Yellow Dog recently sent the first group of the 2021 fall season to Alphonse Island in the Seychelles, and the trip was nothing short of outstanding. One of the group members – Charlie Biddle of Rye, New York – had an incredible week and an even more incredible catch! Here is Charlie’s report in his own words:
“This trip was one of the best trips I have ever had. I was a sport boat captain for over 20 years and had some incredible catches, but this trip was the end-all-be-all of my adventures. From GTs to sailfish, Alphonse is a very special place. The word AMAZING doesn’t do it justice.
Having never fished for giant trevally before, it was a bucket list item for me. So for my 40th birthday (and my hunting partners’ 50th), we decided to make it happen. We were going to the Seychelles. After working with Yellow dog, we settled on a strong spring tide that hoped would be great, and in that context, Alphonse did not disappoint. The first day was amazing for triggers, GTs, permit, and bonefish. Being the first day in a place that we have never fished before, the cardinal rule of “not lifting your rod when setting” was routinely broken – even for the most experienced fly fisherman in the group. No matter how many times you go through the scenario of strip-setting in your mind, when that first GT hits your fly, you just can’t help yourself. You forget everything and the rod tip just goes into the air. Well, my experience was no better, and I lifted my rod and pulled the hook on my very first geet. I come all this way, and I immediately did what I was told not to do! GT one and Charlie zero on day one.
Day two saw perfect conditions and two refusals. It is amazing how geets can be so aggressive yet so smart. Two shots for the day and not a take. Good casts and perfect fly presentation. What happened? I looked at Dean my guide and his answer was “nothing you did … it’s just fishing.” I’ve said that myself many times!
On day three we did a long surf walk. If you’ve never seen big fish surf down the face of an incoming wave, you are missing out. To see these fish come perfectly profiled in the face of a wave is nothing short of spectacular. A few shots at triggers and two great chances at permit, and we had nothing to say but wow. It’s a truly amazing place.
EPIC is the only word that describes my day four on Alphonse. Alex was my guide, and we all knew him as the Denzel Washington of the Seychelles: the movie star from the Yeti films and countless videos from the Fly Fishing Film Tour. He is in all of these videos for good reason! His eyes are the best I have seen, and he routinely spots fish at 300 yards and sure enough, they are there. We started with two fish right off the bat: one I pulled off and another that bit through 100 lb mono just after the eat. My guide did his job, and I had two fish hooked before 10 AM. What am I doing wrong when it comes to landing these animals? I looked at Alex and I could tell he was as frustrated as I was. Was it me or was it simply bad luck? All of these thoughts ran through my mind. Frustration was setting in and he could tell. We took a break and went to a flat to calm down a bit and look for triggers. As we walked along the coral flat, Alex spotted a small mustache trigger. I made a cast and he was on. My confidence went through the roof. We finished wading the shallow flat without seeing much, so we hopped back in the skiff and continued the hunt for GTs. We were slowly polling along the “bommies” (the submerged coral heads) in deeper water when suddenly I looked ahead and saw two nurse sharks almost out of the water on top of a large sunken coral head. They were making such a commotion that they had created a huge cloud on the down-current side of the bommie. Alex told me to get ready, as there would absolutely be a fish there. Now when a guide who has done this for 24 years gets excited, you know something good is about to happen!
Now remember I had already hooked three GTs at this point in my trip, but I had yet to bring a geet to hand. Still a couple of hundred yards from the corral head, Alex was focused and I was shaking. The distance continued to close as the commotion on top of the bommie continued, and at roughly 80 feet, Alex told me to start my cast. I managed to land the fly in the exact spot he had instructed me to, and all that I heard him say was, “perfect.” One hard strip and my line immediately came tight. “Don’t lift,” I told myself. “Strip set!” It all came together, and the fight was on. My Scott 12-weight was doubled over and my reel was screaming line. All that I could hear from the back of the boat was, “BIG FISH, BIG FISH, REALLY BIG FISH!” The motor started and we were off in pursuit of what I knew was an incredible trevally. These are smart fish, and I quickly learned that they go right for the coral heads to try to break you off. Clockwise … counter-clockwise … figure eights … We did it all, and 45 minutes later Alex grabbed the tail. I was done. I had broken the ice and I finally had my first GT! We stepped onto a nearby shallow sand bar and I jumped in to hold my fish. Alex took out his tape and measured the GT at 112 cm. I had caught the holy grail, and it was my first GT.Well, where do you go from there? The day ended with two more geets of 70 and 101. As the day ended and I began the ride from St. Francois back to Alphonse, I honestly felt as if my life was somehow more complete. My bucket list fish had been caught, tagged, and documented, and I knew that this was truly a trip of a lifetime.
Until next time!
Capt. Charlie Biddle