Anatomy of Cheap Bonefishing

OK… since I’m not currently bonefishing, don’t see any on the calendar and the flats are fading from my memory like a homecoming banner left out in the sun for a month, I figured I’d rev up my fantasy life by putting together the details of trips that I simply won’t be taking.

I like cheap… cheap and I are friends… cheap would be like the brother I never had if I didn’t have a brother.  I could never be mad at you, cheap.

Cheap and bonefish are not so chummy… but I think it is all misunderstandings, maybe a cross-cultural communications issue.

It is possible to have a bonefish experience that is not too hard on the wallet.  Here is what that might look like.

Our fictional trip will happen September 9 to September 15.  The departure city is San Francisco and the destination will be Deadman’s Cay airport on Long Island, Bahamas.

Flight to Nassau = $401 (About $100 less if you fly from NYC)

Flight to Long Island = $200

Cheap, as it turns out, likes company.  If you like company and have a crew to go with, you can rent this SWEET pad at Salt Pond on Long Island for  $400 a night.  If the company splits the cost, that’s $50 a night for the 8 people that could bunk there.  That’s a pretty sweet deal… about as much as I spent for my one star motel in Grand Bahama last January.

Yes... I would like to stay here.

Sure, you’ll need a rental car, but you can get one. From what I hear, it is about $65-75 a day for a small car.  Maybe you’ll need two for your group of 8 and might need to ferry back and forth from the airport, but it is doable… put that at about $20 a day divided between everyone.

The vacation rental  above puts you about 15 minutes from the nearest fishable flat and it comes with a couple of kayaks for angling, which opens up even more water. (See below for a trip report from the owner of the rental, and yes, he said I could run this).

Sure, you have to buy food, but it is a widely known fact that a man can live on Kalik, crackers and gummi bears for at LEAST a week.

The best way to get bonefish and cheap to really cozy up, maybe even have a love-child, is to get the flight cost down.  That’s why you should take a page out of Ryan Bingham’s playbook and use any opportunity to get those frequent flier miles.

You play the miles right and your $1,000 budget, self-guided trip just became you $600 budget, self-guided trip.

The trip report from the vacation rental owner:

I just return from a week of fishing on Long Island. As many of you know I have a severe bonefishing addiction and after visiting most of the island in the Bahamas (including Acklins/Crooked) I fell in love with Long Island. I have recently completed a home in Salt Pond, which is about halfway between Deadman’s Cay and the North end, the primary flats areas. I traveled with 3 close friends with similar addictive personalities. We fished 3 days up north with Docky Smith and his brother “Big Dog”, and 2 days in Deadman’s with Colin Cartwright. The weather was clear, but the wind blew 20-25 mph out of the northeast for the entire visit, keeping the flats exceptional dry, and challenging our casting technique. Despite less than ideal conditions we caught alot of fish ranging from 3 to 10 lbs. On a day in Deadman’s, Carlos caught 18 bones.

While fishing the outer flat up north the “Big Dog” pointed out a 30 lb permit tailing in 2 feet of water about 200 feet from the area we we wading for bones tailing in 6-8 inches of water. Having never landed a permit on the flats I began my stalk of the permit. The outer portion of the flat had channels running into the turtle grass covered area, and the permit was working the edges of the channels, periodically present its huge forked tail, causing burst of tachycardia and hyperventilation. As I approached to a distance of 70-80 feet, it would slip back into the channel, but consistently worked into the tide which flowed across the shallows. Taking a course further up tide, I set up on the edge of the channel. As I watched the permit, it return to the channel and then vanished. I was crest fallen, and after 5 minutes was about to move on when a large green shadow appeared in the depth of the creek. “Must be a ‘cuda”, I thought, but as I watched the ‘cuda went to the opposite bank and tailed in a foot and a half of water. I quick cast of a large Mantis Shrimp, to short strips, game on. 25 minutes later the biggest personal bonefish for me was at hand. Sweeet!

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  1. Nice read. I also have a list of ideas for cheap bonefish trips. The problem is getting a bunch of people together to try it out. Go figure…… Nobody wants to do a cheap fishing trip.

  2. bonefishbjorn

    That is the trick indeed… I’ve been trying to get a group together for the past two years and no one has the same schedules or a kid gets born or whatever. It could be that at some point, with this whole blog thing, I’ll try to set up a DIY trip for folks (and myself), but this year probably isn’t that year. 2011, Bonefish on the Brain, DIY Extravaganza needs to get on the books.

  3. You been there…or just whining?

  4. Just got back from 5/wks of smallmouth fishing in Lk. Ontario and the Belgrade Lakes of Maine! Been b-fishing in the Bahamas for
    years. Looking for a spot where my ugly ass can have a shot!! Been to a few Islands in the past…..I love the Bahamas more than air!!!

  5. Hey Folks … my Bud and I are doing a cheapie sojourn to Abaco Bahamas staying in Marsh Harbor renting car to fish Casuarina Pt area renting a boat to fish Robinson’s Bight and last day coughed up for a guide to fish the Marls…. 9 days and reasonable for sure… saved thousands not going to a lodge. No way would I go with 8 four would be max and that sure cuts costs incredibly. Don’t give up …it’s doable

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