Mangrove Cay Club is one of the few destinations that brings all the crucial elements together – location, management, amenities, guides, equipment, cuisine and spectacular flats fishing. Headed by veteran lodge manager Liz Bain, Mangrove Cay has set the bar remarkably high for Bahamian bonefishing destinations. With characteristically short runs to some of the most famous trophy bonefish flats in the world, it is easy to make the case that this is the Bahamas’ premier flats fishing lodge.
From immaculate 16 foot Dolphin skiffs, anglers fish the hallowed waters of the North, South and Middle Bights in addition to the famous waters of the West Side. The guide staff is among the best in all Andros, having spent their entire lives learning the nuances of their home waters. Additionally, the lodge offers the highest quality loaner gear, a fly shop stocked with the right flies and any smaller items you might have forgotten, as well as a full fly tying table.
Each of the four cottages is divided into two suites, separated by a thick soundproof wall. The suites have high cypress ceilings with fans, air-conditioned bedrooms, sitting rooms, luxurious bathrooms and private porches overlooking Middle Bight. A must see destination for the discerning bonefish angler.
Although Andros is renowned for the abundance and size of its bonefish, Mangrove Cay also has an exceptional blue water fishery right out its back door. This combination of inshore and offshore fishing opportunities ensures that your time at Mangrove will be filled with a variety of fishing experiences.
You will have boat access to the North, Middle and South Bights, the north and south West Side, the eastern flats and the Southwest cays of Andros. Your assigned guide will choose the flats you will fish from an almost unlimited number of options and his choices are based on tides, wind, weather and where experience tells him he will find fish. Guides are rotated during your stay and you can generally expect a new guide to be assigned to you every third fishing day. The rotation is a good way to match guides with guests and provides the opportunity to enjoy favorites, different personalities and styles. Most fishing is done from the bow of the boat giving you and your guide the elevation to see fish and the mobility to move from flat to flat.
There are times when wading is the preferred option. It may be your choice to wade alone or with your guide. Let your guide know and he can plan to include some time wading in your day. Occasionally, wind can make fishing from the boat impractical and even getting to the flats uncomfortable. On these days you have the option of using The Big Boat (a 26’ twin hull with twin 150 hp engines) as a ferry to transport you and guides to lee shores and creeks for wading. This program has saved the day when many of our guests were resigned to a good book or a day at the tying table.
Under the right conditions, the Big Boat is also used for transport to the remote and seldom fished Southwest Side of Andros. The area is a vast collection of hard bottom and sandy flats that are home to huge schools of bonefish. The boat is operated by Captain Johnny Green and you are dropped off with your guide to wade the flats. Johnny stays with the boat and can be summoned to move you from flat to flat. Note: There is a rate surcharge of $650, from 1 to 6 anglers.
Fishing off of the Dock
Sharks visit the area around the dock in front of the lodge on a regular basis, encouraged by regular chumming. There have been many hook ups and some landings of bulls, black tips, lemons and nurse sharks. You can bait up heavy spinning reels with chunks of fish, cast it out and let it sit. You can watch the sharks coming in and searching for the bait. When they pick it up, the fight is on. The kitchen saves the bait needed and the lodge supplies the spinning gear, hooks and wire leaders.
Boats & Equipment
Mangrove Cay uses 16’ Dolphin skiffs with Yamaha 85 hp engines to address the need for speed, comfort and safety while traveling from flat to flat. They have ten skiffs: eight on the water and the other two are backups.
All of the boats are configured with elevated poling platforms and have fittings on the casting deck for a removable leaning bar. Two boats also have a fitting for a removable cushioned chair on the casting deck. In front of the console, there are two cushioned captains’ chairs. Decks are clear and free of obstacles that could snag a fly line and there is lots of dry storage space. Rods are held securely in rod holders alongside carpeted gunwales and there is space for four rods.
For safety, their boats are steered from a console to give the guide more control than can be had from a tiller. Every boat has a kill switch on the console and all guides wear a lanyard connected to the kill switch when running. If for any reason, he loses his position at the wheel, the engine stops.
The Commonwealth of The Bahamas is a sovereign country of over 700 islands and nearly 2,500 islets known as cays.
Considered part of the Caribbean, the archipelago of The Bahamas lies in the Atlantic Ocean, beginning east of Palm Beach, Florida and extending southeast nearly 750 miles to where Andros is within 75 miles of Cuba and Inagua is nearing both the southeastern tip of Cuba and the island of Hispaniola (Haiti/Dominican Republic). The Tropic of Cancer runs through the Great Bahama Bank on the eastern side of Andros and through the Island of Great Exuma.
The majority of Bahamians live in two major population centers, the capital city of Nassau on the island of New Providence and Freeport located on Grand Bahama Island.
