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Bonefish, Tarpon, and other Obsessions Turquoise water, silver demons on the fly

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Old 03-15-2008, 04:05 PM
Swalt Swalt is offline
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West Andros

I have started doing a little research on West Andros and would appreciate any input anyone may have. If you know any good guides that fish there or anything on the tarpon fishing. I know its a vast area but I think the fishing could be special if you can find the right guide to get you in there.
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Old 03-15-2008, 05:26 PM
Bob Bergquist Bob Bergquist is offline
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Most all of the lodges fish over there by going through the bights or creeks( a long ride each way shortens the day substantialy). Soft bottoms for the most part, muds up bad with any north or west winds. Good bones and good tarpon in spots and well worth the effort. many guides/lodges will want extra $ to go more than once in the week as it takes a bunch of fuel and engine hours. There used to be a couple of live aboard deals available, but they were very pricey. A great place to fish, lots of elbow room, but not a secret by any stretch.

Last edited by Bob Bergquist; 03-15-2008 at 06:05 PM.
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Old 03-15-2008, 08:50 PM
Geordie Shanks Geordie Shanks is offline
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If only

Randall Kaufman in his excellent book "bonefishing" calls West Andros one of the most remote bonefishing destinations on the planet. Supposedly some absolutely massive fish over there that go thier whole lives without seeing a fly. As Bob mentioned, getting there is a major problem, and a lot of the stuff over there is muddy (not necessarily nice, sandy flats) from what I understand. I'm guessing you would probably never get out of the boat.

I went to Andros last year and stayed and fished on the east side, which is where all the population centers are. Although my friend and I did it ourselves with a rented boat, we talked to a guide and tried to get him to take us over there. He was down, but stated that he would not go without a second boat. Our options were to find another sport for his other guide friend to take, or just pay two guide fees - $550 a pop, which presumably included all the extra gas. He also insisted that we leave for the return trip no later than 3pm. He was willing to leave around 6-7 in the morning. Needless to say, as dirtbag anglers we couldn't afford that, but I wish we would have had some foresight and asked around for a couple days to try to work that out. He said that he personally got stranded there overnight once and that every guide in the island that has gone out there alone with some regularity has a story about boats breaking down and getting stranded, usually for a night. Sounds like paradise right? Stuck in the middle of prime bonefish territory for two days. The guide also said it would be about a two hour boat ride through the bights. If I go back there, I'm going to try to give it a shot-it sounds exceptional.

If you are looking for a killer spot in Andros, find someone to take you to Joulters. It's a group of small cayes on the northern tip of the island. Conditions and wind need to be right, but everyone I've ever talked to thats been there absolutely raves about that place. In hindsight, I should have had the guide run us up there. The guides in Andros Town were getting $500 a day for Joulters trips, but I believe I've heard that guides closer to it charge less. Nothing but miles and miles of white, sandy flats and huge schools of fish. Living in the Rocky Mountain area, I'm on a two year bonefish schedule (got to make some concessions to the wife don't we?), but if I go to Andros again next year I will definitely do what I have to get up there.
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Old 03-16-2008, 06:47 AM
Bob Bergquist Bob Bergquist is offline
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Actually breaking down and spending the night on the flats can be a huge ordeal with bugs if you can't control where you have to spend the night! A couple guides from Crooked got stuck out with clients last year and it was brutal I am told. I carry a compact bug tent in our boat just in case.
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Old 03-16-2008, 09:33 AM
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JusBones JusBones is offline
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Good point Bob, and a very wise plan. The "no-see-em's" can rip a man apart overnight, depending on wind/location, heck they work me over pretty well is less
exotic palces in the Bahamas. Could be (any prpbably is) an old wife's tale, but a night unprotected could result in death or wishing you were. On the bright side,
I take care to ensure the boat is tip top shape with radios, and lots of gas, and the experience is one of the best.
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Old 03-16-2008, 09:34 AM
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Good point Bob, and a very wise plan. The "no-see-em's" can rip a man apart overnight, depending on wind/location, heck they work me over pretty well is less
exotic palces in the Bahamas. Could be (any prpbably is) an old wife's tale, but a night unprotected could result in death or wishing you were. On the bright side,
I take care to ensure the boat is tip top shape with radios, and lots of gas, and the experience is one of the best. Only did it once......BIG FISH
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Old 03-16-2008, 09:47 AM
JR SPEY JR SPEY is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Geordie Shanks
. As Bob mentioned, getting there is a major problem, and a lot of the stuff over there is muddy (not necessarily nice, sandy flats) from what I understand. I'm guessing you would probably never get out of the boat.

He also insisted that we leave for the return trip no later than 3pm. He was willing to leave around 6-7 in the morning. Needless to say, as dirtbag anglers we couldn't afford that, but I wish we would have had some foresight and asked around for a couple days to try to work that out. He said that he personally got stranded there overnight once and that every guide in the island that has gone out there alone with some regularity has a story about boats breaking down and getting stranded, usually for a night. Sounds like paradise right? Stuck in the middle of prime bonefish territory for two days. The guide also said it would be about a two hour boat ride through the bights. If I go back there, I'm going to try to give it a shot-it sounds exceptional.

