From his home waters in the Seychelles of Alphonse, Cosmoledo, Poivre and Astove to Russia for Atlantic Salmon, Bolivia for Dorado and everywhere in between, Keith Rose Innes has had the pick of the bunch in all the dream destinations. Rearrange your bucket list and start checking the bank balance, here are his top 5 species.
“The most important thing about this fish is it’s the most exciting take you will ever have. When he is coming to eat the fly a large proportion of his body is above his mouth,. When you’re fishing for GTs, 99,9% of the time you’re fishing a floating line and stripping that fly so fast the fly is in the top section of the water so the fish has to put its eyes out of the water so in a sense it is looking at you. It’s eyes are dilated, it’s coming straight down the barrel, it’s mouth is open. It’s exciting and you’ve got to be on your game. You can’t react to what you see, you have to react to what you feel. Try to explain to a guest that they should “not strike when you see the fish open its mouth because you’ll yank the fly out” is the biggest issue. So it’s about getting that eat. When he pulls you pull, but obviously not by lifting the rod. Then it’s about transferring the line – it’s lightning – onto the reel and sometimes it goes up in the air, gets wrapped around your head. And then once you have it on the reel it’s about having the ability to apply the pressure to the reel – not too much but smoothly – to stop that fish. It really is a tug of war and they do know where the structure is, they do know where the rocks are. That’s the exciting thing about a GT. It’s definitely the most ferocious fish and the most exciting take you will ever have.”
“I am crazy about Atlantic Salmon. It’s not only the fish, it’s the history behind it and the beautiful places you go. I love spey casting. Working on the Russian rivers for four years, I loved my time there and ended up head guide. The only thing is it’s a hard season, the weather can be terrible. You’re on a river, it’s freezing cold and you’re spey casting but you don’t care.
Salmon, you’re trying to aggravate, it’s a reaction take. They can’t feed in the fresh water because their oesophagus shrinks. These fish are coming into the river to spawn. You’re swinging a fly to them and it’s a reaction take. If you see a fish show itself, you stand a good chance of catching it. You can swing a fly past it, if he bumps it you can change the fly, you can cast it shorter, mending upstream, sink the fly… you can work that fish till you get to the stage that you actually catch it. The fight of an Atlantic salmon is very similar to that of a Steelhead, but Atlantic Salmon get bigger. It’s not too much about the fight.”
“Milkfish are very exciting. It’s all about technique, not luck as everyone thinks. They can be very skittish. You have to get that fly in the right place where they are feeding and sometimes they will pick it up and eat it. Once you’ve hooked him it’s about holding on. They have soft mouths and you have small hooks, light leaders, so you have to not break him off when you set the hook and get him on the reel. Then it’s the fight, you have to apply the right pressure at the right time in order to break that fish’s ability to go into different places and cut you off. You can see guys who have not caught them before will fight them for two hours whereas you can beat that fish in 45 minutes. For me personally it’s not about landing the fish, it’s about getting the eat, getting the jumps, if the hook pulls out so be it. The beautiful thing about Milkfish is that we still haven’t 100% perfected catching them on the flats. There’s still a portion there that we haven’t figured out. But a South African will crack it. We’re getting closer and closer. They’re monsters. There is nothing more exciting than catching a milkfish on the flats. The speed with which they leave the flats and jump is phenomenal. The most powerful fish is a milkfish, because they have the stamina.”
“Permit are also very exciting and are the most difficult fish to catch. The Indo-Pacific Permit is far more difficult to catch than the Atlantic permit which is often caught in slightly deeper water often from a boat whereas in the Seychelles we are never fishing for them from a boat. We’re always on a flat stalking them, casting at them and trying to unlock the secret. Recently we have. We call it an Alflexo. It’s a variation that James Christmas tied. It’s a variation of the Orvis crab which is a variation of the Flexo crab. No one ever comes up with a fly. In the old days of the Crazy Charlie, those were the guys inventing. Subtle changes can completely revolutionize the fly fishing industry. The reason we know we’ve got it right is that it’s quadrupled our catches with this fly. From catching 15-16 permit a season to catching 60.”
“Triggerfish are characters, every single triggerfish is different. The way they feed, the way they eat the fly, the way they fight. That’s why it’s exciting and very difficult to target them. They bite the hooks in half and go into holes. We’ve started fishing for them in deeper water with the AlFlexo crab, because we’re getting a better sink rate with that pattern. In a sense the way the flies are developed, it develops the way we fish for this fish. Every time you develop a new fly, you develop a new tactic and you increase your catches and so the industry moves forward in a sense. So now the guys in the Caribbean have taken the fundamentals of this fly and started using it there now. We kept it quiet for a long time and now we started posting some images and you can see guys are using a Flexo braid crab, using cactus chenille, micro-legs and started putting bodies underneath, the way we put a knot in it, the color combinations – the things that happen in the Seychelles move over to the Caribbean and vice versa.”