Apr 13

Grand Bahama Sightseeing

Woke up this morning to the sound of wind. A quick check of the weather told me it was going to blow about 18 mph. My morning clearly would not involve looking for wagging tails on the glassy flat out front. Still, I was determined to have an adventure today and I got my girl ready and we hit the road armed with the knowledge that low tide would be at 9:45.

We headed East to some places I’ve come to know a little bit and love a lot. A little pocket flat was first with plenty of the lime-stone tide pools along the way. We got to the flat and, low and behold, there were a few bonefish. Said bonefish were super spooky though and they weren’t too interested in what I was doing. Every time I’ve come here I have found fish. Every time I have found fish I have failed to hook one. Today was no exception. We threw jigs on the spinner in the creek on the way out and we headed off to the next flat.

A favorite flat, even if I've never hooked a fish there.

A favorite flat, even if I’ve never hooked a fish there.

The next flat, a big, broad, expansive flat of white, hard sand wasn’t screwed up by the wind when we got there and soon after setting out I found a bonefish… who was not interested. The girl, though, found a ton of shells and a good time was had.

A girl with her shells.

A girl with her shells.

We also stopped in Pelican Point at the Shell Lady. Got a pretty fantastic shell for the girl. It was $20, but I figure this lady doesn’t get too many visitors, so I felt it was money well spent.

Shell Lady

The Shell Lady. My second time getting a shell for my girl here.

We got back to the condo (rental, VRBO) and found a  place called Pier One Restaurant. They feed sharks nightly. Now, you may have negative feelings about the feeding of wildlife, and I can understand that. However, my daughter loves sharks and this was a highlight… not just of the trip, but of her life to this point.

We saw many, many sharks and some real giants. We saw the largest lemon shark I have ever seen and the first bull shark I’ve ever seen. There were some massive cobia in there too. It was fantastic.

SHARKS! There are two (at least) in this pic. A big lemon and a bull.

SHARKS! There are two (at least) in this pic. A big lemon and a bull.

It was, as you might expect, a good day. I’m in the Bahamas, a place I love, and I’m with people I love. I also got to blow a couple shots at bonefish. Not too shabby.


Apr 13

A tough day with a couple of perfect moments

Today my dad and I fished with independent guide Sam Taylor out of Freeport. I was going to fish with Tommy Rolle, but didn’t manage to get a hold of him for a couple days and simply couldn’t wait to see if we could connect or not. So, my day with Tommy turned into a day with Sam.

The day was tough. That is going to be the lasting impression. If we go solely by fish count, it was a bit of a disaster. Just two bonefish were landed. I landed both. My dad got blanked. My dad is a steelhead and trout angler and the salt is still pretty new to him. He got shots, but he needs several in order to convert and he didn’t get several, he got a handful (less than a handful). He hooked up, briefly, and cast to a pig (Sam said it was “12-14 pounds”), but it was short lived. Like I said… it was a tough day.

Dad and Sam on the flats of Grand Bahama

Dad and Sam on the flats of Grand Bahama

We had clouds for a lot of the day. The sky wasn’t wall-to-wall grey, it was mostly blue with a few big, white clouds. Several of those clouds seemed to seek us out and park right above us, dimming the lights on our flats.

We had wind, but mostly at our back and it wasn’t really an issue.

We had big and beautiful flats full of fresh feed marks and devoid of fish.

It was a tough day.

While it was tough, there was also some beauty in the day. I got to fish with my dad, something rare these days and treasured. I also had two perfect shots which produced nice fish.

Sam’s boat is, from what I understand of these things, a Carolina Skiff and it doesn’t draft particularly shallow. At one point I offered to get out and wade so we wouldn’t hit any more rocks. Sam pointed the path he wanted me to take where I’d get back in the boat. As I was wading out that way I spotted a bonefish. I saw it at about 90 feet and watched it get closer. I made four casts as the fish moved closer and when I made the last cast I could tell it was on. The fish diverted and started following the fly. It sped up and ate, but the strip set pulled the fly from the fish. The next strip saw the fish pounce on the fly again and it was hooked. A nice 4 pound fish. I got the whole thing on video and I’ll put that up when I get back and get to edit it.

Later we stopped to wade a really expansive flat. I waded for a long time without seeing anything while my dad and Sam waded together about 150 or so feet away. At one point I actually saw a bonefish, but it didn’t eat. It didn’t spook, but it just passed on the offering. As I was changing flies another fish came by, not spooking either, but just casually passing. A few seconds after I finished retying I saw another fish. This one was about 40′ away. I made one cast and the fish followed and ate and exploded. This very nice fish was somewhere between 22″ to 24″ to the fork, making it a legit 6 pounds and possibly 7. Fish of the trip and I had found it myself, which was nice.

We looked for Cudas a bit, but the wind was coming up and the clouds were building. We called it a day, a tough day for sure, but memorable as well.

Local knowledge is key, but it helps to have the sun and a bit of luck.

Apr 13

Deep Water Cay Day

I brought my wife along for the tour and half day at Deep Water Cay.

Big mistake.

I don’t think I’ll be able to get her to go to another lodge. She loved it there and it wasn’t hard to see why.

