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.

Jul 15

A day with a Bahamian Guide

There has been so much to be upset about with all the proposed regulations. I thought I’d share a bit of what I love about the Bahamas and the guides who work those waters.

Captain Perry, Grand Bahama Guide and Good Guy.

Captain Perry, Grand Bahama Guide and Good Guy.

Some of my best bonefishing memories have been with Bahamian guides. A good Bahamian guide, guiding in a place they know and love is a special experience.

There are several days that really stand out for me and one of those days was with Captain Perry on Grand Bahama. I fished with him on my second trip to Grand Bahama and I had something like three days (maybe four?) on my own and then one day with Captain Perry toward the end of the week. I’m not sure where he’s guiding now… heard he is at East End Lodge, although when I went with him he was independent. We met in McClean’s Town and fished the waters off the East End.

Going out with Captain Perry was an education. I didn’t know much about bonefish at the time, although I was a bit fixated. My interest did not match my experience level (maybe it never will). I didn’t KNOW much. Knowing comes in part from bits of knowledge, but equally from experience, from doing the thing.

Captain Perry worked with me on my casting (which was kind of bad at that point) and helped me understand how to present the fly, how to move it, how to see the fish better. He helped me in so many ways… it was a critical day on the water for me, for my development as an angler. It was exactly what I needed.

He knew his waters so well. We could hear other boats running, trying to find the sun on a mostly grey day, but Captain Perry knew where the fish were going to be. He trusted to his experience and his deep knowledge of place and he put me on fish after fish. Some of these fish I even managed to catch.



We talked about conservation and about preservation of bonefish and we talked about the Bahamas. His sense of place, his love of his home shone through so clearly to me. He was a man doing what he was meant to do in the place he was meant to be. He was a steward of the fishery, a protector and a proponent.

Great release by Captain Perry

Great release by Captain Perry

That’s how it is when you go with a really good guide. You feel like they are almost part of the environment themselves, like they are a vital piece of it, like the mangroves or the bonefish themselves.

When I think of the Bahamas I will forever think of that day with Captain Perry… for the fish we caught and the knowledge I gained and for my appreciation of just how deeply Captain Perry knew and loved his home waters.

I couldn’t have done 4 days of guiding. I didn’t have the money for that. My DIY days were mostly fruitless (I think I caught 2 fish on my own). I saw plenty, but they were in really well know spots with a lot of traffic and the fish were smarter than my skills would allow for. That’s how I did trips then, a few days of DIY and one guided day. The guided day was always, and probably will always be the highlight. I was there because I could fish by myself some too. Those fishless days were good days. I valued the time on the water, learning more and more about the place and the fish and the tides and more. I bought a shell from an old lady who has a stand on the road to the East Side and I stayed in a motel in Freeport, ate at restaurants there and rented a car. I probably spent $1,500, not including air fare. It wasn’t a lot of money, but it was more than I would spend on anything else.

I’m hoping the Bahamas remains a place where I am welcome, a place where I can poke around on my own and get a guide when I want/need/can afford to.


Oct 12

Grand Bahama… one more option

Blue Marlin Cove is getting into the game. They just announced they are launching a “bone fishing center” at their existing operation. OK, that makes sense, right?  Still, every time I hear of a new operation on GBI I worry about the carrying capacity of that wonderful island when it comes to the number of operations it can sustain.  There are a host of new lodges (East End Lodge, Water Cay) on the island to compete with the existing ones (Deep Water Cay, North Riding Point, Pelican Bay).

My second trip to Grand Bahama was in the heady economic days of 2010 and, while I wasn’t there at high season, what was clear was that hardly anyone was working. The guide I went with (Captain Perry) had not had a trip all month. His wife worked at one of the lodges and he told me they had not had a customer in 3 weeks. Now, the economy has improved since then (that’s not a political statement, that’s just true), but I do wonder how many bonefishing anglers would be needed to send all the boats out on a single day.

More options are good, right?  Well… I don’t think so. It means it is harder for the guides to get a day of work and I think it would be damn hard to make a living on 1 or 2 days a month.

I hope everyone gets the days they need out there. Love that place.  I’ll be back next Spring Break.

Captain Perry

Apr 10

The Bahamas Need You

I’m sure the Keys need you too… and Hawaii… and just about everywhere… so, take that tax refund and book a trip somewhere, anywhere.

When I was in Grand Bahama in January it was clear business was way, way off.  Folks looked surprised to  have a yank walk in mid-week.  The guide I booked for one day didn’t have another booking for a month.

I saw Moldy Chum call out the numbers… the business of bonefish has been hit 30%-50% over the past two years.

That guide that’s been hard to book might be a little easier to book.

Give Captain Perry a call.  He’s fantastic.

Captain Perry

Jan 10

Grand Bahama – Day 5 – Departure and Summary

My last morning in Grand Bahama I packed up, left the hotel/motel and headed to the East End for some fishing before my flight left at 2:45.  After the impossibly windy day before I was hopeful that conditions would be better… and they were.  The huge flat was at high tide, but it was only barely rippling in about a 5 mph wind.  Partly cloudy skies revealed slices of the flats, sometimes staying sunny for 20 or 30 minutes.

I quickly found my first fish, up tight against the shore.  I then spooked my first bonefish of the day as they took one look at  my offering, knew exactly what was happening and indicated that they’d rather not play.

