Visit Acklins Island, Bahamas - Fly Fishing Forum
Bonefish, Tarpon, and other Obsessions Turquoise water, silver demons on the fly

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Old 05-10-2007, 11:13 AM
GMflyfish GMflyfish is offline
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Visit Acklins Island, Bahamas

Partly as a result of informative posts on this site, and advice from several helpful people, a friend and I made a trip to Acklins Island, southeast Bahamas. The trip went smoothly. We left the states on Tuesday, 17 April, to Nassau and spent the afternoon and night there, staying at Orange Hill Beach Inn, which had the advantage of being close to the airport. Dinner at the place was good. Flights on Bahamas Air to Acklins only happen on Wednesday and Saturday, so we got to the airport in plenty of time - despite the previous day's call for a 6:00 am cab to the airport which did not show up. Eventually got one at 6:30, which still allowed enough time for the 8:30 flight. We fished from 18-24 April 2007. Mid April was supposed to be a good time.
We were met at the Greater Acklins International Airport by our host and guide Fedel, and had an hour ride on Acklins only road to the northern section, near Lovely Bay. Accommodations for the week were very satisfactory at Fedel's place, which is in the process of being refurbished. Not real fancy, but quite adequate. Breakfast at the house, lunch on the water, and dinner (usually late) at the house, but prepared at a nearby restaurant. The two of us were the only guests during our stay.
On Wednesday right after arrival, Fedel had some obligations so he directed us to a nearby stretch of water, and we fished on our own from about 2-7:30. Had some tailing bones, and I managed to break off two and land one. Partner landed two.
We got in full days of fishing for the next six days, generally Fedel had us on the water by 8 am, staying out until five. We had a short drive to the town dock where Fedel picked us up in his boat. Had some long boat rides a couple days. First day was partly on open ocean, and we had some porpoises by the boat briefly. Some of our boat rides were very bumpy. We fished mostly by wading around, but did some from the boat - one at a time.
I'm sort of new to bonefishing, having only done it a couple times previously, and I was a bit disappointed that we did not have more action. But maybe my expectations were out of line. I managed to catch at least one fish every day, but only totaled 18 landed for the week. I think it was 1-1-3-2-2-2-7. Lost some others, and had decent shots at a number. But there was a lot of time with nothing happening except looking. My buddy outdid me and landed 19 for the week, but he had more experience. We had wind all the time, though nothing hard enough to curtail fishing. Just made it difficult at times.
Fedel was an excellent guide for us, I believe (based on not a lot of experience on my part). He sure could spot the fish well before I could see them, if I spotted them at all. Many times I was casting to where I think he wanted me to. But other times I could see the schools cruising if they were close enough. Actually, the biggest fish I got, about 5 lb, I spotted myself, cast OK, and hooked up immediately.
The flats were EXTENSIVE - miles and miles. Wading was good, often on fairly hard bottom - not necessarily even, and sometimes on softer bottoms. I acquired a new pair of Orvis Flats Hikers for the trip, and was certainly glad I had the more substantial footware rather than the neoprene booties I had been planning on using.
I took along 7, 8 and 9 weight rods, and used the 8 almost exclusively. All were four piece rods which made travel easier. Strung up the 7 wt a couple times, for short evening or morning session, but never wet the line. Used the 9 wt for some trolling briefly one day, and caught a couple blue runners, but no barracuda. We saw barracuda, many small sharks, sting rays, manta rays, flying fish.
Used a variety of flies, and usually if you got a decent placement, the bones did not seem picky. There were some refusals, however. Mostly we used gotchas with rubber legs, but other things worked also. We had a couple minor equipment problems which were remedied with cyanoacrylate superglue.
My biggest problem with the trip was the sand fly bites. I kept covered up pretty much, but in the evening had bare feet for a short time. Could not feel the little buggers biting, but the itching on feet and ankles afterwards was VERY uncomfortable. Two weeks later I still have the little welts, but the itching has stopped, thankfully. I did manage to avoid sunburn, with a sunshade around the hat, and mitts on the hands.
Had to pack up Tuesday for the Wednesday flight out. Getting through the Nassau airport was a hassle, and crowded, but we made it, and got home late Wed night. No desire to spend much time in Nassau.
Sorry for rambling on at length. It was a good trip, and I would consider repeating it. Nothing was fancy about it - the emphasis was fishing, and that's what we did - not much else. Fedel was a good guide and host.
Again, thanks to several people on this site who gave us great information ahead of the excursion.
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Old 05-10-2007, 01:40 PM
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jimS jimS is offline
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Thanks for the excellent, detailed report. I've fished Acklins the past three years, and its an addictive place, not only because of the unmolested fish, but the people are some of the nicest on the planet. My next trip will include some bluewater species.