The other islands and cays are called the Out Islands. Approximately 30 of these Islands are inhabited. Although Andros is the largest of the Out Islands it remains one of the least populated with only 8,000 people living in small settlements scattered along the east coast. The Bahama Islands are mostly flat and were formed hundreds of centuries ago when sea levels dropped and coral reef formations became dry land. The resulting islands are made entirely of calcium carbonate deposits produced by the organisms of those coral reefs. There are no rivers and what we call creeks are actually tidal estuaries which together with the shallow shorelines are home to countless schools of bonefish.
The Bahamas is home to the world’s third largest barrier reef, lying close to the eastern shores of Andros. In fact, 5% of the world’s coral is found in the waters of The Bahamas.
Countless words have been written about the Bahamas, most of them intended to attract travelers to the bustling hotels, casinos and beaches of Nassau and Freeport. Much less has been written about the Out Islands of The Bahamas. Here the pace is slowed and people still live the way they did many years ago. Undeveloped and pristine, the Out Islands are the destination for travelers seeking something not found in the cities.
Flat and heavily forested, Andros is not a single island, but a labyrinth of islands, cays and waterways. It extends about 100 miles from north to south and 45 miles east to west at its widest point, with an area of 2,300 square miles. Andros is also one of the least populated islands with a mere 8,000 souls. All live in small settlements on the eastern side of the island leaving the vast interior and western shores untouched. To our first time visitors, it is almost incomprehensible that such a place can still exist in the world.
Mangrove Cay is an island in the center of Andros, separated by waterways that bisect the island from east to west. These are the North, Middle and South Bights, themselves dotted with countless uninhabited cays. Mangrove forests, shallow shores, vast banks and the mudflats of Andros make up the largest area of bonefish habitat in the world, establishing Andros as the Bonefishing Capital of the World.
The barrier reef parallels the east coast of Andros and borders an oceanic trench over 6,000 feet deep called The Tongue of The Ocean. The reef draws divers from all over the world, as well as deep-sea fishermen, who take advantage of the massive drop-offs and clear water basins. These healthy reefs support a myriad of species of fish and marine life. Billfish, wahoo, dolphin fish and tuna all abound in the ocean, together with the mammals, dolphins and whales.
On land, wildlife includes Bahamian boa constrictors, anoles, large iguanas and a wealth of birdlife, including herons, egrets, ibis, flamingos, spoonbills and a winter migratory population.
Andros is also home to the largest concentration of Blue Holes in the world. Blue Holes are a unique geological feature, found on land and in the sea, and a target of extensive scientific study and conservation effort. In fact, the pristine condition of Andros’s ecosystems draws scientists and students from all over the world to conduct field studies. The West Side is the subject of a scientific study conducted and sponsored by The Nature Conservancy.
Mangrove Cay is an island within an island, separated from the rest of Andros by water to the north and south. The Cay is home to approximately 800 people, many of whom are related and almost everybody knows almost everybody.
Like most islands of The Bahamas people survived by fishing, farming and less often, boat building. Sail boats were the main mode of transportation of people and goods between the islands but began to disappear by the 1950’s. Today, the art of boat building is preserved by the building of sloops for racing. The main competition or regatta is held on Mangrove Cay every year on Mothers’ Day weekend.
Mangrove Cay is one of the major commercial fishing centers of The Bahamas. Every lobster season, 12 to 14 boats go to sea with a crew to dive for spiney lobster, or as it is called locally, crawfish. Each boat can have a catch of 100,000 and lobster is by far the major contributor to the local economy.
Sponging is also an important local “catch”. Sponges are actually animals that grow from roots and are harvested, leaving the roots intact. The sponges are cleaned, trimmed and sold for use by artists and are newly popular in shops selling natural bath and beauty products.
Accommodations and Meals:
Mangrove Cay Club is tucked just inside the Bight far enough from the windward east side of the island with sheltered access to the flats and estuaries of the fishery. Mangrove Cay Club accommodates a maximum of 16 guests. There are eight suites contained within four cottages spread out along the shore, screened from each other by a lush growth of trees. All are a short walk on a sand path to the main lodge.
Each of the four cottages is divided into two suites, separated by a thick soundproof wall. The suites have high cypress ceilings and ceiling fans, an air-conditioned bedroom, a sitting room, an oversized bathroom and a private porch overlooking Middle Bight. On the outside wall of each suite is a rod rack that will hold four rods, a bucket for soaking reels and a convenient freshwater hose for washing rods and all other equipment each day. Both outside and inside the entrance are hooks for wet clothes and gear.
The sitting room is furnished with a sofa and chair and some small tables providing the space for laying out tackle and equipment. Fresh ice and bottled drinking water are placed in your suite each day. The air-conditioned bedroom is off of the sitting room through double sliding doors and contains a bureau, a wardrobe, a night table and two queen size beds facing the sea. There are sliding doors from the bedroom out to the porch and padded lounge chairs. Each bathroom has its own 40-gallon water heater so there is never a shortage of hot water. The bathroom has lots of shelves, counter and hanging space and a very large walk-in shower with shelving for shampoos, razors, etc. You will be provided with abundant towels, waffle weave bathrobes, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, bath soaps, hair dryer and bug spray.
