My first DIY trip to Acklins
I met Joe, Lou and Adam at a bar at the Atlantis Marina on Paradise Island, Nassau on the Friday evening and after a few beers we went to have a look at the Aquarium. It is really amazing to see tarpon, bones and a lot of permit swimming around with a load of sharks. It is well worth a visit. The rest of Atlantis is like being in Las Vegas and seems somehow out of place in a fishing trip to an almost uninhabited island.
We met each other next day at 7.00am at Nassau airport and it was amazing how many anglers there were waiting for the flight. In the queue we were told that they would only allow 44lbs of baggage per person and that any excess would not be allowed on the plane. When I got the front of the line I put my bags on the scale – 74lbs. Good heavens or words to that effect. After pleading with the check in guy I finally had to pay $29 and he put a priority tag on my luggage. Phew! I had got away with it.
We boarded the plane and just before the door closed a Bahamas air guy got into the plane and told us that we must change planes so that the luggage and passengers could all get on as the one we were on was too small.
I thought that was great thinking on their behalf but when, after 15mins, we got onto the other plane we found that it was the same type as the previous one.
On landing at Spring Point Acklins we discovered that no one on the plane, apart from the people who put their carry ons into the hold, had any luggage. We were assured by the Bahamas air people that another plane would be coming at 1.00pm with the luggage. I don’t think that many people actually believed them. We decided to check out our accommodation and have a look around.
We had met Bill at the airport who said that the fishing the previous week had not been too good but gave us a lot of very useful information and maps of the fishing places. Thanks very much.
We filled up the car, found the grocery store, which was very well stocked so we needn’t have brought all the excess baggage food with us from Nassau. We also bought a case of Kalik and then off to the water plant, which was closed. Joe and Lou went in search of the plant manager who they found playing Dominos in the airport bar. As per instructions we bought two 5 gallons jugs of water and a bag of ice and noticed that the plane was coming in, it was 12.00 midday.
We eventually got out onto the water by about 2.00pm. We fished one of the inside creeks by and we actually caught some fish.
Back home shower then Joe and Lou pick up dinner from Kathy.
This is the start of our daily routine.
We would have dinner and then as Lou would put it retire to the lounge. Where we would drink rum, smoke cigars and listen to all kinds of music from my iPod and solve the problems of the universe. No topic was either too big or too trivial we covered: religion, politics, women, music, philosophy, you name it. Fishing was also included but not too much.
The following 4 days we had strong north east winds gusting up to 30 mph. This effectively meant that there was no tide on the Bight side of the island and fish were not moving into the creeks. However by moving around we managed to catch a few fish every day.
On the Wednesday Bob Berquist suggested that we might fish by one of the Cays and that it was a walk of about 2 miles this sounded like a good idea as we were beginning to doubt what the “ridiculous” aspect of Acklins really meant.
We parked at the access point and Joe and I marched along the beach thinking that it was “only” 2 miles. After about half an hour we kept saying to ourselves it must just be round the next point however after just over an hour’s forced march we got there and sheltered from the sun under a tree and waited for Adam and Lou to arrive.
We then waded the flat alongside the Cay for 4 hours in one direction. We did not find any schools of fish but there were a number of singles to keep our interest up. We did manage to catch a handful of fish though. We trudged back up to the top of the flat and shared out any food and water we had brought with us. We didn’t take much water and no lunch as we thought we were not going very far. – Big mistake.
At this point I could hardly walk, my left foot and my right foot were both giving me problems.
I noticed that at the top of the flat the tide had gone out a little and sent Joe and Lou off to explore. I rested my feet and then decided to try to make the walk back. Luckily my feet were not so bad walking on dry land and the walk back only took me an hour and 45mins. Adam arrived soon after me and Joe and Lou about half an hour later.
They had apparently found a couple of big schools at the top end of the Cay.
That evening in the middle of our lounge discussions there was a knock on the door and in came a tall guy with a big white sack – no it wasn’t Father Christmas as he had no beard. He sat down and motioned that he wanted a cup of water. He then pulled out a half finished bottle of Bacardi out of his sack and stated drinking it. We tried talking to him but all we could understand from him was “Ken” and “white man”. His name was apparently not Ken and it looked as though he was set in for the night. Adam was starting to look worried. So Joe went next door for advice and David, Bobs friend, came in and persuaded the guy to leave. We obviously christened him Ken as we did our pet mouse who would eat peanuts with us in the evenings.
Bob told us that we could fish the next day with a guide called Willy if it was not too windy. Next morning we woke up and it was still blowing 20-25 so we decided to not try that option. That day we tried every place could think of without going on a death march.
We found and caught a few fish but still nothing fantastic.
That evening in the lounge we discussed our options for the next day. Joe and Lou wanted to go on another death march back to the Cay. I said my feet weren’t up to it and Adam was feeling tired. We put off the decision until the next day and lit another couple of cigars and opened yet another bottle of rum.
Friday, our last day fishing, was bright sunny and calm. What a surprise. Joe and Lou wanted to go for a death march so Adam and I dropped them off. They had made the right decision as on comparing notes at the end of the day they found a “ridiculous” amount of fish whereas Adam and I found a few schools that were either deep in the mangroves or very spooky.
Our last evening together we consumed a large amount of rum which ran out just before midnight. We then went out looking for a bar but everywhere was closed.
My summary of the trip was that it was perhaps one of the least successful fishing trips I had every been on but one of the most enjoyable. I had a great time with some great people.
What did I learn?
Not too much new stuff because I learned a long time ago that fishing is always dependant upon the weather and if the man upstairs is not playing then there is not much you can do.
Acklins only showed its possible potential on the last day. Enough however to make me feel that the fishing there could be out of this world.
What would I do different next time?
Local knowledge is very important. I would like to go with an Acklins veteran.
Use of a boat would mean that the death marches were unnecessary.
I would bring more rum with me. We only drank 6 or seven bottles in the week and Adam didn’t drink any.