27
Mar 17

Six Years Ago – Andros

South Andros Bonefish. Photo by Andrew Bennett

Six years ago I got invited to Andros South for a week of fishing and blogging, something called FIB FEST 2011. This was back when maybe blogs were a bit more relevant and before the age of… well, whatever this is the age of.

The trip was great and the people I met were awesome and when I got back, after being in bonefish heaven for a week, I found out my marriage was pretty much over.

Photo by Cameron Miller down at Andros South.

So, Andros serves as a kind of line of demarcation between the life I had before Andros and the life I had post-Andros. I still feel profoundly grateful to have had such an amazing experience be the buffer between those two periods of my life.

Fishing trips are kind of like that. I think back to important times in my life and I tend to think “Now, that was just before Cuba” or “That was just after my 2010 Belize trip.” The trips serve as milestones in so many ways. They are a map to my past.

Andros South in the morning.

Thank You Andros (and Andrew).


23
Feb 17

Unfulfilled Promises

The Bahamas are full of unfulfilled, if not outright broken, promises. An arial view of almost any island will confirm as much. So many folks have blown through and made grand promises of economic security and revolution. Every paved road in a fantasy real estate development tells the tale.

Exuma

Andros

I have to wonder if the International Development Bank sees something similar when it looks at its own investments in the fly fishing community in the Bahamas.

Turns out they invested in a program, to be led by the BFFIA, to “Support the economic empowerment of fly fishing guides.” The project was approved in December of 2014, although very little, if any, of the project seems to have been carried out.

Oddly, this BFFIA project was focused only on Andros, coincidentally the home of BFFIA President and Head Bahamian Snake-Oil Salesman.

Goal:
The general objective of the project is to enhance the skill sets and business acumen of the Andros fly fishing guides and their families while sustaining the island’s natural ecosystem.

There was about $140,000 available for the project and only about $34,500 was reported to be spent.

This project was supposed to include a market survey… ya know… like BTT did, and it appears the BFFIA at least made a go of it, as they inflated the value of the industry from 2x-4x to suit their politics, but the report is not available on the website.

Maybe some of the projects milestones were met, but it sure doesn’t look like it. I don’t have a crystal ball that reveals such details, just the project page, but it sure looks like the IDB’s 2014 investment produced some shite returns in 2017, the year their project was supposed to be wrapped up.

Go to the Bahamas though… just go to one of the places that fought for all anglers.


10
Jun 16

A little mangrove destruction in Fresh Creek

I saw some photos yesterday of some mangroves being ripped up near Fresh Creek in Andros.

Mangroves, as most folks here would know, are vital. They are the nurseries for juvenile fish. They hold the shoreline in place when the big storms come through. They are host to crabs and shrimp and all manner of wild things.

You shouldn’t rip out mangroves because you want to put in a fuel station.

But… if the reports are true, that’s exactly what our good ole pal Prescott Smith is doing down in Andros. Yup, that Knight of Conservation appears to be ripping out mangroves. And yes, that’s a bonefish flat right in front of the ripped out mangroves.

It boggles the mind.

The number one threat to bonefish is not angler pressure or illegal netting or pollution. The number one threat to bonefish is habitat loss.

There is a lot of habitat in Andros. Miles and miles and miles of it, square miles. It is the biggest nursery in the Caribbean. It is only that good because it is mostly intact. Bonefish won’t be lost by a few huge devastating blows, but by a thousand little cuts. This is one such little cut.


03
Feb 15

Bucs and Bones and South Andros

Somehow the new season of Buccaneers and Bones (which supports the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust) started without my noticing. But I’ve noticed now and watched the last episode, which was on South Andros at Bair’s Lodge.

bucs and bones

Oh, South Andros. I love that place. Only spend one week there, but it is etched in my memory forever. It was an important trip and the line separating one period in my life from another.

My trip there was FIBFest II, a thing that has gone by the wayside, an experiment of sorts.

The Buccaneers and Bones crew this year is pretty interesting with Jimmy Kimmel among the cast. South Andros is a special place. Glad to see it again, even if it is on TV.


08
Oct 14

Interview with Bill Howard from Mars Bay, Andros

This interview was originally in the Angling Destinations newsletter.

Mars Bay is located in South Andros, one of the best spots for bonefish on the globe. Do you think Andros deserves the reputation as the bonefishing capital of the world?
Yes, I would have to agree, you’ll not find a better bone fishery on the planet. I’ve often said that there are more bonefish in the waters around Andros than you can shake a fly rod at. Over the years I’ve met hundreds of fishermen at the lodge. Between them they’ve covered every bone fishery on the planet. They tell me South Andros is the best bone fishery. I have one very experienced group of fishermen that actually has fished the entire planet. They’ve booked a couple weeks every  year since I opened. They tell me South Andros is as good as it gets, there’s no need to travel anyplace else.

