A Bill Boyce Perspective
Life can be a wondrous journey when you choose the right road and the light to lead it. Who would have known that a kid from California, who found an addiction to the sport of fishing at age 4, would take his love of all things piscatorial on a career path that included fisheries biologist, photojournalist, TV host and then producer of several international fishing/adventure series?
Along the way, I’ve traveled the world, met the most amazing anglers, captains and crews, and fished on everything from little car-top skiffs to the most modern mega sportfishers in the world. Although these experiences will always remain vivid memories, it is the photography I was able to capture along the way that now serve as my most treasured possessions. As I have gracefully aged into six decades on our wonderful planet, these places, people, photos and fish are what make my life rich far beyond any monetary compensation I was lucky enough to have garnered along the way.
It is in this article that I am honored to share some of these amazing regions of the world, the allure of their majesty, and the fish and friends I met along the way. I have showcased six regions — three in this issue and three in the next issue — that have touched my heart in different ways. For this edition of Guy Harvey Magazine, I’ve highlighted Panama, Central America, the Seychelles Islands in the Indian Ocean and Tahiti in the South Pacific. Next issue, look for my complete photographic compendium on Baja, Mexico, Alaska and the Caribbean, highlighted with the islands of St. Lucia, Grenada and the Turks and Caicos.
I hope you enjoy the images as much as I did taking them.
Panama, Central America
From Spanish explorer Vasco Nunez de Balboa’s discovery of the narrow isthmus in 1513 and his fame of being the first European to see the Pacific Ocean, the world could not have known at the time what a strategic advantage this “short cut” from the Pacific to the Atlantic would mean in wartime or in terms of commerce in times of peace. Panama, meaning plenty of fish, has lived up to that name for the past five centuries. In terms of fishery diversity and abundance of biomass, these riches have been discovered by anglers from every corner of the world.
The place that put Panama on the angler map is Tropic Star Lodge. An amazing enclave of great lodging, great food and great fishing, it was literally built in the middle of the desolate Darien jungle. Their scenic fleet of 31-foot Bertrams makes the busy morning dock a picture-perfect postcard that everyone should experience once in their lives.
Other amazing fisheries exist near the Coiba Island reserve, and Cebaco Bay Sportfishing is a great place to start. On the Atlantic side of the canal, San Blas is a scenic patchwork of more than 300 islands, where their quaint splendor is further enhanced by the friendly indigenous Indians famous for crafting colorful “molas” with their expert, tedious sewing precision. A jaunt offshore will find warm clear waters that are teeming with yellowfin, sailfish, wahoo and occasionally a white marlin.
Tahiti, South Pacific
Few places on earth are as remote as the South Pacific islands of the Tuamotus archipelago east of Tahiti. A total of 76 islands and coral atolls thrive in these remote pristine waters that cover an area of more than 700,000 square miles. Occasionally, a small village can be found amongst an outcropping of palm trees that silhouette every sunrise and sunset.
The Ultimate Lady, a 93-foot custom Kiwi-built sportfisher, was my home there on a few occasions. It was the perfect platform from which to dive and fish these untouched waters, and it featured a virtual “who’s who” variety of fish ready, willing and able to chew everything you toss their way. Inshore fisheries of snapper, coral trout, black jacks, giant trevally, bluefin trevally, jobfish, wrasses and reef sharks thrive in the cobalt-blue, crystal-clear waters of this region. With the steep underwater walls found adjacent to these atolls, the offshore pelagic fishery here is typically but a few hundred yards off island. From these walls, wahoo and dogtooth tuna roam in roving packs, wolf-like in their pursuit of anything that can’t outswim them. A little past these escarpments lies an azure ocean where blue marlin, black marlin, occasional striped marlin, pacific sailfish, yellowfin tuna and bigeye tuna can be encountered at any time of the year.
Taking time to peer into the underwater world of these unique ecosystems will treat your eyes to a virtual feast of color, shapes, textures and fish so brilliantly colored that you’d swear they were fake.
Lovely butterfly fish skim past a healthy Tahitian reef. The author poses with a beast of a tuna (right).
The author poses with an oddly beautiful and powerful Napoleon wrasse.
The aptly named Ultimate Lady is an incredible and luxurious fishing machine. One angler’s battle with a billfish nears its end. Rings of coral offer sanctuary to an abundance of sea life. Bird’s eye view of two of the many stunning atolls around Tahiti.
Seychelles, Indian Ocean
Placed geographically in the Indian Ocean, north of Madagascar and 1,000 miles east of Africa, the Seychelles consists of 115 islands in an area considered by many as the crossroads between Africa and Asia. A unique blend of granitic gray bedrock forms the main island of Mahe and those nearby, yet the outer islands were formed as coral atolls. This diversity of geographic consistency lends itself to a variety of tourism opportunities as well as myriad fishery habitats that vary from large predatory jacks, snappers and grouper in the rocky inshore habitats, to shoals of schooling tropical fish in abundance among the coral reefs of the outer islands.
Known worldwide as an inshore fly-fishing destination where jacks and giant trevally take most of the limelight, the offshore fishing plays second fiddle when it could be the grand piano. High concentrations of blue marlin, sailfish, wahoo, yellowfin and dorado are often encountered by those willing to make the offshore effort.
No island group in the world shares the uniquely sculptured rocky shoreline as seen in the Seychelles. Once you’ve been there, their almost surreal nature is easily recognizable when an image is seen later in a publication or video. The coral reefs of the outer atolls are comparable to some of the finest found elsewhere in the Indian Ocean.
The surreal rock shapes of the Seychelles are some of the world’s most unique. Author Bill Boyce shows off a red snapper. Anglers bring a sailfish alongside the boat before releasing it back into the wild. This is just one of the 115 picturesque islands that make up the Seychelles.