Back to the Bahamas!

Back to the Bahamas!

It was only a few years ago when I was invited to join a fishing trip to North Andros, Bahamas. Ever since I first stepped foot on North Andros I have been enamored of its every aspect – the people, the culture, the food, the white sand flats with varying shades of blue water, and the fishing. It truly is one of the most spectacular places I have been lucky enough to visit. The day I departed I began planning a return trip.

For several months I kept my Google Maps browser open to the Bahamas so I could scour every inch of the islands and eventually decided to focus on South Andros this trip. South Andros is probably half the size of its counterpart to the north, but it is surrounded with the same sand flats that I just knew would hold bonefish. Fast forward a few months and I was headed east to South Andros.

Upon my arrival I was greeted with warm weather and a salty sea breeze. I eagerly jumped in my rental car and began my way down the coastline. I pulled into Nathan’s Lodge and was greeted by Freeman, the property caretaker, and shown to my room and all the amenities of the facilities. I quickly unpacked and decided to go make a drive across the rest of the island, with hopes to find a good starting point for the next day’s fishing. It didn’t take long to come up with a gameplan and was shortly headed back for a dinner of fresh grouper.

Morning came and I grabbed a cup of coffee, gathered my rods and headed down the road. Since the tide would not start falling until late morning, I decided to head to a small creek where I could wade the edges and hopefully find some passing bonefish. After about an hour of patient waiting, a pair of really nice bones appeared from the depths but it was too late, they saw me as immediately as I spotted them. Earning their name of Grey Ghost, you never know when they will just magically appear, and then disappear. With the tide beginning to fall I decided to head to another flat.

I began walking along a stretch of beachfront toward some scattered mangroves, hoping to discover some kind of structure that might be holding fish. Sure enough, I spotted a pair a of bonefish weaving their way in and out of the mangrove clumps and timed my cast to land just in front of them. A few quick strips and an eager bonefish came up, nosed down on it, and the fight was on. I always forget their power because within seconds I was well into the backing on my reel. After a strong fight of several minutes I worked her close enough to land and what a beautiful specimen she was, a perfect Bahamian bone!

I continued working my way through the mangrove clumps and picked up three more nice fish before deciding to call it a day. Arriving back at the lodge Freeman informed me that most of the better food places were closed, but he would take me to his cousin’s place, who he assured was cooking. We went down the road to a place someone would likely have never found, even with Google Maps, and we finished the evening with good food, cold drinks, and football.

The following morning I changed my game plan up a bit and headed off in another direction. Once I began walking across it I soon realized the bottom was a little too soft, and making a long wade would be out of the question. No worries though, I opted instead for a walk along the beach where I could keep an eye on the tideline, waiting for it to begin falling. Once it did I eased out onto some sandy flats and it didn’t take long to spot six fish coming directly toward me. I picked one out of the group, made a decent cast, and as soon as I began to strip line three of them charged it. Not completely sure which one had eaten the fly; I made a sharp strip set and one burned out left while the rest pushed off to the right. This one was a better fish and took me a few more minutes to get in. I got a photo and made a quick release, totally satisfied with the whole situation. That scenario played out repeatedly for several more hours and I eventually had to force myself to turn around and begin the long trek back to the beach.

The next day came and I was greeted with 20 mph winds at sunrise. I knew it was going to be a tough day as the wind seemed to be building almost by the minute. I attempted a wade but it was nearly impossible to make a decent cast. I dogged it off but did get a chance to swing by Deep Creek Lodge for a bite to eat and was able to meet the lodge owners. Nathanial was kind enough to show me around his place and shared a few bonefish stories. He has been fishing the area his whole life and was the first lodge on the island.

Finally my last day had come and I decided to ease back down to Deep Creek Lodge and see if Nathanial might have a boat available. He replied that he did and in less than ten minutes we were headed down the creek. We began wading down a shoreline and in what seemed only minutes we spotted a good bone. I made a cast and quickly got the attention of that fish. I started the morning off making four casts and landing four fish. Talk about feeling right with the world! We did eventually spook a few but during that memorable wade I managed to land a total of eight fish. The fly I had tied was a small shrimp pattern that I use often for redfish and those bonefish acted plum stupid over it.

Around midday we jumped back on the boat and headed for another area. He poled me around and I picked up several more fish when he suggested another area a short distance away. This stretch started off slow but he assured me that bigger fish like to move from the deep side, up onto the shallow flats to feed.

After a few hundred yards of nothing, I felt the boat beginning to turn slowly and face me toward the deeper water. Nathanial whispered, “Two good fish coming our way. About a hundred feet out.” I spotted them after a few seconds and made a cast of about 60 feet that was right on the money. The fish charged my fly but at the last second turned away. Nathanial urged that I pick it up and make another cast. Once again she turned on it, only to push away at the last second. What happened next was a total surprise; the other fish that I guess must have been in the glare and unseen to me, come out of nowhere and hit my fly full speed!

There was no need to strip set with this one; just keep it tight and hold on. In a matter of seconds I began to wonder whether I had enough backing. With the fish still taking line and knowing I was about out of backing; I finally got her turned and began to gain some line back. Just when I thought I was making some headway she took off again. Finally I got her alongside the boat, but that was another challenge in itself. Knowing it was a very good fish, I didn’t want to press my luck but I was anxious to get her in my hands. After several stressful minutes she calmed down and I was able to make the grab.

Nathanial immediately said she was easily a 10-pounder, which is a true trophy in the bonefish world. He snapped a few quick pictures and I got her revived and released. I was elated that she disappeared as quickly as she had appeared. We high-fived and celebrated our way back through every detail that had just happened. We fished on for a while but as the refusals began to outnumber the takes, I asked if he might be ready for a cold Kalik. And, of course, he was. We got back to his dock, celebrated a successful day of fishing, and I assured him that I would return.

Trips like this are never long enough, and having to return to reality comes around all too quickly. Once again though, I have come to love this place even more and am already planning a return visit. On top of all the things I described in the beginning, fishing for bones in the Bahamas has to be one of the most challenging and rewarding things an angler can hope to do. It is a beautiful place down there, and I am already counting the days until I can go back.

 
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