Long Island is The Bahamas’ road less traveled. For those who have stumbled across this island gem, that is its allure. Strikingly picturesque, off the beaten path, uncluttered, and within easy reach of some of the best billfishing in The Bahamas, its miles of virtually untouched bonefish flats see almost no fishing pressure, putting Long Island on any angler’s bucket list.
This narrow spit of land sits on the eastern edge of the Bahama Bank, a short run from Crooked Island, San Salvador and Rum Cay, where marlin, monster dolphin and wahoo roam. It has a long history of hosting visiting mariners, dating back to one Christopher Columbus. While not a fisherman, it is believed that after making an initial landfall on nearby San Salvador, Columbus did a little Bahamas sightseeing of his own, eventually setting foot on the northern coast of Yuma, the name given to the island by the Lucayan, Taino and Arawak natives who inhabited it at the time of his arrival.
Long Island is approximately 80 miles from north to south, and about 4 miles at its widest point. The eastern shoreline holds rugged coastline and some of The Bahamas’ most stunning beaches, while the west is dotted with cays, coral heads and bonefish flats that stretch to the horizon.
The center of offshore fishing is the harbor at Clarence Town and the recently expanded Flying Fish Marina. A reliable fuel stop for traveling sport-fishing boats, the marina now offers an expanded range of services. The new two-story marina building sits at the end of a small peninsula, currently with 21 permanent slips behind a seawall, with plans for further expansion.
Flying Fish is managed by Jason and Wendy Edler. Jason is an accomplished sport-fish captain and always up on the current fishing action. A short walk from the marina is the Rowdy Boys restaurant on the beach serving up local seafood and island cuisine; the Friday-night pig roast is not to be missed. A little farther down the road and up the hill is Nana’s Bakery, where you can get fresh island breads and homemade sandwiches.
Jason says the best wahoo fishing is October through mid-March and nearby Columbus Bank consistently produces wahoo to 90 pounds. Yellowfin tuna are in abundance March through May, white marlin in April and May, and blue marlin from May through early July. Simms Bar, also called the Finger, produces a lot of wahoo and a surprising number of marlin only 6 miles from the marina. Bottom- and deep-drop fishing are available year-round, with the typical Bahamian fare of snapper, grouper and wreckfish.
Proximity to so many remote places to fish keeps serious bluewater fishermen coming back to Long Island. Pick a direction and you can be on prime fishing grounds in no time. You can make day trips or overnighters to Conception Island, Rum Cay, Crooked Island and the Acklins. The Diana Bank, an awesome seamount, lies close by and offers some of the most consistent fishing for pelagic species anywhere in The Bahamas. The upwellings it creates start the whole circle of life, with plankton blooms, bait, small predators, and then the tuna and billfish, only a 28-mile run from the marina.
A favorite overnight trip is to Samana Cay, about 70 miles east-southeast, where the tuna oblige and big blue marlin are frequently in residence. Blues to over 600 pounds have been taken there in recent years. You can always find a leeward anchorage to spend a restful night under a vivid blanket of stars.
Ernest Major is Long Island’s greatest information resource. He offers taxi service, guided tours and boat-provisioning services, and is the island historian. His nickname is “Dat Guy,” and he should be on your speed dial for sightseeing, finding the best restaurants and prettiest beaches, hooking up with bonefish guides, or getting to the right places to provision your boat. Call or text him at 242-472-3365.
About 8 miles north of Clarence Town on Queens Road is Lloyds Restaurant, located across the street from the turnoff for Dean’s Blue Hole, the deepest inland blue hole in the world, plunging to over 650 feet. It hosts the Vertical Blue freediving international competition each year in July, but it is a place worthy of a visit regardless of the time of year to drink in its beauty and take a dip in the amazing azure waters.
The center of the flats-fishing community is the Long Island Bonefish Lodge on Deadman’s Cay. It offers accommodations and guided bonefish packages, with fishing that rivals any of the more famous islands. The best part of flats fishing here is the remote location, which means you will rarely see another angler. As the tide recedes, bonefish gather in the deeper channels that feed water onto the flats and continue to feed, so the fishing never really stops.
Farther north, the community centered around the Stella Maris Airport includes restaurants, a secluded hideaway called Tiny’s Hurricane Hole, and the beautiful Stella Maris Beach Resort on the oceanfront. At the extreme end of the island, the Cape Santa Maria Resort is about as secluded as anywhere on Earth, so if getting away from it all is on your agenda, this could be the place for you. And no trip to the island is complete without a tour of the numerous historic churches that abound, some dating back to the 1800s and still in use. Meanwhile, St. Mary’s, thought to be the oldest church in The Bahamas and dating to 1799, remains in stark ruins, the walls and alter still standing under an open sky.
Long Island is an adventurer’s getaway, where there are no crowds, no cruise ships, and some of the finest bluewater and flats fishing in the world. Once you experience it, you will forever want to return.