Mangrove Cay practices healthful cooking such as limiting fried foods, serving most seafood grilled or poached and using only fresh fruits and vegetables. They also offer classic cuisine, Bahamian favorites and indulgent desserts such as key lime pie. Their chef, Iyke, is one of the first staff members you will meet upon your arrival and we encourage you to make your food preferences known to him. The planned dinner menu is posted every morning before you go fishing so that you may request a different entrée if you wish.
Breakfast begins at 6:30 with coffee made from freshly ground beans (roasted for us in Nassau), an assortment of teas, fruit juices, cold cereals and fresh milk, yogurt, fresh fruit and freshly baked pastries (muffins, biscuits, bagels). Hot breakfast follows, featuring eggs, bacon, sausage, grits, pancakes or French toast. Feel free to request anything you like – hot oatmeal or a fruit salad perhaps?
Lunches are packed in coolers of ice and taken out on the boats. Guests can create their own lunches from a wide selection of breads and rolls, tuna salad, ham, roasted turkey breast, smoked turkey, salami, roast beef, beef bologna, with cheeses, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and onions and of course, peanut butter and jelly. A fresh green salad is also an option. All are laid out buffet style so you can make your lunch to your preference. Freshly baked cookies, granola bars, potato chips and fresh fruit complement the selection.
Bottled water is packed in your cooler by the guide and soft drinks, Gatorade and cold beer are picked up at the bar. Let us know if you would like iced tea or hot coffee on the boat with you.
Snacks are on the bar when you come in from fishing and can be a bowl of mixed nuts, freshly made guacamole with just fried tortilla chips and salsa, seasoned potato chips, cheese and fruit plates, pates, crackers and dips or quesadillas. The bar is well stocked with beer, house and premium wines, quality liquors, liqueurs and sparkling waters
The evening begins with hors d’oeuvres at cocktail hour, 6:00 PM.
Cracked conch, conch fritters, grouper nuggets, stone crab claws, hot lobster dip, crudités and chicken wings are some of the items you will find on the hors d’oeuvres table.
Dinner begins with a salad or a soup. Some of their favorite soups include Bahamian conch chowder, cream of lobster, ginger and carrot. The house salad of crisp greens with a variety of salad vegetables, Caesar, spinach and grilled shrimp salad with mango dressing are some of the salad course offerings. Seafood entrees are Iyke’s specialties and he prepares fresh fish and lobster to perfection. Grilled fish with fettucine, sauteed grouper in lemon broth with risotto, grilled lobster in cognac sauce, snapper in pineapple sauce are some of the dishes you will see posted on the menu board.
All desserts are homemade and in addition to Iyke’s killer key lime pie include Grand Marnier Soufflé, mango cheesecake, coconut pies, homemade ice cream and outrageously fudgey brownies served with ice cream and chocolate sauce.
A selection of red and white house wines are poured with dinner and the list includes Chardonnays, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Shiraz and Pinot Noir. You may also choose from the premium wine list.
Typical Daily Schedule:
6:30 AM: Coffee, tea, juice; Light breakfast (cereal, pastries, fruit, yogurt)
7:00 AM: Hot breakfast; Pack your own lunch
8:00 AM - 4:00 PM: Guided fishing
4:00 PM - 6:00 PM (or anytime): Cold beer, cocktails, snacks
6:00 PM: Hors d’oeuvres
7:00 PM: Dinner
Each evening’s dinner menu is displayed in the lodge each morning. Should you wish to be served a different meal, please tell the chef, Iyke, before you go fishing.
Day 1: To get to Mangrove Cay you will need to make travel arrangements to Clarence A. Bain Airport on Mangrove Cay (MYAB) by private charter from Ft. Lauderdale or by commercial flights via Nassau. Once you arrive in Mangrove Cay, you will be met by a representative of the lodge who will transfer you (10 minutes).
Days 2-7: Six full days of guided fishing.
Day 8: On your departure day you will be driven to the airport according to your flight schedule.
2018 Rate: $5,550 per person plus taxes for a 7 night/6 day package
Included: Accommodations and meals at the lodge, beverages including house wines, bar liquors, beer, bottled water, soft drinks, round-trip transfer between the airport and lodge, guided flats fishing, room taxes.
Not Included: Airfare, some wines and liquors, staff & guide gratuities, Bahamian departure tax of $25 where applicable, items of a personal nature (telephone calls, fly shop purchases, etc).
Season: October - June
Fish Species: Bonefish, jacks, barracuda
Lodge Capacity: 16 anglers