No photographs or expletives can adequately describe this paradise! Only the fortunate few who have been there will have a slight comprehension of what this magical place has to offer.
Excitement had been fever pitch for months preceding the trip and it rose to a crescendo as our group of 6 very anxious Fly fishers gathered anxiously at Grand Baie Marina in Mauritius, neatly decked out in our St Brandon’s T Shirts designed by my son Stefan.
The 36 hour journey there was rough due to a 25 to 28 knot wind but the wind was fortunately from a favourable direction and we had one of the best Skippers in Mauritius, Ben with 28 years sailing experience gained worldwide. We never felt unsafe but some of the guys did suffer from a few too many celebratory drinks combined with a choppy ocean.
All was quickly forgotten when we reached St Brandons and collected our Pirot (18 foot dinghy) from South Island. We fished hard for 8 solid days, every day a different one presenting its own unique opportunities and challenges. Remember that we have never been there and we needed to first find our feet, then the fish, but it proved much easier than expected, with valuable lessons filed away for future reference. Due to a need to fish rather than travel we kept our efforts to the Southern portion where we barely scratched the surface and which still leaves a huge area to the North for future examination.
The weather at St Brandon’s was also very constant with a fairly stiff cool breeze day and night which did not trouble us but made fishing to spooky Bones easier and cooled everything down to an acceptable level for the tropics .The occasional squall even had us wearing rain jackets on some days.
Bone fishing here varied from good to jaw dropping ridiculous. In some areas virtually every cast resulted in a big Bone with acres of Bones gathering in huge shoals on the shallowest flats during high tides whilst huge tailing and skittish Bones presented a challenge on the low tides.
GT’s were few and far between but so huge that there was a very real fear that one of them might actually commit and clean you out with unknown damage to tackle and ego. They were however very lethargic and would only suck on our flies and Poppers and or cruise by totally uninterested in our offerings. One chased down a big hooked Bonefish and devoured it in spectacular fashion leaving Piet with shaking knees. But we will be back and we know where the best concentrations were found.
During my search for GT’s I latched onto a 7 foot Shark that gave me a decent run for my money before finally severing my leader in the shore break. A different more strategic approach may work next time around.
I have never seen Bluefin Kingfish as huge and as finicky in my entire life, some were definitely proportionate to a decent GT and some were pitch black, mean fighting machines. I managed two big Bluefin’s on Crab patterns in shallow water on the reef and a decent one on a Semper whilst Piet managed two decent fish, one of which was severely mauled by a Shark. Several smaller ones were landed by everyone. The big boys were very careful and observant and will definitely haunt my dreams as I plan for their demise!
Permit were seen at every single area we fished with some areas presenting the best opportunities at feeding fish, 9 permit albeit some very small ones between four Permit virgins in the first four days shows the enormous potential for Permit fishing here. I was unfortunate enough to lose two fish in the 12 pound range in a 15 minute timespan on the last day, another episode to haunt my dreams!
As part of my bucket list I wanted to catch a Golden and Golden spotted Trevally and these dreams were also realised with room for improvement, Saint Brandon’s has species galore. Big Batfish are also everywhere and we will work on flies and strategy to target them next time.
Lots of Sharks, Prolific Bird and other sea life, spectacular vistas and good camaraderie made this the best salt water experience of my life to date. St Brandon’s doesn’t offer everything, but it is probably the best at what it offers in terms of Bonefish and Permit and possibly even some other species, no Triggers or Bumpies were seen but there were some eager Parrots who charged a Crab fly and I was bitten off twice and lost two fish due to poor hook ups.
But that’s what keeps us searching and exploring and going back for more. Thanks to a great group of guys and a great crew.
“Au revoir” St Brandons, hopefully only till next year November.