April Bahamas Trip Bonefish Log
Friday, March 31, 2005 – Monday April 3, 2006
Location: WD - 40
Weather: Mostly Sun
Wind: ESE 10 - 12 mph
LT 3:27am, HT 9:27 am, LT 3:28 pm
Outside Temp: 80
Fly: #4 Bahama Mama, Gotcha Clouser
Big Fat Ocean Bones
Touched down at 8:30 and as soon as I got off the plane – I knew it was going to be a good one. Moderate winds and only a thin line of clouds along the South side of the Island was a good indicator that visibility would be strong. We arrived at theWD-40 flat shortly after 10:00. Jen and I set up the chairs and popped a open couple of Kaliks. Jen commented that I would not be able to stay seated for more than 10 minutes without beginning to whine about Bonefish swimming in front of us. I told her that she clearly had underestimated my powers of control. Just to demonstrate this, I sat still for an entire 12 minutes before I went after my first bone.
This flat will fish well during the lower stages of the incoming and outgoing tide. At high it simply has too much water to wade anywhere other than the shore. Saw one nice single during the first two hours and began to second guess the decision to fish this area during high tide. As the tide fell I was able to move out farther and eventually was able to pick up fish especially where the sandy bottom was peppered with patches of rock. I eventually picked up a nice single that went 25 inches from tip to fork. I plan on spending a lot of time on this flat with the family in July.
We packed up and moved to Desitin Alley at 2:00. Since it was the last part of the falling tide, I was able to walk the outer portion of the flat at a rapid pace and spot the fish (which were almost always concentrated at the entrance of the troughs that ran up onto the flat). I managed to pick up six fish this way. Three of those came in at 23 and 24 inches. I did not see many schools on this part of the flat, almost all were singles and doubles. The day ended with me throwing at two groups of six to eight bonefish that were concentrated in a 30 square yard area. They would eat nothing. The fish ever really spooked but they were “aware” that something was up. I changed flies and lengthened the leader to 14 feet but they were not interested. As long as the fly was presented anywhere in front of the fish, they seemed to sense that something was not right. They would turn away from the fly, move 10 feet away and resume feeding. This exercise in futility basically blew the last 45 minutes of good sunlight. The only thing that I can compare this group of fish to would be the evil resident fish on the town flat at GTC. - Very educated.
On the way back I had a chance to reflect on that school of Bones and I remembered an email exchange that I had a year or so ago with Marsh Runner. He suggested that I lead the fish let the fly settle and strip once the fish were right on top of the fly. I decided that I would return for that school on Sunday.
The Tide was coming back in so I started the walk back to the car – along the way I blew an easy shot at a tailing bonefish on the backside of the outer bar. I really need to discipline myself to wait until I see the whole fish before throwing.
We head back to B’s and grab a couple of Kaliks (o.k. three or four) and watched the sun go down behind the Island. I order a Conch Salad and B tells me that he does not carry it. B seemed more focus on hitting on three local Bahamians than serving us. This irritates me greatly – this is the last time I will go to B’s (not because he is hitting on locals – because he will not make me a Conch Salad).
Location: East End (Captain Perry Demeritte)
Weather: Clear as a bell 78
Wind: NNE – 8 mph
Outside Temp: 78
Fly Selection: Perry’s “Silent Killer” Fly only 1
28:1 – Gotta love those odds!
Out of Bed by 6:00 and eating the traditional out island breakfast – an Egg McMuffin. Unfortunately, I think that this Egg McMuffin was cooked in Miami and shipped over. On the way to the East End I am badgered for 45 minutes by Jen around why I need to charter a guide when I caught 7 fish the day before. I explain the bond one builds with a guide, and that guides offer the ability to reach remote locations, fish lightly fished areas, and offer solid coaching which ultimately helps one become a better angler. Jen ends the conversation by telling me that that’s why they make books.
We meet Perry at his house and 30 minutes later we are in the water and on our way.
