Fishing in Seychelles

Fishing in Seychelles

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The Seychelles archipelago is located just south of the equator and some 1500km east of the African coast in the Indian Ocean. Consisting of around 115 islands and providing a cumulated land mass of less than 300sqkm they form one of the smallest nations on earth. But as many of the islands are widespread in the ocean the maritime sovereign territory of Seychelles extends to an impressive 1,3 million sqkm.

It is necessary to distinguish between the `inner islands´ and the `outer islands´ as both groups are of completely different characteristics. The latter group represents low sandy coral atolls as they are known from Maldives, Polynesia and many other places. With the exception of the two northerly atolls Bird Island and Denis Island the `outer islands´ mainly stretch along the Amirantes Belt a few hundred kilometres southward towards the mythic Aldabra atoll.

Many of these islands accommodate resorts of highest standards and offer first class fishing. Most renowned among anglers is probably Alphonse Island that in recent years became the undisputed dream destination for any fly fisherman. Also others like Desroches, Denis, d´Arros and the two northern atolls mentioned before offer some of the best fishing one can find. 

The destination of most visitors are the `inner islands´, though. These impress by their mountains covered with lush vegetation and the famous granite rocks making them so distinctive and eventually unique.

The `inner islands´ are basically divided into the `Mahe group´ and the `Praslin- La Digue group´. Both are more or less centrally located on a large submarine plateau of about 60m in average depth that on its edges drops sharply a couple of thousand meters to the ocean floor.

The plateau is richly structured and the depth changes often abruptly but it is nowhere deeper than 75m. In many places one finds reefs and elevations. Some only a few meters high, others reaching to the sea`s surface or beyond. These countless structures are not only hotspots for bottom fish and Trevallies but also magnets for schools of young fish, which attract the pelagic predators to the point of Sailfish and Black Marlin.

On top the Drop Off offers fantastic fishing opportunities as this is where the big Amberjacks and Dogtooth Tuna live. Trolling along that edge to the abyss stretching for hundreds of kilometres matches the best you can find worldwide in terms of strike frequency and variety of species caught. And beyond, above the deep blue water, you enter the feeding grounds of Blue & Striped Marlin and the large Yellowfin Tuna.

Anyone preferring lighter tackle does not need to venture that far out. For spin- and fly fishermen Seychelles has the coast lines of its islands, off the shore reefs and the sometimes extensive shallow areas in between to offer. Perfect places to pursue either wading or from a small boat next to many other species the coveted Bonefish and Milkfish.

This multitude of very different environments offers ideal conditions for an amazing variety of fish - thus providing both the versatile as well as the specialised angler with a veritable paradise.

On top the plateau and vast areas beyond can not be fished industrially for technical and legal reasons which provides another major advantage to Seychelles´ fish stocks. To express it with the words of an old local fisherman: `Our plateau is the true treasure of Seychelles.´ 

Last but not least: the question which is recommendable as a starting point for fishing trips, Mahe or Praslin-La Digue, frequently arises. Generally both offer very similar potential. The following parameters can be considered:

-  Mahe offers a far larger variety of boats, especially regarding the large and luxurious vessels.

-  Praslin & La Digue are substantially smaller than Mahe, meaning fewer boats, fishing trips and thus less pressure on the fishing spots.

- Depending on where a boat is based on Mahe accessing spots on the opposite side of the island can be time consuming. The smaller islands offer fishing 360 degrees around.

- Distance and thus travel time to the Drop Off are about 25% less from Praslin & La Digue which effects fishing time and charter rates.
Located so close to the equator Seychelles does not experience substantial changes in temperature or daylight hours. Still seasons exist and are defined by the winds´ direction and force.

In May-June the Southeast Monsoon picks up. It usually blows quite steadily until about October at around 15 to 20 knots and rarely drops beneath 10 knots. Accordingly this is not the perfect season for all fishing techniques performed drifting outside the islands´ protection as bottom fishing and drifting. To the opposite trolling is very productive at this time, especially as it coincides with the peak of the Sailfish season. One has to account for cancellations though, as many days the conditions are just non-fishable and when trips are possible they will be no smooth ride. The angler should really be seaworthy and also a somewhat larger boat becomes advisable at times.
The Southeast is followed by a transition period of several weeks during which the wind tends to be slow from changing directions. This period is ideal for all fishing styles except the occasional days when it ceases completely. This as anywhere else can slow the surface activity a bit and require to present trolling lures somewhat deeper.

Approximately around mid of November the Nortwest Monsoon establishes. Blowing less steady than the Southeast and on average substantially weaker conditions tend to remain ideal for all fishing activities most of the time. Still the Northwest can reach much higher windspeeds of 25 to 40 knots for usually just a few days. This occurs when a cyclone moves through in the south as the `inner island´ are located north of the cyclone belt. In the vicinity of such depression heavy rains can occur and also the majority of annual precipitation falls at this time with a climax usually around January.  
Towards March the water temperature rises and the else dominating westward current changes its direction for a while. The Northwest starts to cease and another transition period with conditions comparable to October-November is due, before the Southeast picks up again and the annual cycle begins once more.

Obviously nature does not adhere to the statistics perfectly in every year. Nevertheless it is recommendable to plan your visit under consideration of these seasons and the fishing styles you intend to enjoy.

Seychelles offer a variety of fishing grounds that are easily reached by Seychelles’ fleet of modern fishing craft and whose crew each have their own favorite spots where they will be happy to introduce both the fishing aficionado and novice to the thrills of deep-sea and bottom-fishing.

