From exploring India and catching world record masheer as a feral youngster, to growing up and spending his working days on location with Flycastaway in places like Providence, St Brandon’s or Sterkfontein – Nic Isabelle has a pretty schweet life (and a porno tache). Before he returned to Providence for the first time since the pandemic hit, we caught up with him for this issue’s High 5s.
5 best things about where you guide?
- Schools of tailing GTs on Providence Atoll – The most incredible saltwater fly fishing spectacle on the planet!
- Skinny water fly fishing for enormous Bonefish on St Brandon’s Atoll – this is quintessential walk and stalk sight fishing bliss.
- Our guide teams of which I’ve been part of three – I can proudly say that I work with some of the most professional and experienced fly fishing guides in the industry.
- The MV Maya’s Dugong and its crew – trusty, reliable, and the perfect launch pad for a successful fly fishing trip to Prov.
- Dock beers on St Brandon’s Atoll – the retelling of a fishy tale isn’t the same without an ice-cold yeast in hand.
5 fishing-connected items you don’t leave home without before making a mission?
- My trusty Canon 80D – 4 years of abuse and still shooting like she did on day one.
- Hand sanitizer – Nothing cleans saltwater and sunblock from your sunglasses as effectively.
- A pack or two of pocket tissues are your friend – Blow your nose, clean your sunglasses, dry a drowned dry fly, and there to help if a sudden urge to shed a pound occurs.
- Patagonia Tropic Hoodies – Making buffs a thing of the past.
- Bose Sleep buds – we’ve all had to share a small room with a world-class snorer. Get yourself a pair, you’ll thank me for it!
5 bands to listen to while on a road trip?
- Stick Figure
- Rainbow Kitten Surprise
- Dope Lemon
- Lewis De Mar
5 things you are loving right now
- Sapiens – A Brief History of Humankind.
- Anything written by Malcom Gladwell.
- Bulgar Wheat – this healthy, easy to make grain is a game changer.
- Early morning exercise – us fishing guides aren’t known for our healthy habits but there is honestly no better way to start the day.
- Maui Jim – optics like I’ve never experienced. If you can, try the rose lenses… Yes, you’ll see into the future with those!
5 indispensable flies for saltwater?
- If there was one fly to rule them all it would be a Tan over White Clouser.
- Merkin Crab – you can get creative with this fly and everything on the flats eat it.
- Gotcha – simple, effective, and easy to tie.
- Tan Brush fly – I’ve always liked drab coloured flies while fishing the flats, especially if there is the chance of encountering a real giant.
- Fleeing Crab – tied small or large. This fly gets the thumbs up!
5 indispensable flies for freshwater?
- Natural PTN in #14
- Natural GRHE #14
- Black Woolly Bugger #8
- Dark Dun Shuttlecock #12
- CDC and Elk Hair Caddis #14
5 favourite fly fishing destinations across South Africa?
- Sterkfontein Dam – gin-clear water, loads of targets, beautiful scenery, relatively easy to get to… no brainer.
- The Vaal River and its tributaries – if you’re in the right place at the right time you’ll experience some pretty world-class fly fishing opportunities.
- The Swartberg – trophy stillwater trout and small unknown streams stacked to the brim with dry fly obliging rainbows.
- A few private farm dams in northern Natal – huge Largemouth Bass and a healthy population of popper-eating Nembwe.
- Dullstroom – the fishing might be a little tame but the town isn’t, especially after 9pm!
5 favourite fly fishing destinations globally?
- St Brandon’s Atoll – as a sight fishing enthusiast I can confirm that this is a fly fishing destination everyone should visit at least twice!
- India – exploring the foothills of the Himalayas with a fly rod is the epitome of adventure (the fishing was pretty wild too).
- The upper Zambezi River – Although a shadow of its former self I have fond memories of double-digit tigerfish and hangovers that lasted far too long.
- Farquhar Atoll – this is a spectacular fly fishing destination. Fishing and guiding it was a pleasure.
- Providence Atoll – a place so fishy you can’t help but respect that you’ve entered the food chain the second you step foot on its flats.
5 of the most difficult guiding/teaching experiences so far?
- Your Indian Ocean guide day 1 – nothing will prepare you for that.
- Trying to find fish on Farquhar in hot green water during the days leading to Cyclone Fantala in April 2016.
- Trying to entertain my two non-English speaking guests while waiting for the tide to free us from the perils of being high and dry (read boat not floating due to error of judgement).
- Anchoring a boat off sand spits can be tricky. Let’s just say boats are heavier than they look!
- Cleaning algae off the underside of our boats in the Farquhar slipway with the constant thought that one of the pet GTs might decide your feet are worth a nibble!
Read the rest of Nic’s High 5s in Issue 30 below. As always, it’s free.