Saturday, February 14, 2009

Northern Seychelles

Silhouette Island

Species: Milkfish (chanos chanos)

Day 1:

We moored off the South Western part of the island hoping to explore the waterfall we noticed high on the mountain. The faint outline of a wooden hut could be seen and on approach and on further inspection we found the remains of some sort of old plantation.

Not wanting to trespass we set out to find workers or residents for their permission to explore. The lack of activity and hum of the gen set echoing over the almost too well kept lawn and through the forest made for an eerie setting.

I began to look into the burnt down old buildings hoping not to find any human remains thinking that this could turn into a spectacular real life horror scene at any moment.

The sight of a few giant land tortoises brought about a change of sentiment and soon a local would peer her head out of one of the newly erected buildings. We asked for a shop and she called an elderly creole gentlemen who informed us that no shop was to be found but we were more than welcome to explore as we pleased.

We followed the river through the forest and found a spectacular river cascading down the granite rocks. We took a few pictures and then began the task of navigating back through the spiderwebs and rain forest to the mouth.

And there they were. Milkfish. Absolutely everywhere. Going about there business in no more than 30cm of water completely oblivious to what was going on around them.

Unable to contain my excitement I raced back to the yacht to fetch my tackle. I had not expected to to any sort of flats fishing north of Mahe, and as a result was ill equipped. I grabbed the lightest of my rods, a 12wt Fenwick Star Richardson, made from boron with a lovely slow action and winded a Ross Gunniston V to the seat. The only suitable fly I could find was an Arno's Milky Dream and some other small crab and prawn imitations.

The milky dream is a joke of a fly. Some chartreuse artificial fibre wrapped in two loops on either side of the small hook shank, but apparently it worked.

I placed my flies, water and sunscreen into a plastic bag, grabbed my rod, hopped in the tender, and off i went.

and so it began....

Milkfish- Take One

I tied one of Arnies Milky Dreams to the end of my 13' flurocarbon leader, and, not wanting to spook the fish, stayed well out of the water.

First cast- about 4 feet in front of the lead fish in a school of about four 15lb milkfish. All swam over both my line, fly and leader, not even flinching.

I continued to cast in the same fashion and soon realized that this was going to get very frustrating.

A change in game plan was in order and I stopped casting to examine the fish and their feeding habits. I noticed them eating small bits of green algae, somewhat darker than the chartreuse on my milky dream. They even swam up to sunken logs and ate pieces of algae of the bark and leaves.

Change of plan

I realized it would be pointless to continue casting ahead of fish like one would for bonefish. The best plan seemed to be to locate an area that the fish patrolled and place a fly there, waiting for a school to swim over and suck it up.

I did this and it wasn't long before a school started swimming to the chosen area. My heart beat started to speed up and then i watched in anticipation as the last fish in this particular group picked up and spat out my fly! I missed it!

I continued with this until I could no longer handle the mosquito bites, and, with my tail now well and truly in between my legs, started up the dingie and returned to the yacht.

Second change of plan

That night I tied multiple weed and algae imitations hoping to "match the hatch" in this specific lagoon. The milky dreams chartreuse was just too lumo and looked as out of place as the milkfish looked in this mangrove.

Day 2:

At first light I returned to the lagoon, tied on my best imitation of the areas algae and began the process over. Over the course of the next 6 or 7 hours I must have had 60 fish cruise directly over my fly, none even acknowledging it.

Too frustrated by the whole scene I began throwing at the fish in the deeper water. None even got a chance to have a look at the fly, the thievish little mangrove snapper that lived here foiled my every attempt at presenting a fly.


I have no doubt that on that first day, had I been quicker to strike I would have hooked my first Milky. Whether or not it is easier to catch these fish on the surface remains to be seen but in shallow water, and feeding on the bed it is most definitely time consuming. Not being predatory means that you have to just wait until one fish chooses the specific area your fly is in to suck in and pull the fly in its mouth. Harder still, you have to be able to see your fly to know when to strike, which is now perfectly camouflaged in the surrounding algae and almost impossible to see.

Maybe a strike indicator? Maybe this will spook the fish? Ill have to wait and see....

Other fishing around Silhouette

Off the southern point of the island there is a great reef that produces tons of Jobfish, and you'll eventually be irritated by the feisty buggers. We managed to land a decent Greenspot Trevally and on returning to out mooring, watched in awe as a 25kg Wahoo cleared about 7ft out the water and nailed our one soft skirt on the way down. The area later also produced Yellowfin and Bonito.
the waterfall
resident land tortoise