So went my morning.  I found fish, had maybe 10-12 legit shots and time after time the fish either diverted smoothly and calmly, or high-tailed it.  I found fish mudding, and even those fish were super wary.

I also saw Captain Perry and his wife walking along the beach.  We stopped and chatted.  As we were talking, Captain Perry pointed out a single bonefish cruising towards us and then past us, 30 feet away.  I made a cast in front of the fish and it calmly turned toward deeper water.

“If that’s how the fish be acting, I don’t think you gonna catch anything today.” said the Captain.

He was right… although only just.

I found a pod working in a corner against some mangroves.  I blocked  their exit and waited.  They eventually came my way, a small grouping of 4-6 fish.  I had on a one of my velcro crabs.  I twitched the fly and the lead fish passed.  I was getting ready to recast, felt one of the trailing fish take the fly and, as a reflex, lifted the rod tip.  I trout set on the one fish I could get to eat all morning.

So it went until it was time to head to the airport for what would turn out to be delays upon delays, eventually landing at SFO at 1:30 AM, pulling into my Sierra Foothills driveway at 4:30 AM.


  • The trip would have been a near total failure were it not for Captain Perry.  He found me dumb fish and I caught some. I highly recommend him.
  • On my own, the flats I found held fish that were much, much more educated than I’d have liked.
  • I only managed to land 2 DIY bones in 3 days of DIY fishing. I probably had 50 or 60 shots.
  • If a really hard wind is coming from the South, GBI is a tough place for the self-guided.
  • My interest in bonefish does not remedy my lack of experience.
  • Bahamian speed limits are clearly suggestions that pretty much no one takes heed of.
  • The Bahamian economy is in the pits, simply because ours is.
  • Folks were surprised to have a Californian there.
  • Dogs are not on leashes, seem to be mostly wild and not to belong to anyone.
  • The number of derelict, abandoned or partially destroyed homes/buildings between McLeans Town and Freeport is remarkable.
  • The micro-compact car I had was not suited for real off-roading.
  • The amount of trash at some of the East End beaches was troubling.
  • The Inflatable Kayak was wasted due to high winds, although it cost me nothing to bring along.
  • The further East you go, the dumber the fish get.  The guides go WAY East… places only boats can go.

In the end, it was a good trip.  It was tougher than I had hoped for and I had fewer fish to hand than I had been dreaming of.  Basically, I have to do this more and it would help if I either had more guiding or were in a location with dumber fish.  There are lots and lots of places I didn’t get to.  I felt pressure to be fishing just about every possible moment, so didn’t explore as much as I probably should have.  I’ll be thinking  of those fish for a long time to come and I will likely start really planning my next trip sometime this evening.

In action in Grand Bahama

Jan 10

Grand Bahama – Day 2 – Captain Perry

Today was a good day.  The weatherman dropped the ball on this one though.  Partly Cloudy would imply some clouds… not all clouds.  That’s what I had today with Captain Perry out of McLeans Town on the East End of Grand Bahama (now guiding out of East End Lodge).

Captain Perry

Captain Perry

Captain Perry was great.  He knew where the fish were, he knew what to throw and how it should be retrieved.  He didn’t get (too) frustrated when I cast on top of the fish for the 6th time or lead the fish by 10′ for the 7th time.

I was/am impressed with Captain Perry’s conservation ethic.  He knows how bad air exposure/handling are for the fish and whenever possible he avoided taking them out of the water or handling them.  He’s a good steward of the natural wonderland that is Grand Bahama.  You should be glad he’s out  there.

That bone is going to be just fine.

That bone is going to be just fine.

Conditions were not ideal.  The clouds made it really tough to spot fish.  Capt. Perry had it dialed though, and was routinely putting me on fish.  I botched a fair number of those opportunities and it took us a while to get the skunk off the boat, but once that happened, the fun began.

Day 2 Skunk Breaker

Day 2 Skunk Breaker

A good time was had, despite the weather.  We used a magic/secret fly that Perry uses to get the skunk off and for the first several fish.  We then switched over  to a pink #4 Gotcha and again, it was money.  I fished almost the entire time with the TFO Clouser 8 wt. and TFO Large Arbor Reel.  I’m in love with both of them.

With Perry you fish hard, 8-3:30.  So, after being dropped back at the dock (he’ll pick you up in Freeport if you want, I wanted to drive out there) I hit a small flat I had remembered from my last trip.  The light was fading when I got there, but there were a few tailing fish.  I spooked a couple, but didn’t rush things.  A while later the tails popped up again.  I made  a good cast and quickly came tight on a bonefish.  Then, as it started it’s run, it just came off.  Bummer.

Still, 12 fish to hand on a cloudy, windy, cool day is good fishing in my book.  I highly recommend Captain Perry.  He’s a good guide and a good guy.

Another Grand Bahama Bone

Another Grand Bahama Bone

A great day.

Being on the water also meant I got to miss continuing coverage of the disaster in Haiti.  The little bit of the news I did catch nearly brought me to tears.  The CNN anchorwoman actually started crying.  Luckily, the answer to global calamities is to go fishing.

A note on fuel… gas was about $4.50 when I was there, meaning a little over $100 of the day’s guide fee went to gas to get us out to the dumb fish.  It was painful for me to pay as much as I did, but the Captain is worth it and, just so you know,  I paid full price for the trip and am not getting anything in return for the positive report.