The Fly Photo Newsletter - Seychelles
A brief report on recent trip to Alphonse Island Resort, Seychelles. A group of 13 traveled with Tailwaters Fly Fishing to a place that offers the best saltwater fly fishing in the world.
ISSUE 2 EDITORIAL Welcome to my second newsletter! This issue I'm primarily displaying work from my most recent adventure to Alphonse Island Resort, Seychelles. I've finally worked back to my old sleeping schedule and have been working quickly on getting this newsletter out to everyone. As I type this, my body is entering a food coma. I just polished off a massive Thanksgiving meal with my family. I'm starting to wonder if I gave myself enough time to finish by December 1st! As mentioned, it's Thanksgiving, so I'll take a moment and list a few things I'm thankful for. To start, I can't thank my family enough for all the support they've given me over the years. They continue to encourage me to pursue what I love to do and that's very special to me. I'm thankful for all the great relationships created through my pursuit in photography and fly fishing. I'm thankful for the wonderful world we have to explore and play on. And most of all, I'm thankful for God's gifts to me. I'm so thankful for the opportunities I've been given and for the path that's been laid for me. I can't wait to see what's next! Thank You I'd like to extend a special thanks to Sharon, Shawn, Mandy, and all the fishing guides at Alphonse. You all made our experience so special. Also, to my boss, David Leake for making this trip happen. Editor, publisher, photographer Matt Jones email@example.com www.theflyphoto.com The Fly Photo 5000 W. Amherst Dallas, Tx. 75209 214.693.3226 ABOUT THE COVER: James Christmas and Jared Louviere pose as I shoot some underwater images of their landed Trigger fish. This species of fish is without a doubt one of the most beautiful I've ever photographed, not to mention it's ability to put a serious bend in a 10wt fly rod. Once hooked these fish are genious in the fact they run straight to coral and attempt to cut the anglers line. They win the battle quite often. 44 A COLLECTION OF HIGH QUALITY PRINTS FALL NEWSLETTER TAILS These bicolor parrotfish are incredibly beautiful. Anglers are often rejected the opportunity to catch them due to their spooky nature. FISHING IN THE RAIN < AN OPENING TO OUR WEEK IN PARADISE FRANCOIS < ST. TIME FISHING AT ALPHONSE ISLAND RESORT PRIME GEAR REVIEW < AQUATECH UNDERWATER HOUSING AND CANON 7D WWW.THEFLYPHOTO.COM FALL NEWSLETTER TAILS Tailing bonefish are a common sight along the beaches of Alphonse Island. WWW.THEFLYPHOTO.COM FISHING IN THE RAIN I t's crazy to think that from Alphonse Island to Love Field Airport in Dallas required 39 hours 45 minutes of travel. Well, it was worth it. I had been biting my nails for almost 2 years in anticipation of getting the opportunity to go experience and photograph all that the Seychelles has to offer. Our group of 12 set out to for Alphonse Island, St. Francois, and Bejoutier, a group of atolls that provide for the best saltwater fishing in the world. On a personal note, monster GT's (giant trevally) are a species of fish I've been anxiously waiting to check out, and I couldn't wait to see what they're all about. Little did I know, I would see a GT rip the head off a dogtooth tuna! Flying to Dubai from Houston is by far the longest I've ever traveled on a plane. 14.5 hours to be exact. Emirates does an outstanding job to make your flight as comfy as possible; however, you may strike gold when you find that your going to be sitting next to an Indian woman that decides to take her shoes off, and rub her snot rag all over the arm rest. For the 16.5-hour flight home, I decided to request an exit row seat next to my buddy Jared - much better experience. My travel resume up to this point has mostly been Mexico, a relatively easy trip. Aside from the length of the flight to Dubai, Seychelles is a piece of cake. Only two more flights and you're wheels down on Alphonse. From Dubai it's a 4-hour flight to Mahe, and then a quick 1-hour flight to the island. Mahe itself is incredibly beautiful. It's features are that of an island you'd expect to see on the 8 FALL NEWSLETTER Scot de Bruyn and Jared Louviere quietly approach a group of 6 Geets in the 50-60lb range