One of Fly Fishing's Most Remote Journeys
If you have been searching for the most remote, off-the-grid, untouched flats fishery on the planet, then St. Brandon’s Atoll may be the destination for you. Hard to reach and far from anything, we are very direct in saying that this is not a trip for just anyone. If you want to fish “the next frontier” in the world of saltwater flats, however, then a journey to St. Brandon’s should be at the top of your list. For many years, foreigners were completely banned from visiting her shores, but thankfully the red tape was finally cleared in 2014 to legally allow the outfitter that we work with to seasonally fish the atoll. While originally anglers based off of the MY Gryphon live-aboard mothership, starting in 2016 the program transitioned to a new land-based, guesthouse located on Raphael Island. The new guesthouse is comfortable, spacious, and strategically located within the layout of the atoll to access the best flats and most productive waters throughout the course of each week. This is by no means a quick or easy place to access, and the transfers to St. Brandon’s can be long and at times challenging. What you will find upon arrival, however, is an incredibly pristine ecosystem that is totally untouched. When fishing the area, you will oftentimes feel as if you are the first person to set foot on a particular flat. In all likelihood, that’s because you are.
While originally a mothership-based operation, all guests that visit and fish St. Brandon’s Atoll are now accommodated in a spacious and centrally-located four-bedroom guesthouse situated on Raphael Island in the northern part of the atoll. While the guesthouse is not overly-luxurious, it is simple, clean, comfortable and much more spacious than the live-aboard ship that was previously utilized for these trips. For the 2019 season, the transfer details to and from the island have changed significantly, which means that there will now be a maximum capacity of only six (6) anglers per week. The guesthouse features four bedrooms (allowing for two people to be single occupancy and four to be double occupancy), and two fully functioning bathrooms, each outfitted with showers, toilets, and hot running water. In addition to this, there are two outside showers. While the guesthouse and land-based facilities are fairly basic, they are indeed comfortable, with air conditioning in all of the bedrooms, spacious social and lounge areas, and a fully-equipped kitchen. There are new staff and guide quarters as well as a “saltwater mud room” area with freshwater facilities located right at the boat ramp. This area provides the ideal location for guests to “boot up” each morning and is the perfect place to rig, store and clean all gear and equipment each day.
The water and boat transfers to and from Mauritius to St. Brandon’s Atoll will be changing beginning with the spring 2019 season. While over the past several years the operation has relied on two, 50-foot sport fisher vessels to conduct the 24-28 hour crossings, the rate to charter these vessels has continued to rise each season to the point where the operator was going to have to increase end rates substantially. Recently, however, Raphael Fishing (the partners in the St. Brandon’s project who run the ground operations) acquired two new supply vessels to service the small commercial fishing operation on the atoll, creating a new option to transport guests to and from the atoll in place of the smaller sport fishers.
From a crossing length point of view, the new boats do the crossing in the same amount of time as the sport fishers (+/-24 – 28 hours). Added to this, the St. Brandon’s guide team has done multiple crossings on these boats and they are confident the ride out to the atoll for guests will be more comfortable compared to the sport fishers. In the first place, the hull design reduces the rolling motion. Secondly, the cabins are air-conditioned and much more comfortable. And third, there is a large partially-covered back deck area which provides plenty of fresh air during the day.
Since the transfer boats are a bit cramped for eight guests at a time, however, the operator has decided to reduce the number of rods from eight guests per trip down to six guests per trip, running a back-to-back schedule whereby they are not losing days with the sport fisher transfers boats sitting in Port Louis, refuelling and resupplying. Beginning in April 2019 there will have a boat departing Port Louis every Monday – arriving back in Port Louis every Thursday. That means it is still a 10 night program and all guests will still get seven (7) full fishing days. It also means that we can now offer single room and single angler options on St Brandons!
Food and Beverages
Over the course of the week, the guesthouse chef will prepare a mix of Creole cuisine and international foods that include meat, pasta, fresh vegetables, and fresh seafood. Although a selection of wine and spirits can be pre-ordered and pre-stocked prior to the trip, clients are more than welcome to bring there own bottles of preferred spirits. All mineral water, soft drinks, and local beers are included in the package price.
