Here is a nice “guest blog” from Brad and Kelsey who just came home from a trip to Long Island. Sounds like they had fun and was typical of a self-guided trip early in a fisherman’s bonefishing career.
Rod asked me to write a blog post about our experience fishing Long Island Bahamas. Since it was the first time my wife or I had done any fishing like this, we new the learning curve was going to be huge. We did quite a bit of research to figure out the gear and fly patterns that would be most useful. I am extremely happy I tied all of my own flies. I think the cost of the flies would have been about the same amount as the trip. I probably went a little overboard as I normally do.
Once arriving in the Bahamas and settling in for our first full day, we drove around trying to find a place we wanted to try out for the day. We ended up taking some random roads that we hoped would take us to the ocean. We finally found one and it happened to be on a flat. We saw a guide with a client way out in the distance and this turned out to be the only other fisherman we saw for the rest of the trip. We brought an inflatable kayak with us and used it to get out in an area that looked promising. We started slowly walking close to a sandbar and noticed some, fish so we made some casts to them. Our first casts were less than desirable. I should mention it was extremely windy during our stay with wind over thirty mph. It forced us to learn quickly and to tighten our casts to punch through the wind. It also helped to have home made leaders with stiff mono material.
They seemed to turn over better in the wind than the store bought leaders. Once we got our casting dialed in, we found some more fish and after a couple strips had our first fish: a little barracuda. It was quite apparent that the mouth of the barracuda and our mono was not a good match so we attached a piece of wire leader to the bend of our hook with a Duncan loop. This was handy since I forgot my barracuda leaders in the car. It also allowed us to take it off quickly when we wanted to revert back for other species. We caught a few smaller barracuda that day. I had a nice barracuda follow my fly within about 4 feet of my rod tip, then in a blink of an eye, exploded on the fly. Unfortunately after the second jump the fish threw the hook. After that happened, I was pretty much hooked on fishing the flats.
The next couple of days were extremely windy, which turned up the flats. We did manage to see some bones working when we tried a new, more protected area, so I made a few casts and managed to hook a couple. They are an amazing fish. The grab and the run is amazing, especially for a fish that size. I was happy with the bonefish, so anything else was gravy.
We took some time to explore other areas more protected from the wind. This took us to canals and mangrove protected bays. We found fish in all of these different areas. It was incredible, every place we explored seemed to have fish but with different species at different times in the tide. We ended up finding more barracuda, ladyfish and mutton snapper. We also stumbled across some larger tarpon, but got snubbed. We did manage to hook and land some baby tarpon. They are crazy. It was amazing to see how many times they would jump once they felt the hook. My wife lost a really nice tarpon towards the end of our trip. She almost had it to hand when it made one last jump and threw the hook.
On our last day, we fished an area that we heard of from the locals. It was supposed to have snapper, and boy did it have snapper. It was fun casting toward the mangroves and pounding on those guys. I have no idea how many we caught. I grabbed my 11 wt and was casting toward the mangroves when something grabbed my fly and just started swimming away. When I got a look at it, I realized I hooked about a 4 foot lemon shark. It just kept swimming and I couldn’t stop it. I have never felt power like that. Unfortunately, the hook pulled loose and just left me standing there with even more reason to go back to the flats and the tropical water to fish! One thing is for sure, we will be back as often as we can.
We would like to thank Rod for the help he gave us when we were planning this trip.
Brad and Kelsey