Big Bonefish of Andros
April 2, 2019
Top Ten Bonefish Flies on Andros
1. Rainy's Ceviche (Awesome fly!!!)
3. Gotcha #6
7. Bonefish Bug
10. Ragin Craven (lead eyes were great in high tide near the magroves)
In mid-December I got the chance to take my second trip to Andros Island Bahamas to spend five days fishing the flats with my father. My dad, Brian, has taken a handful of trips to Andros to target Bonefish. Walking endless flats picking through massive pods of bonefish is a thrill of a lifetime that every salt angler has to experience. For him and I, who have both caught plenty of bonefish, we wanted this trip to be different. We were looking for a big bone, and December was supposedly our best bet. Taking the locals advice, we packed our gear and headed to the Islands!
Our first day of fishing was spent only minutes from where we had put the boat in the water in Fresh Creek. We were focused on getting all of the kinks out. Readjusting our eyes to spotting tailing bones, adjusting our casts to the constant breeze, and the hardest part for all trout fisherman; modifying our hook set to a strip instead of a lift! There was no shortage of fish landed on the first day as we targeted large groups trying to build our confidence back up after a break away from the flats. The weatherman predicted that the next couple of days were going to be blue skies and even a little light on the wind. The rust was worn off, and our guide Hermon, as well as us, were optimistic that we were going to have a stellar couple of days.
The second morning, we hit the road and jammed up to the north-east part of the island. This is the only road that runs into the north side of the island has recently been re-done and allowed for much more travel in the car rather than in boat, which means more fishing! This allowed for a new experience for us, fishing an area called Mastic Point. It was the perfect combination for our second day as we had tons of opportunity to cast at larger groups of fish out on the flats, but we were finding that the single and paired up fish were tucked close to the mangroves. These were our big boys. Casting at big, smart fish near mangroves can LITERALLY take years off an angler’s life. It’s awesome. The first run that big bone takes; you best believe the fish is in full control. I experienced this on this day more so than any. We were poling through the mangroves, and a group of four big bones swam right towards the boat. Hermon said, “Look! Look! 9 o’clock. Go quick!” I saw them right as he did and made my cast with the fish at about 40 feet and closing. All four fish dove right at the fly. In the first couple of seconds, I couldn’t have told you which of the fish I had actually hooked. Just like that, one fish separated, and he was straight for a mangrove. And before I knew it, the fish had swam 2 full circles around the grove. Leader = shredded. Big fish = gone. Keeping these fish out of thick cover was a challenge, but not impossible. After each fish landed, we discussed that the risk of losing some line, flies, and even the fish of a lifetime was worth every bit the reward when we finally find the fish we are looking for. We saw plenty of fish on our second day, all in the 4-6 pound range. Fun sized fish with plenty of scrap and ridiculous speed.
The very north part of the island, called the Jolters, is notorious for large groups of big bonefish. Many of the local guides seemed deterred from this area as the road was in very poor conditions for many years as well as the island receives abnormal weather systems on the North side of the Island this time of year which makes for tough fishing. We had a lucky window of great weather opportunity, and our guide Hermon Bain is more than willing to take a little drive to spend the day surrounded by more bonefish than even fathomable. This area is one of our personal favorites because we are 10+ miles off shore, yet it is flats for as far as you can see, or bare to walk. But when there are bonefish swimming at you, you can walk a whole lot further than you think. The Jolters has a high shark population. Once two or three fish have been caught the sharks usually make their way into the flat that you’ve been working and that’s when it’s time to move on. One of the most memorable experiences of the trip came this day, as my dad and I hooked into a double not once, but three times! Catching two 5+lb bonefish at the same time with your old man is something that not many fishermen get the chance to do. I wish there would have been a video. We were running around the boat like fools, making sure our rods and fish were staying untangled. That was the hardest I heard Hermon laugh all trip. It was, in the least, awesome.