Typical Length of Stay
All packages are ten (10) nights with seven (7) days of guided fishing.
Non-Angling Activities and Options
The reason to make the trip to St. Brandon’s is to fish. There are absolutely no structured non-fishing activities on the Atoll, and – aside from wading the flats, walking the beach or snorkeling – very little for the non-angler to do.
Internet / Communications
The hotels and many restaurants on Mauritius offer Wi-Fi for guests. Some U.S. cell phones may work on Mauritius as well. Once you depart Mauritius for St. Brandon’s, however, cell and internet service are totally non-existent. A satellite phone is recommended if the need to call home or if the ability to communicate is a factor. The guesthouse is equipped with an emergency satellite phone which can be used by guests for an additional cost.
How To Get There
The primary airport and access hub for St. Brandon’s is the international airport on Mauritius (MRU). Guests will need to fly into the main island of Mauritius the day before the trip begins and should overnight at a local hotel the night before. We recommend staying at Le Suffren Hotel & Marina, located in Port Louis, Mauritius. This is the marina where the transfer boats will be docked, and the central location offers easy access to a host of restaurants, bars, shopping, and other activities.
Arrival and Departure Details / Times
Guests are asked to fly into Mauritius the day before departure. It is possible to arrive on to the island the day of departure, but be aware that you must land no later than 10:00 AM, as the transfer boat generally departs Port Louis for St. Brandon’s that same afternoon. There are more than a dozen daily international flights into Mauritius from several European and African cities. The boat will arrive on Raphael Island approximately 24-28 hours after departing Mauritius. Guests will then receive a briefing from the head guide and set up gear and rods before heading off onto the flats for the remainder of the day (generally a full day of fishing). Guests will then spend the following six (6) full days out on the flats. On the day of departure back to Mauritius (the eighth day), guests will have the opportunity to fish until around 12:00 PM, following which the transfer boat(s) will then head back to Mauritius at around noon, arriving in Port Louis sometime between 12:00 PM and 2:00 PM the following day. Although every effort is made to stick to this schedule, weather and other factors associated with remote locations of this nature can affect timing. We ask all guests to go into this trip with an open mind towards the logistics, appreciating how remote a venue St. Brandon’s really is and what a privilege it is we are allowed to fish these waters! Return international flight can be booked which depart after 8:00 PM on the end date of the trip.
All U.S. citizens are required to have a valid passport that does not expire within six (6) months of trips dates. Please be sure that your passport has at least two blank, unstamped pages remaining in back, and that it is not torn, delaminated, or damaged in any way. UK, US, EU, and RSA passport holders do not require a visa for entering the country of Mauritius for vacation purposes.
Yellow Dog works directly with and recommends Kanna Travel. They can assist with airline tickets, hotels, transfers and all travel logistics for every destination that we offer. Contact them at 855-739-3139 or [email protected] for more details on airfare ticketing, travel services, and trip insurance.
Upon arriving at St. Brandon’s after the ocean crossing from Mauritius, no time is wasted getting you onto the flats. The guides immediately put their vast Indian Ocean experience and planning to work, allowing you to fish and explore the Atoll’s huge expanse of pure white sand flats and broken coral islands, all of which are infested with large, native bonefish. We can testify from personal experience that this is the most spectacular bonefishing you will ever encounter. On most tides, anglers can expect to see huge schools of bonefish as well as enormous singles and doubles. Over the past few seasons, this fishery has delivered bonefish that measure up to nearly three feet (87 centimeters) fork length, weighing in excess of 15 pounds. Aside from the Atoll’s huge bonefish, St. Brandon’s may also be the most productive Indo-Pacific permit fishery in existence. When specifically targeting these notoriously finicky fish (the Indo-Pacific permit are just as difficult as their Caribbean cousins) anglers are usually afforded multiple shots per day.
The giant trevally (GT or “Geet”) fishing can be quite varied as well. Some days you can see a fair number of these bruisers, and at other times none at all. St. Brandon’s isn’t a place where you are going to get shots at GT’s every day, but it is certainly the place to break the 100-centimeter (40-inch) mark with a trophy fish. The fish in this part of the Indian Ocean are typically large, which means that you will usually catch fish that are more likely to be over a meter than under. Geets well over the 150-centimeter (60-inch) mark have been hooked and landed over the past several years. Large Bluefin Trevally is also around, as well as golden, yellow dot and green spot trevally.
