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Alphonse Island

Alphonse Island

by Sascha Clark Danylchuk

There are certain places on this planet that make my heart happy. They tend to be places with less people, more nature, long views, and warm weather (or at least visited during the summer). Some are places that have helped shaped who am I, and some are new places that I have only just discovered. These places stick to my heart and in my brain, and are revisited frequently in thought, if not in the physical sense.

My seven year old reeling in her first unassisted bonefish. Andy Danylchuk photo

My seven year old reeling in her first unassisted bonefish. Andy Danylchuk photo

Eye spy… Nick Jones photo

Eye spy… Nick Jones photo

I just returned from a trip to a newly discovered such place. Filled with prehistoric looking land animals and more abundance and diversity in the water than I have seen anywhere else, the Alphonse Group of islands in the Seychelles is wondrous, not to mention home to a plethora of my favorite fish, bonefish. Although many anglers visiting Alphonse set their sights on giant trevally (GT), Indo-Pacific permit, triggerfish, milkfish, and offshore species such as wahoo and sailfish to be caught on the fly, bonefish likely play a critical role in the ecology of the flats ecosystems in the Alphonse group, including being important prey items for GTs and other apex predators.

The animals on land are just as amazing as those in the sea at Alphonse! Sascha Clark Danylchuk photo

The animals on land are just as amazing as those in the sea at Alphonse! Sascha Clark Danylchuk photo

With this in mind, a consortium of organizations has embarked on research to better understand the recreational fisheries of Alphonse. This project is unique in that it was initiated at the behest of Blue Safari and the related Alphonse Fishing Company; an example of their dedication to conservation and sustainable recreational fisheries.

The first step in this process currently being carried out is an examination of the movements of GTs. It is not known how territorial GTs are, how far they move away from the atolls where they are commonly found, if they become “hook shy” and, if so, how long it takes for them to revert back to “normal” behavior. Having such information will help facilitate the sustainable management of GTs, and create better angling experiences for guests.

It takes a lot of help to tag a GT in a livewell. Sascha Clark Danylchuk photo

It takes a lot of help to tag a GT in a livewell. Sascha Clark Danylchuk photo

The first phase will take several years to complete, however there are already discussions about expanding these efforts to include other species, including my favorite quarry. In the meantime, Alphonse Fishing Company is embracing and teaching the Keepemwet Fishing principles. Not only can you find our information in their island fly shop and on their boats, but they also discuss best practices for handling and releasing fish in their angler briefings and presentations. As one guest commented to me, “I’ve never seen guides who care as much about the fish as the guides here”.

For updates about the research project, visit www.alphonsefishingco.com

Keepemwet Fishing info in the Alphonse Fishing Co. fly shop. Andy Danylchuk photo

Keepemwet Fishing info in the Alphonse Fishing Co. fly shop. Andy Danylchuk photo

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Ambassador Profile: Dr. Jake Brownscombe

Keepemwet_Fishing_DR.Brownscombe.jpg

Jake is a research scientist that works on sportfish conservation through understanding how fish make a living, and developing catch-and-release angling practices that minimize our impacts on fish populations. From Largemouth Bass in Canadian lakes to Bonefish on the flats in The Bahamas, his research helps shape conservation minded angling practices. He works on recreational fisheries throughout the world, catching as many fish as he can along the way.

Dr. Brownscombe explains:

"Keepemwet is one of the most significant cultural movements in the world of angling today. It is showing anglers that keeping fish in the water when practicing catch-and-release is the key to having fish to catch tomorrow – and we can still get amazing photos. This is why I support the movement:
    Fishing has an important role to play in conservation. Anglers care about conserving fish and their habitats more than the average person, and we often push our weight around to preserve the resources we love. Yet, angling can be stressful for fish and have negative impacts on their populations if we aren’t careful about it. It is therefore essential to evolve our angling practices to ensure we contribute in a positive way to conservation.
    Research has shown that one of the greatest causes of stress and mortality in angled fish is air exposure. This is well known in the world of catch-and-release science, but not all anglers recognize this. Angling practices change through angling culture. Through movements like Keepemwet."

Jake Brownscombe, Ph.D.
Research Associate
Carleton University
Ottawa, Canada

Twitter and Instagram: @sci_angler

Research: researchgate.net/profile/Jacob_Brownscombe

 

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