When hard-core fly-fishers head to the Bahamas, a great place for them to stay is the Andros South Lodge on Andros island. The lodge is designed for those who want a great saltwater experience without paying for a lot frills.
The rooms are small, clean and single occupancy. That way, no one has to listen to a roommate snore loud enough to scare the fish. The food is excellent and served family-style. There is no formal bar, swimming pool or hot tub. After-dinner drinks are self-poured on the patio outside the dinning hall.
When you get on the water, you can count on encountering the world’s meanest blood-sucking flies, sharks in a variety of sizes, no-nonsense guides and bonefish – lots of big bonefish. You put up with the flies and sharks to get at the bonefish.
In my opinion, Bonefish pound-for-pound are the strongest and fastest fish in the ocean. A 3-pound bonefish will take you into your backing in a heartbeat. A 7-pound bonefish will strip 200 yards of backing off your reel so fast that to try and slow it down will result in bruised knuckles. And should you lay into a 10-pound bonefish, the exhilaration will cause a wild and rapid heart rate.
The flies in the Bahamas are called doctor flies because of the amount of blood they draw as they penetrate your clothes with needle-sharp pinchers. They are not real quick, so if you’re bored, it’s easy to turn the boat deck into a killing field.
The sharks are lemon sharks and follow the schools of bonefish.
The guides are some of the best I have ever been around, able to spot fish 75 yards out, and they are there to put you on the fish. The guide stands on a poling platform and gives you the direction and distance to the fish. He expects you to hit it with a minimum of effort. If you don’t, you’ll hear about it, and when you do hit the mark, you’ll hear him say “beautiful.”
If a fly-fisher misses a fish multiple times, a lesson from the guide will ensue. For me, he came down off the platform, took my rod, demonstrated what he wanted, climbed back up the platform and expected me to perform as instructed. I did, sort of.
That said, the guides want everyone to have a great experience. They are willing to do anything to help you catch lots of big bonefish, even willing to fight sharks.
On the second day of our trip, my fishing partner Bob and I were treated to a shark fight. As we rounded an island corner, we witnessed a sight that excites all bone-fishers. We saw hundreds of tailing bonefish.
Bob was on the bow and made the first cast and hooked up immediately. As he was fighting the bonefish, a shark moved in to eat the hooked fish. Our guide jumped into the water and went after the shark with his pole. He first hit the shark square in the nose. When the shark turned and came back for the fish, he was treated to a severe body punch. The shark then decided to give up and swam off.
It was at this point that Bob and I were told to get in the water and go after more bonefish. Because we were armed with only our fly rods, I, being a true gentleman, told Bob he should go first.
Regardless of where you stay or how fancy the trip is, a fishing trip to the Bahamas is worth putting up with vicious flies and bonefish-eating sharks.
Reach Don Oliver at firstname.lastname@example.org.