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October 10, 2013

Bonefish in the Bahamas

The legendary bonefish grounds of Andros Island in the Bahamas remain unequalled for light-tackle flats fishing.

Simple Strategy

 

I kept the spinning rod stowed, but still armed and ready with a skimmer jig. Neymour coached me through a leader change, cutting back to 9 feet, with a 12-pound tippet ­loop-knotted to a No. 2 Clouser Minnow, and we were off. The bonefish, he said, were drawn to the “plop” of the lure during the cooler months. The drill is to spot feeding fish, drop a cast 10 feet in front of them, and allow them to work up to it. When they get close, retrieve slowly — 4 feet at a time — ­letting it settle to the bottom in between. Once they track it, let it fall, and they’ll pick it off the bottom.

It’s a simple formula, and it works. We landed four fish to 6 pounds that morning, until clouds killed the visibility. Over three days, North Bight gave up plenty of midsize fish, and we saw giants too, but they were unwilling to eat, or else they were beaten to the punch by more-aggressive smaller fish. The wind here is a given, often pushing guides and anglers to their limits. I cast so long and hard into the wind one afternoon that I returned to the dock with dreadlocks under my arms. 

Still Wild

The last afternoon, Neymour took me to one of his ­favorite places, the east side of Big Wood Cay. Waves coming off Tongue of the Ocean roll across the grass flats to lap against the shoreline. The turbulence stirs the sand, providing a cafeteria line for fish working down the beach. We walked south along the edge, covering but a portion of the 6-plus miles of white-sand flats that stretch south along Big Wood, and cast to bonefish feeding down the beach, as well as pods of spooky fish tailing hard in the rapidly flooding tidal pools. We picked off a few, and watched more move on out of range.

 

It was a fitting end to a trip to Andros, which despite a long history and rich legacy of flats fishing, still holds an abundance of wild places waiting to be discovered — and double-digit bonefish that will have you mulling another visit.