May 1st, 2009
There’s nothing better than a few flies in your pocket, a rod in your hand, and a cold “Kalik” waiting for you at the boat.
People say you get obsessed over certain things…Yes, fishing is an obsession of mine, but in the last few years stalking bonefish on a flat has become a drug and I’m refusing treatment.
This was my first trip to the Bahamas (specifically South Andros), and I can tell you it won’t be my last. I took a small group of my loyal traveling clients to this destination on April 4 -11, 2009.
The ride in the 10 seater Cessna 402 from Fort Lauderdale was AMAZING. After the hour flight, our adventure was well underway. After clearing customs we were met by Kermit (the one and only taxi driver on South Andros). Within 15 minutes we were at the lodge and given a tour by Kateri Clay, one of our hosts for the week. We also met the ladies of the kitchen who cooked wonderful meals for the entire week. Everyone was so accommodating and available to lend a hand at any moment or answer our questions.
The rooms were simple, clean, and yes, had air conditioning. Paul and Sally Hayward took the Conch House with its decorated Conch Shell walls. The patio of the house served as our “after hours” spot after having a few drinks at the “Slack Tide Bar” on the beach. We continued the décor of the house with a line-up of Kalik beer bottles along the wall.
Our first night we were given an overview of how the week would work by John Toker. The organization of the operation impressed me as all details were clearly laid out, from lunches, to the guide/client chart, to even tipping.
What amazed me most about this destination was the diversity of the fishing. Our first guide took us chasing after huge schools of bones, where others focused on stalking singles and smaller schools along the mangroves. I really enjoyed exploring some killer wading areas with Torrie, as he has a passion for bonefish that is so contagious. If you fish with him ask for a “Cheese Doodle” fly, the bonefish find it irresistible.
The amount of barracuda available was also amazing. Often, I would be running back to the boat to retrieve my “cuda” stick after a wade for a few bones. The speed of a pissed off cuda is insane and such a rush. They attack with a sense of determination that will blow your mind!
While fishing with our guide Josie, Don Nelson and I had a killer session with a small group of Blue Runners. I hooked one, and while the others stayed with it Don cast out and stuck another. While I landed mine the school stayed with Don’s fish so I cast out again and hooked a 2nd Runner. They are such a gorgeous fish.
While the bonefishing was good, I’d have to say one of the highlights of my trip was going out offshore on Roggie’s 25-foot Prowler. This is a “must” when you go down to the Bahamas. When the seas are calm a 30 – 40 minute boat ride will take you to one of the Naval Buoys out in the open ocean where the ocean floor drops to around 3,000 feet. The numbers of dorado and tuna are mind blowing this time of year. Birds are diving and the fish are busting on the bait. Take a 10 weight, some poppers, and hold on. Dinner is served! While the boat holds 4 clients, we found it easiest for 2 to fly cast while the others use light conventional tackle while holding onto a cold one. Roggie and Steve (his deck hand) will take care of supplying the conventional tackle and bait. Oh, and they will clean your fish as well and if you are lucky enough you’ll be taking a yellow fin home for some fresh sashimi for appetizers at the Slack Tide Bar. On our trip Sally Hayward landed a nice 60 lb. tuna and another in the group brought up on around 25 lbs. There were lots of dorado to be had and often we would have multiple hook-ups both on fly and conventional tackle. In fact the day we went out was so good we went out for a half-day on our last day in Andros, as our plane didn’t leave until 5:00PM. It was a great finish to the trip!
The characters I meet up with at these exotic locations always intrigue me; it often makes better memories for me than the fishing itself. When you go down to visit stop by and see “the shell man”, have a Kalik with Sterling and bring some extra cookies for “Boy” the dog. It was also “Back to the Islands” on Friday night so we went out and enjoyed some live music, carnival games, watched the kids play and roll down the inflatable slide and played a few rounds of pool at one of the local clubs. The Bahamian people are a friendly bunch and South Andros Lodge is an amazing place to take it all in.
Tight Lines Man!
Leland Fly Fishing Outfitters