Keith Rose-Innes is an accomplished guide and angler most known for his fly fishing ventures in the Seychelles. The managing director of Alphonse Fishing Company, Keith has the ultimate saltwater flats destination as a playground. He also gets to travel the world a bit and take on other exotic destinations. Keith recently sat down for an interview with The Venturing Angler:
Why do you guide where you do?
I cut my teeth guiding in the Seychelles 22 years ago. I guided full-time for 17 years before co-founding Alphonse Fishing Company and now our latest initiative, Blue Safari. My home is in the remote atolls of the Seychelles. If I had to hang my hat anywhere in the world, it would be in the Seychelles. Living how I do comes with obvious perks, not least of which is access to the various incredible fisheries on my doorstep. I have been lucky enough to be the first to fly fish and guide trips to many of the now well-known outer atolls of the Seychelles. Many would call it pioneering, but I see it as school fees. I know the outer atolls of the Seychelles and love every day that I now get to back out on the water after setting up fly fishing operations at Alphonse Island, Cosmoledo Atoll, Astove Atoll, Farquhar Atoll and Poivre Atoll.
What is your favorite fish specie?
I have no favorite fish species or atoll. No matter which atoll I’m at, when you spend enough time on the water, you become more addicted to how you catch them versus what you catch. My time spent exploring the Indian Ocean has allowed me to become an ambassador for the giant trevally (GT) and in tune with how best to guide for these powerful adversaries. Over the years I have personally guided clients into catching over 5200 fly-caught GTs on the flats as well as being at the forefront of developing techniques on how to catch various previously “non-catchable” fish species found in the Indian Ocean, for example landing the first bumphead parrotfish on fly.
What is your favorite thing about guiding?
Nowadays being out of the office is the greatest perk but once out there it’s the fact that even after so many years of guiding the outer islands of the Seychelles things change and there will still be new spots found. The years I’ve spent exploring, promoting and establishing the remote atolls of the Seychelles as the world’s best saltwater fly fishing destination have been the best years of my life. Knowing that my life’s work has been to try to assist in protecting these amazing places.
Now, 24 years later, I now celebrate that on 26 March 2020 the President of the Seychelles, Danny Faure, officially signed the bill demarcating 30% of the territorial waters of the Seychelles as legally binding Marine Protected Areas as part of the large-scale Seychelles Marine Spatial Plan. A first-of-its-kind initiative exchanging national debt relief in exchange for ocean conservation policy co-designed by the Nature Conservancy, the Seychelles Government and the World Bank. The Alphonse Group, Desroches, Farquhar, Poivre, Cosmoledo and Astove are all included in the gazette, culminating a 5-year project led by the UNDP-GEF with Island Conservation Society, Blue Safari and Alphonse Fishing Company as key partners among others, specifically focused on protecting the unique and pristine tropical marine ecosystems of these remote atolls. The policy designates the offshore waters up to 1km from the outer coral reefs protected as ‘Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty’ which seeks to conserve the exceptional biodiversity and natural value of these marine areas whilst ensuring the enjoyment of sustainable ecosystem services into the future. We are blessed to have the Seychelles Outer Islands in a pristine state that has changed very little since the early days and now it’s up to us humans to protect it.
What is the most memorable trip you’ve guided and why?
The first trip to each one of the outer atolls has always been my most memorable. There was no Google Maps in the early days. We would arrive with old nautical charts and sometimes set out guiding without having any experience on that particular atoll. The idea that you could be the first person to guide on that flat or the thought that you could discover an incredible spot at any time and name it for guides to fish in the future. The taught that you might be able to find an atoll that would allow you to target a different species of fish.
What is the funniest thing you’ve experienced while guiding?
The funniest thing I have ever seen was in the early pioneering days when one of my fellow guides was tripped by a GT while running after a hooked GT in an attempt to land it. We were on a storm ridge at Cosmoledo Atoll and they were in the final stages of landing a GT when the commotion of the guide running after the GT enticed another GT that was swimming in the area. I turned and rushed over hitting the back of the guides boot making him fall flat on his chest immersing him and everything he was carrying under water.
What makes your guide service great?
Besides having the most amazing atolls to fish and an incredibly dedicated and experienced team, Alphonse Fishing Company is passionate about preserving the destinations it fishes and places emphasis on responsible practices that will ensure these amazing and fragile ecosystems are protected for future generations. Unlike many other fly fishing-driven conservation efforts, it is not solely focused on protecting the marine environment but also contributes equally to the protection and preservation of the terrestrial eco-systems of the outer atolls. Alphonse Fishing Company, Islands Development Company and Island Conservation Society have joined together to form a partnership to manage and execute strategies and projects to protect the species and environment through means of public funding, which is collected via donations and fundraising initiatives. These funds are then donated to the Alphonse, Farquhar, Cosmoledo and Astove Foundations that are specific to the atolls to oversee the funding of the projects operated by the Island Conservation Society. Each destination has a weekly presentation that provides a detailed update of the progress the various programs are making and also provides the opportunity for guests to discuss the environmental topics with qualified environmentalists and marine biologists. The Island Conservation Society monitors and rehabilitates these areas by focusing specifically on the below current and continuous monitoring projects.
- Sea Birds and Wader Monitoring
- Sea Turtle Monitoring
- Coral Reef Monitoring
- Aldabra Giant Tortoise Monitoring
- Giant Trevally Acoustic Tagging Project
- Subsistence Fishing Monitoring
- Recreational Catch and Release Fishing Monitoring
- Manta Ray Project
- Marine Mammal Monitoring
- Baited Remote Underwater Video Monitoring (BRUV Project)
- Beach Clean Ups & Plastic Removal
- Fish Aggregating Device Detection and Removal
- Native Vegetation Restoration
By supporting our conservation efforts, you are keeping close to nature’s heart.
If you had only one day off all year, where would you fish and what fish would you target?
It would be Cosmoledo Atoll, and I would fish for giant trevally on rays.
What are your favorite three flies?
What is the one piece of gear you couldn’t bear to leave at home?
It’s a tough call as you need incredible quality tackle and gear to be able to function on the wild outer atolls. Along the way I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside various fantastic brands developing a standard of tackle, gear and rigging that can survive the extremes of a hostile saltwater destination while casting big flies and fighting explosive gamefish. If it had to be my most trusted piece of tackle it would be my Shilton SL7 reel as I have been fishing the same reels for almost 20 years and they never fail me. If it had to be a gear piece I would say my YETI Panga 28 backpack as you need to keep all you guiding equipment and cameras protected from the salt.
Do you have any other passions?
It’s hard to find any additional time away from fishing so most of my passions are associated with the sport of fly fishing.
To check out more from Keith Rose-Innes, please click here.
And to check out more from the Alphonse Fishing Company, please click here.