Fishing has been a part of my life from an early age. My Dad introduced me to angling and I quickly developed a passion for not only being out on the water fishing, but being outdoors. I have a fascination for catching different species of fish on lures or flies, and I’m as happy exploring the tiniest of streams as I am being out on the open ocean. I’ve been very fortunate to have travelled to some spectacular destinations, both here in the UK and abroad, trying to catch as many species as possible. So far, I’ve caught 230 species.

I work for Farlows fishing, shooting and country clothing store in London, and I’m a Consultant for Fox Rage and Salmo lures. I’m also an Ambassador for the Angling Trust and have fished for England in two disciplines - the England Youth Fly Fishing Team and the Team England Lure Squad.

Through fishing I’ve met some great people and seen some amazing wildlife and scenery, and I’d like to share some of my experiences through my blog...

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Mauritius - a quest for new species!

It's always exciting planning a holiday, and one of the most important factors for me and my Dad is choosing a destination where we have the chance of catching as many different species as possible, preferably on lures and flies. Prior to our holiday, we normally spend some time researching the internet and looking at Google Earth at rivers, lakes and shorelines in different countries. My Mum, Dad, Nan and I decided Mauritius was somewhere we'd all love to go, as not only would it be a great place for my Mum and Nan to chill out in the sun, but from what we'd researched, it looked the ideal destination to bump up our species list.

Our good friend, Keith Arthur, had recommended a good guiding company, JP Henry Charters, who he'd fished with before in Marlin tournaments, and although we weren't so interested in billfish, we booked two half days and a full day fishing with them, jigging over reefs and deep water drop-offs for various species, in the hope of Dogtooth Tuna, Emperors and many others.

On arrival, our hotel looked great, but better still, there were plenty of interesting looking spots right on the shorefront, including jetties, rocks, walls and some small islands that we could wade to. That's not forgetting the beach! All of these places looked ideal for catching new species.

On our first afternoon Light Rock Fishing, using the new Shakespeare Agility 7' LRF rod, coupled with the Abu Revo Premier 10 reel, we caught 9 new species - Lizardfish, One Spot Snapper, Blackspot Sergeant, Mauritian Gregory, Yellowtail Goatfish and Broadstriped Cardinalfish, to name a few, on chopped pieces of Berkley Gulp! Sandworms, and Powerbait Shrug Minnows, rigged on tiny Berkley Rock Heads.

Occasionally, a group of four or five Giant Trevally would charge the shoreline in front of the hotel, chasing shoals of baitfish, but this would only last for moments at a time. We managed to catch a couple on Sébile Magic Swimmers and Sébile Stick Shadds fished very fast and erratically, which was very exciting!

My Dad also hooked a GT whilst flyfishing for smaller species on his 8wt, and what a fight! It ripped off plenty of backing and took him all over the place, including around some sharp volcanic rocks. Using only 8lb fluorocarbon, he did really well to land it and got a standing ovation from a crowd from the hotel that had gathered behind us!

A couple of days later, Dad and I were picked up from our hotel at 5am for our first day of guided fishing with JP Henry Charters. Pascal Henry, whose family has been running the business for three generations, also runs the famous La Pirogue Fishing Club in Black River. Decorated with historic photos of huge fish and tournaments, IGFA world records as well as replicas of enormous Sailfish and Marlin, it's a great place to chill out and have a beer after a day's fishing!

Using many of the soft baits we use to target Pike, Perch and Zander (Berkley Ripple Shads, Berkley Power Tubes, Flex Rib Shads, Havoc Grass Pigs, Gotam Shads and Sébile A.T Minnows) we had a great day fishing inshore over reefs in around 30ft-50ft of water.

We caught some colourful species such as Lyretail Grouper, Sky Emperor, Blackspot Grouper, Blacktip Grouper, Honeycomb Grouper, Cigar Wrasse, Wedge-tail Triggerfish and a few others - one of which I've yet to find the name of! We must have caught at least 30 fish that day, which was great fun on light jigging gear.

One of the main reasons we'd chosen to holiday in Mauritius was because Dad and I wanted to try and catch and Dogtooth Tuna, but for our best chance of catching these and other larger species, we had to head further out in to the ocean and fish over drop-offs in around 200ft of water. Two days later, we were back at Black River aboard a different boat of the JP Henry fleet, called the Moana 2 - a 42ft Bertram, which is the most luxurious boat we've ever fished from, with an air conditioned cabin, toilet, beds and even a shower!

As it took about 2 hours to reach the drop-offs from Black River, our guide Babooram and his son recommended that we troll out to the areas that we were going to be jigging, and within 20 minutes of starting, we had a blistering run on one of the rods and I found myself in the fighting chair, playing one of the fastest fish in the ocean - a Wahoo! I was well chuffed as it was my first ever Wahoo, and a nice one too at around 50lbs!

Not long afterwards we arrived at the drop-offs. We both started with 4.5" Berkley Flex Rib Shads in Purple Chartreuse and Natural on 35g jigheads (1 1/4oz) and dropped down. Almost instantly after hitting the bottom, Dad was hooked up and battling what looked like a decent fish. It turned out to be a beautiful Spangled Emperor.

