African banks Seychelles - A Grande Escape (Part 2)

Once hooked it went absolutely berserk giving us an aerial display of note

Hopefully the first instalment of this epic trip whets your appetite for more, and more there certainly was. Unfortunately the wind never really let up and the sea remained choppy throughout but the fish just kept on coming. Due to the prevailing conditions it was decided that we remain moored in the lee of the African Bank Island and not explore a number of other spots as had been planned.

Day 3

Met with a stiff south easterly, I had decided to take the smaller tender with David as our Skipper. The plan was to head out to Dennison Shoal and jig for G.T and doggies. I had decided to troll a smaller lure on the way and try and get some bonnys for bait on the other popping rod I pulled a black and white wild dog stick bait, not even five hundred meters from the boat I witnessed a big sailfish attack the lures, trying to remember the advice of Sindu to ‘feed’ the sailfish when it hits the lure sounds easier than it is – the fish jump and threw the stick bait flying through the air. We circled the spot and saw a huge black marlin – I threw the stick bait to it but it swam away. We proceed further and were rewarded with some good bait size bonnys and the ever-present Green jobfish including a few trophy size ones of which the badly hook ones were kept for the Master Chef Mike to create my favorite Jobfish Gratin.

Arriving at the shoal we jigged but to no avail, with the fish being a bit jig shy from the previous days’ chaos David suggest we proceed to one of his dogtooth marks – on arrival at the spot we were greeted with ballyhoo being smashed out the water on Dave’s instructions, I cast the lure into the fleeing baitfish the lure was smashed by a huge doggy that sped off diving straight for the bottom. Halfway down the fish came off, As I retrieved the lure it was hit again the fish fought hard but different to the doggy, after a good tussle I managed to land a nice male G.T which was successfully released after a pic. I threw the popper a while longer and we noticed a pinnacle with a great showing. Dave set up the drift and I changed to a 220 g purple shout jig that Roy from jig star Africa had given me to use It seemed on this trip that the smaller jigs were what the kingfish were eating.

I sent the jig to the bottom and was immediately on to a stunning bluefin kingfish the next 4 downs produced a fish every time from blue fins to my first BlackJack which had been on the top of my must catch on this trip. I also pulled hooks on two big fish trying to hold them off the bottom. With weary arms we headed back for a much-deserved lunch landing about 5 jobfish on the way home! Over a bowl of outstanding tuna soup, smoked marlin salad and other delicious creations it seemed that all had had another productive morning from yellowfin tuna, kingfish, wahoo and sailfish.

The afternoon session was had on the big tender, the plan was to get a sailfish on the stick bait- Sindu took us out to the point and we threw poppers and stick bait into the shallows while drifting, Rory pink dark star popper was on fire landing him a doggy and numerous “attacks”, While this was going on I heard Garys’ excited voice “Salie Salie “ I turned to watch him pitch a small dark star ulna to big sailfish in feeding mode. He did everything by book hooking the fish only meters from the boat once hooked it went absolutely berserk giving us an aerial display of note it eventually threw the hook leaving the silver fox with a rather bemused look on his face! As it got dark we trolled a few star walkers sinking stick baits these had proved to be the top trolling stick baits accounting for sailfish and dogtooth. The purple, blue/silver and green were most productive.

Rory once again lived up to his nickname [dog father] landing another 2 dogtooth. After hard days fishing a few cold Seybrews and plates piled with fresh sashimi saw us all hitting the sack early.

Day 4 

With weary arms and loads of line cuts we headed off on the fishing specialist to the shoal for bit more jigging, on the way it was decided to get a few bonito to rig on the bottom. Trawling with smaller lures we managed about 5. Arriving on the shoal we were rewarded with few bluefin kingfish. I rigged a fresh bonito and sent it down I soon hooked something that fought hard and turned out to be a white tip reef shark, another first for me. Not to be outdone Barry rigged a huge bonito, he hooked into something really big that eventually dived into the structure. Rory had continued jigging and hooked into an absolute steam train that almost stripped him on full drag before cutting him off on the ledge. One could only surmise that this was a 100 kg doggie or huge amberjack.

As we moved to do another drift, Sindu asked why not one of us were trawling a stick bait as we go. I obliged and cast a black and white wild dog stick bait behind the boat, as it landed there was a huge explosion as a big fish pounced on the lure. The fish came relatively easy and at the boat we were surprised to see bus yellowfin tuna. Sindu gaffed the fish the was still green and nearly pulled him off the boat. With gaff still in the fish it proceeded to strip line off the Saltiga as dived off the drop-off.

