Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Last Day

April 17

Madagascar – Day 18

The South African girls let out a loud scream last night just as we all settled to our rooms. They had a gigantic spider in their room. You may remember, I wrote of one we had in our room in Tanzania last November. I even posted a picture for you too see. This one was different however the bottom line is this is one heck of a big scary looking spider. The girls, with plenty of spider experience from living in Africa, were trying to push him out of their room, and like large antagonized spiders often do, he attacked. Supposedly these spiders (looks like the huntsman of Australia) rarely bite but when provoked enough they can easily take a chunk out of you. Luckily girls survived and they finally got him out. I just pray he doesn’t head our way. Although, he just might help with the mosquito problem we have every time we use our toilet!

It was absolutely pouring this morning. It rains a little every night and then just before sunrise, but today was the first time it carried on. For a guy nicknamed “Monsoon Currier”, we’ve been very fortunate and experienced superb weather. In fact, not a single day has been hampered with rain until today. The rain didn’t matter much however because today was truly designed to be our absolute “do nothing day”. What that means is fish, sleep, eat and perhaps a cold drink or two. And that’s exactly what we did. The only pressure I had was – catch a fish to keep the perfect record going! With that in mind, I pretty much fished every free minute I had today. Granny even joined in a few times and we really pumbled the waters around the island. Unfortunately we didn’t catch anything great. Just several of what appear to be baby grunts of some kind, and I do mean babies, Along with these I caught one of the common blackspot emperor fish. I made my last cast of the trip just before dark.

That’s about the size of today. It never stopped raining for more than 30 minutes or so but we relaxed and enjoyed the last day immensely. It has been a great trip right up to the end. Tomorrow at 5 AM we begin the long journey home. We will start with a mornings travel from Isle Aux Nattes to Isle Saint Marie and then a short flight to Antananarivo where we will spend the day before our flight to Johannesburg. I’ll keep you posted.

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing Website

Friday, April 29, 2011

A Cranky Crab

April 16

Madagascar – Day 17

Granny thought we had another rat in our room last night (We had one last week – forgot to mention that). She awoke me to some scratching noise. I recognized the sound immediately. It was a crab. And I don’t mean some small ocean crab; it was a monster land crab. I heard his legs scratching our cement floor and it sounded as if his huge shell-head was stuck. It was. He was lodged between the wall and a piece of furniture in our room. I whipped on my headlamp and grabbed a plastic coat hanger. My plan was escort him out of our room.

I was suspicious of the clamoring from behind the furniture a couple times this week. Now was my chance to eliminate the noise altogether. The first thing I needed to do was get the crab unstuck. I’m sure he could have got out of his predicament but it was easier for me to just pull out the furniture. When I did, the crab ran for our bed with both claws clapping to threaten us. I steered him from the bed with my coat hanger and he then ran to the bathroom where I cornered him under our sink. I was laughing quite hard while Granny cranked out the photo. Finally he attacked the hanger hard enough that I was able to drag him to our door and he ran out with his friends. It’s been a good vacation for room guests and I must say I love it.

I snuck out to the nearby point at 6 AM and nailed my fish for the day. It was a monster (ha ha) 12” pickhandle barracuda. The pressure was off to catch my fish a day for the day early. After breakfast Granny and I and our South African family did a full day of snorkeling with the guys I fished with the other afternoon, Florio and Herman. We took two pirogues and they poled us to a nice snorkeling place. We snorkeled around for about an hour here. It was ok. We saw more fish than I expected including a few neat ones such as trumpet fish and pipe fish. After our snorkel we headed around Isle Aux Nattes to a cool lunch spot Florio and Herman knew about. The entire way I sat up front of Herman’s boat and chucked my 8-weight Ross with a Chili Pepper, a favorite Christmas Island bonefish fly. All I did was roll a few baby needlefish.

The lunch spot was basically another beach hotel on our island. The menu looked great but no one was real hungry so we just had some fries and beers. This Three Horse Beer, the most popular of Madagascar, is starting to taste boring. One of the first things I plan to do when I get home is relish in some of the Victor, Idaho home brews. From there we continued around our island and stopped at one more snorkeling spot. It was really shallow so Granny loved it. I did too as my snorkel is busted and I constantly have to adjust. Here we could just stand up. And despite being shallow, there were a few nice fish to see. Of note I found a gorgeous boxfish hiding in a coral cave and chased a unique looking triggerfish. I’d really like to find some triggers tailing on the reef but its way too dangerous for them to do that here with all the local fishers that will net anything they see.