Our last two days were up in the air in terms of what we wanted to do for fishing. There was a weather system coming into the island, which left the north side unfishable, and for tougher conditions all around. We chose to stay near to Fresh Creek, targeting double and single bonefish that were cruising along the shore. This turned out to be one of the best days of fishing that both me and my dad can remember. This was our big bonefish day. We started off the day with one big bonefish swimming right at us, I hopped onto the bow of the boat, made a solid cast at about 65 feet, and this fish was right on it. He went for two runs that took me deep into my backing. He bullied me to a certain extent. I remember getting the fish in and grabbing him in my hands, he was pure muscle. I looked at Hermon and he said “Ehh I’ll give him 7 pounds.” (not attempting to de-grade a 7lb bonefish…) When those words left his mouth, I couldn’t believe what it must be like to try and handle a 10+ pound bone.
Well, it turns out both my dad and I would get an opportunity at 8-9 pound fish within about 20 minutes of each other this day. I was back up on the bow, and saw two big fish swimming right towards the boat at about 100 feet. I could have sworn they were small barracuda. But, they were big bones nosing through the flat looking for a snack. I made my cast, and as soon as the fly hit the water, they were both after it. It happened in the blink of an eye. I was hooked up, and I felt the feeling of line running up my thigh, I had stepped through my line during the cast and had made a vital mistake. The fish took off, pealing line, and in some form of acrobatics, I was able to lift my foot up and slide it through my rod just as the fish began peeling line off of my reel. Close call. This was my biggest bonefish of the trip, at about 8.5 pounds.
We were barely over the excitement of that fish (I was still shaking like a leaf on a tree), when a solo bone cruised out of the mangroves only 60 feet from our boat. It was madness for a split second, getting into position and picking a shot at the fish. But, my dad was composed and a total pro. He threw a perfect single haul cast just a foot in front of the feeding fish, for that bone the Bonefish Junk was a no brainer and an easy meal. He went on 4 runs that were easily over 100 yards each. The nerves began to set in as the fish got near us because we knew this would break every one of our hearts if he came off now. The feeling of watching dad tail that fish and to see the sense of accomplishment was something I was extremely humbled to see in person.
The weather made for a slow last day of fishing, but we still managed to land three or four decent sized fish before our flight back to Nassau before heading back to Washington.
We stayed with our guide Hermon Bain at his property where he has spare rooms for his customers. They were incredibly well kept, not to mention that his wife prepared us meals every day that were to die for. Many times while out we would collect Conch and Box fish to eat that evening. It brings a new meaning to fresh. Conch Fritters made fresh is something that can’t be recreated. You’ll have to try them yourself.
Opportunity for Tarpon and Permit on Andros Island are seasonal, if you really want to base a trip on them. Come June is when the Tarpon migrate past the west side of the island and when lots of the fisherman like to target them. As with Permit they hangout inland during the summer months following around sting rays and grabbing crabs and shrimp from out of their wake. But like I said before, we were looking for our big bone, which lead us into scheduling for December.
The fast action Sage managed the wind better than any, and it proved itself in tight conditions when am accurate, but responsive rod was needed to make a good cast as well as keep a fish away from obstruction. This rod also had great accuracy at a distance while trying to trick fish out on the flats.
The Grand slam taper… I don’t have one negative thing to say about this line. The pick up and put down capability of this line when matched with a proper rod is unparalleled. It held zero memory so there was no worry with the line wrapping or twisting on itself while standing on the deck as well as its heavy taper and head allowed for great distance and power through the wind while using minimal effort/casts. The line was reactive, accurate, and held great momentum no matter the direction of wind that we were dealing with. The line had great presentation, wasn’t too aggressive hitting the water, and worked exactly like it was supposed to. IF the opportunity would have presented itself, we both agreed that we would have felt 100 percent throwing on a permit or tarpon fly and would have felt just as able with our cast, and retrieval. Great Line. 10/10 from both my father and I.
Till next time, Andros!