The Inner Islands are convenient for both full and half day fishing excursions and offer exciting fishing opportunities for spectacular - and tasty - catches. Inner Island trips can take fishermen as far north as Bird and Denis Islands, where the ocean floor plummets to 2,000 metres.

Similarly, the islands of Frégate to the east, North Island and Mahé’s lofty neighbor, Silhouette, all posses fertile fishing grounds and offer the opportunity to catch a wide variety of fish.

Seychelles’ dazzling chain of Outer Islands and their seldom visited fishing grounds present unique opportunities for the intrepid fisherman to do battle with the heavyweights. Seychelles holds a number of International Game Fish Association (IGFA) records for species caught in and around the outer islands. These include the bonefish, dogtooth tuna, moustache grouper and bigeye trevally.

The resorts of Desroches Island in the Amirantes group and Alphonse Island offer convenient bases for forays in areas legendary for their fishing where big-game, fly and bottom fishermen alike can test their skills to the limit.

Further afield, sparsely populated islands such as Providence, Farquhar and Cosmoledo, accessible on long-range fishing expeditions, present the ultimate challenge to the fisherman in search of an exceptional fishing experience.

Fishing Types

Whether you are an experienced sports fisherman or an enthusiastic beginner, you will be thrilled by the opportunities that Seychelles’ fish-rich waters offer.

Try your hand at big-game fishing and the unforgettable experience of trolling in pristine, azure waters from a range of modern fishing boats. Experienced crew will help you exceed your fishing expectations beyond your imagination.

Alternatively, you can try fly-fishing in the shallow waters surrounding the Inner Islands or even practice the art of blue-water fly-fishing.

The traditional technique of bottom-fishing will land you a catch of spirited coral-reef fish and grace your table with some of the tastiest fish in the world.

Meanwhile, Seychelles’ Outer Islands offer the experienced fisherman the opportunity to enter the record books in remoter waters, far from the more commonly visited fishing grounds.

Big-game fishing in these virgin waters provides the ultimate challenge as does fly-fishing from the fish-rich flats of the St. François, Poivre and d’Arros atolls.

Blue-water fly-fishing in the waters surrounding these lost island worlds can yield extraordinary results as can bottom-fishing expeditions in the deeper waters where the monster coral fish dwell.

Not to be missed is the excitement of night-fishing for pickhandle barracuda or shark off a variety of island locations.

The Catch

The fishing grounds around the Inner Islands offer both the big-game and fly-fisherman a varied catch that includes the spectacular marlin, sailfish, wahoo, greater barracuda, rainbow runner, milkfish, bonefish, trevally, barracuda and jobfish as well as varieties of bonito and tuna.

The bottom-fisherman, meanwhile, can pit his skills against snappers, coral-trouts, seabass and groupers - just a few of the spectacular species to be found around the Inner Islands.

The Outer Islands offers a chance to test one’s game-fishing skills against the mighty marlin, sailfish, giant dogtooth tuna and yellow fin tuna, the larger ocean-going sharks and many other species.

Several of the outlying atolls such as those in the Amirantes and Alphonse groups are considered to offer the best fly-fishing in the world and the chance to enter the record books with catches of 5kg bonefish, 25kg trevally and also barracuda. Given the abundance of fish, blue-water fly-fishing can be especially challenging and rewarding.

Bottom-fishing in these little-fished waters can yield groupers that weigh in excess of 30kg as well as massive trevally, kingfish, greater baraccuda, snapper, emperor and bream.

Fishing Tips

It seems that the Seychelles was deliberately designed for all types of fishing are filled. With most islands lying situated outside the cyclone belt , Seychelles allow to engage in fishing throughout the year in a marine area of more than 1.4 million km2 , with water fish around 115 shimmering Islands archipelago. With such a diversity of choice for fishing , your fishing experience in Seychelles promises to be exceptionally successful .

You are free to fish at your leisure in most Seychelles waters , however some rules to preserve this unique and fragile environment must be respected , so that everyone can enjoy now and in the coming years . Within the Inner Islands , fishing is prohibited within the perimeters of Curious, Cocos Island , Bay Port Launay / Baie Ternay and the Sainte Anne Marine National Park . To ensure that these regulations are observed , these areas are patrolled by park rangers . It is the same for the Natural Reserve of Barren, no fishing is allowed within 200 meters from the beach .

Specific regions of the Outer Islands are also regulated commercially . For example, no fishing can only be undertaken by an operator other than the one authorized to do around Alphonse below 20 nautical miles from the island. Similarly, no fishing is allowed around the island of Aldabra , one of two sites in Seychelles World Heritage of UNESCO.

Fishing is prohibited within the boundaries of the Curieuse, Ile Cocos, Port Launay/BaieTernay and Ste. Anne Marine National Parks.  These areas are patrolled by park rangers. In addition, no fishing is permitted within 200 metres around Aride Island Nature Reserve.

The practice of ‘tag and release’ has been widely adopted in order to safeguard fish stocks for future generations of fishermen. Tag and release is when a fish is caught and then released alive back into the water.

In addition, the gentle whale shark, common in Seychelles’ waters during the month of August and from October to January, is a species protected both by Seychelles law and by CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

The responsibility of promoting Seychelles’ fishing industry, preserving its resources, formulating and implementing national policies on fishing matters falls under the Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA). The SFA is a parastatal organization and the executive, regulatory arm of government in the field of fisheries.

Eden Plaza, Eden Island

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