Thanks again for the report. It makes me want to get on a plane today for Acklins.
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Old 05-10-2007, 04:39 PM
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juro juro is offline
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IMHO that sounds pretty good for the point you are at on your bonefishing learning curve. I think the experience will dramatically improve once you are seeing them better and we can't beat being in such pristine habitat can we?

Reports from others on various trips over the last few weeks have been somewhast discouraging - perhaps the recent cold fronts had something to do with the down turn.

It's true there were days we'd double those numbers in one day on our trips to Acklins but there were tough days too.

For perspective, spend a week in the Keys and compare notes on cost, fishing and the sense of adventure...
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Old 05-11-2007, 02:27 AM
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petevicar petevicar is offline
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Thanks for the report.
It looks like fishing in the tropics is tough everywhere this year so far. It seems to be the case from Florida to the southern end of the Bahamas. Los Roques is apparently still Ok from reports that I have heard.

Juro's point of comaring it to the Keys is extremely valid.

I have just tried to make that comparison.
It fact the trips don't compare.

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Old 05-11-2007, 04:47 AM
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Warren Warren is offline
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GM, nice report, thanks for sharing your experience with us.

Juro & Petevicar,
You say compare a trip to Acklins to the Keys. In what ways do they differ?
Is it more expensive to fish the Keys or Acklins?
More or less fish in the keys?

I am just curious
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Old 05-11-2007, 08:32 AM
Bob Bergquist Bob Bergquist is offline
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I would say the differences are many...Acklins you hardly ever see another boat, a lot more bonefish, very remote...with tough logistics, much better wade fishing as the bottom is hard and the fish shallow. Acklins has fewer and smaller tarpon, but the permit fishing is about the same in numbers and size. There are still conch around Acklins! Costs are about the same given the travel, high costs of vehicles fuel etc on Acklins.
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Old 05-11-2007, 08:59 AM
GMflyfish GMflyfish is offline
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remote Acklins

Yes, our trip to Acklins would qualify as an adventure. Logistics worked out well for us, but there was plenty of potential for complications. It was not a particularly low cost outing, but one could certainly spend more for a week of bonefishing.
We did not feel crowded - I think we saw another boat fishing on two of the days we were out. There were some other fishing parties at other lodges on the Island, and one from Crooked Island. From Lovely Bay it was not a long distance to Crooked, and we did fish there a couple times.
I've not been to the Florida Keys fishing, but from what I've read, the Acklins destination was much more to my liking.
I'd like to get back next year.
Thanks. GMflyfish
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Old 05-11-2007, 09:48 AM
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juro juro is offline
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I started with four consecutive years of the keys in the 80's. I did land an 8# fish that was one of my most memorable, and enjoyed the angling culture with guys like Bonefish Bob and Jerry Cardenas etc. But the lodging was pricey and it was very touristy for my fishing DIY from a car. I found it significantly more expensive as a DIY angler - but maybe I just spent too much on the keys because I could!

Acklins is to bonefishing what the Aleutians probably are to wild salmonids... wild, pure and rugged but very *real*.

The logistic challenges make it that much more invigorating for me, and the people of the island are such wonderful people to meet and know, one of the best parts of the overall experience by far. I wasn't too fond of the Key West folks after dark

On Acklins, the sparseness of human presence in contrast to the extent of natural habitat for bonefish makes civilization the minority. Mother nature is dressed in her best bonefish dress there - turquiose blues and stark whites, fringed with the rose hues of conch shells and green mangrove boughs. And she is in a peaceful mood most of the time it seems, unlike her bonefish children who can not control their compulsion to run the tide currents onto the expansive flats like mice behind the pied piper.

There are no city lights to obscure the brilliant night sky as the dreams of approaching pods lull the angler to sleep in the deafening silence of this remote outpost somewhere on the edge of the Bahamian archipelago.

You visit the keys, you leave - but Acklins stays with you.
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