Fly Fishing for Coastal Gamefish
In April 2008, I spent a week at Andros South lodge on south Andros, Bahamas. Great place. The lodge is quiet, comfortable, single rooms, food is good, staff is great, fishing is fantastic. South Andros is quiet, with expansive sand flats and beaches, and excellent bonefish fishing.
Each morning we took a 10 minute van ride to Little Creek, where we were picked up by guides in the flats boats. They rotated anglers among guides, and since each guide had his favorite fishing area, it was a great way to see a variety of flats. It was then a boat ride of 30 to 60 minutes south or west to the flats. Most of the flats we fished were also wadeable, which was nice for when we wanted to get out of the boat for a while. We also fished some great creek and lagoon habitats, as well as outer mangrove edges, which is where I saw and caught the largest bonefish. When we fished the larger schools on the southern flats, the bonefish averaged 3 pounds. We were also able to target smaller schools with plenty of fish 4 – 6 pounds.
One of the best memories I have is of a school coming at us across a large sand flat, first in a group, then spreading out in V-formation. The guide and I were able to pick out the largest fish, which I cast to and caught, approximately 6 pounds. It doesn’t get much better than that. My largest for the week was approximately 8-9 pounds, and as is usually the case I lost one that was larger. At least the guide didn’t push me off the boat for that one. I averaged 10 bonefish/day. We also fly fished for sharks and barracuda when the opportunity arose. A 10wt rod with a popper on a wire tippet worked well. When a shark appeared while we were fishing for bonefish, I grabbed the 10wt and cast to the shark. With a shark around, the survival of a caught a released bonefish drops precipitously, and sharks are a lot of fun on fly, so that seemed to be the best course of action. And when the guide saw a large barracuda laid up far enough away to get a reasonable cast and retrieve, I set down the bonefish rod, grabbed the 10wt and let the popper fly. I’ll never tire of the blitzing run and acrobatics of barracuda. Plus, the guides took them home for dinner.
The reason for my trip to Andros South was to conduct research for Bonefish & Tarpon Trust. I was down at the invitation of the lodge owners to sample some of the bonefish. I took fin clips from approximately 40 bonefish, and had some great conversations with the guides on topics such as – where do bonefish spawn, what habitats are used by juvenile bonefish, and why do bonefish grow faster in the Florida Keys than they do in The Bahamas and the rest of the Caribbean. Why fin clips from bonefish? At one point, it was believed only one species of bonefish (Albula vulpes) swam the Caribbean flats. Using genetic analysis, researchers have identified 3 species of bonefish on the flats, so BTT is working with guides, lodges, and researchers to determine the species composition of the recreational fishery.
Travel details – I flew on Lynx Air from Fort Lauderdale to Congo Town (flights four or five days per week), followed by a 15 minute cab ride to the lodge.
The Fisherman's Coast approach focuses on how coastal gamefish interact with their habitats and prey. The more you know about the gamefish you pursue with a fly rod, the more often you'll be in the right place at the right time with the right fly making the right presentation. It's about catching more fish.
Our sister site Tribal Bonefish is all about conservation through responsible fishing. Tribal Bonefish shows you how to become a better steward of our coasts to protect our fisheries today, and ensure future generations get a chance to experience these fisheries.