We arrive at an “Island tabletop” top type flat that is surrounded on all sides by water. Perry is on the poling platform less than 10 minutes and I have already boated two fish. I ask him if he feels like wading and he gladly obliges. Jen gives me an odd look and expresses a fear of being attacked by sharks. I spend the next five minutes assuring her that the big boys hang on the ocean side and she has nothing to worry about. Just as Jen takes a step out of the boat, a 6 foot Lemon Shark cruises by on the drop off. Jen spends the rest of the day firmly planted in the Maverick. I end up picking up three more tailers while wading, but I missed more than I care to count – at one point I made so many casts I thought my arm was about to come unhinged. It was not that the fish were spooky it was that my accuracy was abysmal.
The rest of the day included catching fish in every conceivable way – tails, wakes, singles, doubles, triples, schools, it was incredible! At lunch the count stood at 13 fish. I ask Perry if I can switch flies since the Silent Killer that I had on was missing its crystal braid coat, most of its rubber legs, and almost the entire wing. Perry replies absolutely not. If it’s working - stay with it. This seems like a reasonable request so I stick with the fly.
After lunch the fishing was even better, I did have an issue with sharks and had a certain Blacktip bag two of my released fish. This pains me every time this happens. It did not have the same effect on Perry who just kept repeating “If your gonna live in the jungle you have to be prepared to pay the price”. I kept up the productivity and my fly began to resemble a hair ball. I kept it on and it continued to produce. I also laid into the biggest fish of the day at this point which had a great first and second run. As I brought him to within thirty feet of the boat a Blacktip and a Lemon shark both went after him. I tried at first to break him off which did not work, then I released all tension which also did not work, finally tried to horse him to the boat and just as I pulled him alongside the boat the Blacktip nailed him cutting off his tail. The fishing continued to be superb for the rest of the day. At four I told Perry that we should call it a day – I bruised my sternum from wedging the fighting butt up against it all day. The final total came in at 28 which is by far my most productive day ever in the Bahamas. The only negative was that out of the 28 only one went over 22 inches (actually he was only 16 inches once the shark finished with him), I also missed a double digit bone that I managed to get off a perfect cast to . I put the fly three feet directly in front of him 60 feet away. Despite Perry’s advice I failed to correct for the boat moving toward him and gave three short strips, which did nothing as far as moving the fly. The boat was moving faster towards the fish than I was stripping. The Bonefish inspected the motionless fly and then took off. All 28 also came on one fly.
We finish the day off at the Diamond Sunrise Bar which is next door to B’s. They made an excellent Conch Salad. The best part of the meal is when you order the salad the bartender wades out into the water and pulls your Conch right out of a pile 10 yards off shore. I made the fatal mistake of asking the cook to add some extra goat juice to the salad. It was so hot it was almost impossible to eat. Almost is the key word here. We also met another group of anglers who were fishing Bill out of OPR. Nice guys who were going to be there for 5 days.
Weather: UNBELIVABLE again!
Wind: NE @ 5 – 7 mph flat as a pancake
LT 6:08am, HT 12:02 am, LT 6:01 pm (South)
Outside Temp: 79
Fly selection: Bahama Mama Fly, and Super Gotcha’s.
High Tide: Schools in Session
Kicked around waking up at five since time changed last night and fishing the Mud flat behind the airport. Upon further reflection the prospect of fighting through the shin deep mud to get the tailing portion of the flat just did not seem to be inviting. We ended up making it to Desitin Alley around 8:30. I convinced Jen to wade with me so walked into the sun on the beach and then turned around and walked back with the sun behind us. The tide was mid way up which is not my best time to fish since I rarely have been able to successfully fish a mid high to high incoming tide. The sun was bright and we ended up settling on wading in knee deep water behind the closet bar to shore. I ended up landing 4 fish all in deeper water, all were members of schools with between 6 to 10 bonefish in them. I simply stayed focused on the shallower areas behind the Bars. This is a great flat to fish at high tide.
On the way back I spotted a good sized bonefish floating on the top of the water, it was so high its eyes were coming out of the water. The fish appeared to be sipping something that lived in the floating vegetation that was against the shoreline. I have seen this behavior before. I assume some type of shrimp lives in the dead vegetation. I did manage to get 1 nice shot at him but managed to pull the fly out of his mouth. Shortly after that Jen pointed out a three pound needle fish and in order to honor my Bro in law (who one day aspires to be a needlefish guide) I threw a Gotcha Clouser at him and then let Jen reel him in as he tail walked across the flat. Around this same time Bill appeared on the flat with two clients, the same two from the Bar the night before. I decided to give the flat a rest for a while Bill poled them on the flat right in front of us.
