Best is not a superlative we use lightly and yet it is not applied nervously. This is the best!

There is no way to adequately describe the bonefishing in the Seychelles. You may see more fish here than you will see the whole remainder of your bonefishing career. One hundred fish days would be a possibility if you chose to waste your time in such a meaningless exercise in arithmetic foolhardiness. Instead, when you tire of bonefishing, you can pursue giant trevally or smaller bluefin trevally that savagely attack poppers or large deceivers. If all this fishing becomes too easy, you can go for the rarest of all Seychelles' angling prizes, the acrobatic milkfish. Milkfish rarely have been caught on a fly. But this elusive fish is one of the strongest found on the world's flats and when hooked, dazzles the lucky angler with blistering runs and huge thrashing jumps.

The trip itself begins at the end of a small concrete airstrip carved from the jungles of a coconut plantation on Alphonse Island. The live-aboard Tam Tam is a short walk from the plane. Most of the bonefishing is done on the huge flats surrounding St. Francois Island. One arrives there after a 30 minute motor southwest of Alphonse, past the smallest and most beautiful island of the group, Le Bijoutier.

Does this sound like an anglers paradise? Wait there is more! The flats are all hard and easily wadeable. Comprised of packed white sand and crushed coral, these hard-bottomed flats are interlaced with beautiful pale blue channels that give fish access to the flats. The fishing is good at all stages of the tide. But on the fringes of the tide, where the water meets the land, lies the best tailing bonefishing on the planet. The experienced angler will immediately gravitate towards these areas especially on the rising tide where bonefish tails glint suggestively in only inches of water. Yes, this is heaven and yes, all your previous standards of bonefishing success will be shattered.

Is there a downside to all this...of course! It is 6 hours to Paris and 9 hours from Paris to Mahe, then another hour to Alphonse.

There are no traditional guides and no flats boats, only a fiberglass skiff and a hypalon Zodiac. All fishing is wade fishing and the boats are not even equipped with push poles. The two friendly and affable guides, Donald and Paul, know the fishing and can definitely always find fish. The rest is up to you. If this makes you at all nervous, on our first trip to the Seychelles we had a beginning bone fisherman who hadn't casted a fly rod in 10 years and he caught over 100 fish for the week! The meals are superb. Fresh fish is served at every meal. More often than not, the evening's fish is caught by handlining at the Tam Tam's mooring during cocktail hour. Grouper, speckled emperor and other sumptuous snapper-like fish are wonderfully prepared. A second entree of steak, chicken or seafood is served every evening and is washed down with cold local beer, delicious South African wine or bottled water. Desserts are homemade and include cheesecakes and chocolate cake.

But perhaps the most important accolade we can heap upon this island group concerns their unspoiled beauty. If you were to design the prototypical idyllic coral atoll, this would be it. These islands are stunning with huge palm trees leaning out over perfect white sand beaches that slope onto pale turquoise flats. Hawksbill turtles, fairy terns and soaring frigate birds constantly monitor your activities. Each island's lovely lagoon is encircled by waves crashing in on the atoll's reef sending a fine mist into the bluest sky imaginable.

If you choose to make the commitment of time, energy and money and if you are willing to endure the hassles of international travel and the disorientation of jet lag, you will be rewarded with acres of tails glittering in the soft, saturated equatorial light of a completely deserted and perfect coral atoll.

Late breaking news!... We have just been told that a new lodge plans to be up and running on Alphonse Island by early winter 2000. The crew of the Tam Tam will serve as concessionaire for this lodge. This should be good news for anglers not able to pull together a group to charter the Tam Tam. A small, well-run lodge will also allow fishermen to enjoy their sport while their non-fishing companions explore this incredible atoll in comfort. Please call for more details!

Written by Scott Heywood



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