that are calmly coralling a school of mullet. One by one they smash the group, gulping a few mullet at a time. Yum yum! WWW.THEFLYPHOTO.COM 9 up into the super powerful twin-engine aircraft and make our way to Alphonse. Approaching the island we get a birds eye view of the 3 atolls that make up the Alphonse group - Alphonse Island, St. Francois, and Bejoutier. After landing we are escorted by golf cart to the main dining area where we discuss the upcoming week of fishing. Right away you feel as if Alphonse is home. It's such a laid back island with so many unique features. No matter where you are, palm trees tower over you offering a feeling of true remoteness. One thing I loved was that the primary means of transportation on Alphonse was with the mountain bike given to you at the beginning popular television series, LOST. The cliff sides and peaks are hidden within low, misty clouds and what's visible is pure green, tropical forestation. With 500% humidity, sweat accumulates instantly. The first objective is an ice cold Seybrew (local beer). After a short wait, we load 10 FALL NEWSLETTER of the week. I felt like a kid again - I haven't ridden a bike in years. Luckily for me, there was a large basket on the front for me to stow my camera gear in every morning for the ride down to the fishing center. As I pedaled my bike to breakfast the first morning there was a stiff breeze and clouds overhead. Not exactly an encouraging sight, but I brushed it off my shoulder. I continued to think optimistically, but by the time I arrived at the fishing center that morning, the weather had gone from bad to worse. Devan, the head fishing guide made the call that we would fish Alphonse the first day. We were all stoked. It was pissing rain and I couldn't have been more excited. Speaking from a photographers' point RAIN DIDN"T STOP US FROM GETTING THIS BEAUTIFUL GT. of view, if I wouldn't have had my underwater housing with me, no photos would have been taken that day. Despite the rain and terrible light, Devan used his skill and experience and managed to spot a Geet within an hour of our trek out to the reef. It was a slow, cruising fish looking for a snack. Jared made a perfect cast - one long strip and this fish attacked the fly like it hadn't eaten a meal in a week. It was awesome! It was so cool to experience a fish like that in a torrential downpour. Our first day on Alphonse was a perfect warm up day for the week ahead of us. WWW.THEFLYPHOTO.COM 11 IF I WERE A CRAB Here's a crab's eye view of a giant trevally being release by head guide, Devon. CRABS Meet the Hitchhiker Crab. These beautiful creatures will take refuge on any piece of floating debrit. This happens to be a flip-flop that was most likely washed away during the 2004 tsunami in Thailand. Crab beware - big GT's will often slurp these flip-flops up and take the crab down for a meal while spitting the debrit back out. CRABS A small Pom-Pom Crab decides to chill with us on the skiff. This little guy uses small anemones at the end of his arms to catch and eat food. ST. FRANCOIS With exception to the first day, every morning we met at the fishing center to load up on Tam-Tam (diesel transport) for the 45 minute cruise out to St. Francois. The rides to and from St. Francois everyday are special. The morning cruises are full of excitement and chatter about the upcoming day. Afternoon cruises are still full of excitement, but for the beer. I've never seen anything like it. If you didn't babysit your cooler, BEER --- GONE. After a long, hot day on the flats, who wouldn't desperately seek the satisfaction of an ice-cold brew? Other than the beer craziness, our end of the day entertainment was feeding the pet geets back at Alphonse. From the tuna tower I'd watch the pets swing into the wake and follow us in. The sound of our engines acted as a dinner bell. Observing these fish being feed everyday revealed how aggressive and brilliant they truly are. Most days we fed them left over bread and meat from out sandwhiches. For fun, I would squeeze my bread into a ball and chunk it as far as possible and watch as the two largest of the group would follow the bread in mid-air and attack the bread as it landed. So crazy! One afternoon, we were lucky enough to witness the viciousness of the GT. A 15lb dogtooth