Blue Lightning, an Adventure in the Maldives


There is always parallelism between exploration and traveling. At least when you are the kind of angler that has established the DIY as leitmotiv in his trips around the globe. Of course, whenever you are into it, there are some tools that should be taken under consideration, however, when you measure the value of a fishing trip in moments, feelings, and experiences, more than in numbers, it is totally worth it. In the end, there is nothing like the reward of being fully responsible for your own success… or failure.

The Maldives:

The country is comprised of more than 1000 islands, grouped in 26 atolls, that span across the equator, north to south, over a distance of almost 1000 kilometers. Only 200 of those islands are inhabited and that offers a great opportunity for those seeking to explore the countless kilometers of shore, white sand beaches, flats, reefs, and surf lines.

Maldives miscellanea.

Definitely, an awesome playground for those DIY fly fishing trip lovers, because the truth is that the Maldives is a fly fishing destination that is still undiscovered.

The number of fly fishing operations is still really low and the information available is still very little. An incredible potential is here, though.

“Are you in for a scouting trip to my home atoll?”

I met Hilman months ago when I was on a backpacking / surfing trip with my girlfriend around Male, the capital of Maldives. I was searching for a day of fishing – of course, I always bring some rods, and Hilman runs a small sportfishing company in Male.

Searching for GTs with Malé city in the background.

Male is not the best destination for fly fishing within the Maldives. The atoll does not have the conditions that fly fishing requires. Most of the population of Maldives gravitates around Male, as well as the biggest concentration of resorts and tourism operations.

Unexpected Success.

Male is not a quiet place by any means and the key to success when fly fishing is, quite often, loneliness and well-rested fishing spots.

The flats are a unique fishing environment, where quite often big predators decide to go into skinny water searching for preys. In that process, they abandon the safety of the blue depths that surround the island and sail in waters that quite often are knee-deep. If the flat or the surroundings are heavily disturbed by human presence, boats, etc. we could be saying goodbye to our best asset.

Hilman did not have experience in fly fishing, but he managed to put me on a nice well-rested flat, with good structure and access to the surf line. The day was a complete success and by the end of the day, he was really looking to learn more about fly fishing.

Unfortunately, we had no more time to share, but we both were hooked on what fly fishing and Maldives had to offer.

4 friends, 2 weeks, 11 islands, 200km walked on the flats, reefs and surf line, and countless casts.

Of course, we decided to take up the challenge. I set up a group of good friends that shared the same fly fishing approach and we jumped into a flight, then another one, then into a 1-hour boat trip. And finally, we were there, in some of the most remote atolls in the country.

During the following two weeks, we had an adventurous feeling inside our chest. Every day was different, each island was more attractive than the previous one and the visual beauty of some of the most picture-perfect scenarios imaginable was even more appealing that the challenge of exploring them.

Bohar snapper is always a welcome surprise. Powerful and stubborn, they will put your tackle to its paces trying to get into the coral. (Photo by @mirenloops)

We did not know what to expect, but we were ready for everything: bonefish, permit, trevally, trigger… who knows?

When the blue lightning struck…

Tropical beauty, the blue fin trevally. AKA, blue lightning.

We can not deny that on every step, we were expecting to spot GTs cruising the flats hunting for prey. Despite covering many many kilometers, that never happened. As quite often, we could not really understand why. However, we were overwhelmed with the plethora of miscellaneous species that we were able to catch: snappers, peacock groupers, queenfish, bonitos, coral trouts, triggers, and darts, among others. Even though, I have to recognize that everything went to another level when they appeared.

A magical cocktail of beauty, speed, and strength.

As if out of nowhere, blue lightning was cruising the flats at breakneck speed. Blue sparkles under the foam in the surf, changing direction in the blink of an eye. The bluefin trevallies smashed our flies with an unusual ferocity, fighting each other to get our flies and emptying our reel with the same speed as they appeared. The beauty and character of these fish compare to nothing.

@mirenloops with a nice bluefin. Her face says it all.

Plastics / climate change and human effect.

Coral, coconuts, and plastic. Global drama.

The Maldives has one of the most delicate environments. Coral reefs are the heart of the islands. They offer protection to them as its natural defense and every, including fishing, depends heavily on the health of its reefs and ecosystems.

However, due to climate change, and warming ocean temperatures, the coral is threatened now more than ever and high water temperatures have already started to leave their mark. We could see evident signs of coral bleaching in most of the reefs. The beginning of the end.

So much water to be explored.

Human impact, even in the most remote places on the earth is more than noticeable. It does not matter how far you travel, we are all part of the same thing and everything is connected. Plastic is the biggest clue about it. Uninhabited island beaches are covered by it. You really get the point about how important are those social movements encouraging us to get rid of it and as anglers and fly fishing industry motors, we have to lead that movement. In the end, this is our planet and nature the place where we enjoy our passion.

Another adventure comes to its end. Walking into the unknown is often the biggest reward and I come back home with that feeling again, so many waters to be explored and so little time. Maybe it is time to prepare for the next trip to fly fish the Maldives?

Article by varlvaro G. Santillán For more of Alvaro’s killer photo content and stories of fly fishing around Europe you can give him a follow at @focusontheflymedia. or check out his website at http://www.focusonthefly.com/.

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