07
Jun 18

Next up… Grand Bahama and East End Lodge

My next trip is NOT going to sneak up on me. I started tying for it last night for East End Lodge in Grand Bahama.

I’m tying some meat flies. #2’s. Some with lead eyes, some with bead chain, all with more material that two #6’s use.

The fish of Grand Bahama, to my memory and from my limited experience, are just bigger than most places. The may average around 4 pounds and I’ve seen the photographic evidence of fish will into the 10+ pound range. Hawaii, the West Side of Andros and Grand Bahama seem, to me, to be the best places to look for your 10 pounder.

This trip is going to be an interesting one. I may finally get to meet BTT’s Justin Lewis and I’ll be accompanied on this trip by Elliot Adler, who produces The Drake Cast (the Drake’s podcast, which I highly recommend). Elliot has never caught a bonefish before and he’s going to be in the waters of my first bonefish.

Should be interesting.

A Grand Bahama Bone


30
Mar 18

BTT Shares Concern About Grand Bahama Refinery

Yeah… I agree. This sounds like such a bad project for the things I love.

Justin Lewis in the Bahamas

An open letter by Justin Lewis from BTT

The Rt. Hon. Dr. Hubert Minnis,

Bonefish & Tarpon Trust (BTT) is an international non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of bonefish, tarpon, permit—the species, their habitats, and the larger fisheries they support. We work in a broad geography that spans the Caribbean Basin from its easternmost anchor in the Bahamas. Locally, we have worked for many years in the Bahamas, collaborating with the Bahamas National Trust, anglers, guides, fishermen, and other leading NGOs. Studies have shown that the flats fishing industry in The Bahamas contributes in excess of $141 million to the Bahamian economy annually, making it a valuable sustainable natural  that benefits thousands of Bahamians, especially in rural communities.

The Island of Grand Bahama is an area where BTT has placed significant effort and continues to do so because of its expansive healthy flats habitat and thriving recreational bonefish fishery. It is where I, as a native Bahamian working for BTT, am based. Years of research by BTT and our collaborators has identified habitat loss and degradation as the greatest threats to bonefish and their habitats. Developments involving dredging, sand mining, and other manipulations of nature pose a significant threat not only to bonefish but a range of other environmentally and economically important species and habitats.

We received the news of the recently announced OBAN energies development in East Grand Bahama with great interest due to its potential impacts to the flats, coral reefs, and deep ocean—our most valuable natural resources—not only in that area, but along the entire southern side and eastern end of Grand Bahama. The OBAN plans to construct a large oil refinery and storage facility will require significant dredging, which will pose risks to our local marine environment and threaten fresh water aquifers. The 250,000 barrels of heavy crude oil slated for daily production also deserves closer scrutiny. Heavy crude oil is similar to bitumen, which comes from the oil sands of Canada, and has caused significant environmental issues there. Heavy crude emits three times as much CO₂ as regular crude oil and even coal and contains large quantities of heavy metal contaminants and sulfur.

Additionally, the silt created from the large amount of dredging to be done would be carried by prevailing winds and currents to our beaches, aquifers, the flats, and coral reefs along the entire south side and east end of Grand Bahama. Any future oil spill would follow the same path.  Directly in harm’s way would be the Lucayan National Park, East Grand Bahama Protected Area, and the Northside-Gap National Park, which protect important bonefish spawning aggregation sites, bonefish spawning migration pathways, and bonefish flats that support the economically valuable fishery.

In consultation with other stakeholders in the Bahamian flats fishery, particularly in East Grand Bahama, we write to urge the greatest care in assessing this project and its environmental impacts. Topics that should be considered while conducting the environmental impact assessment should include: likelihood of an oil or other chemical spill; if a spill occurs how would it be contained, and where would the resulting pollutants be transported by ocean currents and through the aquifer; what will be the impact to the natural resources that support the travel and tourism industry; what will be the economic costs to the flats fishery due to the loss of anglers; will safeguards be in place in case the project fails or ceases operation.

