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November 18, 2013

Acklins Island Offers Anglers' Favorite Game Fish on Foot

Acklins Island — a quiet Bahamian island that offers anglers an opportunity to chase one of their favorite game fish on foot in the skinniest water you can imagine with scenery untouched by the hand of man.

A hard line exists between the conventional world of fishing and that of fly-fishing. What aspect of our game scratches the separating line in the sand? We could all give our own philosophical and enlightening response, and chances are that each would differ greatly. But one thing all of us would agree upon is that fly-fishing lends itself to sight-fishing more so than any other style of the sport. And when it comes to bonefishing, it just doesn’t get any better — it defines our obsession. After having stalked a solitary bonefish, made a perfect cast and witnessed the body language of the fish react favorably to our buggy offering, we might wonder how in the world this game fish could ever be deceived any other way. Can it be done using conventional methods? Of course — but speaking for all of us who embrace the brotherhood of fly-fishing, I ask the following question: Why would you want to catch them any other way? 

The challenge and rewards of sight-fishing for bonefish with fly tackle increase greatly once you step outside the boat and pursue them on foot. Wading for bonefish provides every textbook fly-fishing scenario imaginable. Virtually every bonefishing destination offers wading opportunities, but there’s one Bahamian island in particular that’s home to a true mom-and-pop lodge that specifically caters to those who want to experience bonefishing in its purist form — Acklins Island, home of Grey’s Point Bonefish Inn. 

Years ago, I joined up with Angler Adventures’ Doug Schlink on the legendary tarpon flats of Homosassa, Florida. The two of us hit it off immediately and enjoyed several great days on the water jumping huge fish, losing big fish and getting weak in the knees at the sight of even behemoth fish. Since that first meeting, we made several attempts to fish together again, but none of them ever came to fruition. This year, he and I vowed to choose a destination, ink it in on the calendar and just go — no ifs, ands or buts. After discussing several options, Schlink suggested Acklins and relayed what his partner, Chip Bates, had to say about the island itself and Grey’s Point Bonefish Inn. Schlink told me that Bates is a bona fide wading junkie and that, when he feels a jones, he goes to Acklins to get his fix. 

Schlink and I arrived at Orange Hill Beach Inn in Nassau, where we’d overnight before an early-morning flight the following morning to Acklins for three days of fishing the flats. As we reacquainted and reminisced over the great tarpon fishing we’d had so many years ago, the conversation steered toward the Williamson family and how Grey’s Point came to be.