Wow, what a fantastic adventure filled trip. Out of 16 days fishing, only 2 days could've been considered calm, the rest had winds well into to 20's and 30's. We witnessed a total of 6 funnel clouds (no touchdowns) and one waterspout/dust devil? (bluebird clear sky by the way)that ripped through a back creek mangroove system no more than 75 feet from us. It sucked a heron right out of the brush and was dropping pilchards in it's wake.
Sharks were everpresent in great abundance (primarily Lemons and Nurses). Our favorite area had seen us constantly surrounded by no less than 4 or 5, two to three foot Lemons. I suppose they were waiting for the creek system's great exodus of Bonefish as the tide drops...as we were. I also had the great pleasure of watching a 10ft wide Manta Ray jump and clear the water 4 times at Winding Bay. With a 25knot wind, this delta-winged fish got serious "air-time".
Eleuthera's educated Bonefish are indeed picky. There was no problem spotting rafts of fish at all the popular "DIY" flats but getting them to hang around after the cast was a different matter. My buddies 8lb Flourocarbon leader combined with a size 6 or 8 sparse tan charlie with tiny beadchain eyes prooved to be effective on 5 consecutive fish one day.
We brought our Sea Eagle Inflatable Kayak this trip and it prooved to be the Key which allowed us to access areas others couldn't on foot. The Bonefish encountered on those excursions were truly unbothered and turned to a fly plopped 2 feet away rather than flee in terror. Were it not for the terribly windy conditions, we would have loved to use the Kayak more.
Eleuthera's Bones seemingly are a larger average size this year. Many of the fish we caught were in the 18-20 inch range (even from large schools). My buddies best fish was at around the 8lb mark and my best near 5lbs. 30-40 inch Baracudas were easily tempted with large green surge lures and I finally got the hang of the "Two-handed/rod between the knees" stripping. Man is that work! Effective though and I managed my first "fly-caught" Cuda (a tiny 5 lbs). Other species caught this trip were...Red Snapper, Yellowtail Snapper, Bar Jack, Palometta (yum), Blue Runner Jack, Needlefish, assorted grunts and Sharks hooked but not landed.
NOTE: To anybody considering parking near the schoolhouse in Savannah Sound while fishing...Keep your vehicle in sight. There has been a rash of break-ins including one right under our noses while we were there. A couple had their window smashed and a spear/sling stolen. The theives are using a trail through the bush to access cars parked in the few spaces along the flat road "Beware!" I think it a shame to have to post something like this but better forewarned they always say.
I wish I were back in Govenor's Harbour for a few more weeks and another "Friday Night Fish Fry" or two...ironically, the BBQ chicken is my favorite.
Great report Hank thanks!
One of the pleasures/challenges of early season Bahamian fishing is "iffy" weather. But those slightly lower temperatures do encourage the bigger bones to put in an appearance. Sounds like a great trip.
Sorry to hear about the car break-ins. It seems to have become the norm on even the remotest islands now. On Exuma there was a rash of outboard engine thefts a couple of seasons back - but under your nose in broad daylight is scary.
During the windy days,was there a prevailing wind direction? Did you have to cast backward to deal with wind often?
I will be field testing light two-hander prototypes in the bonefish class. In a crossing wind they cast just as nicely across the body as they do on the strong side, no movement in the legs or feet and eyes on the prize. One of these prototypes will join the Atlantis series this summer as an all-arounder although choosing one is not easy as each has endearing features.
Also, did the surface distruption hamper visibility in those conditions?
Raining pilchards :eyecrazy: ?
Around here the fish get less wary when it's windy but they are harder to see. In your experience what were the fish's reactions to these wind storms?
I assume with the kayaks you can test the bottom with the oar for softness before stepping out. I am hoping the bottom will be solid more often than not in Exuma.
You mentioned the wind being a factor in kayaking - did you feel the inflatable was more susceptible than a hardshell to wind in this case?
I don't think wind would be too big of a deal if the kayak was used for getting around within a localized flats area (e.g. getting around mangroves stands to adjacent shoals, etc) as opposed to braving crossings of large channels or open expanses of water.
Sorry to hear about the thievery.
The entire first week saw brutal NE to E gales averaging 25 to 35knots. Small craft warnings were in effect and seas on the open ocean were running 9 to 14ft. Protected sounds were the only option available on the Atlantic-side...so fishing was primarily focused on the Carribean-side DIY popular flats (thusly tough fishing for overly educated bones).
