THE STUN­NING SEY­CHELLES

CHAS­ING BLACK MAR LIN in the INDIANOCEAN

Marlin - - CONTENTS FEATURES - By SAMWHITE

Chas­ing black mar­lin in the In­dian Ocean By Sam White

THE WEATH­ERED OLD CAP­TAIN, ROLLY PIERRE, HAD FISHED OFF DE­NIS IS­LAND FOR MORE THAN FOUR DECADES, LONGER EVEN THAN THE FRENCH­MAN, THE IS­LAND’S PRE­VI­OUS OWNER. LEAN AND WIRY, PIERRE SPOKE WITH A SOFT PATOIS — I HAD TO LEAN IN CLOSE TO UN­DER­STAND HIM — BUT HIS TONE WAS STRONG. “I GREW TIRED OF THE KILLING,” HE SAID FLATLY.

We or­dered an­other round of lo­cal Sey­brew beers from the In­dian bar­tender; Pierre con­tin­ued: “The first time I met your friend Henry, I thought he was crazy. He got on my boat with two 20-pound-test rods and a tag stick. I asked, ‘What are you go­ing to do with all that?’ He said that we were go­ing to catch some sail­fish and then tag them. But that would mean let­ting them go? I thought it was strange at the time when we killed ev­ery­thing. But then I un­der­stood that this was the fu­ture. Our fu­ture.”

I trav­eled to the is­lands of the Sey­chelles at the in­vi­ta­tion of Henry Riggs-Miller, a buddy from South Florida who had mar­ried a beau­ti­ful Sey­chel­lois named Al­lie and started a fam­ily a few years ago in th­ese in­cred­i­bly pris­tine and beau­ti­fully re­mote is­lands in the In­dian Ocean some 500 miles east of Kenya. Af­ter a full day of travel and fight­ing some world-class jet lag, I landed in the cap­i­tal city of Vic­to­ria on the main is­land of Mahé around 7 o’clock in the morn­ing; af­ter a quick break­fast, we stepped aboard the 42-foot Cabo, Alati, at Eden Is­land Ma­rina, slipped the lines and headed off­shore. Noth­ing like get­ting a quick start. Capt. Perry Ros­alie pointed us to­ward the drop-off around an area the lo­cals called Bossy (pro­nounced BO-see) about 33 miles off­shore. Since we were look­ing for mar­lin, the spread con­sisted of big lures in close and Ilan­der/strip-bait com­bi­na­tions on the long rig­gers. We had a pair of 20-pound out­fits with bal­ly­hoo ready in case we raised any sails. All-Around Ac­tion It didn’t take long for the ac­tion to heat up along with the tem­per­a­ture (the Sey­chelles lay just a few de­grees be­low the equa­tor). Shoals of birds wheeled over bait pods and bonito. The area looked in­cred­i­bly fishy. Within a few min­utes of putting the lines in, a pair of yel­lowfin tuna crashed both rig­gers and the fight was on. Af­ter boxing a pair of chunky 35-pounders, we set up again and were re­warded with more bites al­most im­me­di­ately. Ros­alie fi­nally had to ease away from the tuna ac­tion in hopes of find­ing a mar­lin. Later that af­ter­noon, I pitch­baited a sail­fish off a teaser to give us our first bill­fish of the day. While we didn’t see a mar­lin, it was a heck of an in­tro­duc­tion to the fish­ing off the Sey­chelles. “Black Mar­lin, Right Short!” Day two meant an ear­lier start and a full day on the water, so we headed a bit far­ther down the line to the Tu­tune area, about 40 miles dis­tant. We de­ployed the same setup as be­fore, with 50s and 80s armed with lures in the spread and lighter gear stand­ing by. Around mid­morn­ing, we fi­nally found what we were look­ing for: A nice black mar­lin charged in and wal­loped a pink-and-white Mold Craft Su­per Chug­ger on the right short. Af­ter a short 15-minute bat­tle on stand-up gear, I re­leased my first black mar­lin, a fish we called 250 pounds, now sport­ing a red TBF spaghetti tag in its shoul­der. We also con­tin­ued to bat­tle count­less yel­lowfin tuna along with wa­hoo, which ranged from 25 to 40 pounds. Th­ese striped speed de­mons were so thick that all our teasers and squid chains had to be rigged on ca­ble to pre­vent an in­stant cut­off. Riggs-Miller and I ended up pitch­bait­ing sev­eral wa­hoo off the teasers, us­ing strip baits on wire lead­ers with small chug­ger heads and J hooks, which was an ab­so­lute blast on 20-pound tackle. Be­cause we were fish­ing a tour­na­ment the next day, we headed back a lit­tle early to at­tend the cap­tain’s meet­ing. Once there, I was stunned to learn that my black was the 500th bill­fish tagged that sea­son in the Sey­chelles — word of the catch even made the lo­cal news­pa­per. Tag­ging that many in a sea­son is an in­cred­i­ble ac­com­plish­ment, con­sid­er­ing that just a few short years ago, re­leas­ing a bill­fish was un­heard of. Tour­na­ment Time Day three of the trip had us fish­ing in the one-day Sey­chelles Big Game Clas­sic. We switched boats to the 32-foot Cabo,

Not long ago, Capt. Rolly Pierre boated all mar­lin and sail­fish as tro­phies for his clients. He quickly em­braced the re­lease ethic and is now one of the top tag­ging cap­tains in the re­gion.

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