This is a recap of my trip to Socotra with Wild Sea Expeditions in March 2023. We were doing the exploratory and only had a few days to fish ourselves, so we had to work the place quickly.
We struggled to catch fish, it’s super technical, mainly because the water is quite cold there, so the fish behave accordingly. We had strange wind, and the conditions just weren’t perfect or conducive to catching large numbers of fresh per day, so we caught a few different trevally species on the first day.
Two weeks later, I decided I’d seen some bonefish on the beach. I told my buddy Nick, who was fishing with me then, that I wanted to catch a big Bonefish on that beach, and that was the goal.
The day before the big fish, we caught decent bonefish. Nick, unfortunately, lost his bone at the end of the fight, but all the bonefish we had seen were over 60 cm that day, so we were stoked and confident that we would get to get the job done at some stage.
When we had a few clients, and I saw two bonefish, I think on the second to last day that the guests fished, I saw a few bonefish, I’d have to say between 90 and 100 cm kind of in that range, 34-36 inches; however, I couldn’t fully determine if they were bonefish because they were on a rocky-coral bank with a bit of white water and wave action. Hence, spotting the fish is hard, and I wanted to avoid getting in the water to spook them. Still, I needed to get in the water to identify what they were, so I got in the water and waited for them to come back to that exact spot. I thought they were milkfish as soon as they went off the broken bottom onto the sand. Still, then when they turned, I could see the eye and see the shape of the head and everything. I was like, “holy s*** balls, and those are some f****** massive Bonefish and some of the biggest bones I have ever seen.”
So, we decided that on our last days fishing, we would go and fish this particular section of beach close to where we were camping, but it was just a perfect spot. It was deeper water closed by a shallow flat sandbar near the beach so that you could wade a little bit, and that’s how we would find the fish: you would get into the water and get pumped by a few waves and wait.
And then you could see with the wave action, little puffs of sand off the deck, and then it would obscure your vision a little bit, so it is hard to spot fish. The water is clean, but it’s not like the Seychelles flats clean; it has a sort of opaqueness to the water. So, that last day Nick decided that we needed to go and fish, and I was pretty tired at that stage since it was towards the end of the season.
Nick decided to drag me out of bed and walked towards the beach. We got down there and put our bags down, and I lit up a cigarette, and low and behold, two-three meters in front of us on our left, into the sun, we saw two fish cruising a few feet away from the edge of the sand. I quickly grabbed my G Loomis fly rod, got on my knees, and threw out 15 to 20 feet of line with a little crab attached to my leader, and I still couldn’t tell what species I was casting to.
The fish had a pretty long length, but it was swimming with a bluefin, so I dumped the fly in there and waited for it to find my crab. I thought the bluefin would react first, but the bluefin there are very strange. The bluefin turned and went back into the waves, and I stripped the fly once since the bone was still on the sand, and this big bonefish just crushed my crab pattern. I set the hook gently cause I was fishing with 10lb tippet, then this thing tore off, and my Shilton reel started screaming. I ran back up the beach to get rid of my cigarettes since I had them in my pocket, and basically, the rest is history from there.
The fish took off, and I don’t know how many meters or yards of backing it took off the reel, but I was worried about how far it ran. I was concerned that the 10 lb tippet would break during the first change of direction because typically, at 90°, if the fish books out, it will pop with all the drag and resistance on the fly line through the water.
I had to follow the fish a bit, and it was a hell of a fight cause of the size. I had to follow the fish, get in the water, and then run back to the beach numerous times, and in its entirety, the fight was about 23 minutes.
It was onto the beach, but man, what an insane feeling to land a fish that size. I mean, any bonefish over 30 inches is remarkable, but to go 30-inch plus or 81 CM, you don’t see fish like that in the Indian Ocean. I was speechless that all of this happened, and to catch a bone that big, not knowing what species it was at first.
There are massive bones there, and I would like to go back to Socotra and see if we could try and stick a serious record over 90 CM; over 34-35 inches would be unbeatable, but they are there, and we have seen them.
I was so stoked that Nick was there to capture it all on video; I don’t think anyone would believe us if we didn’t bring a phone or camera. It was an unforgettable day in my fly fishing life, and I look forward to doing that again at some stage. Whether it’s a bonefish or a permit or anything, it doesn’t matter what it is. I’m stoked to catch anything, and I’ll throw my fly to whatever has fins, and this is just one experience I will never forget.