05
Apr 18

Bahamas vs. Belize

Watching Buccaneers and Bones just now and they are having a Bahamas vs. Belize comparison.

I’ll be heading to Belize for the 4th time on Sunday. That’s going to be great.

Later this summer I’ll be heading to the Bahamas for trip #8.

They are just different places. It isn’t really fair to compare the two, but, let’s do that anyway.

Bonefish – The Bahamas wins this one. There may very well be 5 pound bones in Belize, but there are many, many more 1 pound bones. There are Bahamian islands with small average sized bones, but the Bahamas also features monsters, ten-plusers. The Bahamas is just such a pure bonefish fishery, it isn’t really a comparison. So many flats, so many islands and the bones are just THE species to chase.

fat backed bonefish

Tarpon – There ARE tarpon in the Bahamas, but you don’t head to the Bahamas to go tarpon fishing. Belize is going to win on that front. That’s where I caught my first tarpon and where I lost my first larger tarpon. Tarpon are what make Savannah Caye a well known spot and there are other known tarpon spots in Belize as well.

The final piece, the tarpon.

Permit – Ya know… I don’t know. I’ve heard some great stories of permit fishing in the Bahamas, but if you want to catch your first permit, you are more likely to go and have success in Belize, so, I’m going to say Belize. Belize is where I caught my first (only) permit, although I certainly have seen some in the Bahamas as well (big ones too).

Grand Slam – If you are looking for all three, you are going to head to Belize. I’m proof you can make that shite happen.

Beer – The beer of Belize, Belikin, isn’t even 12 ounces. Kalik and Sands take this one.

mmmmm

Guides – Toss up. I’ve had some amazing guides in Belize. I’ve had some amazing guides in the Bahamas. Generally, the Bahamas is known for bonefishing guides and Belize is known for permit guides.

Freddy, doing his thing at Abaco Lodge

DIY – There is just more area in the Bahamas. You can DIY in Belize, sure, but you just can’t beat the square miles in the Bahamas.

Snook – Belize… not many snook in the Bahamas. Sure, there are some, like this one from East End Lodge, but you are much, much more likely to get into a nice snook in Belize.

My Belize Snook

I love Belize. I love the Bahamas. This year is a very, very good year, as I’m going to visit both. The very best situation is when it isn’t either/or, but both.


02
Mar 18

Sounds of the Bahamas

Thinking about heading to East End Lodge this summer and I started thinking about the sounds I associate with the Bahamas. If you close your eyes you can likely hear these sounds.

Your shirt flapping like a flag in a strong wind. flap flap flap flap flap

The soft sound of water slapping on the side of the skiff.

Wind through the mangroves.

The sound of dominos slapping down on a rickety table.

Potcakes barking as you drive by.

Uncatchable dialogue as one Bahamian speaks to another, which seems a totally foreign language which is simply turned off when the conversation is directed at you.

The sound of line going through the guides.

The soft, urgent tones of the guide pointing at a fish you can’t see.

 

Can you hear it?


27
Feb 18

A return to the Bahamas… on the books in 2018

I’m going back. I’m going back to the Bahamas in 2018… July.

I’m going to spend a few days at the East End Lodge, very close to the waters where I caught my first bonefish. This is the place I’ve spent the most time of any one place in the Caribbean. This is a place I kind of love a bit and want to know better.

I’m excited to be going back. I’m excited to stand in those waters again and look for something moving toward me there in the shimmering shadows of currents and water.

It is going to be a very, very fine year.

Grand Bahama… I’ll see you soon.

A Grand Bahama Bone


25
Feb 18

Always love the fly fishing show

Camille and my daughter at the Fly Fishing Show

I guess they are bigger out in NJ and the one in Atlanta? Maybe others too? We have one out here in Pleasanton, not too far away from where I call home. I have been to that show more often than not over the past decade. I have worked that show a few times… once for BTT, twice for Friends of the River, maybe once for Clearwater, back when it was Clearwater House.

I love the show. I see old friends and seem to have interesting conversations every year. I don’t really go to buy anything and I didn’t eve cast a rod this year (fewer and fewer ron makers seem to be showing up). But there are still lots of people I like at the show, people I generally only see there.

This year I brought my 11 year old daughter and she didn’t want to leave. I heard her on the phone with a friend later say “I spent the day at a fly fishing show… it was actually pretty fun.”

I’m going to put that in the parenting win column.

I got to introduce my daughter to Camille Egdorf, of Yellow Dog Fly Fishing Adventures and from the movie Providence. It was funny because my daughter kind of fan-girled her, although I’m not sure she knew who she was. I made her watch Providence when we got home. Now she knows.

 


17
Feb 18

Andros, all of it

A really interesting video about Andros… from the crabs to the sponges to the fisheries. Worth a watch, even if PS does make a couple brief appearances.


12
Feb 18

King, Ansil Saunders and Bimini

A cool story, if you haven’t heard it already, about Dr. King’s trip to Bimini, going out with guide Ansil Saunders.

Check it out here.

I had not heard about the bust of Dr. King out there in the mangroves. That’s kind of cool, I think.