After what seemed an eternity the fish began its characteristic circles as it neared the boat. Sindu and Iain grabbed the gaff that was still firmly in the fish and boat a cracker of about 45 k.g. Searching for more of these fish Gazza soon landed a good fish and the Ballie got absolutely smoked on lighter tackle. Trawling home Barry was rewarded for persevering with the huge Dark star popper with another good yellowfin. Once again we rested in the heat of the day with a fantastic meal.

That afternoon the wind was pumping and I, Brian and Roy had decided to go back to the island. This time I took a few fresh bonito and make plan with a blown-up plastic bag to try and get some baits way off the drop off using the wind. Sending the bag rigged with a piece of belly shine soon raised a pull and after a spectacular fight I landed another blacktip reef shark. I put another bait even further and got another bite, the fish fought differently and when I got it in the shallows I noticed that it was a lemon shark. These sharks are umber aggressive and one must really careful when handling them. I grabbed the fish in the shallows and it reared up nearly grabbing my leg. Watching the footage a bit later showed just how close it really was.

I quickly put out another bait, put the rod in a makeshift coral rod spike and picked up my ultralight 6’6 Daiwa Pro Z rod, matched with a 3000 ballistic and 20lb tournament braid. I put on a small Halco roosta popper and proceeded to throw over a ledge and pop back towards the shore. A fish exploded on the popper and dived for cover. Putting as much pressure as I dare I was finally able to land a stunning emperor which I quickly released. As the fish swam away the other rod took off, in the distance I noticed Brian buckling properly on a light set up. I handed the rod to Roy, who is more of an offshore angler to tussle the shark and ran to assist Brian. He was on the way to getting spooled properly, he tightened up, much more than I would have dared, and slowly started winning the battle, the light braid and leader holding against all odds. He eventually got the fish over the ledge it was so big that first, we thought it was a shark, as it turned I got a glimpse of a bus g.t of 25-30 k.g I took my hat off to use to grab the fish and instructed Brian to stay as far away as possible to limit the strain on the tackle. The fish entered the shallows, as it saw us it went ballistic smashing the ultra-light leader. I really felt for Brian, but getting that fish, that close was a feat in itself.

I ran back up the beach, just in time to assist Roy landing his first shark from the shore. What an afternoon, as we made the short trip back to the mother ship we knew we had made a good decision to fish the island.

Last Day

It is amazing how quickly the last few days of a trip fly by. The last day dawned and we had decided that Simon our cameraman was going fish and not film. On the way out he broke the ice with few bonito. When we got to the spot there was a lot of bird activity, so we decided to pop for tuna.

We all managed a tuna including Simon, who was ecstatic. Gary and Rory on the smaller tender also had fun getting a few good tuna on the popper.

Brian [The Owl] had decided to target a bonefish on the flats, a dream for him. When we returned for lunch we were greeted by a beaming Brian, who had accomplished his mission by landing not one but 2 bonefish in the morning. The Ballie [Mike] had made a pig of himself and managed another sailfish.

With the last session of the trip looming and wind really pumping many decided to rest – Simon decided that we needed to film some more so myself and Greg went with Sindu for a last-ditch session.

The water was really choppy so we trawled around some big shoals of fusiliers we had found – I was trawling a big Wild Dog G.T 21 – I was soon on and landed a good doggie of over 25kg, as we rounded the bait again I had a massive attack as the water exploded, pulling lure to the boat I was amazed to see a Bohar snapper on the one hook and a half-eaten dogtooth on the other.

Not to be outdone Greg soon landed a good Doggie and then proceeded to get numerous good Job fish, who loved a smaller lure he had been given by his dad before the trip.

Not too bad for a short last session in sight of the mother ship.

Back at the boat we packed in silence excited to be going home to loved ones but sad to leave this anglers paradise.

Conclusion

The 20-hour trip back to Mahe was used to clean and pack tackle, sleep and recuperate.

This trip was truly one of a lifetime, Sindu Parekh and his staff run one of the best operations I have had the pleasure of experiencing with top skippers, chefs, staff and equipment. The variety and quality of food that came out of that small galley never ceased to amaze. For South Africans this is an expensive trip but well worth the bucks.

A big shout out to our sponsors RSD, Jig Star Africa, Air Seychelles [Border Air] and of course Elegant Yachting.

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