We made it back to the chairs around noon and knocked back a couple of Kaliks. Jen dozed off and as I sat in the chair pretending to read for about an hour and a half, this is not as easy to do as one would expect. As I sat there at high tide a 22 inch bonefish cruised right up to the shore line. I took this as a sign that the Bonefish gods were calling me. I grabbed my rod and had him firmly attached to my fly line shortly thereafter. After getting permission from Jen I headed off towards the rocky point on the far eastern end of the flat, where I was fairly certain that the same group of Bonefish from Friday should still be hanging out. The next four miles (I am not exaggerating) did not involve one presentation, and I only saw 4 fish, none of which I could get a shot at. It seems like at this stage the fish move to the narrow trough that runs parallel to beach – this water is three or four feet deep and spotting the fish is extremely difficult from a wading perspective.
The end of this flat features a deep hole that looks to be three feet deep in the center and loaded with grass. Since the surrounding area is bleached white sand I assume that hole rarely if ever goes dry. I spotted what I thought was a pair of cruising Bones and hooked into the second fish, It turned out to be some type of large jack with a remora on its back, the thing weighed about five pounds. It did take some line but refused to leave the hole which limited its runs. Midway through the fight I look to my right and see the same group of bones in the same location as I did on Friday. I get the Jack at my feet break the fly off in its mouth and quickly re-tie a #2 Gotcha Clouser on. I put the first shot down ten feet in front of the group but they change direction before they get to the fly. This same scenario repeats itself a half dozen more times. I take one last stab at it and tell myself that this is the last amount of energy that I will spend on this group of fish. This time however they cooperate and six of them swim directly over my fly – as soon as the group is over the fly I give one long strip. The group of bones slammed into each other as they all tried to crush my fly. Five minutes later I had the best Bonefish of the day in hand – he went 25 inches. I released the fish and another group appeared in almost the same area. I used the same tactic and landed another although significantly smaller than the first. I decided to call it day at this point. If I ever make it back to that cursed flat on GTC I must try this technique.
Jen and I Returned to the Diamond Sunrise Bar and Jen and enjoyed another session of Kaliks and Conch (this time we asked them not to put any hot sauce in it). It was still Smoking hot. Spoke to the same group of anglers that I saw on the flat with Bill – They had a decent day as well.
Day 4 (Half day)
Weather: Clear as a bell
Wind: 8 to 12 mph
HT 12:30 am, LT 7:02 am, HT 12:52 (South)
Outside Temp: 81 high
Fly Selection: Bahama Mama, Gotcha Clouser
Double Digit Day (Almost)
Same routine as before – out the door by 7:00 and on the flat by 8:00 am. Could not decide which flat but eventually settled on Dogleg (It’s just so damn hard to drive by that flat at low). This flat has been very kind to Scott and me in the past, and I had not had a chance to fish it on this trip. It made sense to hit this flat since the Sun would be at our backs and we had limited time to fish.
The portion of the last flat that is usually most productive was dead – I saw maybe two groups of fish none of which were within casting distance. We eventually made our way to the furthest portion of the flat to the far West. This part of the flat is significantly higher that the rest of the flat so it was just at the start of the flood tide. The flat featured a large raised portion with a huge area that was in the shape of an inverted triangle (wide side facing the ocean). This triangle is also filled with a number of troughs and raised areas. As soon as we got to the edge I spotted a school of smaller fish. Behind this group was another group of larger bones in a pack of four fish. I tried to not throw at the first group of fish and let them make their way up on to the flat – but I could just not do it. As soon as I hooked the fish I cursed myself as he turned and ran right to the group of larger fish and blew them off the flat. One day I will demonstrate that type of patience – just not on this day. I picked up two more fish as I walked across the Cut, they were everywhere. This was not that large of an area (50 yards across) but it seemed like the bonefish just kept pushing up onto the flat and they were all hungry.