How have you seen South Andros change over the years? Things seem to move a big slow on South Andros, in terms of change, but is there anything someone who fished Andros 20 years ago would find surprising about the South Andros of today?
When I first arrived on the island twelve years ago there was no internet or cell service. Actually, we did have 14.4 dial up that didn’t work. Now we have DSL that is fairly reliable but you won’t be streaming any movies. And cell service is good. We also have direct flights to/from Ft Lauderdale/Congotown now. What used to be an all day ordeal and an overnight stay in Florida or Nassau is now an hour and fifteen minute flight. Beside that…..nothing has changed. It’s like groundhog day. My neighbors are still bailing water from a well and washing cloths in a wash tub. If anything there has been a noticeable drop in population and economic activity.
What is your favorite Bahamian cuisine specialty? (I”m a cracked conch guy myself)
We have a rotating menu at the lodge. There are dishes we serve that are unique to the Bahamas. They are nearly impossible to find, not available, or very expensive elsewhere. If you come to the lodge I make sure those items are first on the menu. Unfortunately, because of that I get stuck eating the same thing over and over. Ask any fisherman that has been to Mars Bay; I won’t eat lobster anymore…..nasty critters. I’ll usually have a hotdog or leftovers on lobster night. I’m almost to that point with cracked conch. I never get tired of fish. My favorite dish is a whole, skin on, scaled and gutted, lane snapper with the daylights fried out of it! I did take it off the menu and rarely serve it to the fishing guests without checking first. Not all, but most don’t know how to eat a whole fish and make mess out of it.  Not mention your dinner is staring back at you.
Andros can provide the angler with a shot at numbers or size. What do you see most anglers coming to Mars Bay to pursue?
It depends on the fishermen. Generally, most fishermen just want to catch fish. Those newer to bonefishing are more interested in numbers and enjoy fishing the schools. The more experienced bonefishermen are looking for larger fish and prefer casting to sets, pairs, and cruising singles. Occasionally I do get the fisherman that says, “I only want to catch big fish.”……don’t we all. I can advise your guide and he’ll do what he can but I would suggest taking what the day gives you. You’ll get your shots.
Has anyone ever forgotten to pack their rod?
No, but occasionally luggage gets delayed. I’ve had to completely outfit a few fishermen over the years, no problem. Between my gear and other guests there’s always plenty to go around.

Andros has more mangroves than just about anywhere. Do you see the ecosystem there in Andros still being in good shape?
The ecosystem is in great shape. Everything looks as it did when I first arrived on the island.
Andros is such a special place. What do you love most about Andros?
It’s is incredibly beautiful. The water is as clear as the air and filled with shades of blues and greens that a camera can’t capture. The flats and islands of the southern tip seem limitless. You probably won’t see another boat all day and you feel as if your the only person on the planet. It’s a spiritual experience. What love most is the climate. While you’re scraping ice off your windshield in the morning I’m sitting on the beach, wearing shorts and barefoot, sipping coffee and watching the sun rise.

Sounds pretty good Bill. Sounds pretty good.  


13
Jul 13

Tiamo – South Andros

This looks like a place my wife would like… something to think on.

Tiamo.


08
Jun 13

A first bonefish story

I do love the first bonefish stories. Here is one from blog reader Steven. Steven went to Andros… magical Andros. Love that place.

Nice.

 


02
Mar 13

Andros Riders

Did I mention I love Andros?

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25
Feb 13

Smooth as Keith Stone

I thought we’d start off the week with a cool little story from Scott Heywood over on the Fly Paper blog.

A day like this is a rare gift. These islands own a hot sun, making wind a constant companion for the bonefisherman. Learn to live with it or quit… it’s your choice. But this morning had dawned calm and it was still dead calm. There was not the slightest exhalation coming off the big island of Andros. These are the kind of days you dream about… a few wispy clouds, a few small thunderheads way off on the horizon and a sea as slick and quiet as a marble slab in a morgue.

Glassy days. I haven’t seen many of those, but I did have one in Belize for my honeymoon. I know the conditions he’s talking about, even if he actually had good fishing that day and I got skunked.  Still, calm days can be really tough. The fish see you from a mile away and the lack of wind, that same wind we curse when it blows in our faces, makes the air bake, and you with it.

Stillness

Stillness

Scott’s story is from Andros, which, among all the islands in the Caribbean, is special for the miles and miles of mangroves which serve as a nursery for all manner of species.

Love this place.


08
Feb 13

How not to handle an 11 pound bonefish

I would love to catch an 11 pound (and 12 ounce) bonefish. I’d really, really love to. My largest fish is maybe 7 pounds (I was told 7.5, but that means it was probably 6). At some point I might actually achieve this dream if I keep after it and fish in places where hogs like this live.

I can imagine that this guy was really very happy to have crossed paths with such a magnificent creature, to have hooked it and to have landed it. I mean, come on… that thing is huge. It is the fish of a lifetime.

So, I was kind of bummed to see this fish held up by a boga grip.

Damn nice fish and damn poor idea to boga that damn nice fish.

Damn nice fish and damn poor idea to boga that damn nice fish.

Boga grips are bad news for bonefish. They should not be used.  It is likely an education issue. People see fish being gripped with a Boga and they think “well, this must be how things are done.”

It isn’t.

Knowing is half the battle. Spread the news.

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