African banks Seychelles - A Grande Escape (Part 1)

As with most trips everyone gets a nickname – let me introduce our motley crew…

Dean Pretorius

As I sit in lockdown and reminisce over some of the epic trips, I have been privileged to be part of I have decided to revisit them and hopefully entertain a few people during this lockdown period.

As with most trips everyone gets a nickname – let me introduce our motley crew…

Dean Pretorius [aka Fikizolo], Barry Miller [aka go big or go home], Gary Humphries [aka Silver fox], Gazza Watt [aka the penicillin provider], Mike ‘O  Hare [aka The Ballie], Rory Macadam [aka The Dog Father], Brian Jacobs [aka The Owl], Roy Skea [Aka Roy Rogers], Greg White [Lucky Greg Green] and our man behind the camera Simon Brereton [The Director]…

We managed to get everything through check-in with little effort and boarded our flight to Mahe at 12:25. The flight was uneventful with some of the best food I have had on any airline.

We touched down on Mahe at 19:25 S.A time it was already 21:25 due to the time difference. We were met at the Airport by an ever-smiling Anastasia Nagaeva, sales and marketing manager of Elegant Yachting and Sindu’s right-hand woman. We were transferred to Eden Island, where we would stay till leaving first thing Sunday morning on the Yacht.

The layover seemed to take forever, we tackled up with leaders on reels and hooks on poppers and jigs to pass the time.

A visit to Sindu’s well-stocked tackle store “The Fishing Specialist” in the Eden Isle shopping mall certainly assisted in passing time and further fuelling the anticipation with pictures of awesome catches made on previous trips. 

As with most trips everyone gets a nickname – let me introduce our motley crew…

Dean Pretorius

Sunday dawned eventually and after ferrying all our equipment we were on the way. Having seen our craft on the website and briefly in the harbour, I was blown away at the sheer luxury and organization of this craft. From the spotless appearance, to the creature comforts – everything one would expect in an up-market hotel. The equipment was also top-notch really instilling confidence as we headed out into a brisk trade wind and choppy sea. The journey was quite rough with a few of the boys feeling a bit green. Sleeping during these long runs will definitely take the edge off, also don’t shy away from seasick meds they do work…

On route I asked permission to troll a small jet head in the prop wash, and I managed to land about 5 small eastern little tuna, great bait I thought but Sindu had other thoughts as he claimed that these little bonito are great Sashimi. That night we got to try some, most of us started with long teeth but ended up loving it. Think I may be using more bonito heads and eating the bodies in the future!

After a difficult night sleeping in the rough sea, we awoke at our mooring on the lee side of the African bank island. The wild beauty of this place was what really struck me as we dined on a full breakfast served by Manu and prepared by culinary whizz Mike in the galley. I must say that over the next week we were blown away at the quality and variety Mike managed to create in that little galley.

Sindu runs a tight ship and the day’s plans have already been hatched. I was on tender 1 with first mate David. The weather was not playing ball with a stiff Southeasterly, rain and choppy sea. As we left the Mother ship, I decided that due to the conditions, I was going to troll stick bait out to the point where we would be popping and jigging. Craig Thomassen had actually suggested this to me when I had discussed the area with him. It often gets the fish up from the deep and motivates them to feed especially in choppy, windy conditions. 

I put on a 200g Dr Hook twitch bait I was testing for Roy. He had created a rainbow runner lookalike that caught my eye. I had rigged with 2 back to back singles on the front and a single hook on the back all rigged with extra strong jig star split rings and a grommet for the leader which was 200 lb mono. I was also testing using a 5m 250lb braid leader that I could throw through the guides giving me more protection from the reef. This leader I stitched into my 100 lb Daiwa boat braid. This experiment worked like a charm and I fished the entire week with this setup, got reefed twice and never got cut off.

Rigged up to the max I decided to start trolling the Dr hook in about 12 m of water. It was not long before I got a huge smash. Excited our skipper shouted “ATTACK!” confused, I looked around anxiously for pirates while trying to keep the fish from diving to the reef and cutting me off. The penny dropped and I realized that “Attack” was the local saying for a bite, a fantastic, descriptive saying that soon caught on.

I gave the fish big pressure with a heavy tackle which included my Daiwa Saltiga 6000 G.T and Black Hole Cape Cod 8 ft plugging rod [also on loan from Roy]. The fish was soon subdued and David put his paws on a good starter G.T of about 14kg. We trolled further and had numerous “attacks” from big green jobfish that were absolutely wild throughout the whole week.

We arrived at the drop-off and caught more Jobfish, which were eating the popper in 60 M of water! Just then I had an entirely different “Attack “, in fact it was an explosion. The saltiga screamed off and the fish dived for cover and reefed me, the heavy braid leader saved the day and managed to land my first Dog Tooth tuna of the trip. A quality fish of over 20 kg – with the gale blowing and rain pelting down. I barely noticed as I took a quick pic and released the fish. As we headed home caught more Job Fish and just before home I got smashed in shallow water, landing a Big Bohar snapper.

Time for lunch and to compare notes. The other guys had had some success, but it seemed that the Trolling option had done well and could set the trend for the conditions.

