St Brandons, April 2019 report

The flats we all dream of....
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A very special destination, St Brandons is positioned 276 miles off Mauritius, the ultimate flats fishery I have dreamed to fish for a very long time. So with a group of good guys pulled together and a date set some 18 months in advance, we finally arrived to Mauritius filled with excitement for our flats fishing adventure. The infamous crossing, this is a boat journey of some 26 to 30 hours. It is one tough journey, but the reward is of quite possibly the finest flats fishery you could wish for and guides with a passion and knowledge of the place, that you simply cannot fail to love the place. A huge atoll with endless flats you could wade all day long and never reach the end. Flats where skinny water holds feeding Bonefish of very good size and with tide and a little more water you will find Permit as well as other species. We all had our dreams of Big Bonefish and Indo Pacific Permit, and a number of both were caught. But the GT fishing which was not our primary focus is what shocked some of us most. You don’t travel to St Brandons for GT fishing. Or do you? Think again, is what I say. We all concentrate our efforts on Bonefish and Permit and we forget what the guides know all too well. And they openly inform us that for those targeting GT, they may not catch many, but the fish they encounter will be huge!

Third day in, the morning consisted of fishing our way around a beautiful curved sand spit. We cast to a small group of Bonefish and harrassed a school of young Permit floating near the surface at the tail end of the spit in the deeper water. Great fun so far, but as we left and approached the boat our guide Nick called, “grab your 12 weights guys!” And we looked up the huge flat to see a long black line approaching fast. It was a horde of GT and a couple of big sharks, in a perfect line with around 25 or so fish in total. What a sight! Riaan my boat partner had his 12 weight in hand, and almost immediately he was positioned in the water, mid thigh deep and ready to cast. I grabbed my rod from the boat and ripped line from the reel while running forward and wading out to join them. I got myself in an almighty flyline foot tangle as my partner, stood with the guide and was casting away. After getting a couple of takes, he finally hooked up to a fish and broke his flyline during the hook set. Not a happy man, but Nick kept us moving and got us in the boat very quickly to go find this awesome group of big fish that left as quickly as they arrived. After five minutes or so, he spotted them heading back up the flat near the edge of another shallower flat which we know contains a huge population of Bonefish, or rather GT food. They were now in a streamlined pack formation and as we drew level, I waited to make the perfect cast and landed my fly ahead of them without giving them any cause for concern. A seven inch tan over white streamer was falling through the water as I noticed one lead fish curiously move forward. I stripped slowly and it veered from the pack to follow. Two faster strips, and the massive GT head came up oh so casually behind the fly and turned down. Hook set and line went tight and instantly the loose flyline was running through my fingers as the fish headed off down the flat! The fight had begun and with a hard drag set on the Redington Grande reel, this huge fish didn’t get too far into the backing and not much more than 50 or 60 yards away from us, maybe only a little more, once or twice during the whole fight.

After fifteen minutes or so, with a number of hard runs and much tug of war between us, we finally had this large GT circling the boat and pretty much landed. With the fish safely in our grasp, we got back to the sand spit, took a series of photos and released this amazing fish back to it’s beautiful home. What an epic encounter, a privilege to battle with and hold such a magnificent and powerful creature. A Giant Trevally of 1.24 metres and an experience none of us shall ever forget. The group continued to enjoy each day and many Bonefish were caught in good sizes, with the double figure fish escaping us this time around. Five Permit were caught and a few missed and lost, a handful of various Trevally were also taken and in general, a very successful trip was had by all. We each have our moments that make our trip and with this trip there were too many to list. Safe to say, we shall return and if anyone is interested in fishing St Brandons it would be a pleasure to tell you so much more about our first trip and perhaps you may wish to join us for the next.

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