After our second snorkel I casted all the way home and finally got a fish. It was a very tiny and finely speckled grouper that I will have too look up. He might be the one our guide George caught two weeks back while we were in Nosy Be. A pretty little guy nonetheless. That about sizes up our day. We just finished up another great dinner and now at only 9 PM Granny and I can hardly keep our eyes open.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Barely Caught the Fish of the Day

April 15

Madagascar – Day 16

Even though yesterday led me to believe the fishing here isn’t too good I began the day by chucking some Crazy Charlie shrimp patterns in front of our room. I’ve managed to catch a fish every single day of this trip that I’ve been near water. It’s important I keep that going, but morning gave me no luck.

After breakfast, Granny and I joined our South African family (the father, Peter, his wife Renee, and their two daughters Ané and Monique) for a tour of
Isle Saint Marie. There are a couple things we wanted to check out, the village on Isle Saint Marie and the world’s only pirate cemetery.

Florio and Herman (the guys I fished with yesterday) poled us all across the channel to
Isle Saint Marie. Me and Peter started by enjoying a few early beers during the short pirogue ride. What the heck, its vacation right?

The way this tour worked, La Petite Traversée helped us hire a four wheel drive vehicle with a driver and guide. The truck was supposed to have room for all six of us. It didn’t. Granny and I huddled in the back as if we were on an
African minivan bus, something we are all too familiar with. We made it work though despite the fact that I ruined my shorts by sitting in oil and it was excruciatingly hot.

Anyhow, we saw the village. That was nothing to write home about. The
pirate cemetery was cool, but if the fishing was decent yesterday I could have easily skipped this. The highlight at the cemetery was seeing the first tarantula of the trip. We also checked out a waterfall. That was nice and I wanted to hike above it and fish wherever the water was coming from but our driver would have no part of the idea. The tours highlight was eating a great lunch of monster prawns on a remote beach at the north part of the island. All the food has been great this trip and the prawns were scrumptious. To top the tour off, I sucked a few extra beers and watched Granny and the South Africans explore several of the locally made rums. Everyone was feeling good.

Tonight I ran straight to the channel near our room to try and get that one fish for the day. First cast I had a small barracuda chase but he never returned. Twenty minutes later I was about to give up when as I was
stripping as fast as I can while backing up the beach to add more speed and I nailed another baby
bluefin trevally. Yes! The perfect record keeps going!

Other than having a blast with our new found family, the tour was a bore. However, it was a heck of an eating day. We had those delicious prawns for lunch and tonight La Petite fed us whole crabs. I like this anniversary!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Kick Back and Enjoy the Beauty

April 14

Fly Fishing Isle Saint Marie Madagascar – Day 15

We get up early every day but today I must have wandered out to the beach before 5 AM. It was well before sunrise and the lighting on the water was incredible. After a short walk and some play time with a local lemur, I grabbed my 8-weight and headed for the point overlooking the channel between the Isle Saint Marie and Isle Aux Nattes. By now the sun was up and the locals were in action like they never went to sleep. The pirogue taxis were vigorously shuttling children, fully decked out in their school clothes across the channel. Evidently there’s no school here on Isle Aux Nattes so they make the trip across everyday. That’s a cool school bus alternative! Along with the taxis, the channel was crawling with fisherman. Some were hand lining bait while groups of others were dragging huge nets and tossing a few small fish into the bottoms of their boats – not a good sign.

As I cast away, it was obvious I’d be the talk at school and amongst the local fishermen. The kids and pirogue guides especially, stared and watched my fly line sail through the air both curiously and cautiously. What the heck was this alien doing? Then to show them, even to my surprise because action was truly slow, I got ripped by a fish. At first I thought I really had something good but the run faded fast and it turned out to simply be a scrappy bluefin trevally of about 10”s. That gave me a mental boost but after an hour and a walk around the point, the only other fish I caught was the common blackspot emperor fish, another tiny one. This morning was my realization that there may not be many fish here.

During breakfast with Granny and my new South African friends, I noted that the fishery here could be in trouble. The water is spectacular looking. Water such as this in Belize or Christmas Island would be crawling with fish. And the Seychelles, a mere 1000 miles away, is one of saltwater fly fishing’s best, but here seems not only slow, but nearly void of fish.

After breakfast I actually relaxed (3rd or 4th time now this trip) in a lounge chair in the shade and typed up yesterday’s blog. Time flew and before I noticed it was lunch time. They make some great food here at La Petite Traversée so Granny and I had the cook, Oliver, make us a pizza, and of course we enjoyed a tall Three Horses beer to go with.