Once I made it to the end of the flat I turned and made my way back across the cut. Right smack in the middle of the cut was a group of nice sized Bonefish who were feeding behind a small sand bar. I maneuvered into position and got a nice wide looped cast off that gently put the Bahama Mama right in front of them. The fish to the right immediately pounced on the fly – but did not run. Instead the fish began to slowly move away from the group and swim towards me. As the fish came closer and closer and I am pulling in more and more line I start to realize that this fish is huge. I give the fish a couple of additional strip strikes, this irritates him greatly and he tears off towards the ocean. My experience with fish on this flat is that they never run off of the flat into the deeper water. Clearly this fish did not live by this rule and headed long and deep. My guess is the fish took about 150 yards on the first run (drag was set lighter than when I fish the groves, but 150 yards is 150 yards). Fifteen minutes and two more runs later I had the fish within 30 feet of me. This was as close as that Bonefish intended to get to me. It moved into a circle mode in which it slowly did circles around me but I could not pull the fish any closer without him putting on another burst of energy and putting another 5 feet between us. After another 5 minutes I had the fish within 10 feet but he was still using the circle tactic. I tell Jen that I have to get this fish in or he will either exhaust himself to near death, or become shark bait. The small sharks on the backside do not bother me – the large Sharks on this side of the Island do. I decide to hand the rod to Jen and tell her to hold the rod high and if she feels the fish pull just let him run. I start to hand line the fish towards me and as soon as I get halfway down the leader the fish bolts. I release the line and watch in horror as the rod doubles over and starts to bounce up and down. I turn to look at Jen and see that she has the Camera in one hand, and the line and rod handle in the other. The fish takes this opportunity to straighten the 2X SS hook in his mouth and casually swims away. I look at Jen, Jen looks at me and all I can muster is…I love you anyway honey. On the way back I land one more and call it a morning.
We finish the day off at the Market place with some more Kaliks and Conch Salad. Met two more Anglers from Clearwater at the airport. They indicated that they were staying at NRP and the place was full. That’s good to hear since I heard that they had been struggling. I told them both about the June trip to Andros and one of them (Mike) said he would be all over filling the recently vacated slot. Seven days later Mike sends me a personal check for 800.00 dollars. Either I have a very trusting face or Mike is a very trusting guy. Either way the trip is filled!
Observations, Random thoughts, etc…
Weather: Incredible! – The streak continues! Three trips in a row!
I know that the breathable wings, crystal braid, and rubber legs make me more confident in the fly – but based on Saturdays incredible day I am not sure how much the fish care. By the end of the day the fly was basically a hook with two bead chain eyes, and Florida Red Danville thread on it. The Bones hammered it all day.
I really like the Bahama Mama fly – the orange chenille on the end look a lot like and egg sac. Will tie more for the Andros trip in June.
Tides: Finally, Success at high tide. The key was the right flat and wading in knee deep water. This is something that I rarely do as I prefer to be high and dry when spotting. I noticed no decline in ability to spot while wading the inner sandbars at about the mid-point of Desitin Alley.
Guides: Used Perry again – and he did not disappoint. I had to tell him that it was time to leave again (either I am getting soft, or I have found someone who is more passionate about Bonefishing than I am). Even Jen commented at the end of the day that he was well worth the price of admission.
This is the identical tide that I fished in December – it’s very effective for early morning and late afternoon wading. When the water is deep as long as the sun is high it’s still easy to spot.
Desitin Alley - Finally got to walk the entire Flat. Next trip I would like to do the same with Pat’s Creek. This would be a good one to walk early in the morning with the sun to my back.
WD/40 Flat - Only fished it the first morning but the fish are there. I need to push further to the east. I plan on spending a significant amount of time here in July during the family vacation. It’s secluded, loaded with beautiful sand and best of all its close.
Dynamite Hole Flat – This is the flat JM shared with me earlier this month. I did not have a chance to fish it – but I am fairly certain that I found the access point. Will save this one for a bad weather day when the wind is hammering the ocean side.
great report - put me right back on the bight!
FFF Certified THCI @ 2005
Capeflyfisher Guide Service
Island Hopper, Guitarist, Incurable Dreamer
and Founder, Worldwide Flyfishing Forum
Felt like I was there. I truly needed this as I won't see any salt water until late July.
You DA MAN!! Or I should say YOU DA MON!
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