After a 36 hour delay, we finally got a weather clearance to fly from Mahé to Assumption Island. Tropical Cyclone Fantala had been as strong as any storm on record in the Indian Ocean, but the news from Pangaea – our home for the next 4 days – was ‘blue skies, and the fishing is heavenly.’
The islands look cozy on this map, but they cover almost 1,000 miles. We flew 2-1/2 hours from Mahé in the upper right to Assumption in the lower left.
Assumption Island from the plane. You can just see the runway in the top third of the island, and Pangaea, anchored just to the right.
Pangaea from the air, anchored just off Assumption Island.
We had the very good fortune to be hosted on the 191 foot fishing and expedition yacht, Pangaea, for a few days. Pangaea’s, and Todd’s, story
is fascinating, and we would acquire a new appreciation for the passion and amazingly generous philanthropic spirit guiding Pangaea’s mission. For example, after our departure, the boat and crew were being donated to host scientists in Chagos (near Mauritius) studying the health and status of the shark, dolphin and other fish populations there.
Landing on Assumption Island, the airport – aka landing strip – nearest to Cosmoledo, our destination.
Our first good look at Pangaea. With a draft of only 10 feet, she can get into areas that other yachts her size can only dream about.
Before moving to Cosmoledo, we did some blue water fishing just off Assumption. These remote islands of the Seychelles are considered by anglers around the globe to be the ultimate fishing playground. The size and variety of fish species here is unique and as ‘unspoiled’ as it gets.
Our crew, ready for some blue water fishing.
But only after Shauna has a quick cool off. If there’s water, you’ll usually find her in it.
Will showing Shauna how to fit a “fighting belt” (we called it a pole-holder).
Oh……is that how it works.
Shauna and Eugenia are happy to be out on the water.
Will….going after something big.
Will shows us what we’re fishing for: Giant Trevally, or GT. The Mr. T of the oceans, the GT is a burly, aquatic intimidator. It can put up a vigorous fight, making it a favorite catch.
Eugenia in action.
And she lands her first GT of the trip. But she would get many more – and bigger ones – in the days to come, and on the fly no less!
Brandy takes to the chair with a large wahoo on her line.
…..and she brought him in. Biggest catch of the day!
Will giving instruction to Shauna, and making sure some monster fish doesn’t pull her in.
Shauna with a beautiful yellowfin tuna.
Shauna making kissy with a beautiful bluetail trevally.
Mark caught a giant trevally estimated at 45lbs by our guide.
Eugenia completes the ritual Speed Ball – tequila and coke, mixed in your mouth – to celebrate the fishing success.
The girls are all smiles after a successful day fishing. Or is it the Speed Balls?
Double trouble – Shauna and Brandy showing off their respective wahoos. We kept what was needed to feed us and the crew; we released some beautiful snappers, rainbow runners, dog-tooth tunas, groupers, and more.
Heading in after an afternoon of fun in the sun.
The food was amazing aboard Pangaea, both in presentation and taste. What Chef Claire could do without a grocery store within 500 miles was quite impressive. We wanted to take her home with us, but (even though she said it was close :), she chose Pangaea over us.
Shauna’s yellowfin tuna made for a tasty lunch.
The interior of Pangaea was beautifully appointed with an abundance of native and wildlife artifacts.
A view of the bridge from the bow… complete with pirates! Friendly pirates 🙂
A view of the bow from the bridge… complete with toes.
No less than 6 ‘smaller’ boats live on Pangaea’s deck. Here, 36-foot Oceana gets lifted aboard.
A view from the water of Oceana snug in her place on Pangaea.
Our captain moved Pangaea from Assumption to Cosmoledo that first night, while we were rocked to sleep by the boat’s movements. But aside from catching dinner, the real reason to fish Cosmoledo: it is the ultimate saltwater flats destination, making it a dream for saltwater fly fishing.
Cosmoledo Atoll from the air. Cosmoledo Atoll is a raised coral atoll that is 17 km long east-west, and 12.5 km north-south. The islands’ land area is 5.2 square km (2 square miles) but the lagoon and the reef flats inside the atoll have an area of 145 square km (almost 60 square miles).
The tide entering and leaving the lagoon creates walkable salt flats that are prime territory for bonefish, permit fish, giant trevally and other sought-after gamefish. The variance in tidal swings in Cosmoledo is nothing short of incredible and over the course of an incoming or outgoing tide, the water will rise or fall 10 to 11 feet within 6 hours. Ground that is bone dry and far removed from the sea will become flooded. Flats fish tend to feed and move from deeper to shallow water depending on the tidal cycles, and saltwater flats fly fishing combines the tracking and stalking of hunting with the sport and skill of fly fishing.
Will leaving in his skiff for a day of fly fishing.
Shauna dressed up in her special shoes for a morning of bonefishing in the Cosmoledo flats. Nice knee socks!
A view of the Cosmoledo flats from the water.
With Pangaea in the background.
The Cosmoledo flats after the tide runs out. Nature’s sand art.
Mark and Shauna learning how to fly fish in the Cosmoledo flats. Learning from world-class guides in the most bountiful, and most remote, and most beautiful, fishing grounds in the world… our cups runneth over.
Mark caught a nice bonefish with guidance from TC Calitri, a man of many talents including providing world-class guiding. He looked like shiny aluminum foil corn on the cob! (the bone fish, not TC 🙂
Why all the fuss about a little silver fish? Anyone asking that question has never stalked these beautiful fish in beautiful surroundings. Bonefishing brings together skill, finesse and stealth like no other form of fishing (of course we didn’t achieve any of these in our 2 short lessons, but we had fun learning). There’s no big boat under you, no big winch of a reel and thick rod, no ‘fighting belt or chair’ for leverage. Instead, you’re either wading on foot or balancing on the casting deck of a small boat designed for shallow water. And it’s addicting!
Shauna said “hey, I caught a fish on the fly too!!” Cute lil sunfish.
While we were wading in our lesson, Eugenia was hunting GT’s from a skiff.
Our expert fisherwoman (she grew up fly fishing the rivers of Montana) caught every GT in the sea!
Even if you don’t catch a fish, the surroundings are surreally stunning.
But didn’t mean to imply Frank-Paul didn’t catch any fish… the husband-wife rivalry was friendly, but fierce!
And where there are fish…. there are sharks. Glad we weren’t wading here!
Our favorite spot for watching the sunset, recounting the fish-tales of the day, and dining under the stars was on the upper deck of Pangaea.
Girls aglow after a successful day on the water.
Evenings were spent reliving the days’ fish-tales. TC and Will here.
FP didn’t stop grinning the entire trip; what a treat to fish with world-class guides like Arno.
Beautiful sunsets with only a few clouds on the horizon. Because of the lack of clouds, we actually saw the green flash as the sun sank below the horizon – only our 3rd time out of many, many ocean sunsets. No picture of it, but it’s no fish-tale, promise!
….and to cap it all of, we watched a full moon rise over the Indian Ocean. Wow….what a trip.
These smiles say it all: our time aboard Pangaea was simply magical.
Think the crew was happy to see us go?!
Luggage service and shore-to-plane service was by tractor.
We so hated to leave this very special crew……
But before we could take off, the giant tortoises had to be coaxed off of the runway.
Special thanks to Khashana Travel
for this amazing experience and magical stay on Pangaea.