Emails like this make writing a book worth the effort.
Thanks to subscriber Bill Watson for submitting a great report from Cherokee Sound, Abaco. It certainly made me feel like I was there, tangling with some of the bones around Cherokee and Casuarina.
For those of you who have not been to the flats around the Long Dock of Cherokee, the fish can be a “bit fussy”. Lots of fish but they have learned a thing or two about fly fishing. One night, after the sun had gone down, my fishing “gang” and I were sitting on the beach at Casuarina looking out into the bay,when we saw a school of bones reading Dick Brown’s book “Bonefish Fly Patterns.” There may have been some tequila involved, but we would all swear to what we saw. Suffice it to say, they have seen a fly or two in their lifetime.
Here is what Bill had to say about the trip:
“My wife and I just returned from a very enjoyable week (July 27) in Cherokee Sound. I chose it for a ‘beach week’ with a promise of some DIY fishing and my very first DIY Bone. Mission was accomplished! This email is meant as a Thank You for your book!
I booked VRBO listing #304337 “Captain’s View” which is the very nearest house to the long dock. Great location as you know and a great 2 BR rental for 1 or 2 couples. Not big but clean and well appointed. Kayaks and bikes included plus a well maintained boat moored outside for rental. The most important thing is my non-fishing wife considered the week a ’10’ given the house, the town and the location.
We discovered the joys of the Bahamas and Bonefishing a few years ago. I built and fly a small plane (an RV10) out of Durham, North Carolina. The Bahamas is a wonderful place to fly your own plane and we’ve used it for trips to Deneki on Andros, Cat, Long and a few other stops. One favorite is Staniel Cay where ‘Bonefish Bridge’ is adjacent to the airport. A large school of Bones moves up and down the creek each tide to get to a tidal basin – like shooting fish in a barrel if you sneak up on them, which of course makes it no fun at all. Anyway, the Bahamas maintains a large number of public airports for private aircraft use. We’ve used the plane to visit Bottle Creek in Middle Caicos and Anegada but the TCIs and BVIs aren’t quite as accommodating as the Bahamas for the private pilot. But I digress…
So I’m basically a freshwater trout guy who has discovered Bones and dabbled in FL Tarpon. I’ve done 5 or 6 guided days but DIY fishing has been a goal for all the reasons you know. I felt that I had reached the stage where I could find, stalk and catch one but Cherokee Sound turned out to be a bit more challenging than expected.
Hoping that a July trip, like your October experience, would find the fish forgetful about ‘ol Charlie but that was not the case. There was only one other fisherman in town but the fish retained their PhDs.
I first walked out on the long dock and began to spook and spot singles and eventually small schools. I tried some casts but it was clear that was not going to work. The fish were spooked by my casting movements, lines on the water and particularly any stripped fly. Hmmm.
Each night I would go back and re-read parts of your book. Each day I would come out with a strategy for the tides, the flies and the approach. And then I would go back and do more research. It was amazing how much more useful information could be gleaned from the book after some experience. Fortunately I had packed some Scotch as well…
I learned that I could sit on the dock and avoid spooking the fish with the casting. I went to a clear headed tropical line and a proper leader. I was amazed by how far away the fish could detect the slightest movement of a fly on the bottom – 20+ feet on the white sand flat.
Took the boat out and worked around the flat at the west end of town. Discovered that the entire creek mouth was wadeable at low tide and that schools were all over the place. Finally figured out how they generally moved with the tides and found a good beat to fish on the incoming tide.
On day 4 I ran into the other fisherman and we both went out in the boat to hit the west town flat. My strategy was to find some feeding fish and present them with a small crab fly by predicting their path and laying the fly out there to sit on the bottom until they moved towards it. Then giving it just the slightest tug. Up to that point, every fish I had cast to reacted to a stripped fly by running away. But the rubber legged crab on the bottom worked. The slightest movement would get a positive reaction and I finally got my first true DIY Bone! And I even had a witness which never hurts.
Previously I had found Bone fishing a challenge but relatively easy if you could find unpressured fish and make a decent cast. But then discovered that sometimes they were happy and sometimes they weren’t. And once you get out of the boat, the challenges are doubled. But the fishing at Cherokee Sound got more technical than I expected. I felt like I was trying to fool pressured trout sipping #22 ants under overhanging trees. My respect for the mighty Bone has been raised. Actually my appetite has just been whetted for more.
Thanks again for the book. I left my copy with my new found friend, bought a Kindle copy to replace it but will be ordering another hardcover copy when I finish this note. A very enjoyable read, particularly between tides. It was almost like you were up on the tower behind me.”
Thanks for a great report Bill, look forward to seeing you on the flats.