tuna was brought to the boat earlier that day, and died shortly after the fight ended. The guides decided to use it's fillets for dinner later that week and kept the carcass for the pets. After tying it's tail to an anchor rope, Devon dipped the fish into the water and let the GT's have their way with it. The largest of the group pushed 60lbs. It was absolute chaos until the carcass had been consumed. At one point, a GT had latched onto the head and ripped it clean off. The other GT took the remainder of the 2 foot carcass and consumed it. 16 FALL NEWSLETTER FEEDING TIME Giant trevally, surgeons and triggers line up for their daily feeding at Tam Tam. WWW.THEFLYPHOTO.COM 17 1 FALL NEWSLETTER TAILS A highlly detailed shot of a bonefish tail Fishing on St. Francois is nothing short of spectacular. Aside from the thousands of reef species such as grouper, wrasse, surgeons and others, the big boy species are giant trevally, bluefin trevally, milkfish, bonefish, triggerfish (giant, yellow margin, picasso), indo-pacific permit, monster barracuda and parrotfish. Everyday there was a different approach as tides dictated where the guides would fish us. Methods included taking long walks out to the reef to look for surfing GT's, tailing triggers and permit, staking out in a spot to wait for fish following the tide, searching for tailing fish on finger flats, or cruising the edges of flats for big GT's. And of course there is going out to search for groups of milkfish feeding on the surface. This is a sight to see. If you catch them feeding on the surface it looks like coffee mugs floating about. Milkfish will swim on the surface with their mouths wide open to feed on algae, turtle grass, or plankton - making them particularly difficult to catch on the fly. Considering the weather our group of guys still had an outstanding week. Yes, the light to search for fish was poor at most times but there were plenty of opportunities for all species as well as plenty landed. Aside from the fishing, I really enjoyed sitting back and watching the guides do what they love. Each and every one of the guys was so enthusiastic about every second throughout the day. That's a quality that makes a trip like this unlike any other. 20 FALL NEWSLETTER One particular moment I will never forget is when Scot de Bruyn (awesome guide and super fun dude) laid the game plan for lunch one day. He explains, "Ok guys, what we're going to do is go check out this finger flat for lunch. By the time we get there the tide will be perfect for chasing tailing triggers and emperors. If we're lucky, I'm really hoping that my friend Houdini will show up � he's a 40lb black geet. Every time the tide is like this, he'll come onto the flat with his back out of the water swimming at full speed. He'll snack on a few emperor fish and then leave. If the water is low enough sometimes he'll get stuck and I'll try and run after him and grab him by hand! He's escaped me every damn time � that's why I call him Houdini!" As we anchor on the edge of the flat, Scot says, "see right over there, he WWW.THEFLYPHOTO.COM 21 PERFECT LIGHT We took advantage when light was available to search for GT's cruising the flats. 24 FALL NEWSLETTER swims around in that hole and will push emperors into the skinny water and then wait for the perfect moment to crash them. WHHOOOOSH! SSSHHHHHHHHHFFFFFFFFPPPP!!! GULP!" Scot explains everything very charismatically. He's got a funny sound for everything. After we see this, Scot and Rob jump on to the flat and get in position to put a fly in front of him. Rob gets a shot, but Houdini ends up spooking. Scot isn't finished with him yet however. When he spooks he ends up in some super skinny water, so Scot does what he always does and streamlines after the GT. He literally does a wind sprint through a foot of water for about 100 yards!!! Yet again, the black geet escapes him. I know I had a great time watching it. Shooting in the rain There's something about being completely consumed by rain while fishing. Personally, I love it. I'm not sure if it's the feeling of refreshment, or simply the fact that it makes your life, at that moment, so much more challenging. In a way, I feel as if I'm set free. When I used to guide in Alaska, I welcomed rain. When it rains in the remoteness of