So, you love Grand Bahama and/or Abaco and are bummed you won’t be able to fish there and you are wondering where you should go?
How about Grand Bahama or Abaco?
As the Waypoints podcast pointed out, there are still guides and lodges operating on both islands. While some of the major names are either down for the count (Deep Water Cay) or down for a while (East End Lodge, Abaco Lodge), other options still exist.
I have a boat now. It isn’t going to see much, if any, saltwater, and it won’t see a bonefish ever. It takes a lot of effort to put together… yes… put together, and then take apart. But, it’s a boat. I’ve made it to 45 without having a boat and you’d be well within your rights to say I don’t have one now. It’s rolled up in my garage at the moment and in pieces.
It’s a raft. A 13 foot raft with a fishing frame. I call it the green goddess. I don’t have a trailer. I have to strap the frame to the roof of the car in pieces and the rest has to make it into the back of the Highlander. I’ve managed to get it out twice now. Once on a shakedown cruise with a couple buddies and once with my dad and a buddy. Fish were caught. I stayed on the oars. We did a short drift I’ve done probably a couple dozen times in my life, but had only rowed once on my own before now.
It was hoped I’d get my dad out in this and maybe it will happen. His reactions have slowed, his casts have gotten shorter. It was hard for him to get to the lane or stay in the lane. He missed fish and his back hurt, but he got in the boat and out of the boat without injury, which maybe is what victory looks like at this point.
The drive from here to Redding to float the Lower Sac is about three hours and it is about an hour to assemble the raft and about 5-6 hours to fish. Then an hour to break-down and three more to get home, where I have to unpack the frame, at the very least, so some tweaker or opportunistic scavenger doesn’t make off with the aluminum tubing. Long days. Maybe I’ll learn the Yuba, which would reduce the drive by an hour each way, but the Lower Sac and her rainbows of unreasonable size are closer to my home waters and, to the extent I know anything, they are what I know.
I’m contemplating taking my daughter down the S. Fork of the Snake this summer, or at least doing a couple drifts out there with her. Kind of depends what girl I have at that moment, which is hard to predict. She’ll be 13 and sometimes hates being in the car (that’s about a 900 miles roadtrip, so…) and other times she’ll barely talk to me and others she’s still my girl who wants to fish and hang with her dad and look for snakes and frogs. I don’t know what planning looks like for a fishing trip with a 13 year old. These are the known unknowns.
I also need to get my 5.75 year old boy out in the raft. Maybe in the flat water of San Leandro Bay, right by our house. I haven’t figured that out yet, but I will.
So, don’t call me Captain just yet, but I have a raft and a frame and I’m figuring out how to use it… where everything goes, what needs to be tighter, what needs to be left at home. Hoping I see a lot of water in the green goddess and that I get to share that water with my friends and family until I tear a shoulder loose or get a bulging disk.
I got to visit DWC a few years back and can attest to how nice the place was. The facilities and the guides and the boats were all top notch. Such a lot of history has come through that little island on the East End.
Elliott was out there with me in 2018 and caught his first bonefish out of the East End Lodge. He interviews Rob, co-owner of East End Lodge about the state of the Eastern part of Grand Bahama. It’s bad. People are suffering. There are lots of ways to help (money is most in need).
You can also bid on a dozen flies I’ll be tying up through Josh Mills’ “#dozenfordorian” effort that has raised about $18,000 so far. Just put in a bid… it is currently at $75. To be clear… not the flies on the hat. New ones.
This is the place I’ve spent the most time bonefishing. My first fish came from right near McLeans Town on a trip with my dad. I caught my first DIY bonefish on a little flat on the East End. My last vacation with my mom was on Grand Bahama, which is also when my wife and I began to suspect she might be pregnant. I fished out of Deep Water Cay and visited Water Cay Lodge. After my mom passed we went on a family trip to Abaco and got to see Abaco Lodge. I took my daughter down to fish with the only female guide in the Bahamas. I fished out of Abaco Lodge again before heading up to Little Abaco. I fished for a week out of East End Lodge and enjoyed rum and fishing with Rob and Cecile.
Damn… a lot of good times in that area just leveled by Dorian. Abaco Lodge was destroyed. No word on status of East End Lodge, but I’m not optimistic. Deep Water Cay appears heavily damaged. I understand that just about all the guides and staff are accounted for in most of the fishing lodges, so, that’s good, but they’ve all lost so, so much.
It’s been hard to get up to my old rivers and childhood home. Life is just full of obligations and plans. Two of the last three weekends I did manage to make the trek. One trip with the whole crew and once with just my daughter and myself. We got to hang out with my old man, which was a very good thing to do, and, of course, we went fishing.
The first trip I had a goal of getting both kids into fish. We went up to the South Fork of the Upper Sacramento River and I managed to get the boy his first trout.
I also managed to get the girl fishing, although her fish didn’t come until the next day.
The boy helped land a larger fish the second day and he told me we were a team, so it was kind of his fish too. It was pretty interesting to see his competitive juices flow when it came to beating his sister. Haven’t seen that before, but I guess he’s growing up. He wanted to point out “our” fish was bigger that his sissy’s.
The next trip the girl and I put in a good 6 hours (maybe her longest fishing day ever), although we were down a rod, as I fell hard and broke one about 5 minutes after getting to the water.
Beautiful water up there, including a trip to Mossbrae Falls. The girl again managed to get a fish on the board and had several other grabs. It was a good trip and she said she had a good time.
The girl is just growing up pretty fast at this point. She still will spend time on the water with her dad, which is great and I won’t complain about. She’s no longer such a little girl though. Just found a picture of her at 2.5 with her first fish. How time flies.
It had been a while since I brok a rod until these last two trips… where I managed to go 2/2 on trips/rods broken. So, I’ll be trying out some warranties.
I do miss the rivers up there and I do miss seeing my dad up in his natural habitat. We’ll see if I can carve some more time out and get up there a bit more. Seems difficult, but I’ll try.