Transportation to Alphonse Island is usually through Dubai to Mahé, and then on to Seychelles International Airport. Emirates offers regular flights with appropriate arrival times in relation to the journey onward. Depending on your itinerary, you might have a long layover in Dubai, in which case it’s a good idea to get some rest at the Dubai International Airport Hotel, which is conveniently located inside the departure terminal (www.dubaiintlhotels.com). Getting from Mahé to Alphonse Island requires a one-hour flight arranged by Alphonse Fishing Company. It departs from a hangar outside the international airport and getting there involves a five-minute taxi ride.
Alphonse Island is situated in the Indian Ocean southwest of Mahé, which is the main island in the Seychelles. The island is home to Alphonse Island Resort, which is operated by Alphonse Fishing Company. There’s a pool, outdoor bar, full gourmet catering, and an array of private villas along the palm-strewn waterfront that can accommodate up to 12 guests. For more information, visit www.alphonsefishingco.com.
The Alphonse Island atmosphere is relaxed and you get to know both the guests and staff very well. The cuisine is exquisite, and the buffets, which provide mouth-watering impressions of local Seychellois ingredients, is served under the cover of quivering palm trees. Afterwards, the bar is the place to be. Experiences and minute accounts of the daily expeditions to St. Francois Atoll are exchanged, while local beer and cocktails are washed down.
It is possible to fish on your own along Alphonse Island’s flats with good results, but the guided fishing takes place around the St. Francois Atoll, which offers varied flats, coral reefs, tidal currents, and drop offs. You’re transported to St. Francois on a catamaran and will subsequently get on board one of the flats skiffs that are anchored there. Once there, you’ll find massive schools of bonefish, Indo-Pacific permit, trigger fish (yellowmargin, moustache, and picasso), milkfish, and giant trevally—in addition to snappers, bluefin trevally, brassy trevally, groupers, bonito, parrotfish, and nurse sharks.
Since the species diversity at Alphonse Island is quite overwhelming, you’ll need a versatile range of tropical rod and reel setups—an 8-weight for bonefish and triggerfish, a 10-weight for permit and milkfish, and two 12-weights for giant trevally, all spooled with tropical floating lines. The reason for two 12-weight setups is it enables you to quickly switch between poppers and streamers when sight-fishing for giant trevally. To that point, spool reels with 300 yards of 80 pound backing in combination with a specialty line like Airflo’s Ridge Tropical GT. Attach the fly to a 2-meter long 90 to 110 pound fluorocarbon tippet. It may sound completely out of proportion, but giant trevally can spool you or get cut off on coral or other subaqueous structure.
The flies most commonly used are specifically designed and developed for Alphonse Island. Fulling Mill (www.fullingmill.com), in England, manufacture a series of flies developed in close cooperation with Alphonse Island guides. Alphonse Island’s bonefish aren’t particularly picky, and can be caught on traditional flies like a Crazy Charlie, Beck’s SiliLegs, Bonefish Bitter, and Gotcha in sizes 4 to 10. For permit, use realistic crab and shrimp imitations like the Alphonse Crab, Flexo Crab, and Sand Prawn in sizes 2 to 8 fished on long (15 foot) and thin (15 to 20 pound test) leaders. Triggerfish like small crab flies tied on the strongest hooks available, which should be mounted with weed guards to prevent snagging on coral. Milkfish predominantly feed on algae and seaweed, so use lush-green flies like Wayne’s Milky Magic.
Cast NYAP poppers or streamers tied on the strongest possible 6/0 to 8/0 saltwater hooks for giant trevally. Flies should be bulky, pulsate in the water and have big eyes—and it helps if they’re made out of materials that don’t retain water. Among the local favourites are the Brush Fly, GT Mullet, Bus Ticket, and Serge’s Wrasse.