Most of the second week, we encountered frontal systems coming from the WNW to NW all but totally eliminating most of the Carribean-side flats as potential fishing spots.
My TFO 7wt overlined with the Royal Wulff 8wt Bermuda WF taper handled the wind quite well. A high open loop on the back-cast followed by punching/dbl hauling a low front cast shot the line out many times to the backing knot (110ft casts?...not bad eh?).
The idea of a dbl hander spey-type rod is a great idea...although I could see at times it may present a problem with close-in spooky bones seeing the rod wagging (this sent Eleutheran bones running everytime).
Bones were easy to see given good light conditions. Bob Lyons of "Bonefishiionado.com" fame expressed it perfectly when he said..."how can you have 80% cloudy conditions with only 20% cloud in the sky?". This, for much of the trip rang true. There always seemed to be a single daisy chain of puffy white clouds lining up perfectly to block the sun. There must be a scientific/meterogical explanation for this.
The kayak paddles were not only used to test bottom composition and probe for rays before stepping out...but also as "quasi-push poles" on shallow flats.
Our Kayak is "Class#4" rapids rated and likely capable of negotiating some really scary water...the problem we encountered was our physical ability to paddle/muscle into 2ft waves and 30knot winds...we'd only last about 5 minutes covering 25 yards before we were exhausted. Heading out too far afield into remote areas could have disasterous consiquences, so we "didn't" other than on calm days.
The whole kayak idea is a real "keeper". Having it accounted for not only some nice bones...but some nice fishing and sightseeing.
Raining Pilchards!!!??? You bet! You know?, you can read about stuff like this and never believe it till you see it. This "vortex" I'll call it...came out of the blue in bright calm conditions. I actually/unbelieveably thought it was an Airboat barreling down on us till I saw it. Not a cloud in the sky and here comes this thing sucking up water/leaves/fish and a heron like nothing!...who'd a thunk it...LOL!
The local officials/police take the break-in problem very seriously. Police were there investigating within 1/2 hr. Locally, a recent effort to relocate a Hatian family or two were initially supposed to resolve the problem...it hasn't.
Regards and good luck on Exuma..."kayak for rent"
Thanks for the further detail. We will have an inflatable with us, most likely the same one as yours looking at the pics.
As far as the two-hander, I just want to clarify that these are 10-11ft rods with a light touch. They are just over 7oz and easy to single hand cast, but fun to double. My experiences on the flats leads me to believe the following:
a) what spooks fish the most about casting is the motion of the angler: grinding of sand under his feet, swirling of legs, rapid twisting of torso, pumping of arms, and then finally the rod sweep. This new light Atlantis literally requires only about an 8 inch motion of the upper hand and a tuck by the lower hand with the elbow close to the ribs to throw a dart of a cast accurately at a target up to 40-50ft. The tip is about 8 inches longer from the top of the grip compared to a 9 footer, the length is primarily in the handle.
I know experienced flats rats like you have minimized the casting reaction already but my point is that I don't think this new prototype will add any spook factor, in fact I believe it will greatly reduce it.
b) the less strokes made by the rod, the less fish spook. One stroke is ideal. By playing with the line design, you can cast as well with only a single stroke using the fulcrum method.
c) the motion required to cast backwards while sight fishing (due to crosswind) is much greater, where with a two-hander a cross body cast requires no more effort (or motion) than strong side.
d) clearing the line over coral is important to prevent loss of bones on the run. These rods are easy to hold high off the coral while not being too long to land the fish.
This trip is an important phase of my field qualification for the current model prototypes, I will know precisely what these rods can do on the flats when I get back as I will only be fishing the following CND models during my stay for purposes of approval toward production / avail in North America:
- Atlantis All-arounder Proto#3 11' (finesse taper, strong butt)
- Atlantis All-arounder Proto#2 10'9" (little beach rod with guts)
- Tracker 9'8" 6/7/8 over/under (bonefish single/double?)
Good points Juro and I'm sure you'll do well.
One point you should strongly consider..."Strip slowly on spooky bones!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" Many times I managed to drop my fly into pods of fish without spooking them...then...on the first 3-6 inch quick strip, the fish took off as though stung by a bee.
Educated bones are used and conditioned to the tactics of most fishermen and respond accordingly. Slow it down and don't hesitate to lead the fish by long distances and let the fly rest. My buddy did this and by far outproduced me in that department.