On our next drop down I also hooked in to a fish. As I looked below the boat, I could see I was playing a nice Grouper. At first, it looked dark grey, but as it got closer to the boat it began to change colour, to a glowing red/yellow/orange - it looked like it had been Tango'd! It was a Lyretail Grouper, and what a stunning looking fish!

I decided to change soft bait to a 6" Berkley Hollow Belly in Orange, and after dropping down, hitting the bottom and a couple of jigs, I had a savage take. Even though I had the clutch on my Penn Spinfisher set very tight, it tore off and I wondered when it was going to stop!

After a few minutes of more runs and lots of head shaking, I finally managed to pump it up from the depths. It was an amazing looking fish - quite different to anything else I've ever caught before, nicknamed a 'Captain Fish' by the locals, but as I've recently found out, the real name is a Longnose Emperor.

We had a great morning's fishing and caught a few more exotic species including a Golden Hind and Mackerel Tuna, or KawaKawa, before we had to head back in. Luckily, we had the following morning booked too for some offshore jigging, and this time we decided to try speed jigging as well as jigging soft baits. Our first fish of the day, which my Dad caught, was one of the species we'd been hoping to catch - a Dogtooth Tuna. It wasn't a big one by Dogtooth standards, but it still gave my Dad a great fight on the speed jigging outfit he was using.

Not long after, Dad also caught a colourful Lyretail Grouper, again speed jigging.

Unfortunately, on the second half day, we lost the odd fish. However, on the last drop down, Dad hooked in to a hard-hitting fish, which turned out to be a Giant Trevally, to round off what had been a brilliant few days fishing.

I managed to film a few of the fish we caught jigging offshore, including the Wahoo, Longnose Emperor and GT on my GoPro camera and put together a video - here's the link:

We thought that was going to be the last of our offshore fishing, but on the plane we'd met a fellow fisherman called Jon Walker, who happened to be staying at the same hotel as us. When we got back from our morning's fishing, he kindly asked us if we'd be interested in joining him on a trip the very next day with a charter boat not far from our hotel, on the hunt for a Marlin. An offer like that is very hard to turn down, so we were up again very early, ready for another trip!

After a few hours trolling with no sign of a Marlin, we decided to change over to crankbaits and target Wahoo and Tuna. Unfortunately, I lost a Wahoo, but both Jon and Dad caught some fantastic Yellowfin Tuna. A big thank you to Jon for inviting us to fish with him - it was a great day!

Although we ended up fishing most days for at least a couple of hours, we did get round to some sightseeing. Strangely though, whenever we go sightseeing we always seem to end up near water, and our taxi driver, Rajiv, decided to take us to Grand Bassin, a Hindu Temple beside a beautiful lake. He'd mentioned that if we took along some bread, we would see some large Eels - they weren't large, they were HUGE! They were the biggest freshwater Eels we've ever seen - they must have weighed between 20-30lb, maybe bigger. They looked more like Congers! What surprised us more was they were gulping bread off the surface just like Carp, which was amazing to watch. Unfortunately though, you can't fish Grand Bassin as the lake is sacred!

As well as visiting a volcano and a tea plantation, we ended up at another Hindu Temple called Sagar Shiv Mandir, situated on the estuary of a river. Just by chance, we happened to have the Shakespeare LRF rod and an Abu Rocksweeper 7' in the boot of the car. After looking around the temple, out came the rods!

We couldn't believe it - almost straight away we were catching new species we hadn't seen around the hotel. I even talked my Nan in to having a go and she caught a Ring-tail Cardinal. The Hindu Temple was probably one of the most unusual places I've ever fished, but it was excellent fishing!

On our penultimate day we asked our taxi driver, Rajiv, who had been very helpful, if he could take us back to the temple, but also try a couple of other places on the way. We wanted to try and catch some freshwater fish, so he took us to an allotment, fishing in some drains/ditches that were connected to a river, to provide the allotment with fresh water.

Although we saw some big Tilapia, they were very spooky and weren't interested in our tiny soft baits, but we did manage to catch lots of Glassies, and Dad also landed a Widehead Sleeper on a curtail.

After fishing in the allotment for an hour or two, we followed the river downstream to the estuary where the Hindu temple was situated. Jigging Berkley Shrug Minnows, Gulp! Sandworms and Berkley Johnson Beetle Shads and Tubes, some of the new species we caught included Blacktail Snapper, Thumbprint Emperor, Creole Damsel, Dusky Spinefoot, Ring-tailed Cardinal and my Dad even caught a small GT on a Berkley Beetle Critter!

After fishing one more spot and catching five more new species - Doublebar Goatfish, Indian Ocean Pinstriped Wrasse, Blue Chub, Grey Demoiselle and another I'm yet to find the name of, we were back at the hotel by 2pm, adding another 10 species to our lists that day! Dad and I also filmed 14 different species we caught Light Rock Fishing and put together a 3 and a half minute video:

We had a fantastic time in Mauritius - it's a beautiful country with very friendly people, and a place I'd love to back to again sometime. I think we only scraped the surface as far as species are concerned, but we still managed to catch 43 in total - 28 new ones for me and 35 new ones for my Dad.