LAYIN ‘ LOW IN ABACO, BAHAMAS - “Bonefishing Sandy Point”
By Dennis McGuire, Southern Angler
Your line sails past you as it loads…Carefully, you strip the line of your 9-weight fast action rod hoping your handmade fly will attract the mouth of a coveted bonefish. Th e fly is presented perfectly, a few feet in front of the oncoming school. Silver fl shes dart near your fly as you silently hope that one of them takes the bait. The flash darts again, and within an instant a fish is hooked and the school is in a frenzy. Silver flashes frantically fade into the distance as the line screams off your reel. Holding on, you wait for the right moment to gain some line. The fish runs, taking the backing line with it. After it seems like the fish is miles away, the line stops screaming. You quickly reel in but the fish takes again, nearly dumping it. Th is exciting cat and mouse game continues for a few minutes until the fish finally tires enough for you to reel it in. Finally, I am carefully holding my first bonefish.
We stayed at a fishing lodge near Schooner Bay, a new development with a great marina and access to the fishing grounds. There are plenty of great locations to stay throughout the island from Crown Haven in North Abaco to Sandy Point in South Abaco. Depending on the type of fishing you want to do, Abaco has some of the best guides and lodges in the world, and there is no shortage of places to stay.
We chose to stay near Sandy Point, near the most southern point of the island. Sandy Point is a quiet fishing town. The locals spend most of their time catching some of the best and freshest seafood that the Bahamas has to offer. Whether it’s a crab boat going out and checking pots, a guide polling in inches of water looking for bones, or a lobster fisherman setting up lobster condos for trapping, the people of Sandy Point are busy finding ways to make a living off of their bountiful resource.
Our guide, Paul Pinder, is a giant of a man. All geared up in Simms, Orvis and Buffs, he was ready to take us to catch our first bonefish. Within minutes from shoving off , he says, “grab this 12-wt., there is a permit.” I thought, “No way is this place that covered in fish that we could swim from the dock to see the first permit.” We have fished in the Florida Keys and it took at least an hour of driving the flats to get a spot that looked like this. I grabbed the 12-wt. and was nervous to get a shot at the illusive permit. I make a few casts, but the fish is out of reach. We continue to track fish all throughout the day.
Finally a school of bones are close enough to throw to. I make a cast, too short. I make another, just right. The f y sinks in the water, and just as it hits the sand it makes this little puff . This sand puff is like ringing the dinner bell for bones. The fish turns and goes after it. Another fish tried to bump it out of the way, but the bigger one is no match for him and takes the fly, and we’re off to the races. This is my first bone. Excited to hear the line scream off the reel, I try to keep the fi sh out of the mangroves, pulling on the rod. I land the fish and take a photo with my first bone. It was a fish to remember. We fish like this for most of the day, stalking bones, having lunch, picking up fresh conch to eat later, and learning how to be a better fly fisherman from Paul. We end our day on the town flat—a great place to learn how to cast the fl y rod. So, my girlfriend, Caroline, hangs out with Paul to learn how to cast, and I go and stalk some more bones, this time on foot. Bones were tailing everywhere. As far as I could see, they had their noses in the sand looking for crabs and shrimp, and their tails were in the air. Beautiful sight!
I have never been to a place that you could drop off your girlfriend with the guide to learn how to cast, watch the guide clean fresh conch, and walk around on a beautiful flat and catch as many bones as you’d like and do it all only an hour’s flight from Florida. Abaco is a great spot for beginners and expert alike. Experiencing the Abacos was surreal. From the moment I landed at the airport in Marsh Harbour, I felt all of my stresses and worries drain away. The fishing was an absolute dream. Leaving the docks at Sandy Point with bonefish expert and guide, Paul Pinder, is a moment I will never forget. From catching my first bonefish to going on a conch hunt, I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. The water was so beautifully clear that we got to see turtles, manta rays, sharks, a flash of a permit, and hundreds upon hundreds of red starfish. As they say in the islands “I go to come back”….and I certainly will.
To view the full article, please CLICK on the following link: Abaco 0201_FL_2.pdf
Dennis McGuire is co-owner of Southern Angler, a Saltwater Outfitting Shop located in Port Salerno, Florida. For more information, please visit: www.SouthernAngler.com
This article was provided by Gary and Misti Guertin, Co-Publishers of The Bahamas and Treasure Coast editions of Coastal Angler Magazine.