Talk about a shock to the system !! Walking out of Terminal 3 at Heathrow in summer clothes yesterday was not something I would want to repeat on a daily basis, but as always on these trips, nothing beats getting home and seeing my family. I love what I do, and I am hugely privileged to get to see, experience and photograph in places like St. Brandon's, but time apart from my girls is a wrench. Work is work though, and this is what I do. My wife is awesome in the way she just gets on with the day to day stuff when I am away on my travels. Everything went to plan and I was back home in Cornwall about 4pm - and the heating went on full blast !!
There were plenty of sharks swimming around on the flats and in the deeper channels, and John on the right here nailed this nice lemon shark first thing one morning. Sharks seem to love orange flies. You could see this fish was on the hunt, from its body language and also the shoals of nervous baitfish moving around. FlyCastaway run a 100% barbless single hook operation, and this magnificent creature swam away strongly after posing for my cameras. I always find it a real thrill to be in the water when sharks are around, but you do need to be careful. I know that one of the FlyCastaway guides got his two anglers out of the water and back on the tender boat one morning last week when they came across a very big tiger shark that was in a feeding mood.
Sometimes you just can't believe the array of colours and shades that a flats system can have when the sun gets high and lights them up. We were wading the flats at all times, and the small tender boats were used to get us around. Sometimes the guide would slow the boat right down and check the edges of certain flats to see if any GTs were swimming around. Not five minutes after I took this photo we saw a monstrous GT that just would not switch on to the fly.
I understand completely now why the permit has the reputation it does. We saw loads and loads, but the only one I actually got to photograph was this one here. It was not a big fish, but they are that special a thing that just catching one of any size on the fly is a huge achievement, and especially when you are wading. And not fishing from flats skiffs. Wading the flats is the ultimate challenge, and it takes seriously special guides to put you over numbers of fish. A few others were caught on the trip, but I was obviously out with different anglers and guides each day. St. Brandon's seems to be the place for chasing Indo-Pacific permit in the Indian Ocean, and we definitely saw 15lb plus fish swimming around. But not eating the crab pattern flies !! Take about cagey fish........
The trevallies (spelling ?) are just an awesome family of fish. We saw plenty of yellow dot trevally around, and I even managed to sight fish to one myself. They go like the clappers. We saw some really big bluefin trevally rampaging around at times, and their turn of speed when they are hunting baitfish is just scary. And as for the giant trevally ? I kid you not, they are just alarming things to watch in the water. I managed to photograph a really cool sequence of a roughly 45lb GT charging down an anglers' fly, but in reality there is little but the naked eye that could ever truly do justice to the speed and aggression of these fish when they want to kill something.
I had forgotten quite how much I love tropical flats photography. Most kinds of fishing get me going from a photographic point of view, and all for very different reasons. Flats fishing and photography is pretty unique, and as always I can't help but feel that to truly do a location like St. Brandon's proper justice via photography, you have to photograph and not fish. OK, so I caught a few bones and that yellow dot, but for 99% of the time I am walking around with cameras and not rods at the ready. And loving every single second of the whole experience.
But for all the other species that swim the flats, the bonefish is still arguably the one that most fly fishermen will end up targeting. They are just seriously cool fish that run and run and don't know about giving up. I have all the time in the world for them, and St. Brandon's is one hell of a location to go and fish for bonefish. I can't help but give a massive amount of credit yet again to the guys at the South African based FlyCastaway for running such a slick and professional operation. Yes, trips like these cost, but they cost for a reason, and FlyCastaway is consistently one of the most professional outfits that I am luck enough to work with. And their guides are just off the scale awesome at what they do. Thanks guys.