The flats of St. Brandon’s are primarily made up of white compacted sand, which makes for easy and endless wading. This is one of the key things that separates this fishery from most other flats destinations in the world. And since almost all of the fishing will be done via wading, heavy-duty, high-quality protective footwear is essential. Although the sand flats are easy on the feet, there are certain areas which are made up of broken coral or littered with coral “bommies,” which means that standard diver’s neoprene booties and thin rubber-soled slip-ons are not appropriate. Guests will not be taken onto the flats without proper footwear. We recommend the Simms Vapor Boot or the Simms Flats Sneaker.
All trips to St. Brandon’s are hosted and guided by a team of world-class, professional fly fishing guides from South Africa. During your stay on the atoll, there will typically be four guides working, including one head guide. Each guide is a qualified skipper, has advanced first aid experience, and is extremely experienced with all facets of fly fishing the remote saltwater destinations of the Indian Ocean. Their passion and dedication is infectious, and as a team, these guys will always go the extra mile in search of your fish of a lifetime. All of the guides are great instructors and 100% fluent in English.
Boats and Equipment
Boats used daily by the guides to access the flats are small 20-foot wooden “tenders” that are based on the atoll. These boats are used for transportation only, as almost all fishing on the atoll is done while wading. Anglers should plan on bringing all equipment such as rods, reels, extra fly lines, and quality, heavy-duty wading boots. The guides do have flies available for purchase at the guesthouse, and pre-organized fly selections can be pre-ordered for your trip through Yellow Dog. Single-handed 9-foot rods in 9 to 12-weights are recommended. All fly lines should be tropical floating lines. The guesthouse does have a limited selection of 8, 9 and 12-weight G-Loomis Rods and Shilton Reels that can be rented on a weekly basis. A comprehensive tackle and gear list will be provided by Yellow Dog after your booking has been confirmed.
Remember that Yellow Dog’s services are completely free! When you book a trip with Yellow Dog, you never pay more than when you book directly with the lodge or outfitter. All prices listed below are per person and quoted in US Dollars.
$8,600 per person sharing for a 10-night/7 day fishing expedition.
$9,100 per person sharing for a 10-night/7 day fishing expedition.
Extended, two-week, back-to-back trip options (17 nights/14 fishing days) @ $15,500p
Single angler option is $1,500 per person, per week.
Single room option $1,500 per person, per week.
*Note that while the back-to-back trips are long, considering how far you are traveling and the costs involved, this option is well worth it. Over the last few years, we have more and more guest requesting extended trips and more fishing days, which is why this option is now available!
- Full board and accommodation at the Raphael Island guesthouse based on two people sharing a room
- Round-trip transfers from Mauritius to Raphael Island aboard the transfer boat(s)
- 7 days of guided fishing (2 anglers per boat/guide)
- Three meals per day on the island and during transfers to the atoll
- All bottled water, coffee, tea, juice and beer
- Mauritian fishing licenses
- Laundry services on the island
- All applicable taxes and GSTs
What’s Not Included:
- International flight to Mauritius (MRU)
- Gratuities for guides and guesthouse staff
- Liquor and wine (BYO!)
- Round-trip taxi transfer between the international airport on Mauritius and the hotel in Port Louis
- Meals and accommodation in Port Louis or any other en route cities
- Travel insurance and Global Rescue coverage
- All fishing equipment, tackle and flies
African Safari Trip Add-On
SafariScapes works hand-in-hand with Yellow Dog Flyfishing Adventures to extend your fly fishing trips to include world-class African safari experiences. Whether fishing the flats in the Seychelles or fighting tigerfish in Tanzania there is no better way to top off a trip than with a visit to one of many beautiful safari lodges. At SafariScapes they work with you to plan a safari for family or friends that fits your interests and can support you in customizing itineraries as needed. From hot air ballooning to private aviation there is no limit to your dream safari.