During our lunch along came the pirogue boatmen I spoke with briefly last night about fishing today. They were caught up on their taxiing for the day and were ready to make an extra buck by taking me fishing. We negotiated a price of $3 an hour – yes $3 an hour! As you can imagine, with a price like that and I woofed down the rest or my share of pizza, told them let’s fish till sunset and grabbed my gear. Granny opted to stay back and relax.

My guides, Florio and Herman, were super nice guys. Florio spoke reasonably good English while Herman is learning. Both shared the workload of guiding me. While one poled the other paddled and they switched off jobs on occasion. Remarkably, they moved that boat as if they had been guiding fly fishers their whole lives. They were very impressive. And surprisingly, they never questioned my fishing method (remember, they have only seen fish caught by hand line or net) or suggested we fish their way. They just watched and moved the boat and we chatted about the usual things – where the USA is, family and fishing in general.

Casting from the pirogue wasn’t easy. I’ve fished from plenty of dugouts and other strange watercraft my whole life. But usually I stand up and cast from these unstable boats on freshwater. It’s often calm and large rolling waves don’t exist. But on the ocean, in a wobbly pirogue, standing took some practice.

Once I got comfortable, casting was easy and I combed the water column around the coral reef with “old reliable”, the Clouser minnow. About three hours went by like nothing and we hadn’t even a follow. Seriously, we fished to coral head reefs that should have been teaming with life, but zilch. Not a single fish. Then it became apparent why. The fellas asked me to reel in as they were going to move past a particular area. At first I couldn’t figure why, the place looked just like the previous places we fished, but then I saw. I noticed fishermen nets tied from coral head to coral head. I’ve been plenty of places where over fishing is a problem, but this was ridiculous. They were literally netting every fish alive here! Even little tropical fish – yikes!

Let’s just say I didn’t have a lot of confidence from that point onward. And being the person I am, I started lecturing Florio and Herman about how bad netting coral heads was. They had a simple answer, “we must eat”. Well, there’s no doubt about that statement. It’s the way of the world. What can you say? Nothing. I just swallowed hard and thought to myself, “okay man, this area is more beautiful than anywhere I can remember, relax and enjoy it. I’m lucky to be here. Lucky I can leave and fish places that are full of fish. And lucky to be from the USA”. The world is full of places like this and I aint gonna change it. So I went back to my casting and prayed for a miracle. I wanted to catch and release a fish more than you can imagine!

I, Florio and Herman had a great time this afternoon. We had some great conversation and they worked as hard to please me as any fishing guide I’ve ever been with. They were fantastic. And best of all, I caught a fish! It was the smallest grouper I think I’ve ever caught. Juveniles like this are difficult to identify but the three of us are pretty sure it’s a baby Malabar grouper. The fishing trip was a success!

As usual, we just finished up another great night around La Petite. Granny and I and our adopted family of South Africans just enjoyed a fun cocktail hour and a massive seafood feast. This place really does it right. Now we are exhausted. The evening rains have started and it's time for bed.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Isle Saint Marie

April 13

Madagascar – Day 14

Granny organized most of this great adventure and I must say she may be in charge for life. I simply picked places that geographically should have fish and she took care of the logistics of getting there and where we stay. She’s’ been on enough Jeff Currier “wing-it as you go” trips. “No more” she says!

This morning we flew from
Antananarivo to the small island of Saint Marie. If you look at a map it’s on the east side of northern Madagascar. It’s a long thin island and if you look at the bottom there’s another island called Isle Aux Nattes. That’s where we are. If you Google Earth this place, you will see why I chose this location for fishing. It’s all gorgeous palm tree lined beaches, flats, coral reef, channels and the bluewater is close.

We landed on
Isle Saint Marie before 8 AM this morning along with a South African family. All of us then took a mile taxi ride to a beach and hitched a ride across a channel by pirogue (dug out canoe) to Isle Aux Nattes and to our hotel. These are the most beautiful beaches we can remember.

The hotel is called
La Petite Traversée. We settled on this hotel because its one of the only accommodations out here that is English speaking. Most of our trip we’ve dealt with Malagasy and French and it’s been a challenge. (Man I wish I knew how handy paying attention in high school language classes would have been in my life!).

This region of
Madagascar is famous for getting massive amounts of rain, but today the weather was absolutely gorgeous. However, you would not believe how hot it is. It was hot last week on the west side of Madagascar up at Sakatia Island, but it’s hotter here. Today was at least 95º and humid.

