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The trip to Desroches was a real adventure!
March 13th, 2012 - by:: Daniel Beilinson

The trip to Desroches (Seychelles) was a real adventure. Needless to say, Desroches is a paradise island, with lush vegetation, white sandy beaches, warm and clear waters and excellent facilities and service. The meals are always elaborate with a touch of signature cuisine; everything is taken care of, finely decorated and maintained. Although there are some flats in Desroches island, it does not offer very good fly fishing, as there is a very small number of bonefish ( I haven?t seen any), and even though I was told that permit and GT are found in the area, I wasn?t successful with them. To have good fishing, you have to head for Poivre islands or Saint Joseph Atoll.
Both Poivre and Saint Joseph are located within over one hour boat ride in the open sea. I would say it takes one hour and a half or a bit more to get to Saint Joseph. The crafts are modern with two powerful motors reaching a maximum speed of 18 knots. They usually leave at 8 in the morning. There are some rods for trolling used to teaser the sail fish, which are abundant in the area. There are also bonitos, tunas and wahoos.

Both in Poivre and Saint Joseph the fishing is done by wading, as the bottom consists mostly of coral. It is essential to wear a strong pair of wading boots because the neoprene ones break easily and might be dangerous. It is also very important to protect from the sun and carry a bag with a light waterproof jacket and mineral water. The walks are long, as you head for a destination and then you have to go back to the first spot, so you should be in good shape and physical conditions. There are no skiffs in Poivre, but there are 3 in Saint Joseph. They are used to sail inside the inner lagoon of the Atoll, not for fishing. The tides have proved to be an extremely important factor to take into account, as it is very difficult to fish the flats either with high or low tide. You should bear this in mind when it comes to organizing your fishing trip. The best thing is to fish the flats when the tide comes in because the fish are coming; they are usually more nervous when the tide goes out.
Out of the 10 days I spent in Desroches, I was able to spend only 4 fishing the flats (2 in Poivre and 2 in Saint Joseph). I stayed there two days to wait for the members of the group and the other 4 were very windy. When it is very windy, the sea gets really rough with huge waves. For safety reasons, the boats are not allowed to sail in the open sea. The two days I spent in Poivre were very interesting. I had never seen so many permits tailing in my whole life. The weather was very nice on the first day. It was sunny, the sea was calm and the tide was perfect. The island with sandy beach is surrounded by a turtle grass flat, then a sandbank with coral and sandy bottom, and then the breakers. Most of the permits were spotted between the coral reef and the breakers, always in small schools of 3 to 5 and feeding practically with their backs out of the surface. I had the chance of placing the fly in front of over 40 permits within 15-yard distance, having seen over 100. I guess 20 of those casts were perfect. However, to my disappointment, none of the fish was interested in any of the 7 different flies I tried. Although there is no fishing pressure in the area, the fish behavior is the same as the Caribbean Permit (Trachinotus Falcatus), that is to say, they are nervous, have a very good sight, are easily spooked away, hear when you are walking on the coral reef, etc. Besides permit, I had the chance to see several lemon sharks. They were not very big. While I was with my rod ready to catch some GT, I spotted one of these lemon sharks swimming by 30 or 35 yards away. I strode purposefully to approach and cast the fly right in front of his nose when I was within 20 yards. The shark took it immediately, and after a short fight I succeeded in landing it. The shark weighed between 20 and 22 pounds. I was able to cast at some Triger Fish too, but I didn't have luck this time.

The second day in Poivre was completely different; it was cloudy and rainy, but the sea was calm. I saw plenty of bonefish, but I was not interested in them. I wanted a permit. Unfortunately, the rain and the cloudy sky made our visibility difficult, so once I could spot one, it was too close and it got frightened away. Besides, I had left the waterproof jacket on the boat, which had left us on the beach and headed for somewhere else in the island, so whenever it started to rain, and it sometimes rained heavily and frequently, I ended up soaking through. I had to ask the guide to take shelter under some palm trees or other vegetation on the island. To sum up, I had fewer chances than the previous day and of course I fished less time. At about 15.00 hrs, the boat came back to the beach, so I was able to get my jacket and tried to make the most of the time I had left. The weather was still awful (cloudy and with rain showers), but I was determined to catch a permit. The guide pointed at some, but I couldn?t manage to make a good cast. When we decided to go back to the boat (we had to return to Desroches at 16.00 hrs), I saw one permit tailing in the breakers . It was out of sight when the waves broke, but when the tide went out I could see it in the same place. So I approached taking long steps trying to be as quiet as possible, and when I was 20 yards away I waited to see its spine. When it showed up, I made a cast behind the wave over the permit and I waited. Nothing happened. I waited for a couple of seconds and the permit was still there. I waited for a second wave and did the same, a cast before the wave broke on the permit. The fly fell perfectly, so I let it get the wave impulse. While I was recovering line gently, I felt a strike. I hooked firmly, and I had my permit in the line! I took about 10 minutes to bring it closer and land it. It was my first Indian Ocean Permit and my 34th permit! I am attaching a picture.
We took advantage of those 4 days with bad weather and did some off-shore fishing in the protected area of the island, which obviously wasn?t the best. We saw several sail fish chasing the ?teasers?, but only 2 were hooked but lost. One, because the joint of the line and the leader cut and the other one, because of a knot in the backing.
Saint Joseph is a dream. The Atoll consists of a number of islands, a central lagoon and countless flats, many of them with fine white sand. There is excellent bonefish fishing and they are in big schools. The size is similar to the ones in Cuba, with an average weight of 3 to 4.5 pounds. There is also a good quantity of sharks searching for bonefish; most of them are lemon sharks and some of them are big. The blacktip reef shark is also found in the area. It is smaller and more difficult to fly fish. There aren't as many permits as in Poivre, but they are seen in the flats and in the beaches with coral bottom around the atoll, waiting for the tide to come in to be able to get into the sandy bottoms and turtle grass flats for feeding. Unfortunately, we did not find any GT or Bluefin Trevally in Saint Joseph, despite trying.
One day when the tide was coming in, we waded the area with the water up to our knees. Every wave made water rise to our waist. The guide told us that the GT, the Bluefin Trevally and the sharks took advantage of these moments to get closer to the beach looking for smaller fish that go along the waves. Among the great number of fish we saw plenty of bonefish in big schools. According to the guide, the GT are usually spotted swimming along with the waves, and sometimes you can see their backs. Instead of finding GT, we saw many lemon sharks, some of them were over 2 m long, doing what the GT were supposed to be doing.

I have to confess that so many sharks around and not being able to see the bottom where I was wading made me a little nervous! The surroundings of Saint Joseph Atoll offer excellent sail fish fishing. One of our clients, Giovanni Pratesi, tried in the last afternoon and was able to move 5 and hook and land 2 nice fish, one of them reaching over 100 pounds. Summing up, I think Desroches is an interesting fishing destination for anglers in good physical conditions, good casting level and ready to take the risk of having bad weather. The area is amazingly beautiful, with tropical weather and clear waters, with a wide variety of marine life and top-quality accommodation. This destination allows the combination of fishing and pleasure, so it is ideal if you travel with your wife or girlfriend! According to the information I gathered from the local people and the marina staff, the calmest months are October, November, March and April.

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