Thank you for your consideration. As always, please consider BTT an information resource for bonefish and flats conservation efforts. We stand ready to provide assistance—please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions or concerns.

Sincerely,

Justin Lewis

Bahamas Initiative Manager


04
Mar 18

The most threatened island in the Bahamas… Grand Bahama

I caught my first bonefish in Grand Bahama. I had my last family trip with my mom on Grand Bahama Island. I caught my first DIY bonefish in Grand Bahama. I had my first cracked conch in Grand Bahama. I’ll be adding to those memories when I head back to Grand Bahama in July.

It is a bonefish paradise.

It is also an island under some significant threat.

There are the existing insults to the ecology of the island like the mining operation on the north side of the island.

ugly

There are also the cruise ships and the garbage and spills that come with that. Cruising is not so green. Here’s a report card for cruise ships and it seems like many of those earning F’s also happen to make stops at Grand Bahama.

There are other threats on the horizon.

Those include a second oil storage facility to the east of the current tanks. This project is supposed to dwarf the existing storage. I’m pretty sure I’ve fished (and caught fish) very close to where those tanks would go.

The existing tanks on GBI.

Additionally, on top of the storage is a proposed oil refinery. An oil refinery… on the coast of an island not infrequently raked over by hurricanes. I mean… what could go wrong, right? 250,000 barrels a day in processing capacity.

Luckily, the figures behind the deal are totally, like 100%, totally, very much beyond reproach (sarcasm).

There was also a cruise ship port slated for the East End (or, eastern side, it is unclear to me) of Grand Bahama, although that project got inked and then hardly mentioned since. So… who knows. If it happens it 1. wouldn’t make a lot of sense for me given the location (although it would make sense for the government who would like to not have everything controlled by the Port Authority, a private company that owns a hell of a lot of what is in and around Freeport), and 2. would certainly be less than awesome for the fishery.

This all comes at a hard time for the island with the current close status of the Grand Lucayan, which removed about 59% of the island’s available rooms and about 1,000 jobs. The economic impact is probably greater as many of the businesses that depended on the economic hub that was the Grand Lucayan have taken significant blows to their incomes. There is an LOI in place for a new buyer, but, as many things are in the Bahamas, the details are somewhat murky, lacking a clear process or outcome. You know how much economies love uncertainty.

Jobs may be on offer with the various projects, but it does hit at the sustainable resources that are the heritage of the Bahamian people.

There is a lot of wonderfulness in Grand Bahama. There are miles and miles of pristine coastline and miles and miles of pristine flats. Even if all these projects happen the fishery in Grand Bahama will still be amazing, but it will also probably be slightly less than it is now.

One saving grace may be that these plans are grand in scale, scope and cost and while men are capable of coming up with grand plans, they are often only capable of implementing half-grand plans.


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


11
Mar 17

Odd happenings in Grand Bahama

Cruise ships. Not my favorite things, especially when it comes to dredging new ports and everything that comes with those ports.

So, news that a new port was going to be put in EAST GRAND BAHAMA is not good news (also known as Bonefish Valhalla).

Grand Bahama is kind of an economic wreck. The hotel market has been hit hard by the closer of the Grand Lucayan and some of the cruise ships that used to stop in GB are heading now to Cuba.

Grand Bahama is already a developed location, the second biggest city in the Bahamas is Freeport (at about 48K it is some ways behind Nassau at 240K), and the cruise ship facilities are already there. I know Freeport can be a challenging destination though. Good restaurants can be a challenge to find (although Pier One is AWESOME) and there are a lot of places that have a derelict feel to them. Casinos helped build Freeport as a destination back when only six states allowed gambling, but now you can efficiently lose your money in a game of chance in 30 states. The drain on the Grand Bahama economy has been drawn out with a combination of physical and financial hurricanes hitting every few years.

The Arawak Hotel, abandoned in the 80’s.

