On Saturday I am flying down to the Seychelles via Dubai (First Class, obviously!!), spending one night on Mahe, and then on Monday morning we fly out to what in reality is the middle of nowhere - Astove atoll, a tiny island that is I don’t know how many hundreds of miles away from what you or I think of as the Seychelles. I last set foot on this place nine years ago when I went on my first outer atolls photo trip, and I have been dying to get back there ever since. That time around we lived on a boat and visited three different atolls, and to be perfectly honest the whole experience completely blew my mind. It doesn’t matter how many hundreds of times I have now seen giant trevally charging down flies on shallow, crystal clear flats, because each and every time is beyond freaky. It's downright insane and I am not sure that I have the right to call heading down there to shoot photographs as work. But it is. Somehow.
These ultra remote atolls of the Aldabra group were shut down for a number of years due to various piracy issues, indeed one of the boats I stayed on once was taken by pirates not that long after we got off it and flew back to the relative civilisation of Mahe. This time around though there is now a landing strip on Astove, as well as accommodation for clients and guides. It's a truly, truly wild place with ridiculously deep water very close inshore. As much as this trip is about fly fishing the flats and shallow reefy ground for GTs, bonefish, triggerfish etc., I have heard numerous stories about smashed rods, reels, fly lines and egos when guys have dredged "the wall". It would be pretty cool to see a bit of that.
Aside from the insane fishing and almost overwhelming sense of wilderness, one of my abiding memories of my two days on Astove was the number of sharks, and I am not talking little things that scoot away at the merest hint of your shadow. I had gone ahead of the group one morning and I ended up wading across that narrow lagoon mouth that the red arrow is pointing at - no great hassle, and I met up with them on the right hand side. When we met up with the other group a bit later on, one of the South African guides showed me the teeth marks on the butt of his teasing stick. Teeth marks? He had waded across the exact same bit of water that I had, only he was charged by a shark and had to ram the rod butt down in front of his legs to avoid getting hit - and the result was those teeth marks on the duplon. Nice!! Well I suppose I could have tried hitting the shark with my camera if I had been the one who was charged.
I shall be keeping an eye out. We did a hot and sweaty walk across the lagoon and out along the wild side of Astove, and somewhere along that coastline a friend of mine spotted a GT to cast to. We were walking along the shoreline trying to get any height we could to better see fish moving around in the surf, and when he spotted the GT he immediately ran into the water to cast at it. The next second almost be was running straight back out of the water and blathering on about three sharks charging him at the same time. Nice!! I find it hugely exciting and life-affirming to spend time in places as wild and as out of the way as somewhere like Astove, and yet again it's this awesome thing called fishing that is the reason for going.
I am going as a photographer of course. As much as I would kill to go on a fishing trip like this, let's just say that the price is somewhat out of my league!! If you are interested in seeing what I would argue is some of the most insane, far out and exciting saltwater fly fishing anywhere on earth, then get in touch with Aardvark McLeod right here and tell them that you want to get yourself out to one of the remote Seychelles atolls. Astove goes together with Cosmoledo and Providence as seriously out there, but there are other options. Whatever the case, fishing like this costs, and I am seriously lucky to be heading down there as a photographer.
Anyway, I'll be gone nearly two weeks. We have no access to mobile signals and internet when we are on Astove. I am a bit gutted to be missing the last two rounds of the Six Nations, but at least I don't need to worry about the cricket World Cup thanks to the mighty Bangladesh knocking us out. I reckon the Wales v Ireland Six Nations game is going to be a monster, and I am really hoping to get back and read that England beat Scotland and France with a certain amount of ease. Too much to hope for? You all have a good ten days or so and I will tell you all about it when I get back home. A friend of mine is absolutely convinced that he saw some bass moving about a couple of days ago, so who knows what might happen on that front in the next few weeks? GT fishing in the Seychelles is utterly insane, but it's almost not quite real it's so mad, and I can't wait for our lure fishing to get going. See you when I get back......