Alaska, all you hear is rain - it's such a soothing sound. No sound of cars ripping through the water, no sirens, no honking - just you and the rain. I especially loved cruising in my jet boat full throttle during a downpour. While my guests were curled up with their backs turned, I seemed to enjoy having raindrops pelt me in the face as I cruised to the next spot. Who knows, maybe I'm crazy. Now, when shooting photography, I absolutely despise rain. For obvious reasons water and a $3500 camera don't play well. Yes, weather can often times provide for great photography but there are times when you have to put the WWW.THEFLYPHOTO.COM 25 camera away. Fortunately I have an underwater housing, so in the threat of rain, I'll likely have my camera in it. For this trip, the long walks to the reef were when I really had to make a decision on what to do. With weather looming, I could both take a risk and keep my camera out of my housing, or I would have to commit to shooting underwater images. The decision is difficult because if I end up choosing not to use my housing and rain persists, I'm unable to shoot. At all times I did have a second camera stowed away in a Patagonia Stormfront backpack for the infrequent opportunities to shoot in between rain. Most of the week I chose to keep the camera in the housing. If you're asking yourself why I didn't just take the camera out when it wasn't raining, it's not that simple (at least when you are on the reef and don't have anything to set the camera on). I got a ton of great shots using my camera while in the housing above water. To avoid water drops, I spit on my dome (a lot) and rubbed it in until I covered the entire surface. Next, dip it in the water and viola! No water drops. Eventually you'll need more spit, just repeat the process and you're good to go. Spit is by far the best way to avoid water drops in your images. This is crucial if shooting split shots. So, am I happy with the images I came home with? Absolutely. Did I have the time of my life? Of course! With the insane amount of life I saw with clouds above, I can't imagine what it's like when the light is bright. I guess I'll just have to go back and find out. - Matt Jones 32 FALL NEWSLETTER WWW.THEFLYPHOTO.COM 33 HAWKSBILL Approximately 6,000 of these Hawksbill turtles remain worldwide. They cannot go unnoticed when fishing Alphonse and St. Francois. 36 FALL NEWSLETTER WWW.THEFLYPHOTO.COM 37 CANON 7D & AQUATECH CO-7 HOUSING When I found out that I'd be heading out to the Seychelles, I knew I would have to make an upgrade in gear. My immediate need was a new camera body. Up until this trip, I had shot all my photography with one camera - a Canon 30D. It's a great camera, but it was time beef up the body. After much debate between a Canon 7D and 5D, I decided to purchase the 7D. Other than the price, the feature that influenced my purchase was the AF system in the 7D. It's a smarter system than that of a 5D, which I prefer for shooting underwater images. With the types of underwater images I shoot, it's rare that I'm able to look through the viewfinder. Not only do I have to know the lens I'm shooting, but I must heavily rely on the AF system to do Easily mount a GOPRO camera to the top of your housing to get a unique point of view. 38 FALL NEWSLETTER it's job. With the 7D's advanced AF system, particularly zone selection, I can trust that I'll have a higher quantity of sharp images. An issue I've always fought is the camera's tendency to focus on the waterline in split shots. Often times in this situation, the subject in the lower portion of the image is out of focus. I found that the zone selection really assisted in solving this problem. Another convenient feature I love is the quick control (Q) option. With one push of a button, I've got access to virtually all camera functions other than shooting mode. This makes it incredibly simple to make changes on the fly. Overall, I'm very happy with the decision I made and I look forward to the future I have with this body. With intentions of shooting underwater images with my 7D, I had to replace my old housing, which was specifically designed for a 30D. My Ikelite housing was a great piece of equipment, but honestly a bit of an overkill for what I do. It's a housing designed for diving, which meant