A few weeks before my annual trip to Providence Atoll in the Seychelles I suddenly realised I needed to get my kit organised. On closer inspection, I discovered that my one full fly pack had been decimated from the previous along with my box of crabs and shrimps. I quick call to Steve Carew at Fulling Mill and the situation was resolved. We had worked together on a few patterns over the winter such as the Gym Sock and the magnetic Minnow for GTs, but in the box that arrived of my assorted favourites was a couple of packs marked “Itchy Trigger”. Curiosity peaked I opened them up and dropped the contents on the desk… Ooooh… those look yummy. Developed by one of the Pros in Australia this wonderful looking shrimp patterns resembles many different prey, but most importantly is tied on a really heavy thick Owner hook. Vital when you target crunches coral for a living.
My first day on the flats of Providence I selected the Size 4 Fulling Mill Itchy Trigger for my 9# rig and it was not long before I had the chance to put it to the test. I had been wading up an edge, flicking my Magnetic Minnow into some blue holes. My fly remained unmolested, but just then two triggers began tailing in front of me and I quickly switched from 11# to 9# and began to work out some line. The Itchy Trigger plopped in just above in the moving current and sank serenely toward where I assumed the head to be. I gave it one small twitch and the fish immediately gave chase, nipping at it as I slowly stripped. Finally everything went tight, I set the hook and the large yellow margin did that surprised swimming backward thing they do before arcing line through the water and made my reel sing. I was elated, as I have always had issues with yellow margins. The battle was going well, I thought, when the line just went slack and the fish made off. My yellow margin curse continued, it had obviously just been using my fly as a toothpick! Triggers 2 – us 0… I examined the fly and unlike some which come back crunched and bent out of shape the hook remained as before.
The Itchy Trigger is designed to catch Trigger’s and has the irons to prove it. It will sink fast and imitate a number of prey species – fish it dead slow or ‘do nothing’ and it imitates a crab or the head of a small mantis shrimp. Twitch it back short and fast, and it imitates a small fleeing shrimp. Make sure your leader is strong and tough – these fish live in tiger country. Ideally tied on with a loop knot, the Itchy Trigger comes alive with the slightest of twitches so you can ‘feed’ the fish. Check it out HERE.
A couple of days later I had taken James and David to hunt for the big bones found on the eastern sand flats of Providence. We walked a big loop for about an hour as the water dropped significantly and saw nothing of consequence. It was still a little high. James and David I could see were feeling mildly despondent as we neared the boat, the promise of large bones hollow in their ears. Just then, out from the right I spotted a green back slipping down the flats towards us. I popped the Itchy Trigger fly off the ring, flicked the line off the 9# and cast at the incoming bone, dropping the fly about three feet ahead of it. As it sank I saw the bone tail and munch something it had spotted.
As it turned around I gave the fly one short strip so it made little puff in the sand. It flew over and hoovered it as I simultaneously set the hook. A moment of confusion was followed by the self-preservation instinct and it tore off like only a bonefish can. Within 15 seconds I was well into the backing as the others looked round to see what the commotion was about. It never ceases to amaze me that you can’t horse in these bonefish as they are all over 5 lbs. As I tried to bring it to hand it kept swimming around me in circles. Finally I grabbed the tail, lovely fish I would put at about 6 lbs.
I then spotted another coming towards me and what ensued was a fantastic session as the bones began to drift down from the apex of the flat to the inner lagoon on the dropping tide. It made the long wade beforehand all worthwhile as we had dropped into the right spot at just the right moment. Finally the main sand flat began to stick out of the water and our guide moved us down the finger flats with the deep lagoon on either side.
On another occasion toward the end of the day we had pushed all the way to the bottom edge of the flats up to some white holes on the edge before it dropped into deeper water. This was a perfect spot to find fish dropping off as the tide slipped away. Sure enough as I waded up the edge I saw two big blue fish dropping out across the white sand. It was a perfect shot, fish cruising leisurely towards me and I threw a relatively short line dropping the Gym Sock a few feet in front of them. One broke off and gave chase immediately but the fly was coming straight at me and the fish’s the bucket mouth closed around the fly while the GT kept coming at full pace and over ran the strip with no way for me to set the hook. It spat the fly out and headed off to join its mate as they continued on their way into the deeper water. Arrgghh! So frustrating! I pulled the slack line and got ready for the next opportunity, hoping it might come.
