TOLL FREE USA/CANADA
Getting to Andros Island, The Bahamas is very easy!
We may be slightly off the beaten path, but that's a big
part of our appeal. Even though we're not in the center of a big tourist hub (thankfully!) we're really quite accessible.
(more info on getting to Andros)
Ask any fisherman and he will tell you what a thrill it is to go fishing. Now ask anyone who is into Bonefishing, and he will tell you how much more exhilarating it is to hunt Bonefish!
Bonefishing is a sport dedicated to one fish, the Bonefish. It gets its name from the numerous bones it has in its flesh. This makes it fairly difficult to eat, and therefore this sport is not about the kill. It is about the thrill of the chase and of the fight.
The Bonefish is a predator of small crustaceans and worms that live in the sand under the sea. However, the food chain being what it is, it is also a prey for fish like barracuda and sharks. The barracuda is a sneaky and fast hunter, and everyone knows what a shark is like. This means that a Bonefish needs to be very fast and very careful. It is so careful that it is known as one of the most easily spooked fish in the Caribbean waters, and once spooked, it is as fast as lightning. Combine that with the fact that it is one of the strongest fish, pound for pound, and you will begin to understand why Bonefishing is as exciting as it is!
The fun begins with finding the right fly. As mentioned earlier, Bonefish are spooked easily, so the fly you use cannot be bright and flashy. It needs to look like its natural prey such as small shrimp and other crustaceans. This is why most guides would recommend tan or other neutral sandy colored flies.
Then you need to find the right location, by which we mean an area in the water where there is a school of Bonefish feeding. Now there are a couple of ways to find such a location, the easiest being places where the fish are ‘mudding’ where Bonefish disturb the sand when they feed. Schools of Bonefish can be so big that when they start disturbing the sand, the area of water becoming murky is large enough to be seen from a flying airplane!
However, most purists feel that looking for a school that is ‘mudding’ is making it too easy, so they prefer to do it the hard way – the way where they look in the water and see the school before casting the line. Okay, you might say, that can’t be all that different from looking for mudding. Well, you wouldn’t say that if you knew the mirror finish of the Bonefish!
Even in clear water, the Bonefish is nearly invisible because of its silvery body. Some people recommend looking for shadows on the sea bed instead of trying to look for swimming fish! This is why a lot of Bonefishers, even experienced ones too, prefer using guides who spot the fish and tell them where to cast.
The cast needs to be very accurate too. It needs to land not where the fish are but where you expect them to be in the next minute. The line needs to sink and the fly needs to be seen as sitting on the sand when the fish reach it. Cast it too far away and the fish will not be able to see it. Cast it too close and the fish will get startled and swim away… Fast! Once it is safely put in the water, the movement of the fly needs to be perfect. Too quick, or movement in the wrong direction such as towards the fish, and you spook the fish I mean what kind of prey moves towards it's predator. Yet too slow and you risk having the fish miss it. All this while you are on a boat which could be moving away or going towards the fly, and the fish, with a wind that could be blowing away or towards you, and all these factors need to be considered when you are trying to make your fly move under the water.
What happens if you aren’t aware of them? Well, unlike trout or other fish, the Bonefish does not close its mouth around its prey. The clamping and crushing ‘pharyngeal teeth’ are located near the base of its throat, and once it decides that what you’re offering is not food, it will just spit it out. If your line is too slack, or if you do not realise immediately that the bait has been taken, you will not be able to slow strip the line to snare the fish!
Again, because the Bonefish does not grab the bait like other fish, you need to be alert to figure out when the bait has been taken. If the water is clear enough, you should see the fish coming close to the bait you just placed there. If the water is shallow enough, you should be able to see the tailing of the Bonefish which would let you know that the fish is feeding. Most of the time, you are just making an educated guess based on the way the fish is behaving.
Then you need to start stripping, not the way you would strip for a trout, but a slow long strip with the rod pointed down so as to not to pull the fly out of its mouth and any sudden movement will drag the bait out too and startle it. A long slow strip has two advantages. One, even if the fish hasn’t quite grabbed the fly, it will look like natural prey behaviour where it is trying to ‘run’ in the sand and hide. This way, even if the fish hasn’t actually seen the fly, it will notice it. Secondly, a slow strip is more likely to snag it in the mouth, which will eventually lead to it being buried there once the fish starts its lightning fast run.
There you go! If you have made it to this stage, you will get the fight of your life with a fish you will never forget and will always come back to! Make sure your line is strong enough and be respectful to the fish once you have caught it so that it has a chance to survive in the wild after this epic encounter.