We arrived at La Petite at about 9 AM with the family of South Africans. The South Africans seem like great folks and will be staying here at La Petite also. We should have a lot of fun. La Petite is situated right on the water smothered in palm trees. I’m telling you, this place is absolutely stunning. The staff seems great and our room is perfect. If the fishing proves good here this week we may have found Heaven!

The La Petite staff whipped us up a great breakfast then Granny and I grabbed my
8-weight Ross rigged with my SA Sharkskin line and headed out. It appeared to me when I studied this island on Google Earth that a walk completely around the island would be less than a five mile hike. So off we went. The tide was rising so I felt like fishing could really be good.

Right off the bat from a deep channel near La Petite, Granny nailed the first barracuda of the trip. He was tiny but a cuda nonetheless. There are Great barracudas here as well as a couple smaller species of the Indian Ocean. I never got over to Granny to identify him or get a photo. That cuda was all we could catch there so then we continued our walk. Again, we can’t believe how beautiful this place is!

It didn’t’ take long before the rising tide eventually took almost our entire beach walking ability from us. It was a good thing we brought along Tevas because we had to walk through the palm forests and over some rocky points. It was tough going but there’s nothing like exploring new water and new places you have never been in your life.

Surprisingly, despite spectacular looking water, the fishing stunk. Other than the tiny cuda, Granny mustered up a blackspot emperor fish and I got a sand lizardfish. That was it. We casted our way along four miles of great looking beaches, reef and rocky points and got three dink fish. Such is fishing.

The entire walk took about four hours and despite the poor fishing it was a nice way to get some exercise. We spent the rest of the afternoon sipping
beers on our deck. During that time Granny read and I typed away at my blog. I just may be learning how to relax . . . a little anyhow.

Dinner was outstanding tonight. I foolishly did not take a photo. The meal consisted of gigantic prawns that were scrumptious. We had a family style dinner and cocktail hour with the South Africans and I can tell this will be a great week. Now the evening rains have started and we are ready to hit the sack. Hope for a better fishing entry tomorrow as I have made friends with a couple cool dudes with a pirogue. They say they will take me out to the reef.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Lemurs, Chameleons, Cool Frogs & Wet Luggage

April 10-12

Madagascar – Day 11-13

I wish I could tell you that since I signed off on the 9th that we had an on time safe flight to
Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar before heading for the jungles, but we didn’t. If you remember, Granny and I were waiting for our flight in a bug infested terminal and some chick nearly got bit by a bat. Then it started raining in the air terminal. Well, from there things went from lousy to horrible. A massive thunderstorm started and went on for at least 2 hours. When I say we experienced torrential rain, I mean the clouds were dumping buckets of water. Our plane ended up being two hours late. Meanwhile, (we didn’t know it) our luggage was outside in the storm getting soaked waiting for the flight to arrive. Then when we finally took off two hours late, our short flight to Antananarivo became an adventure of its own. Our 737 got tossed around as if it was a Cessna in a hurricane and the plane got struck by lightning not once, but three memorable times! So, at 1 AM when we finally arrived in Antananarivo, we were exhausted, beaten and received our two bags completely soaked. Everything we own is drenched. What sucks is, NOTHING DRYS HERE. Oh well, we could be getting snowed on in Victor, Idaho!

Things have been better since the flight. We headed inland to
Andisibe National Park. We hired a cool taxi/tour driver that I highly recommend named Jimmy Eliniaina Rabarison ( and he took us to the park for two days. Jimmy works with the Jenman Safari tour that lined us up at Sakatia Island last week. Anyhow, this isn’t a fish story so I’ll be brief, but you can’t come to Madagascar and not see the lemurs. Lemurs (monkey like creatures but not monkeys) are only found in Madagascar and Andisibe is home to many species of lemur.

On the way to the National Park Jimmy took us to see
chameleons at a chameleon refuge. We saw the wild one yesterday at Sakatia, but at this refuge we saw about 20 different species that we could never just find on our own. Some were very well camouflaged by color while other had not only colors like their surroundings but they even looked like leaves, trees branches and even bark. It was unreal and well worth seeing. Chameleons might be one of the coolest looking creatures we’ve ever checked out. Enjoy the photos.