First, I have to say, if you haven’t been to DWC in the past few years, you really haven’t been to DWC. Things have changed… a lot. There is so much new and so much that is awesome about what they have done there it is hard to really put it all into words.

Deep Water Cay... awesome.

Deep Water Cay… awesome.

They have a new “gateway” to the lodge over on the edge of Grand Bahama which is just top shelf. There is boat storage, boat docks and boat launches. A huge step up from what was there the last time I was on GBI in 2010. We met Muff at the entry way and he showed us around the “on land” facilities.

This is the view my wife would like.

This is the view my wife would like.

Next, we had a short hop over to the actual lodge where we met Bill, the manager, and his wife, Lisa. Bill gave us the lowdown on the improvements which were largely self-evident and impressive. Julie, a decade long employee of DWC led us on a tour of the rooms and facilities.

The rooms… yeah… views to kill for, and I’d consider it. One thing you might not know is that DWC is making a big push to include families. There are kayaks and boats you can play on with the kids and there is snorkeling and diving and blue-water fishing. DWC has moved to include much more than the bonefishing they are so well known for. My wife was enamored with the place, as was I. I have not seen an operation like this before. Everything they do, they do very well. It shows.

Yeah... it's nice.

Yeah… it’s nice.

Lots and lots to do for the family.

Lots and lots to do for the family.

We wrapped up the tour and boarded the Hell’s Bay skiff of our guide for the afternoon, Ted. Ted was a real nice guy who loves his island and knows it very well. It wasn’t long before I had blown my first and second shots, and maybe even a third, before I connected. It was odd, seemed to take me a few flubs to get the jitters out before I started actually getting my casting where I wanted it.

Nice fish.

Nice fish.

Managed some nice fish and saw many, many more. Several schools we saw numbered in the hundreds of fish, usually with a shark escort that was making them a bit nervous. We saw cudas and rays and even a dolphin for good measure. It is such a vibrant ecosystem out there and its health is evident on every flat.

Getting the fish on its way.

Getting the fish on its way.

We even stopped at a cut and threw a spinning rig for some jacks and had a good time.

Deep Water Cay is clearly at the top of their game and one of the top lodges you are going to find anywhere.

Not too shabby... not too shabby at all.

Not too shabby… not too shabby at all.

I left wondering what body part I’d need to sell to get back there with my wife and daughter. I am not really using my left leg that much… wonder what it will fetch on the open market. It would be worth it.

(PS – there are permit there… saw about a 20 pounder, maybe bigger… didn’t spook on the cast, but it did on the strip)

Apr 13

Water Cay Lodge and the Girl Gets Some Fish

I can see why people come back to Water Cay Lodge. Talking to Sidney, the head guide and owner of Water Cay Lodge, he says 90% of his guest are return visitors. You get the feeling of one of the “Family Islands,” but you get the convenience of flying into Freeport.

Sindey and his wife met us in Freeport and we followed them out to the boat launch. He was ferrying supplies out to the lodge in preparation for some guest who were arriving that day. My daughter Anna and I got on the skiff and headed out in some wildly blowing winds. We may have actually hit a shark on the way out. With the visibility poor from the wind Sidney couldn’t avoid it in time. We didn’t see it, but we did feel it.

The ride isn’t long, but you do feel like you are out in the bights of Andros or some other remote Bahamian place. There just isn’t much out there. I don’t think we encountered water deeper than 3 feet the whole run to the lodge, which may have been 20-30 minutes.

A good sign.

A good sign.

Simple comfort for people who come to fish.

Simple comfort for people who come to fish.


Once there Anna and I got to poke around a bit while Sidney unloaded supplies and then we headed back out. The Lodge only fishes 6 people at a time, so it is a rather intimate kind of place. There are only 25 people living on Water Cay, so you won’t run into any Spring Breakers on the flats although there are other outfits that put in on the North Side and fish those same waters.

In terms of what the day was from a fishing perspective, Sidney fished us a little bit on his way back to pick up guests, so there wasn’t much fishing. It was more an adventure with my girl, and it felt like an adventure. When we left the lodge to go find some fish, it was my daughter who was up first.  We headed to a blue-hole about 300 yards from the lodge and got my daughter into some jacks, quickly. First cast, first fish. That was pretty much the highlight of the short trip.

Anna 2nd fish on WCL

The spinning rig was a really good call and the little Albright travel rod I picked up just before we left has left a favorable impression on me thus far.

After three fish from the bluehole we headed back towards the boat launch with the idea being we would look for some fish on the way in.

Did I mention how windy it was? It was howling. The wind was pushing the water off the flats and at one point Sidney had to get down and push the boat. We were scraping.

Sidney saw one bone about 15 feet from the boat. I never saw it. later, while he was out pushing we both saw a bone about 50 feet away pop a tail up, but it seemed to see us at the moment and took off before a cast was made.

There just wasn’t time to really get after the bones as we could see the clients waiting to be picked up. I reeled in and we went back to the launch. It was really good to see WCL and I really hope to get back out there. Out Island remoteness, Grand Bahama convenience. I can understand why people who go there, go back. I don’t know if my next trip there would count as return business or not, but Water Cay Lodge is on my list of places I’d like to spend some time.