After lunch I paired up with Gazza on tender 1 again. Trawling out to the point we were once again rewarded with a multitude of Jobfish attacks. As we arrived at the drop off David pointed to some bait fish “ Mackerel, Mackerel” “Cast Cast” Gazza was first to throw and got his popper smashed. After a good tussle he landed a great G.T, I threw towards the baitfish and got smashed immediately landing a nice Doggie.

We trawled further getting more Jobfish and a few screamers missed. We later attributed these to Wahoo as Roy and Greg had landed a few on the other tender and Barry had landed one on the bigger boat.

Back at the Grand Escape over an ice-cold Seybrew it seemed all had caught some fantastic fish, including dog tooth, G.T, Wahoo, jobfish, Bohar and Rory with a big yellowfin tuna.

Over a spectacular dinner which included job fish gratin, and sashimi we reminisced and slept early in anticipation.

FISHING DAY 2 – GT ATTACK!

With all plans made the previous night I was on the big tender “THE SPECIALIST” skippered by the boss Sindu assisted by Ian.

It was decided to run 6 miles out to Lady Dennison Shoal – The shoal comes up from the depths to around 14m. the plan was to jig from 35m to the drop-off and target Doggies, G.Ts , Bluefins, blackjack, tropical yellowtail and more. There are also big yellowfin tuna here that love the topwater so, while jigging we were constantly on the lookout for tell-tale seabirds.

Starting off slow, we landed a few swallowtail rocks cod, blue fin kingfish and black jacks. As we “changed” [move to a different area] Sindu suddenly shouted “Go-Go” as the fish finders screen went red. Lucky Greg was the first to go on nearly having the overhead jigging rod ripped out of his hand and earning him a fine for letting the rod touch the gunnel! His fish screamed off  and down the line every angler went on to a good fish – Five anglers buckling with a G.T is absolute chaos but the kind of chaos every angler should experience at least once… Greg and I got tangled up, having witnessed his fish take off I knew he was onto a fish of a lifetime and prayed I wouldn’t cost him his fish. I slacked off and Greg landed his fish a trophy fish of 35kg plus – all five anglers landed their fish ranging from about 10 kg upwards.

Quickly doing another drift the game was on again a few more were landed and a few lost. The fish seemed to prefer the smaller 220 and 250 Jig star Africa Shout jigs with the blues and purples being the most productive colour.

At lunch the war stories were out of control – most of the guys had landed and lost good G.T ‘S on jig in the same area.

Dean Pretorius

As quickly as it had started so it stopped.

Trawling home the ever-present jobbies and Bohars were ready to snap up the topwater’s.

At lunch the war stories were out of control – most of the guys had landed and lost good G.T‘s on jig in the same area.

The wind had picked up during the day and for the afternoon session I had decided to go to the little island to throw a few artificials in the hope of getting a G.T.

Lucky Greg and The Owl [named for his owl fly] had decided to join us. The Owl was keen to test his fly-fishing ability and to get an elusive bonefish. When we arrived there were a multitude of kingfish in the shallows, surprisingly they were easily spooked and soon vanished.

Scouting the water I was initially quite disappointment as I had hoped that the drop-off would have been in casting distance, this would have opened up all sorts of species to be had. Undeterred I threw one of Roy’s slow pitch jigging spoons as far as I could and was rewarded with a nice G.T, Greg had been throwing lighter lures and had landed a thick-lipped trevally and a three spot pompano. As I had noticed a few sharks patrolling the edge of the reef I requested he give me the fish for bait. Making an improvised trace out of some 90 lb. Afw camo wire and a Mustad circle, attached it to my Poseidon ultra-light spinning and saltist 4500 loaded with 55 lb. saltiga boat braid, I threw the mangled head into the crystal clear water. What happened next was jaw-dropping. A shark patrolling the gutter passed about 20m inside the bait. It must have caught a whiff of the bleeding head as it stopped in its tracks and turned towards the bait. I hit the bait with speed and screamed off towards the reef, I set the circle hook and the game was on. The adrenalin rush of watching the fish feed and being able to see the entire fight in the clear water was one of my best angling moments. After fifteen minute tussle I subdued a stunning blacktip reef shark, whose sharp contrasting yellow color and prominent black markings is one of the prettiest sharks I have ever caught. They are also as cheeky as they are beautiful as these sharks aggressive in shallow water, both Simon and I were charged in the shallows. If you intend trying this facet you really need to take care when fighting, unhooking and releasing these sharks even the smaller ones. If you get bitten remember that you are miles from medical assistance and this bite alone could end your trip.

After landing the first shark I was rewarded with another two, before it was time to head back.

On returning to the mother ship The Ballie could not contain his excitement, he had got a sailfish on stick bait! The other anglers had also had a fantastic afternoon with G.T, Doggies, Yellowfin, and more.

With three more days of fishing the prodol and other concoctions were already appearing to ease wear, old muscles and with that we will leave you for the next edition where I will delve into the last three days fishing and go through the tackle and productive lures…’

In the meantime, check out Sindu’s operation Elegant Yachting at www.elegant-yachting.com

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