Still… Freeport is where the people are, where the workers are, where what infrastructure that exists can be found. The idea of putting in ANOTHER port, with all the environmental destruction that comes along with that, is… well… sad AF.

The story up at the top says the port with be on the North Side of the island, which makes zero sense to anyone I’ve talked to and it is generally seen as an error and that the port really will be on the South Side, which, as far as these things make sense at all, makes more sense. The exact location of the port wasn’t released and what is out there thus far still says the North Side.

A port on the South side is really unfortunate. A port on the North side is insanity. You’d have to dredge a huge channel and while the PM said the location was selected to have the least impact, there really is not place on the North that would not have a big impact if you were to put a cruise ship port and all the support elements you need for a port.

The other part of this story is… is this just politics? Elections are coming soon and these sorts of projects get announced before every Bahamian election, even if most of those projects don’t come to fruition. So… maybe this is just a YUGE campaign promise.

The idea itself, of a new port anywhere on Grand Bahama and even more a port on the North side of the East End… what a disaster for the Bahamian people.

UPDATE: I am hearing it is likely on the South side, although there is no update from the government on that.

Opposition to the plan has been in place for as long as word about the possible port was mentioned. This is from last November.


15
Sep 16

Interview with Captain Perry, Grand Bahama

(Posted in 2010. Recently it was announced that Captain Perry had passed away. I always wanted to get back to fish with him. He was a great guide and a very decent person. It was an honor to fish with him, even if I only did it once.)

This last January I had a few days of fishing in Grand Bahama, one of those days I got a guide and the others I went on my own.  I mostly had my arse handed to me on the  self-guided days, but had a great day with the guide I booked, Captain Perry, out  of McLeans Town on the East End of Grand Bahama.

I recently called up Captain Perry and asked him to do an interview and he agreed.  Because of this know I need to get some sort of recording device, as I missed a couple comments (at least) and didn’t catch some of the local flavor of his remarks.

If I make it back to Grand Bahama, I hope to see Captain Perry again from the bow of his flats boat… wouldn’t mind being there for a day to equal his most memorable from below.

Captain Perry, Grand Bahama Guide and Good Guy.

Do you have a favorite place to eat on Grand Bahama?

I go to a place in Port Lucaya, Le Med.

Being out on the water a lot you see odd, interesting or strange things.  What’s the most interesting thing you’ve seen?

The shark eating the bonefish is pretty interesting, the speed of the bonefish is amazing, but the sharks hunt them down.

Do you have a guided trip that stands out in your memory?

Back in 2002, caught 127 bonefish in a day, wading. I’ll never forget that one.  It was all to do with the weather.  We’d had had some messed up weather before that, but that morning, the weather was nice.  We fished for 8 hours and fish were everywhere.

The following year I went out with the same guy about the same time of year and we saw one fish all day.

What do you think makes GBI a destination that bonefish anglers should check out?  Give me the top one or two reasons.

You can take almost a direct flight from the East Coast.  That’s it right there.  There is no need for a charter flight, no need so spend the night anywhere.

What’s your favorite tide to fish, or does it matter?

Around here, the incoming tide is good, but we have two tides, so we can get to find an incoming tide on one side or the other of the island.  A low incoming tide is really good.

What’s your favorite month to fish?

You can fish year round as long as there isn’t a cold front.

Do you have any lodging ideas for anglers looking to stay and fish the East End?  Freeport is pretty far away.

There’s a place called Ocean Pearl in High Rock, it is half way. That’s a good place.

On my trip with you in January, I landed 12 bonefish… I’m guessing that a more accomplished bonefisher might have had 20.  Sound about right?

Yeah, I think that’s about right.

I was impressed with how careful you were in handling the fish, never even taking them out of the water. You certainly are up to speed on the best practices for handing and releasing bonefish.  Are you seeing more anglers and guides being conscious of bonefish handling or is there still a lot of ignorance out there?

