Do you ever think of a special place you’d like to fish? For most people I’m guessing there must be a special place they visit in their daydreams, for me it’s usually a tropical paradise, occasionally a salmon river, both are distant and remote from day to day life in Wiltshire.
It’s easy to visualise these places in your mind’s eye. My tropical fishing island has a good sized sand flat ideal for stalking transient flats visitors such as bonefish, trevally and big triggerfish. It has a beautiful coral reef on one side, home to a multitude of brightly coloured fish busy going about their business among corals and anemones. The reef drops away into seriously deep blue water frequented but huge shoals of baitfish and attendant pelagic predators such as tuna, wahoo and sailfish. Is this place just a dream? No it’s a reality and I was fortunate enough to visit just a couple of weeks ago.
Atmosphere Kanafushi is a newly rebuilt resort nestled on the Lhaviyani Atoll in the Maldives. The island is reached via a short seaplane flight from Maldivian capital Malé. The seaplane flight is a great start to the holiday – a chance to see the beauty of the various atolls you will pass by en route. I was fortunate to catch a glimpse of a group of half a dozen manta rays feeding in shallow water at the edge of a blue water drop off from the air. There would be much closer encounters later in the week!
The staff at the resort are immediately helpful and welcoming on arrival, in fact I would go as far as to say they were the most professional of any resort I have visited. Always polite and, of course, nothing was ever too much trouble. My family stayed in a superbly equipped and decorated air-conditioned villa that satisfied all our needs during the stay with access directly on to the beach out through large French doors. The package we were on was all inclusive allowing you to really enjoy the holiday without having to worry about paying a huge food and drink bill on departure. Most of the activities at the resort were also included and my family soon became regulars on the afternoon snorkelling trips to stunning areas of the reef a short Dhoni (traditional Maldivian boat) ride from the island. The resort has a Spa – which my wife tells me was a must visit while I was out fishing!
What was the fishing like?
Potential for fishing at Kanifushi Island is huge and can be split into three distinct types. These are flats fly fishing, popper fishing primarily for giant trevally and blue water fishing. I have no doubt the Maldives will soon become established as the place to go saltwater fly fishing.
There is a large sand flat at the top end of the island that extends all the way to the next island roughly a mile or so away. It is possible to wade all the way but realistically this will involve a bit of swimming so not for the faint hearted. While we were there we encountered giant trevally, gold spot trevally, blue fin trevally, permit, bonefish, big titan & yellow margin triggers, black-tip and lemon sharks plus many more species. Plenty to cast at with good areas to fish on both sides of the sand spit. This area can be accessed for fishing at any time and a boat is available to ferry you over to the adjacent island that has similar flats to fish. We found high tide was definitely the best time. A good all round set of gear to fish the flat would be a 9’ 9 weight outfit with plenty of backing on the reel. Carry tapered leaders of 20lbs bs and a selection of flies to imitate shrimp, crabs and small baitfish. The killing fly on our recent trip was an Avalon Keel shrimp – irresistible to triggers and trevally. This flat is also frequented by large giant trevally (GT’s) on some tides so an 11 or 12 weight set up would be more appropriate in these circumstances.
There’s huge potential for big catches of large GT’s on the edges of reef drop offs and channels around both Kanifushi and the surrounding islands. On our first morning an hour or so casting poppers at the reef edge produced five explosive takes with my son hooking a large GT way too strong for the tackle that unceremoniously smashed him up by diving straight down into the coral. A proper crack at this with some serious fishing tackle would definitely produce some really good fish. The great thing about it is there are some ideal areas really close at hand so a productive couple of hours GT fishing can fit into a day on the beach with the family perfectly.
Blue Water fishing
Large shoals of baitfish accumulate around the atoll at certain times, these are followed by a variety of predators. We saw several very large sailfish jumping on our visit and of course the Maldives are well known as sustainable tuna fishery with yellowfin and smaller tuna species present in good numbers for a large part of the year. Other big game species are also present including dorado, wahoo and marlin – so lots to explore.
The million dollar question at the end of any holiday is of course ‘Would I go back?’ The answer is yes in a heartbeat. My family absolutely loved the experience – I was able to do plenty of fishing and catch some really cool fish while at the same time being able to spend quality time relaxing and enjoying the island with my family. Perfect! I can’t think there is a better family friendly/fishing holiday option available. For more details and information please contact Mat Mchugh at www.flyodyssey.co.uk.