A birthday in paradise: Louise Laycock reports on a trip to Alphonse
By Louise Laycock
Where else can you say you have enjoyed a birthday surf walk chasing GT’s in the morning and targeting trigger fish in the afternoon, followed by a delicious supper and a fished-shaped cake from the chef? Wow, what a day in paradise!
Having fished in Cuba, The Bahamas, Belize and Venezuela to name a few, I really could not imagine a destination could better them but Alphonse honestly did surpass all expectation and now has a firm place in my affections.
From the outset it was clear why Alphonse is regarded as one of the finest saltwater destinations in the world. From the moment of landing on the tiny airstrip which runs through the centre of this beautiful island, you are made to feel totally welcome and at home by all of the staff. After an arrival cocktail and light lunch we met the guides at the fishing centre to set up our tackle for the following day of fishing. The trepidation was too much for most of the guests, however, and they set off around the island for some casting practice.
Guests are accommodated in beach bungalows or suites which are impeccably decorated and comfortable. Having an outdoor shower with Frigate birds circling above was a definite highlight for me. Being situated right on the water’s edge with an incredible view out to St Francois, your bungalow is perfectly positioned to allow you to jump into the water from your deck for a quick cast on a day off fishing (whoever does that?!) or after a day on the flats and before sundowners.
Alphonse really is perfect for any non-fishing guests. There are plenty of activities including diving, snorkelling, nature tours and island visits to get involved in or you can just immerse yourself in island life and relax in one of the many hammocks. There is one thing I would definitely recommend for a leisure guest and that is joining the rods out on Tiger Flats at St. Francois for the flats lunch which happens once a week. Here the chef sets up a BBQ, bar, table and chairs for a lunch like no other on the stunning white sand flats.
There are no vehicles on this natural sanctuary so you get to whizz around the island by bicycle which you need to get to the main lodge and fishing centre. This is great fun although you must watch out for the enormous tortoises on the way back after supper!
The fishing was fantastic around Alphonse and out at St. Francois. The catamaran ride out to St. Francois is really enjoyable with everyone excited about the day ahead and then on the way home the stories and beer flow. I had wanted to have a shot at GT’s (Giant Trevally) and I was not disappointed, although running through the surf with line getting stuck round coral heads and my fly caught in turtle grass was not how I had imagined trying to get a perfect cast out there! I found the triggerfish as exciting as casting for permit and equally as infuriating, but what stunning fish to see up close. I don’t think I have ever seen anything so fascinating and was mesmerised by the catch!
The permit fishing for the week ended up with seven landed to the twelve rods with two being taken by one rod on one day. The range of species landed was pretty remarkable; milk fish, bluefin trevally, wahoo, tuna, yellow margin & moustache triggerfish and of course the mighty GT’s.
Sadly it was not my week for triggers or GT’s but having witnessed other rods land them I have to get back to Alphonse.
For more information and current availability on this exquisite island and remarkable fishery please do not hesitate to call the office or email me on Louise.Laycock@roxtons.com.