Try not to hate me but I am counting down the days until I will be at Andros South. 18 more sun rises to be exact. All my fishing and guiding the past couple months has involved a puffy jacket and ski cap. Needless to say, those will not be packed, instead they will be replaced with sun shirts, flip flops, and plenty of SPF 50. It is commonly said that the Bahamas has the world’s best bonefishing and that Andros has the best bonefishing in the Bahamas. So yes, the target species will undoubtedly be the Bonefish. Unfinished business with a 10 pounder tops a life’s bucket list for me, but the thing I find myself thinking about the most is not the Ghost of the Flats but instead the toothy Barracuda.
A voracious predator, this fish does not get the respect it deserves. This might be because flat goers commonly see them around. This should not be mistaken with thinking they are easy to catch on a fly. Barracuda don’t have very many predators so they do not always spook when seeing a flats boat. A matter of fact, some have grown to associate a flats boat with food as they will prey on exhausted bonefish after they are released. Regardless of their reputation, the Barracuda is a fierce predator that often ambushes its prey before exhibiting line burning runs and impressive ariel displays. Sounds like the perfect fly rod target to us!
With Barracuda not getting the attention that the Bonefish get at Andros South, approaches and techniques on getting the fish to eat are not as set in stone as some other species. Typically retrieving the fly as fast as possible is key to getting the ‘Cuda to feed. Like with most predatory fish, Barracuda want their prey to be fleeing away from them. More often than not, the best way to get a Barracuda to eat is to increase your retrieval speed once the fish starts to follow and continue to increase the speed until you are stripping your fly as fast as possible. This method can be exhausting, but it is what “prey” does when being chased by a “predator”. For some reason that I cannot explain, I have also however found some fish to eat on the pause between strips. I learned this by accident, I was trying to strip my fly as fast as possible and I lost control of the line so that the fly simply sat in the water. Much to my surprised, the Barracuda that all day had been following our flies but not eating, weirdly inhaled in the stopped fly.
After seeing this, I started mixing up my retrieval pattern when targeting Barracuda. Stripping your fly, and stripping it fast but with an increasing speed, was the way to get the most eats but occasionally, completely stopping the fly was the ticket. It would get powerful eats, some of the time with the ‘Cuda coming from below the fly and shooting up through the water.
Mixing it up on the water is always a good thing to do. It can be very easy to get stuck in your ways because lets be honest, they probably work. But every once in a while doing something different can lead to success and ideas for future technique changes. Keep it fresh out there!
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