Today Michael weighs in with a guest post on misconceptions about bonefishing on South Andros. We think he’s dead on. Have a read!
Myth Busting, Andros South Style
It’s no big secret that there are a lot of bonefish swimming around Andros Island, The Bahamas. It’s almost just as well known that Deneki Outdoors’s Andros South is perfectly situated for you to cover virtually all of the territory where those torpedoes of the flats might be found. Whether it be full day walks in tidal creeks, running and gunning on the southern tip of the island, or bolting to the west side for lone pigs haunting endless mangroves, the lodge can get you there. You most likely won’t get your butt kicked in transit either.
Still, there are a few erroneous beliefs regarding what to expect while bonefishing, and I’m here to set the record straight. I’m not talking expert guidance – I’m by no means a pro, and this was the first time I’ve set foot in the location with fly rod in hand. No, I want to clear up the FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) from the layman’s point of view, and what follows are what I see as the three biggest misconceptions about fishing South Andros Island.
FUD #1 – Andros is full of nothing but large schools of small bonefish
This is probably the worst of the worst in terms of ill-conceived rumors. Andros is a big place, an absolute monstrosity in fact. The sheer breadth of fish habitat is mind blowing, and with that comes enormous variability regarding fish congregation and size. Yes, I saw big schools of fish. Some of those schools were gigantic – numbering hundreds and hundreds. But we generally ran into these schools in places that were otherwise inaccessible except when the tide and wind conditions were perfect. The guides at Andros South are seasoned – some of the most knowledgeable I’ve come across anywhere. They know the island like the backs of their hands – hence we were afforded the opportunity to get into “take your pick” fishing.
Not all of the fish in those schools were small, however – some hooked were 5+ pounds, and there were bigger boys buried deep in those schools that could have gone 1 ½ times that. We also saw a lot of singles and doubles prowling around on their own. These fish are the extremely wary types, the survivors. They are big too, and I’ll guestimate that I had shots at several fish that would have pushed the double-digit mark. No, I didn’t catch them, but that’s because the author just isn’t that good. But several anglers on our trip did pull in bones up to nine pounds, and often with the same guides I’d fished with in days past.
Bottom line…there’s a wide variety of bonefishing opportunities available. All you need to do is talk to your guide about what your want to do, and they’ll get you on it.
FUD #2 – Bonefish are very picky, so bring a wide variety of flies and be prepared to change them often
Next on the list may be true in some parts of the world, but not on Andros Island. I haven’t “traveled the world” in search of bonefish, but I have spent a good deal of time in the Middle Keys and Biscayne Bay. Bonefish there have turned away from my patterns, scowled at my presentation, and generally kicked me to the curb on more occasions than I care to admit. But there is a big reason for that (other than the fact that I can’t fish for shit) – bonefish in those easily accessible locations see a lot of flies! The best spots are well known; hence there are a lot of guides and a lot of fly fishers there. I found Andros quite different.
First and foremost, over the course of six fishing days, I counted two other boats (from other lodges) while I was out on the water. The bonefish in South Andros Island simply don’t get the kind of pressure that an Islamorada native does. Second, as I mentioned earlier, the place is massive – there is so much water worth covering that there was little need to fish the same place twice. Last but not least, the guides knew where to be, and at what times; they also had a sixth sense regarding what fly to throw.
If none of that convinces you, then consider this: I’m no expert fly tier, but I did a lot of production before my trip. With the exception of the very last day, I used only my own flies, sometimes a single pattern for the entire day, and consistently caught fish. If an Andros Island bonefish will eat a Gracie tie, then Gracie is convinced they’ll eat just about anything.
FUD #3 – If you can’t cast a full fly line in a 20-knot wind, you can’t catch bonefish
Last by not least as far as bonefishing lore goes, this myth is nothing but. Further, perpetuating such rubbish runs counterintuitive to the idea of getting more people into the salt with fly rods in hand. Let’s bust this puppy, shall we?
While I was there, conditions on South Andros Island ranged from bright and sunny with moderate gusts to dark and hazy with dead calm. At times I struggled, but not because of the wind – we chased singles and doubles in tight mangroves – it was high-pressure target fishing. Other times the wind blew, and hard, but the guide always had me positioned to take advantage of it. I’d lower my rod tip to the side on the backstroke, and then let ‘er rip with the wind at my back.
I didn’t need a masterly casting stroke to catch fish, and actually found the quiet days much more challenging anyway. We’d march creeks that were nothing but glass, jumping fish when they were inside 30 feet. The game was much more about short, quick shots and delicate presentation versus airing it out. For the week, I suspect I hooked 80% of my fish inside fifty, and several were taken when very hungry bones followed my fly to within a leader length of the rod tip. It’s a battle of accuracy and touch, not power and distance. The experience firmly convinced me to carry a seven weight, or maybe even a six, next time I’m there.
Don’t let the naysayers tell you it’s an impossible task, catching a bonefish on the fly, or that you need to clear out your local shop’s fly bins to make it happen. Don’t let them tell you South Andros should be a “practice session” either – it’s anything but, and like most adventures, you get out of it what you put into it.
And, oh yes…there will certainly be a next time.
More FIBFest Posts
- Pete McDonald on Bonefish Perspectives
- Bruce Smithhammer on Kirk and his Chuck Taylors
- Michael on Dock Dogs and Torrie Quotes
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