If you are looking for a killer spot in Andros, find someone to take you to Joulters. It's a group of small cayes on the northern tip of the island. Conditions and wind need to be right, but everyone I've ever talked to thats been there absolutely raves about that place. In hindsight, I should have had the guide run us up there. The guides in Andros Town were getting $500 a day for Joulters trips, but I believe I've heard that guides closer to it charge less. Nothing but miles and miles of white, sandy flats and huge schools of fish. Living in the Rocky Mountain area, I'm on a two year bonefish schedule (got to make some concessions to the wife don't we?), but if I go to Andros again next year I will definitely do what I have to get up there.
Wow. Where to begin? In fact, you'll not get out of the boat on the West Side unless you're going to dry land to answer nature's call. Getting stranded there does happen, but not as often as legend would have you believe. The truth is that during conditions that are suitable for fishing over there you usually will find quite a few boats from the lodges there also. It's a huge area so there's no real competition for fishing spots, but almost everyone heads back pretty much using the same route so there usually is someone who can help out someone in distress. Having said that a friend of mine and his wife did spend the night out there once and they didn't consider it being stranded in bonefish paradise. Depending upon where one begins and where one starts fishing, it is more like an hour to an hour and a half trip. From Behring Point to Wide Opening in decent weather rarely takes more than an hour depending upon the speed of the boat and how seaworthy it is in a chop. I would guess that going from Fresh Creek to the Joulters would indeed be expensive and my guess is you'd be motored up there by vehicle with the boat on a trailer. It's a long, wet ride by boat. The second worst week of bonefishing I've ever had was in the Joulters so I wouldn't consider it an automatic paradise. For one thing, most of the fishing is done by wading and in general the fish are not as large as they are throughout most of the rest of Andros. They can, at times, be easier to catch, however, more like Acklins and Long Island fish. Huge schools of fish almost always means lots and lots of 2-3 pound fish. That's fine as long as you know that up front and it's what you want. Many of us go to Andros to fish for singles and pairs that are six pounds or better. In fact, usually one goes to the West Side specifically to fish for ten pound plus fish. There are a lot of them over there. The flats in the Joulters have far more turtle grass than almost anywhere else on Andros so you need to bring a bunch of flies with weed guards. Supposedly it is also a decent permit area, at least by Bahamas standards, but we never saw one in a week of fishing. What can be spectacular is fishing the West Side from Red Bay area, which is up in Joulters country. The fish are large, like almost all of the West Side, but it gets fished a lot less up there (from Williams Island north.) The wind wasn't on our side when we were there so we never got the opportunity to try it.
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Old 03-16-2008, 10:20 AM
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juro juro is offline
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Great thread!

I should add that not all Acklins fish are easy, nor small. It takes a little exploring off the guide-beaten track to find them though.

For instance I can think of a couple of areas where the fish are up to the teens and almost impossible to hook, never mind land due to coral. They are not tailing or creating pressure wakes but feeding stealthily in pairs or small packs on big stuff like crabs and gobies - ultra sensitive to sound and movement even so much as a single backcast to load the rod.

However there are indeed huge schools of smaller fish as well, mostly 2-3 pounds as you say but sometimes in the 4-7 pound class depending on the area which is nothing to sneeze at which can be fished in the customary manner.

Before / after normal guide hours in the same spots where the average sized swarms had been will appear some real giants on Acklins.

IMHO - It depends on where and how one is looking at the particular habitat and population habits.

I am starting to think that all viable long term populations (which Acklins/Crooked is clearly one of the truly viable habitats) will have these grandpappy bones lurking about with different habits than their smaller progeny. The more pressure an area gets the more cautious the older and wiser seem to get.

I don't think most guided anglers will see much of them due to the time structure guides use and clients desire - grab a coffee and maybe some breakfast, high sun, then back early enough to have a nice sit down dinner. I admit I do that too, and those damn frozen drinks don't help any

Some areas seem to have more sparse populations of larger bones for sure, and I believe entirely that west Andros hosts a generally larger population as people have indicated, etc.

The point I am trying to make is it's my belief and observation that large populations of smaller bones are just distracting us from the big ones.
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Old 03-16-2008, 11:01 AM
JR SPEY JR SPEY is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by juro
Great thread!