And all is well with the world.

And all is well with the world.

Dinner was in Lucaya with my folks, wife, daughter and brother. I was happy to have my first (and second) Kaliks of the trip.


Mar 13

Full Swing

It may have happened later than usual, but my trip planning and obsession is now in full gear. The workday flew by as I was constantly interrupted by thoughts of the Bahamas and things I might need, either for myself, my wife or my child.

The iPad and charger cable for the flights. The back-up battery pack. Cameras. Chargers. Tripod. Sun gloves. Spare fly line. Backing. The long pliers. Pack of long white socks for wading. Some e-books to read to Anna at bedtime. Some snacks for the flights. Cash. Rain jackets. Anna’s rain jacket. The parental consent form that split custody parents need to take their own child out of the country.

Even with all this thinking I’m bound to forget something.

I’ll have about 600 flies with me… for no good reason. I tied all but 40 of them or so.

I’ll also have some Desitin along. Anyone who has needed it will know why.

Trip Saver.

Trip Saver.

What’s something odd or different that you bring along on a trip?

Mar 13

Bahamas Spring Break 2013, better and better

Thanks to Scott at Angling Destinations and Chris at Deep Water Cay, it sounds like I’m going to get a chance to visit the fabled Deep Water Cay while I’m in Grand Bahama with the fam for my daughter’s Spring Break (coming up in less than a WEEK!).

I feel like I know the place even though I’ve never stepped foot on the property. My first bonefish was caught just behind DWC in a mangrove cut with an independent guide. I’ve also watched all the episodes of Buccaneers and Bones, as well as Pirates of the Flats, a fair bit of which was filmed at Deep Water Cay. The place has occupied a prominent place in my thoughts for years.

Should a treat to see this lodge as it is one of the places which kicked this whole bonefishing thing into the mainstream of destination fly fishing.

The Buccaneers at DWC

The Buccaneers at DWC

Mar 13

Grand Bahama 2013 Countdown

I don’t know if I have ever written as little about an upcoming trip as I have about this next trip, coming up in 8 days, to Grand Bahama.

I think part of this lack of written tonnage comes from my expectations for the trip. It is a family trip, not a fishing trip. Sure, I’ll get to do a little bit of fishing, but but fishing isn’t the point. This trip is about exposing my wife and my child to a place I love. The Mrs. already got to take a look at Belize (and she says we can go back) and now I will show her the Bahamas. My daughter, at 6, has been to the Pacific coast of Mexico maybe a dozen times, but she has never been to the Bahamas and has never walked through the liquid light waters of the Caribbean with me. I’m hoping she likes it as much as she likes the resort style vacations she goes on with the other half of joint custody. This is a girl who has shark teeth and shark posters up in her room, owns a snake and has a real alligator head on her “nature table” along with assorted bones, rocks, leaves and even the ear bone of a whale. I think she might like seeing the sharks, crabs, rays and, if I’m lucky, bonefish of the flats.

This will be my third trip to Grand Bahama. Of all the places one can go to chase bonefish, I know this place the best, which is still not deeply. I aspire to a deep knowledge of the place, but such knowledge comes from years I have yet to invest.

I really can’t wait. I’ve tied and tied and tied and run out of space in the boxes which fit in my pack. I will be sporting a loaner reel from Abel with a RIO line, attached to my inexpensive TFO Clouser 8 wt. rod. I’ll be sporting a new pair of Revo shades, technical clothes from Redington and casual clothes from Skinny Water Culture. I’m pumped (and pimped) for the trip. I’m ready.

Usually on a trip I try to soak up every last ray of Caribbean sun and use it to peer into the water in search of fish. This trip, I’m going to try and soak up every moment I can with my girls, my folks and my brother in a place I have come to love more than makes sense and more than I can really explain.

It will be a great trip and it can’t get here soon enough.

Journey proud.

Prep central.

Prep central.

Dec 12

Looking forward… GBI

OK… April is right around the corner… right? That’s my next trip. Grand Bahama, with a twist. This time I’ll be heading there with my family (grandparents, wife and child) for my daughter’s Spring Break.

I have to say I’m excited to get my girl out in that environment, to see the sharks and cudas and jacks and whatever else we might be able to see. I’m hoping to get her out for a little boat ride where she might be able to catch a snapper or something on a spinning rig (she’s going to be 6, so her double haul isn’t there yet). I want to show her a bit of the environment I love. My new wife got to see the flats and beauty of Belize for our honeymoon, so she knows what I see out there, but my little girl has just seen the pictures and heard the stories.

There will be beach combing and shopping and eating out and all the other family trip sorts of things, but I’ll be bringing the fly rods along and I hope to have my girl see her first bonefish and fell the pull of something salty.

Let the countdown begin.

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

Jul 12

H2O Bonefishing – Grand Bahama

Saw this clip on the Yellow Dog Flyfishing Adventures facebook page and had to share.  It even includes the ever elusive Bahamian Permit. The video features H20 Bonefishing, guides out of GBI.