Once at the park we settled in at the Vakona Forest Lodge on the outskirts of
Andisibe National Park and spent a day and a half hiking and checking out lemurs. We saw five different species including the Indri Indri’s the rarest and largest of all lemurs. Getting to see them is lucky. We weren’t just lucky but we got close to a group of four and as they navigated the trees above we stumbled through the jungle below and enjoyed them for over an hour before they vanished into the rainforest. Before this experience happened I would have told you seeing lemurs was no big deal, but this experience with the Indri Indri’s was spectacular. Absolutely memorable!

We’ve since traveled back to
Antananarivo and staying at the IC Hotel a few blocks from the airport. First thing in the morning we begin the final leg of our Madagascar trip, true relaxation at Isle St Marie. Look on the north east side of Madagascar for a sliver of an island. Talk about being in the middle of nowhere, this should be it. And geographically, it should be great fishing.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Last Day at Sakatia Island

April 9, 2011

Madagascar – Day 10

We told Frankie our flight didn’t leave
Nose Be until 7:45 PM tonight, yet at 4:30 AM this morning he woke us up in frenzy. “The flight to Johannesburg is at 7:45 AM not PM!” he shouted. At first I was really disoriented, remember its 4:30 AM. Where was I? What the heck was going on? Then I snapped to and said, “We’re not going to South Africa. We are going to Antananarivo”, I shouted back. All Frankie said was, “I’m so sorry. Please go back to sleep”.

That was a tough way to start the second day of relaxation. As you probably guessed, I couldn’t get back to sleep and felt lousy most of the day. And for that reason, today we really didn’t do much. However, to redeem himself, when Granny and I finally wandered up to the porch for coffee, Frankie offered a surprise. He had our first
chameleon of the trip spotted for us to enjoy. Seeing a chameleon this trip was one of our goals, and it was done. And he was worth every bit of being a goal. This chameleon was the coolest lizard type thing I’ve ever laid eyes on. And as once again I caught up on my journal, looked at some of my photos and drank cokes, I checked on the chameleon at least ten times throughout the day. It was great!

At about 1 the crew served Granny our last Sakatia meal, a great lunch and I used my new energy to fish the last two hours before we had to leave. This was my third crack off the rocks by camp. Each time I scraped up only a small fish or two so I wasn’t expecting much. The tide was low but rising. On my first cast I landed a small snapper like the one the other day. I’m pretty sure it’s called the onespot snapper. Then I had some small fish follow but my fly was too big. I came up with a great idea; trail a tiny size 10 shrimp I use for boxfish in Belize behind my size 2 Clouser. Why not? We fish two flies for trout. On my very next cast I landed what I believe is a blackspot emperor fish AND a leatherback! A double in the ocean! Two minutes later (I am not kidding) I landed another double! This time it was a
chocolate hind (grouper family) and a sand lizardfish.

The fish were feeding and I was really making the best of it. But that came to an abrupt painful end because as I caught one more
chocolate hind I slipped and fell on the razor sharp rocks. The body did not feel good. At first I thought I busted my ankle. It hurt like heck and was stuck all deform-angled between two rocks. I worked it loose and despite the throb the toes all wiggled just fine. It was just a scrape on the tough skin of the side of my foot. Once I realized where that pain came from and I’d be fine I noticed blood all over my right hand and that my yellow sharkskin line was turning red. I sliced the tip of my index finger on the oyster shell covered rocks. Luckily the wound was small-lots of blood but nothing to freak over. Regardless of no serious injury I was done. My ankle ached, my finger was bleeding and it was almost time to pack up anyway. I called it.

At 5 PM we said goodbye to our crew and took a boat from Sakatia Towers back to
Nose Be, Island. Then we taxied to the airport where we are presently waiting to fly to the capital of Madagascar, Antananarivo (Tana). We will stay in Tana tonight but leave early in the morning for our next adventure.

As I type, we are in the most bug infested airport imaginable. It’s like a horror movie and the
geckos are the size of Komodo Dragons! There are people swatting bugs like it’s a war. But what just made our misery all worth it was, a minute ago a bat flew in here and cracked his head on the widow. I like bats, that part made me sad. However, he fell to the floor and started hopping his way along, it looked awful. The lady closest freaked and ran out of here while most every one else just watched in shock. Then, to our disbelief, some lady started crawling on the floor trying to catch it with her bare hands! Yes her bare hands! She was crawling under seats and over roaches, beetles, ants, and all kinds of crazy insects. Then she got the bat, but dropped it just as he tried to bite her. What an idiot! I love travelling!

Rainforest rain is starting to fall and blowing into this shabby terminal. Time to turn out the computer.

Stay tuned!