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?

  1. Schools of tailing GTs on Providence Atoll – The most incredible saltwater fly fishing spectacle on the planet!
  2. Skinny water fly fishing for enormous Bonefish on St Brandon’s Atoll – this is quintessential walk and stalk sight fishing bliss.
    Nic Isabelle with a St Brandon's bonefish

    Nic Isabelle with a St Brandon’s bonefish

  3. 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.
  4. The MV Maya’s Dugong and its crew – trusty, reliable, and the perfect launch pad for a successful fly fishing trip to Prov.
  5. 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?

  1. My trusty Canon 80D – 4 years of abuse and still shooting like she did on day one.
  2. Hand sanitizer – Nothing cleans saltwater and sunblock from your sunglasses as effectively.
  3. 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.
  4. Patagonia Tropic Hoodies – Making buffs a thing of the past.
  5. 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?

  1. Stick Figure
  2. Rainbow Kitten Surprise
  3. Dope Lemon
  4. Lewis De Mar
  5. Radiohead

5 things you are loving right now

  1. Sapiens – A Brief History of Humankind.
  2. Anything written by Malcom Gladwell.
  3. Bulgar Wheat – this healthy, easy to make grain is a game changer.
  4. Early morning exercise – us fishing guides aren’t known for our healthy habits but there is honestly no better way to start the day.
  5. 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?

  1. If there was one fly to rule them all it would be a Tan over White Clouser.
  2. Merkin Crab – you can get creative with this fly and everything on the flats eat it.
  3. Gotcha – simple, effective, and easy to tie.
  4. 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.
  5. Fleeing Crab – tied small or large. This fly gets the thumbs up!

5 indispensable flies for freshwater?

  1. Natural PTN in #14
  2. Natural GRHE #14
  3. Black Woolly Bugger #8
  4. Dark Dun Shuttlecock #12
  5. CDC and Elk Hair Caddis #14

5 favourite fly fishing destinations across South Africa?

  1. Sterkfontein Dam – gin-clear water, loads of targets, beautiful scenery, relatively easy to get to… no brainer.
    Nic with a Sterkfontein smallmouth yellowfish

    Nic with a Sterkfontein smallmouth yellowfish

  2. 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.
    Nic Isabelle with a Vaal River largemouth yellowfish

    Nic Isabelle with a Vaal River largemouth yellowfish

  3. The Swartberg – trophy stillwater trout and small unknown streams stacked to the brim with dry fly obliging rainbows.
  4. A few private farm dams in northern Natal – huge Largemouth Bass and a healthy population of popper-eating Nembwe.
  5. Dullstroom – the fishing might be a little tame but the town isn’t, especially after 9pm!

5 favourite fly fishing destinations globally?

  1. 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!
  2. India – exploring the foothills of the Himalayas with a fly rod is the epitome of adventure (the fishing was pretty wild too).

  3. 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.
  4. Farquhar Atoll – this is a spectacular fly fishing destination. Fishing and guiding it was a pleasure.
  5. 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?

  1. Your Indian Ocean guide day 1 – nothing will prepare you for that.
  2. Trying to find fish on Farquhar in hot green water during the days leading to Cyclone Fantala in April 2016.
  3. 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).
  4. Anchoring a boat off sand spits can be tricky. Let’s just say boats are heavier than they look!
  5. 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.


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