This trip we fished the North end of the Island with two independent guides – Cely Smith and Abby Mackenzie.
Found fish on the outgoing tide almost immediately up to 6lb. I managed two and lost another. Later, fishing from Cely’s skiff I had my best bonefish of the week at about 8lb. We continued to connect throughout the day. Finished in classic style with a double hook-up to tailing fish late in the incoming tide as the sun started to go down
Fished the South side with Abby. We searched the flats early on but didn’t locate any fish – they had been there – feeding holes were everywhere. They had obviously decided to feed on the outgoing tide for some reason. We tracked them down at the edge of another flat and had brisk action up until later on the rising tide. We did a sprint out to some Permit flats and they were there but tight lipped. There were also some very large Barracuda who had apparently been taking lessons from the Permit! Our day finished way out over a deep channel where we encountered a huge school of jacks up to 8 lb which kept us busy for the last couple of hours.
Once again, fishing the North side we found fish on the flats almost immediately. It was here that I managed to maintain my unbroken tradition of breaking a rod. This time it was my fault – I let the rod slide tip first into the coral as I released my first fish of the day. The “plink” of a breaking rod tip is a familiar sound to me now! High point of the day was a visit to a small cay which has been in Cely’s family for generations. Complete with coconut palms, a cabana and its own resident school of medium seized bonefish cruising white sand flats it’s about as close as paradise gets!
Headed straight out to the Tarpon holding spot since the tide was just right. And they were there - a group of three and a large single. They were resting under some rocks and the technique was to get up current and present a small fly on a dead drift. They showed interest almost immediately but my fish came after a couple of them decided to take a short swim before returning to their resting spot. As they swam back up current the target was relatively easy and the first fish obliged with a head and tail rise to the three-inch fly as delicate as any trout on a chalk stream. The similarity ended when I hit the fish with three hard strip strikes. The reaction was incredible. A continual series of acrobatics and drag burning speed for the first couple of minutes. Things then settled down to the traditional slug-out and thirty minutes later my first silver king came to hand. Pictures were taken, the fish revived and then we set about going after the big single. We set up a new shock tippet and my friend Clive did everything right. In fact it was almost a replay of the first fish except that this one was half as big again – pushing 90lb. Abby had the leader in his hands after 45 minutes but at that point the 60lb fluorocarbon shock tippet gave out – completely worn through. No picture but still a release and our second of the day. Not bad for Exuma! By this time the wind had started to kick up and the Permit flats would have to wait for another day.
As it turned out, the wind just kept getting stronger and pretty much put an end to fishing for the remaining two days. We did some exploring further down on the South side and came up with our own version of the death march. That story doesn’t yet have an ending yet - we will be back!