Definitely a tactic worth keeping in your back pocket!
Just a quick note to the Manufacturers of our SeaEagle 380 Kayak...Great product!!! Some folks hear the word "inflatable" and instantly presume it's nothing but a toy...NOT!!!. This is one serious peice of equipment. When properly inflated, it is as rigid and stable as a hardshell. We were very impressed with it's ease of setup and stability as we were with it's storage capacity and ease of paddling.
Mega-Cudo's to SeaEagle for making such a fine product. Weighing in at just under 70lbs and the entire works capable of fitting into a 32inch large suitcase gives this package the ultimate amount of virsatility to the travelling angler/paddler.
Just had to add that,
Good tip, thanks. As a Monomoy flats addict, I use the slow hand often. It depends on what the fish are doing.
Per Sea Eagle... (tongue in cheek) our policy requires that you contact them suggesting sponsorship in your own words, but it's too late! I've already contacted them about it and they are a fantastic group of folks. Did you know they also make Panther Martin lures?
If any of you young bucks out there think you're a hardcore kayak expeditionist, check out this dude....
Living on the edge for sure.
Well slap me repeatedly under the britches!!!
What was I thinking!!!!!!!!!?
Here I go plugging a potential sponsor without even realizing it. I "did" send them one of the photo's too to enter in their photo contest.
Sorry to the Board moderators and owners/operators for my blunder. Never let it be said that my heart isn't where my Avitar is...LOL!
I'll fire them an Email Juro supporting what you've already likely said. If they miss the boat on this one, they'll likely be turning their back on a whole new burgeoningsegment of the market that they've never realized existed.
Heck, I've even got a couple of suggestions that would make the kayak even more bonefisher friendly...ie) rod holders and outrigger pontoons for standing stability.
Once again (tounge in cheek)...shame on me!
Not at all Hank, I thought it was ironic that I had already talked to them!
You're right, there is a very big opportunity for them if they will listen to communitites like us to work with us on a flats vehicle that packs in the suitcase.
Note on the article I provided to the climbing maniac dude's site... two couples stayed on a tent platform constructed from three inflatables braced together with a platform sitting on extended oar handles on the water!
Now my interests would be more toward a standing sight fishing platform like you mentioned, pontoons would be an easy way to achieve that.
I'll bet a bivy sack in the kayak pulled up on the sand in a calm lagoon would be very comfortable, provided the splashing tarpon didn't keep you awake!
One of these days I am going to do a Cay-hopping yak camping trip. Maybe we could arrange such a trip with fellow forum members as a group. The Yakbone II.
The yak eliminates the rental car, the hotel, and meals are where we make them. Cheap trip and bonefish at your doorstep.
Funny you should mention that...
We met an elderly couple in Nassau who were just about to embark on a 10 day ocean Kayak trip of the Exuma's. Wish I could remember the name of the outfitter they were booked with.
Sounded like an interesting trip (no bonefishing in their plans though) but I'm sure that industrious persons such as ourselves could rectify that.
I contacted the Bahamian government and they informed me that other than private islands, the Exuma Cays are open to camping as outlined in the Cruising Guide to the Bahamas.
If we go as a group we should enjoy many advantages not the least of which would be good company by the campfire. Going alone could be a little risky, but with a crew of 4, 6 even 8-10 going we could spread the gear out and increase the number of folks fishing for snapper or snorkeing for lobster.
It's not a lot different from going on a hunt or camping in the north country - just we get to do it in winter, you can't freeze to death, and there are bonefish.:smokin:
Juro- sign me up! I'll just need to stock up on some Breath-Right strips before we head down....
Shep (aka "Jackhammer")
And don't foget the Permit and Tarpon. That be GRANDSLAM country up there:smokin:
A week paddling and fishing uncharted cays sounds like an awesome trip. I would be wary on time of year. Temperatures don't fall too low but as Henry experienced, it can blow like hell down there - often for days at a time. I would wait until May / early June for settled weather.
Hank- call me a pushover (or just compulsive), but I just ordered a 420x Pro on the SeaEagle website. Looking forward to "field testing" it around Monomoy and on the Nickerson ponds when it arrives.....hopefully I won't end up drifting out to Nantucket!!!
Juro- this post in no way represents an ad for or endorsement of SeaEagle kayaks, and I have received no compensation (except the usual rush I get with compulsive purchases) for this post. I just couldn't help myself after reading Hank's posts. Sorry! See ya at CAC May 14....
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