Little known fact, in the Bahamas, there are actually bonefish at the end of the rainbow. Thank you Leprechaun! Happy Tuesday our fishy friends.
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While 3 of our 4 lodges are currently in a deep freeze, the season at Andros South is in full swing. Over the past couple weeks we have welcomed both new and repeat guests to our little slice of paradise. A highlight from the first week of February was a hosted trip arranged by our friends from Little Forks Outfitters in Michigan. We had a great week with them that was filled with laughs and of course plenty of bonefish and barracuda. If a picture is truly worth a 1,000 words, here are 7,000 words summarizing their trip! Have any questions about putting together a trip, drop us a note here!
More from the Flats of Andros:
When I was at Andros South a couple weeks ago, one of the excellent guides on staff, Ellie, showed me something about a bonefish that I had never before noticed. I was getting ready to release another flawless Bahamian specimen that calls the flats of South Andros home and he told me to rub my finger over the fish’s eye. I did so and much to my surprise, I felt a slick case, almost like a lens of sort, covering the eye of the bonefish. This lens is transparent so it would be nearly impossible to notice without first feeling it but there was no doubt a thin case over it’s eye. After releasing the fish, Ellie explained why the bonefish had adapted such a trait.
As the bonefish feed, some of the time they will burrow their heads deep into the sand to chase down their prey. They have even been known to dredge down into the mud before blowing water out of their mouth to help expose shrimp and crustaceans (photo below). This clear lens serves as a case protecting their eyes as they dig into the sand. The lens starts thin near the nose of the bonefish before building to cover the eye, then smoothly tapers back down towards its gill. It allows protection to the eye of the fish without compromising the profile (aka speed) of the prized flats target. I have caught plenty of bonefish before but never knew about this cool adaptation until just weeks ago. Next time you have the privilege of holding a bonefish, be sure to check out its glasses!
More from the Flats of Andros:
One of my favorite parts about fishing with different guides is that they all teach you something unique. The end goal of catching the fish remains the same, but each guide has a different way of explaining something or a specific point that he feels is worth mentioning. On a recent trip to Bonefishing Paradise, aka Andros South, legendary guide Josie explained to me the importance of keeping the rod pointed at the fish while retrieving the fly.
The circumstances leading up to the event were as follows, first Josie spots a large single bonefish cruising parallel with the mangroves. I cast in front of the fish and start to retrieve my fly on Josie’s command. The fish reacts to the fly and begins to follow it. The fly is getting closer and closer to the boat so Josie instructs me to slow down the speed of the strip. The fish continues to follow but more in a curious way than that of an aggressive eater. Soon the bonefish is so close to the boat that I turned my rod low and to the side in an effort to not spook the fish. He was still following my fly and I figured he would soon see my rod above his head if I continued to point at it. With my rod to the side of the boat, the fish ended up pausing for a quick second. Josie screamed “stick em” but I never felt the eat so I didn’t do anything. The bonefish then noticed the boat and quickly vanished off to the flats.
When a guide like Josie says the fish ate, I know he was correct, I just couldn’t figure out how I did not feel a thing. Josie explained to me what happened. When I turned my rod to the side of the boat, I was no longer directly connected to my fly. There was no slack in my line but the soft rod tip became a shock absorber that caused me to not feel the eat. When you have the rod tip pointed at the fish, you can feel the eat through the line as you retrieve the fly. When I turned the rod to the side of the boat, it was hard for me to feel the subtle take as the rod tip absorbed it. Furthering his point, he explained why the strip set was so important. If you set by pulling the line, it immediately pierces the hook into the fishes mouth. If you set with the rod aka “trout set” the soft rod tip absorbs some of the pressure causing it to take an extra second and some extra effort to secure the hook into the fish’s mouth. The bonefish can feel the fly moving in his mouth as the rod bends before it has a chance to come tight. That added time usually is long enough for the bonefish to spit the fly.
Clearly there are circumstances where moving the rod to the side of the boat is a good thing just like there are times when “trout setting” can still get the job done but I really enjoyed hearing Josie’s explanation as to why the soft rod tip on our fly rods can cause you to miss fish. I am excited to use this new knowledge when fishing streamers from a drift boat and see if it results in more hook ups there as well!
More Timeless Tips:
An old wise man once spoke the following truism, “The Bahamas has the best bonefishing in the world and Andros has the best bonefishing in the Bahamas.” Well there is no argument from us here! The big bonefish from Andros South continue to show up. The above two photos are from the Crago family and their first visit to our little lodge in paradise called Andros South. A couple of fun facts about these fish. First, this father son combo got both of these beasts from the same school of fish! In most places, “schooly” bones are of the 1-3 pound variety. Well this school of fish was filled with grandes in the 10 pound class! Another thing to note, look at the top photo. See the missing scales/scarring on the fish? That is because this trophy bonefish was in the mouth of a shark at one point during the battle! Luckily it safely escaped to fight again another day. I personally got to spend some time with the Crago family and couldn’t of been more excited to hear about this dream day. Great work my friends!