No more than five minutes passed as we continued up that edge when low and behold another long blue shape came cruising down the edge. I shouted at the others, but as I was closest and the other two could not get there in time I had another chance. I took a deep breath to calm myself, wound up the 12# and fired a cast well out in front of the fish and took in some slack. When it was five feet or so away I gave the fly a long slow strip. The GT lit up like a Christmas tree, immediately flipping from cruising to attack mode. I held the rod out in front in case I missed a strip and began to accelerate the Gym Sock fly. The fish charged and hit the fly hard before turning off and I strip set equally hard back. This one was not getting away and as the slack line hit the reel I cranked the drag with one twist and just hung on. As the fish tore away it suddenly did a somersault, tail over head, and I raised the blank in a long curve and started using my knees.. after a couple more attempts to run I brought that fish straight to the guide’s waiting hand. It never even made it onto the running line. A lovely fish of 86 cm, honour was restored.
We continued drifting across the atoll, allowing the tide to take us to our next spot. Just as we came over the deeper water to a finger flat we spotted movement. I grabbed my 9# and jumped over and waded after it fast, not entirely knowing what I was casting at, just a grey shape moving quickly. I began casting as I stripped off line ad dropped the Itchy Trigger shrimp and rather than letting it settle stripped it back fast. The fish did a 180 degree turn and hoovered it. I still did not really know what it was, but it was pulling hard. Finally I gained control and it turned out to be a really nice sized yellowspot trevally. Closely related to the golden trevally these fish have the same protruding mouth parts they use for munching crustaceans and not seen on Providence often. I have only caught a couple over the years, so I was really pleased.
With the tide rising we were now over on the east side and right at the bottom of the giant sand flat where the big bonefish live. The water was probably higher than we would have liked, but we waded towards the apex looking for hungry GTs. As the water shallowed a little I saw a silver shape coming in from the right. I quickly changed rods off my shoulder pulled some line off and made a short cast and let it sink. As the bonefish came towards me I gave the Itchy Trigger a short strip and the fish pounced on it immediately. I was beginning to love this fly, everything I cast it at tried to eat it! After some screaming runs I landed it and I added another species to my tally.
In the afternoon we went in search of bumphead parrotfish. There had been many on the east side of the atoll and we began to wade the turtle grass, aiming for the huge blue/ green tails flapping in the sunlight some 500 yards away. Scanning behind me as well I turned around to see a school heading in my direction. I tied on a fairly large Alphonse Crab and cast it out a way ahead in the direction the school was travelling and let it sink. I then pulled in the slack so I could feel the crab and waited.. The school came over and as they passed over my fly the third fish rolled over and tailed and immediately I was hooked up. I set the hook hard and the enraged bumpy took off like a scalded cat which spooked the rest of the school. They charged up the flat to a series of holes and despite applying a serious amount of pressure there was nothing I could do to stop it following the school. As I began to run and wind and Wes tried to hold the line up above the edge the line went slack and he cut me off on the coral… gutted. Wes and I stood dejected, peering into the hole as we could still see the school moving around.
Fulling Mill’s saltwater fly range covers everything you’ll ever want to throw a fly at.
“We may as well complete the trevally slam,” he said, and proceeded to tie on another crab fly for me. These holes in the middle of the flats are home to all sorts of species, from grouper to GTs, so I began to blind cast towards a coral head. After about five casts a blue streak flashed in from left field and hit the crab, a nice bluefin to complete the trevally slam. Job done, we turned back to the other two as they continued to chase the bumpy schools across the flats. Brummy hooked up, and the same thing happened to him, trashed straight into the hole. I actually lost count of the number of hook ups we had, but the next one I hooked I decided that it was either going to break me off or I was going to land it. I began to fight it like a GT on the 9#, constantly knocking the fish off balance and pulling its head into the flat. To begin with I seemed to be having little effect, just bending the rod further, but then it was left behind by the school and I entered phase two of the battle. It never ceases to amaze me how strong they are and I always say it’s like being attached to an angry bison. Wes moved out with the net as often it works best to try and net them a long way out before they can bite, break or cut through the leader or fly. He began to sneak up in it like a dog catcher with the net extended, and then it was over as he expertly scooped it up. The feeling of elation was tangible.
It was an incredible trip as Providence Atoll always is. 355 km² of fishing playground which is an untouched natural ecosystem is a privilege to go to. I am already looking forward to returning, but I will have to resupply my flies first! For me that week the Itchy trigger performed brilliantly as a ubiquitous fly on my 9# that I could cast at any species. In this scenario when you are up to your waist in water most of the day that ability is paramount.
If you would like discuss Providence or receive further information, please contact Peter McLeod. Alternatively, please contact the office on +44(0)1980 847389. Itchy trigger. Itchy trigger. Itchy trigger. Itchy trigger.