The point I am trying to make is it's my belief and observation that large populations of smaller bones are just distracting us from the big ones.
I agree. It took years of fishing down there for two or three weeks a year before I could actually ignore the large schools of fish in order to try and find the bigger fish. Going to the West Side helps because one doesn't find very many of those large schools. Yes, I know that Acklins, Long Island, Exuma, and Abaco all have their share of big fish. But they are few in number overall, and I've talked to guys who've fished down there for a week and didn't see anything that legitmately would have gone double digits. Of course, the guides will tell you differently. I saw photos of several guys who came back from Long Island last fall and claimed several 8 pounders, a few tens, and even one well over ten. Those are rare fish, indeed, in that area. The photos showed that one of the double digit fish was perhaps six pounds and probably more likely less than more. Guides all over the Bahamas do it, even many of the best ones. One of the guides I use frequently told me that a fish I'd just landed was ten pounds easy. I hate using a Boga grip to weigh fish because of the possible damage it can do to it, but I Bogaed this one and it was about 6 1/2 pounds. Believe me when I tell you than a true ten pound bonefish is a big motha.
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Old 03-16-2008, 12:23 PM
Geordie Shanks Geordie Shanks is offline
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There you have it

Obviously, the "two days stranded in bonefish paradise" was a tongue in cheek comment. It would not be fun at all, particularly spending a night in a hole in the sand sharing a half eaten sandwich. Even a couple boxes of Kalik wouldn't make it worth it - it would help - but it would still suck. As stated, I have not been to the West Side or Joulters and was merely trying to share information I was told by the locals and other anglers. My apologies if I was wrong.

JR - I had a guide in Exuma do the exact same thing to me about four years ago where he was trying to tell my buddy that this fish he caught was a ten pounder. Of course it was the last day of six days of guided fishing and I think he was trying to pump his tip up. It was a killer fish, but ten pounds-no way. Maybe was 7 pounds. By far the biggest fish we saw that trip though. Most of the fish in Exuma were around 3-4 pounds.

Last edited by Geordie Shanks; 03-16-2008 at 01:34 PM.
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Old 03-16-2008, 02:04 PM
Geordie Shanks Geordie Shanks is offline
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Weed guards....

This maybe should be a whole new thread and probably has been covered already, but JR mentioned weed guards in his other post and pulled a question out of my head that's been there for a while.

I have messed around with various types of weed guards on bonefish flies - the "loop" style with the mono going from the eye to the bend, the "post" style with just a single strand of mono protruding up from the eye, and I even tried tying some flies using stiff elk hair for the wing. I haven't been really stoked about any of these and feel that I'm either still hooking weeds more than I should, or missing strikes and/or fish. I'm guessing that's just part of the trade-off, but I know there are some dudes on this site that bonefish a hell of a lot more than I do. Any thoughts? What types of weed guards have you boys found is most effective?
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Old 04-08-2008, 08:03 AM
josko josko is offline
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Flamingo Cay is an ideal lodge for bonefishing Andros' west side. Beware outfitters and lodges offering 'camping trips to the West side'. I've seen far too many unhappy canpers on those trips.
Please p.m. me for any details on fishing the area.
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Old 04-08-2008, 11:44 AM
BTU BTU is offline
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I agree that Flamingo Cay is top choice for the West Side, Charles Bethel's lodge is right a the doorstep to the whole area.

Interesting comments on bonefish size, weight, diet, etc. Here are a few thoughts:
This is a fork length (mm) - weight (pounds) relationship for bonefish. Recent research indicates the relationship is similar in the Keys (where these data originated) and elsewhere (Bahamas, Belize). Give/take a few percent in weight depending on time of year (e.g., spawning fish are fatter, especially females). Take along something like this to bring your guide back to reality.
181.9_____0.51
330.7_____2.01
443.2_____3.96
528.4_____5.95
592.8_____7.77
641.6_____9.33
678.4_____10.63
706.3_____11.68
727.4_____12.50
743.4_____13.15
755.5_____13.65
764.6_____14.04
771.5_____14.34
776.7_____14.57
780.7_____14.74
783.7_____14.87
786.0_____14.97
787.7_____15.05
789.0_____15.11
790.0_____15.15

Juro's comments on diet of big bones is right on. Research in the Keys and on West Andros indicates a shift in diet with size (age). In the Keys, big bones eat a lot of toadfish. In West Andros, we found a change in diet that occurred at approx 16" - below 16", diet was mostly polychaetes (worms), clams, some shrimp; above 16" the diet was mostly swimming crabs, mud crabs, and common shrimp. Our sample size of larger fish (>30") was too small, but indications are that they also eat good numbers of fish.

The comment on big Bahamas fish being rare and wary was also right on. Ongoing research indicates that bonefish in the Keys grow 2 to 3 times faster than bonefish in the Bahamas and wider Caribbean. For example, a 23" fork length bonefish in the Keys is approximately 6 years old, but that same length fish in the Caribbean (and Bahamas) is approximately 16 years old. So those big bones in the Bahamas are probably pretty old, and very wise.

And that doesn't even include the fact that you may be catching two (or maybe even 3) species of bonefish on the flats in the Caribbean. The research continues.


Aaron
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Old 04-08-2008, 01:00 PM
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Hi Aaron
Thanks for the information.
I would be very interested to know where it came from.

I think that even the figures that you mention are exaggerated.
In my experience of bonefish that I have caught in many different locations, a 27" bonefish (685.8mm) weighs between 7 and 8 lbs and not nearly 11lbs as your figures would suggest.

My results come from measuring and weighing fish that I have caught.

Pete
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Old 04-08-2008, 01:03 PM
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Sweet - that puts my recent bone right where moderator Pete Vicar guessed, in the 9's approaching double digit. A fat carribean fish as well, and yes they were smart as hell down there.
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