More Trophy Fish:
Our friend Jon Wheat has been fishing in the Bahamas for 20 years. This was his first year at Andros South and he caught his FIRST 12 pounder! This beast was landed with our legendary guide Josie. Jon came to Andros South specifically to get a trophy bonefish and he got it done…times 2! Below is a photo of a 10 pounder he also landed on his trip!
While fish of this magnitude are not everyday occurrences, the incredible guides and staff at Andros South will do everything they can to help you achieve your dream Bonefishing experience. Great work Jon, two cold Kalik’s for you my friend!
More from Andros South:
We have been getting some requests for a current fishing report from our lodge Andros South. What perfect timing as just a few days ago myself and Deneki’s Director of Sales and Marketing, Bryan Burke, returned from a trip to our favorite flats fishing destination. It was an incredible week where like most trips to Andros South, it was filled with bent rods, good food and plenty of laughter.
We arrived into the Congo Town Airport on January 16th where we were welcomed with cold Kalik’s and clear skies that luckily stuck around for the week. The weather in South Andros this time of year is typically dry with an average high temperature of 77 degrees. This is considered “early” in our season on the island but is one of our favorite times to visit. We had pretty much perfect weather for 5 of our 6 days of fishing. And the only day that wasn’t considered “perfect” still had great light and visibility, just was a little windy. Our spring season on the island fills up the quickest but the months from October to January are a very underrated time to visit. This time of year actually produces a slightly larger average size of fish and more opportunities at the big single and double cruisers as some of the smaller schoolies are off in the deeper water.
The best producing flies for the week were relatively large and had plenty of orange tied in. Andros is not a location where you need sparsely tied bonefish flies on a size 10 hook. My favorite hook for the large bonefish of Andros is #6 800S from Umpqua. Traditional patterns like the Gotcha always produce here but I find it fun to twist up some different variations for the fish (examples soon to come in future Fly Tying Friday posts!) The best flies were large and bushy. I was tying in 2 inch segments of craft fur over an orange body with orange rubber legs. As with all my bonefish flies, I tie them with two different amounts of weight. I had a dozen with lead eyes and a dozen with bead chain eyes. I would vary up which one I fished based on how deep of a flat we were fishing and how spooky the fish were. A shallow flat with calm wind calls for the bead chain eyes as they land softer on the water. For the deeper flats, especially those on the West Side of the island, I liked the lead eyes and would just cast a little further in front of the fish so that the fly didn’t splash right on their head. My best fly for the week was a variation on Bruce Chard’s White Tiger. Learn how to tie this fly from one of the world’s best saltwater guides HERE!
The almost perfect weather led to some incredible fishing for the week. Most days saw us head to the West Side of the island where we regularly encountered both schools of bonefish and shots at singles and doubles as well. The schools we came across weren’t just made up of small fish either. On average the single or doubles of cruising fish were larger but most of the schools we saw still were made up of fish in the 3-5 pound range! As those of you who have fished for Bones know, these fish are incredibly strong fighters. Every single day of the trip I got to see my backing, and most of the time that initial burst was follow by a blistering run directly back at me. We had a couple shots at bones in the double digit class as well but these trophies were able to elude us this trip. Still multiple fish in the 7-8 pound range were landed and rumor has it a guest recently landed a 12 pounder!! Photo soon to come!
To add some diversity to the trip, we always had both a spin and fly rod rigged up for the Barracuda that roam the flats. The photo below is my personal best ‘Cuda landed on the Cutthroat Cuda Tube. These are such an underrated fish to targer. They are spooky, tough to feed, fly out of the water when hooked, fight like hell, and can even bite through 30 pound wire! If you have never targeted these water wolfs on the flats, you are missing out! Our season at Andros South really picks up over the next few weeks. We will keep you posted on what is happening down in the Bahamas so continue checking back! Don’t overlook the early season opportunities that exist on Andros. Have any questions? Drop us a note!
More from Andros South:
We are going to keep it simple for you here. For the sake of this article, try and forget about your two handed rod (I know this is hard, I hated even typing the words) but lets just focus on a 9 ft 8 wt rod. The perfect weapon for Andros South among many other fisheries. How many cork grips are on the rod? The answer is 1. How many different places should you put your hand on the rod? The answer is 1.
When fighting a fish, never use your free hand to grab the rod above the cork. This is the quickest way to break that expensive toy that has an 8 pound bonefish on the other end. The best way to tire out a large fish is to fight it with the entire rod. Not just the rod tip, but with the butt of the rod as well. If you grab the rod 2 feet up with your free hand, you are now fighting the fish with a 7 ft rod. This changes the freedom the rod has to flex (it is designed to use all 9 ft when flexing) and often ends with a broken rod. Don’t let your 9 ft shock absorber become a 7 ft one. If you do, you will probably be taking advantage of that lifetime warranty when you get home..
More Tips on Fighting Fish: