The small plane turns low above the turquoise water and an asphalt strip appears amidst green coconut palms: after an hour’s flight from the capital, Mahè, we land on Alphonse Island. It is situated 90 km to the south of Amirante islands – discovered by Vasco de Gama in 1502 – and 400 km to the south of Seychelles’ capital; together with St François and Bijoutier, Alphonse is a unique destination for fly fishing in the heart of the Indian Ocean.
The tidal flats around the three islands host almost all the most sought-after preys of saltwater fly anglers: bonefish, permit, milkfish, GT, three different species of triggerfish, barracuda, groupers, and outside the atolls, tuna, wahoo and all species for open sea fishing.
The quantity of fish is impressive, the resort was reopened in 2000 and the very careful management of intensive fishing, together with the owner’s attention to the preservation of the environment, guarantee the rare chance of fishing in an almost uncontaminated environment deciding every time which type of fishing to practice.
On your first day you get acquainted with the island by exploring it by bike, to discover its incredible palm forest, small beaches, the remains of the colonial era and its fauna, from the colony of wild cats to the centenarian turtles, from the imposing coconut spiders to the multitude of sea birds.
Life is well organized on the island; there are many whole-day activities also for travel mates who don’t fish. Only the beach lovers can be disappointed: tidal range can vary a lot and results in a decrease of available beaches. Bungalows and suites are furnished with good taste and they are perfectly clean, and the cuisine is international.
Classic sea equipment is recommended: 9-ft. rods with floating tails from 8 to 12, very robust, large arbour reels if you intend to hunt for GT, and leaders from 12 to 100 pounds. In the afternoon, after the briefing the guides help you mount the equipment: they check every part of the reel-tail-leader system very carefully and tie all knots again. If this procedure may seem excessive, you will change your mind and thank them when you catch a GT and try to prevent it from slipping into the reefs.
Most of the fishing is in the flats of St. Francois, an uninhabited island with a lagoon of about 40 sq. km made up of sand bottoms connected though channels and crossed by long reefs. In the morning, you board the catamaran which will host our equipment for all the fishing days, and after 40 minutes’ crossing, you get to the lagoon between Bijoutier and St Francois. Here the guides – you have no fixed guide assigned, but they rotate every day among the anglers – will refloat the skiffs that bring you to the fishing zones.
Skiffs host two fishermen, but you can get a single skiff if you pay a high, in my opinion, justified overprice and the number of fishermen is limited to a maximum of 12.
Once onboard the skiff, your guide will ask you what you would like to fish and give you his advice based on the tides which are the real crucial element for fishing in these atolls. Fish move by entering into the atolls with the tide and come out when the water gets lower.
After half a day’s acclimatization to wade fishing for bonefish, I used to begin with an attempt for the several milkfish swimming in the water outside the atoll, in copious shoals in continuous motion. Alphonse’s guides seem to have found the magic formula to catch this fish on a fairly regular basis; if it is on your fish wish list, Alphonse is certainly the ideal destination for you.
You can wade-fish on the flats for bonefish and permit, drift on the skiff for trigger and GT, go on foot along the external edge of the atoll with low tide for GT, and fish from the boat with a popper inside and outside the atoll for bigger preys.
It is a place for strong emotions, with a service level hardly found in luxury resorts and in such a well-preserved environment furthermore.
Contents THE SURROUNDINGSFISHINGEQUIPMENTALSO FOR FAMILIES Everything began last year when Markus told me about the many sharks populating the
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