Location, location, location. When it comes to bonefish, no amount of preparation, equipment or planning can replace the natural bounty that the productive, unexploited bonefishing location of Andros South delivers.
South Andros Island is widely known as the Bonefishing Capital of the World. With the island’s endless, diverse flats, the opportunities are boundless. You want to fish to giant schools of hungry bonefish? No problem. Have your sights set on casting to large tailing bones? We can make it happen.
Expect to fish to schools of bonefish that average 2 to 4 pounds, with larger fish often swimming with the school. You will also have many shots at tailing and cruising bonefish ranging from 5 to 10 pounds plus. These opportunities will come while wading hard sand and marl flats or being poled along in one of our fully equipped flats skiffs. We’re not big on keeping score, but expect some days where you lose count of the number of bones you hook and land.
Most of your encounters with bonefish will be on extensive shallow flats or winding mangrove creeks in 1 to 2 feet of water. The fish will often be moving quickly on the tide and grubbing as they go looking for shrimp, crabs, worms, shellfish, baitfish and small invertebrates. A bonefish’s mouth, unlike that of most other gamefish, is located underneath the head, enabling the fish to easily root around the bottom for food. While you will often see (and cast to) larger schools of relatively easy-to-catch fish, the bruisers will often be traveling in singles or pairs and they offer some of our more challenging fishing.
Since bonefishing is often viewed as a combination of fishing and hunting, it is important that you stay alert and watchful for inbound fish. Your guide will put you on the ‘clock’ system to guide your shots at the fish – meaning that if he says look to 1 o’clock at forty feet, that’s where your cast needs to be, pronto!
If at all possible, attempt to spot the fish prior to laying down your cast. You will need to lead the fish a bit as bonefish can easily spook if you ‘line’ them or plunk a fly right on their heads. Bonefish can be nervous critters (as everything considers them a delightful meal) and learning to spot the fish, even with your guide’s assistance, will greatly enhance your success rate in hooking up.
Under most conditions, 9-foot rods in 7, 8, and 9 weights are ideal for fishing bonefish on the flats of South Andros Island. We have loaner rods available in the event that a rod is broken. We strongly suggest 4-5 piece rods to facilitate packing and less stressful travel.
Since few fish run like a bonefish, bring quality, sturdy, large arbor reels with adjustable drags that are designed for saltwater use. Reels must hold your fly line and 150 yards of 20 lb backing. You’ll grow fond of your large arbor reel (which retrieves line at a much faster rate than a conventional reel) if you’re playing your fifth, large bonefish in an hour!
Bring weight forward, floating, saltwater fly lines in high-visibility colors. Your guide needs to see where you are casting to assist in getting your fly near the fish. Specialty bonefish and tropical lines are highly recommended as they remain very manageable when the temperatures rise.
On windy days, use a 9-ft leader in the 10-12 lb range. On calmer days, use a 10-12 ft leader. Generally speaking, our bonefish are not leader-shy but those in the double digits can be more particular. Bring several leaders with you and a spool of 10 and 12 lb tippet material. Monofilament and fluorocarbon both work fine.
One of the joys of fishing South Andros is that our bonefish are not particularly shy or picky with regards to what they eat. In many cases, a simple roll cast will be sufficient to reach the fish you see. Standard Gotchas, Crazy Charlies, and Clousers in pink, tan, white, and olive in 2′s and 4′s with bead-chain or lead-eyes are enough to do the job. We use 2′s frequently as we believe larger fish are attracted to them more readily and they find the bottom faster, especially in deeper water.
Other excellent patterns include: Peterson’s Spawning Shrimp, Bunny Gotchas, Simrams and Meko Specials, among others.
About 75% of your shots on South Andros will require medium bead chain eyes but you should carry a good assortment of lightly weighted and lead eye patterns to match those situations. There’s nothing worse than watching the back of a large bonefish as he rooster tails off an ankle-deep flat because your fly ‘plunked’ him on the head.