Andros, comprised of North Andros, Mangrove Cay and South Andros, is the largest landmass in The Bahamas, and an angler’s paradise inshore and off. Preeminent is the flats fishing; for bonefish, it’s among the best in the world while also offering abundant opportunities for permit and tarpon.
The eastern shoreline borders a massive submarine canyon, Tongue of the Ocean, while on the western side lie the limitless shallows of the Great Bahama Bank.
Some of the best offshore fishing for marlin, dolphin, tuna and wahoo takes place in the waters off North Andros, where the Tongue of the Ocean’s depths surpass a mile in places and make a hard turn to the south in an area called “the Pocket.”
According to Skipper Gentry, owner of the charterboat Carolina Gentleman and Gentry Lodge in Morgan’s Bluff, the hunt for pelagic gamefish starts within minutes of leaving the dock. Along the eastern shoreline, the depths drop to over 2,000 feet just a mile off the beach, and between the beach and depths sprawls Andros Barrier Reef, the sixth largest coral reef in the world, stretching over 140 miles from north to south. It is prime habitat for diving, snorkeling and bottomfishing for grouper and snapper.
“It’s the flow of deep blue water pushing through the Northwest Providence Channel that provides the superb offshore fishing we enjoy here,” Gentry says. “We experience seasonal abundance of various gamefish. The wahoo fishing is spectacular January through April. They prowl the edges of the reef and are caught within sight of shore. Blue and white marlin, dolphin and yellowfin tuna action peaks from March through June, and the summer months bring the best bottomfishing for grouper, snapper and amberjack, with a bonus run of blackfin tuna arriving in July and August.”
Throughout the seasons, the one constant on Andros is the flats fishing. Bonefish are plentiful throughout the year. The central and western regions of Andros, consisting of hundreds of square miles of mangroves, salt ponds, cuts, bights, flats and cays, provide the habitat for the vast schools of bonefish for which Andros is famous. Extensive habitat and a catch-and-release ethic promoted by the guides yield bonefish that average much larger in size than those found in other highly regarded destinations.
The average Andros bonefish runs 4 to 6 pounds, with many considerably larger. Anglers find a greater chance of catching a trophy over 10 pounds on Andros than anywhere else on the planet. Bonefish prowl the flats year-round, joined by a seasonal migration of permit from April through July.
For visiting fly-fishermen, this is the place to take on a singular challenge. Lodges located throughout the island and independent guides offer a variety of services, from pickup at your lodging to cottage rentals. Some of the best known are Kamalame Cay, Eva’s Bonefish Lodge, Small Hope Bay Lodge, Andros Island Bonefish Club, Bair’s Lodge, Bonefish Bonanza, Mount Pleasant Lodge, Buccaneers and Bones, Swains Cay Lodge and more scattered throughout the island.
Hermon Bain of Hermon’s Bonefish has over 20 years of experience, and whether he takes you wading on the immense hard-sand flats or poles his skiff through the mangroves, he knows how to put his clients in the right place at the right time. Like so many of the region’s guides, he learned the ways of bonefish from his father and was poling boats even as a child. He is indicative of the brotherhood of professional flats-fishing guides found on the island.
Middle and South bights, famed bonefish grounds, separate sparsely populated South Andros from the more developed northern part of the island. A great deal of the island is protected parkland overseen by The Bahamas National Trust. The West Side National Park alone encompasses 1.5 million acres of mangroves and flats, where no development is allowed, but fishing is encouraged.
While fishing is what Andros is most famous for, the sightseeing and points of interest found here are yet another reason to extend your stay. The island is home to numerous blue holes, including several found inland, like Capt. Bill’s, Cousteau’s and Uncle Charlie’s, all accessible from various points on the island. King Kong’s Cavern is a huge ocean blue hole near Small Hope Bay, and the Conch Sound blue hole can be reached from the beach. Both have labyrinthian cave complexes that spiral out from the mouth.
Red Bays, the oldest settlement on Andros, boasts a history stemming from the Florida Black Seminoles, who landed here seeking refuge in 1821. The present-day community is a thriving center for all things cultural, with sponge farmers, basket weavers and woodcarvers at work and selling their wares. The crystal-clear waters and Andros Barrier Reef offer the finest diving experience in the Caribbean.
If you plan on coming by private boat, the run to North Andros from South Florida is about 130 miles, starting with a quick landfall at Bimini, and then southeast across the Great Bahama Bank, arriving at the Pocket and then Andros proper. A modern sport-fisher can make the run in a few hours, with yacht services available at Lighthouse Yacht Club and Marina in Andros Town and Kamalame Cay Resort & Marina, which offers the best in luxury accommodations. It is situated on a small private island near Staniard Creek, where you can enjoy the finest offshore fishing and access to the island’s extensive flats.
Andros Island is truly an angler’s paradise.