How did you end up guiding with FlyCastaway?
I’ve been fly fishing since I was 10 and always dreamt of making it my job. I never knew it was an option after school but my passion for fly fishing has always been there. Before guiding, I was working in the yachting industry and, while working on a boat in New Zealand and Australia, I was working as the deckhand / fishing specialist. My time fishing the North Island of New Zealand over weekends and off time made me realise that I wanted to pursue a career in guiding, so when my contract ended and I returned home, I applied for a job at FCA. Initially there was no space for me and 2 months after my initial interview I got a call to say a spot had opened up on St. Brandon’s. Right place, right time and the rest is history.
Where are you currently guiding and what make this place so special?
I currently guide on St. Brandon’s in the Indian Ocean. What makes it such a special place is the fact that it’s tough to get to. The crossing takes around 26 hours and, because it is so remote, there is very little angling pressure, which makes the fishing wild. I have never experienced anything that rivals St. Brandon’s in terms of sheer biomass. There are huge schools of large bone fish found all over the Atoll and this makes it a fly fisherman’s dream. Add to that, a really big and healthy Indo-Pacific permit population, as well as many huge GTs, bluefin trevally and a host of reef and other trevally species. It’s like heaven on earth for me. There is no place like it.
Of all the fish you’ve caught, which has been the most memorable and why?
I would have to say the 100cm GT I caught on St. Brandon’s during an off-stay in my second season. There’s just something about GTs that make them the ultimate salt water target on fly. They’ll test everything from your gear to knots, and on St. Brandon’s in particular they can be tough to hook and land.
Craig Richardson and myself saw two fish on the back of a big shark and, as we drifted in towards them, I made the cast. Both fish were bright blue so we thought they were bluefin trevally, but as I stripped my fly away from the fish, the big one broke off and headed directly for it. One more strip and the fish opened its mouth as half its head was out of the water. Craig and I both knew it was a GT. It ate the fly and as it turned, I set the hook as hard as I possibly could. The fish shook its head a few times and started running. I had the running line wrapped around my leg as the fish was trying to get as far away from us as possible, while towing the boat behind him. Craig eventually tailed the fish. The fight was intense and I’ve never hooked or caught anything that has pulled even remotely as hard and that fish. It’s something that I’ll never forget.
Would you say you have developed a unique set of skills in catching a particular species of fish, if so what species? Any tips you can share?
Growing up trout fishing, I would have to say that I have more experience with that than I do with saltwater species currently, but my saltwater knowledge is growing quickly. I wouldn’t say I have developed a unique set of skills when it comes to any one species but I will give a tip.
When sight fishing to bonefish in skinny water, and you can’t feel the take, just keep an eye on the fish’s body language. If, while the fish is following the fly, it either cocks its body to one side, stops completely, or the dorsal and tail fins stand erect, strike. 9 times out of 10 the fish has already eaten the fly.