Fly fishing for bonefish and permit might have originated on the flats of the Bahamas and the Florida Keys, but these islands hardly hold a monopoly on the style of fishing. In the Indian Ocean, about 1,000 miles off the east coast of Africa, there is an archipelago that claims the highest density of bonefish in the world on one of its outer island groups.
The Alphonse Group is three small islets on the southwestern end of the Seychelles, a nation of 115 islands in gorgeous tropical waters northeast of Madagascar. Within the Alphonse Group, Alphonse Atoll and St. Francois Atoll offer more 10,000 acres of hard, white-sand bonefish flats as well as a lagoon with channels, finger flats and coral heads where fly fishers sight fish in clear water to more than 60 species of fish.
There are characters familiar to Atlantic flats—bonefish and permit—and there are also species exotic to North American fly rodders, like milkfish, colorful triggerfish and seven species of trevally. Instead of tarpon, the Seychelles offer up the giant trevally, which can weigh in excess of 120 pounds. And with a 10-minute boat ride out of Alphonse Island, anglers can access reef species and big pelagics like sailfish, wahoo, dorado, dogtooth and yellowfin tuna. Either trolling or teasing them up and casting flies to them, these offshore species offer a delightful break from the flats as well as a dinnertime treat on the island.
“The Seychelles has become known as the best giant trevally fishery in the world and has become the benchmark for anglers searching for an outstanding saltwater flats fishing experience,” said Keith Rose-Innes, managing director of Alphonse Fishing Company. “The sheer numbers and variety of fish species has amazed the fly fishing world, with anglers from across the globe queuing up to sample this ultimate fishing playground.”
St. Francois is most well known for its bonefish, with ridiculous numbers of 4- to 6-pound fish and the occasional 8-pounder in the mix.
“On falling tides, it is often the case that huge shoals of bonefish can be targeted when leaving the flats in what has been described as a continuous river of bonefish,” said Rose-Innes. “You hunt them on foot and not from a skiff, as the sand flats are hard and white.”
It’s also as close to a sure thing as it gets for anglers seeking the Holy Grail of saltwater fly fishing. Good numbers of Indo-Pacific permit populate the flats, and Rose-Innes said his guides have near-perfected the art of catching them.
Along with natural environs conducive to awesome fishing, a strong conservation ethic ensures an incredible angling experience. Alphonse Fishing Company tightly controls the amount and type of fishing pressure its waters see, and the fisheries are completely closed a minimum of three months per year. That’s the fishing side of the conservation effort. Alphonse also protects the unique flora and fauna of the islands, which makes for a sensational overall vacation experience, with comfortable lodging among beautiful tropical forests and beaches.
For more information, see www.alphonsefishingco.com.