22
Dec 17

Imagine the Bahamas without conch

It isn’t hard to imagine. I know I’ve seen conch too small to be legally harvested make their way to the shell piles. Here’s a story about measures being proposed to preserve the conch fishery into the future. There is something here about illegal foreign poachers, but all that damage you’d want done could be done by Bahamians themselves as they respond the a huge demand.

Cracked

China is circling the Bahamas, looking for fresh seafood to feed their billion+ people and I bet they’d like some nice conch fritters.

Florida lost their conch. Will the Bahamas follow them?

I hope not. I really hope not. I hope strong measures are taken (and FOLLOWED) in the Bahamas to keep the conch around for generations.


01
Nov 17

Bahamas Regs – FFS Edition

And it just never stops.

So… Fly Fishing Chief says the sky is falling and those “special interests” are behind it. Something like that comes from this story about the possibility that the fly fishing regs put in place earlier this year could be tanked.

I mean… am I the only one who thinks the guy has something in common with Trump? He says “Watch out for special interests!” only because, ya know, he’s got his own special interests he’s interested in peddling?

He proclaims the ecology of the flats as under-threat and a sacred thing and then he bulldozes a bunch of mangroves to put in a fuel station.

He decries the poor handling of bonefish by the unwashed DIY anglers, literally saying poor handling was decimating bonefish stocks, and then does crap like this?

Mr Conservation, demonstrating proper handling of a bonefish.

The fly fishing regs were brought about purely through PLP channels, excluding and ridiculing all other voices. The legislation was brought in through back channels, not through a vote in the Parliament, where it never would have succeeded.

Then, this weird thing happened. The PLP got their asses handed to them in the recent elections. The FNM won. With such changes there were bound to be changes in the fishing regs, maybe keeping the one or two good ideas in the regs and getting rid of the protectionist tripe that comprised the rest of it. I mean… did anyone think anything else was going to happen? I’m just wondering what took so long.

Let the Emperor of Bad Ideas complain. He’s like a walking sermon of contradictions and hypocrisy. How anyone is still listening to that guy is beyond me. He can’t be the guy to carry the flag for the Bahamian fly fishing industry and I can’t wait until more Bahamians actually catch on to that.


07
Oct 17

A little round up of stuff floating around out there

First, congrats to Yellow Dog’s Jim Klug who recently landed the 2017 Izaak Walton Award given by the The American Museum of Fly Fishing. I’ve had the pleasure of fishing with Jim. He’s solid. Last year’s award winner was super-talented artist and author James Prosek.

Jim + Cuba + Cameras

Second, hope you like that water taxi ride to Caye Caulker, cuz, you aren’t going to be flying there for a while. They are reconstructing the runway on Caye Caulker, ruling that out as a “by air” option for a while. My daughter and I took the ferry/taxi from Belize City last year. It was pretty easy. One of my bags went missing for a couple hours but they assured me they don’t lose bags and they didn’t. Got everything back with only a minor delay. We’ll be heading back in April and we’ll do it by boat again.

Third, and last, more stirrings from the Bahamas as Bahamian guides and lodge owners are complaining about a substantial drop in business, blaming outfitters/booking agents. Talking to some American lodge owners out there over the past year they tell me business is good, but they are working hard for that business. Lots of dollars put into marketing. I’ve seen the uptick in social media presence that would back that up. There is something like a “it takes money (and time) to make money” thing here. There are also some economic headwinds with Bahamian tourists spending 28% less now than they did in 2000. Add to that a season full of hurricanes that likely scared off some tourists and, ya know… people aren’t just going to come on their own. Licenses are still needed and still not available on-line. A lot of angler resentment still exists due to the push by the BFFIA. Add all that up and, yeah, business would be down.


21
Jul 17

The cost of getting there

There was a recent story that caught my eye talking about how the Bahamian tourism industry is losing out due to the high cost of getting to the Islands.

This has been my experience.

From Abaco, 2015.

A few years back I brought the whole family to Abaco for Spring Break. We found a great place and booked it and then looked at flights. WOW. Ended up costing us $1,400 a person to get to Abaco on the days we wanted at the times we wanted. $1,400 a person. That’s too high. This year I took my daughter to Belize and airfare was about $600 (and would have been $450 if I had booked earlier).

It costs too much to get to the Bahamas. I won’t take a family trip there if it costs me $5,600 just to plant my feet on the ground with my family of 4.

A quick look right now shows if I wanted to get to Abaco in September from the SF Bay Area it would cost $800-900.

With the same dates a trip to Cancun is just over $400.

Havana – $452
Honolulu – $504
Miami – $330
Puerto Rico – $691
Belize City – $630
Seychelles – $1,400
Cayman Islands – $616

Oddly… Congo Town (South Andros) from $493… but up to $700 when you want only one stop.

The travel costs are a barrier. I don’t know what has to be done about it, but I’d agree with the article. It doesn’t help and it doesn’t capitalize on the close proximity of the Bahamas to the US. Hoping to get back to the Bahamas in 2018… and hoping not to break the bank on airfare when I do.