HEAVY. It was a complete beating to carry around. In comes Aquatech. They've pioneered underwater housings catered specifically for the action sport photographer. What you have to realize is that these are not designed for divers, which is why it's depth rating is only 33ft. With the CO-7 model, I equipped it with a 50mm extension ring for my Canon 10-22mm lens, as well as their LP-3 8" dome. After installing my camera (so easy), the most exciting feature was it's overall weight. The housing alone is a slim 3lbs. Next, is the large handle. While marching out to the reefs on St. Francois, this handle was a life-saver! All around, it's construction is incredible. The housing design is simple and ergonomic, making it super easy to handle while shooting. It's simplicity allows for quick assembly and easy cleaning. Both the extension ring and LP-3 dome are constructed of high quality, super lightweight aluminum. The threading is machined to perfection so you can count on a snug fit every time, ensuring a safely enclosed camera. After putting this housing to the ultimate test, I can't say there is a single flaw. I commend and thank Aquatech for offering such a great and high quality product. The only regret I have is not purchasing one of their great sport shields! For more info on these great housing, please visit www.aquatech.net WWW.THEFLYPHOTO.COM 39 Sport Basic SPORT SHIELDS SS-200 The AquaTech Sport Shield is designed to provide your camera gear with protection against nearly any environment, whether it is wind, sand, rain, or snow. The AquaTech Sport Shield is made from a 3-ply breathable waterproof fabric that keeps the elements out while allowing the cover to breathe. Each Sport Shield is tape seam sealed offering complete protection against even the harshest environments. All Sport Shield models are equipped with two windows allowing full access to the camera's top setting LCD and main viewing LCD screens without removing the Sport Shield. Required AquaTech Eyepiece sold separately. SS-600 Eyepiece SS-Flash SS-Cap A B C Soft Cap Provides excellent protection for your front element. Made with soft pliable silicone rubber, the Soft Cap fits perfectly into the front of the lens without contacting the glass. www.AquaTech.net Tpod & Monopod Soft Wraps ri The AquaTech Soft Wraps for Mono/Tri Pods are designed to offer additional comfort when carrying a monopod or tripod. Lens Wrap Camera Wrap Flash Wrap A B C Soft Wraps The AquaTech Soft Wraps are designed to offer additional protection for your camera bodies, lenses and flashes while traveling. The wraps are made using a high stretch neoprene that easily slides over your camera gear. The Soft Wrap's precision form-fit saves valuable space in your travel kit. Soft Hood The AquaTech Soft Hood is perfect for travel. Not only is it conveniently designed to lay flat for easy packing, it also weighs less than metal hoods and is strong enough to stand the lens on its end. Offered in two sizes to fit 300-800mm lenses. SPORT HOUSINGS AquaTech Sport Housings are waterproof camera housings that look, feel, and operate similarly to your camera. These housings come in several different models to accommodate most Canon and Nikon Professional and "Prosumer" cameras. AquaTech also offers an assortment of interchangeable lens ports and domes allowing use of many different Canon or Nikon lenses from ultra wide-angle fisheye to long telephoto zooms (each sold separately). Port Cover C0-7 Leash Lens Ports L L Pistol Grip Sport Housing Cover RENTAL EQUIPM ALSO AVAILAB Please visit www.AquaTech NY-3s LP-1 CR-60 SURF HOUSINGS The Surf Housing is AquaTech's lightest and most agile design ever. By removing excess weight and retaining only critical controls, AquaTech is able to offer the Surf Housing at a lower retail price. Made of the same high-quality materials as our Sport Housings, our Surf Housings are designed to last. NEW! LP-Z MENT BLE t h.net NY-7000 This Christmas season, why not give the gift of a high quality print? Click on any of the following images to purchase. Instructions: - Simply click on the cart button - Add to cart - Choose size and finish - Checkout to navigate to theflyphoto.com MATT JONES WWW.THEFLYPHOTO.COM MATT@THEFLYPHOTO.COM 214.693.3226 ALL CONTENTS COPYRIGHT � THE FLY PHOTO 2009-2011