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.  

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