There is some way to go, for a lot of the guides, a long way to go…   a long way to go.  I think it will take some real knowledge about what’s going on with the fish.  They need to experience it themselves. If you tell them, they don’t get it. They need to get the knowledge themselves.  I see two or three guides that really get it, but there are still a lot that have a long way to go.

Drop the Grip and Grin and the fish will live to fight another day.

Thanks Captain Perry.


24
Mar 15

Parks for the Bahamas

There is a push to get some new parks created in the Bahamas, specifically on Grand Bahama.

National Parks are created when a society decides it wants to protect its natural heritage. We’ve been very successful at this and our National Parks are crown jewels, special places.

I’m glad to see the Bahamas embracing what is special about their islands. I’m guessing that these parks would not ban bonefishing, as some of these parks are in the best stuff, especially the East End proposed park.

The site has videos you can watch with a bit more information about each proposed park. The East End park even has Flip catching a bonefish.

Photo-BahamasParks_1_.jpg

PS… If you’ve fished the East End, you’ve almost certainly been by the spot in the above picture. When I was last there I actually caught one or two bonefish right on this flat.


28
Nov 14

Stuffed

Yup, Thanksgiving was great and even now, I’m a bit stuffed (and yet still kind of eyeing the pumpkin pie). I did the whole thing… turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans, dressing, raspberry jello salad. Turned out great and was happy to share it with family.

I made that.

I made that.

Thoughts are turning toward 2015 and what should be a pretty fantastic year.

First, I need to get 5 folks signed up for Grand Bahama. This trip doesn’t happen without the group, whoever that group turns out to be.

A Grand Bahama Bone

A Grand Bahama Bone

I’m starting to think about the patterns I really need for Water Cay, the things that have worked in Grand Bahama for me in the past, the things I’ve hears Scott talk about in terms of what has worked for him.

I’m thinking about gear and wondering how those knots would hold up against something truly large.

I’m making a list of gear that included my rain jacket and maybe getting hold some sunglasses more suited for low light situations.

2015… it’s going to be a good time.

Feb. 7-14, Water Cay Lodge – Hosted trip with Bonefish on the Brain through Angling Destinations. If you are interested, contact me at bjornorama@yahoo.com.


23
Nov 14

5 Reasons I’m Looking Forward to Water Cay

I’m hosting a trip through Angling Destinations to Water Cay on Feb. 7-14. There are five open spots and here are five reasons I’m looking forward to this trip.

A good sign.

  1. I love Grand Bahama. I’ve been to this island more than any other and I have some fantastic memories there. It is easy to get to and has some of the best bonefishing anywhere.
  2. February is a big fish time of year. Grand Bahama coughs up some really big fish and February is a big fish time on the calendar. This could be where my 10 pounder comes from. While no one can guarantee something like that, I can almost guarantee I’ll get a shot. What I do with the shot is up to me.
  3. The guides. I’ve heard so many really fantastic things about the guides out of Water Cay. It is always good being on the water with a guide who is infused with their local water.
  4. The AD Crowd. I hosted a trip this last year for Angling Destinations and had a grand time of it. We were down in Long Island in 2014 and the group was a lot of fun. I expect the same for Water Cay.
  5. Green Pastures. In February, while the weather might be tricky, the fish should have been rested for a couple months. That means that 10 pounder might be just a slight bit less spooky. That 9 pounder might be a little more forgiving.

If you are interested, contact me at bjornorama@yahoo.com.

Let’s go fishing.

#6 – Bonus Reason:

And all is well with the world.

 

 

 

 


11
Nov 14

Falling Back in Love with Bonefish

An interesting story about an angler falling back in love with bonefish with a trip to Grand Bahama.

One of the most glamorous sport fish in the world is Bonefish, and I fell out of love with those as well. I had fished for Bonefish from the Seychelles off the coast of Africa, Belize, Mexico and the outer Islands in the Bahamas.

I guess it is possible it could happen to me, but I have a long, long way to go.

Read the story… it has a happy ending.

I like this shot for no reason in particular.

I like this shot for no reason in particular. From Grand Bahama.