March 14, 2012
Bonefish in the Bahamas: Authentic Island Fishing at a Good Price
By Kirk Deeter
I just returned from a remarkable bonefishing trip in the Bahamas--Long Island, to be specific. It's a stripped-down, do-it-yourself deal, involving big bonefish (a 5-pounder won't bat an eye), unspoiled flats that most people don't have the stamina to walk across in a week, let alone fully explore (I'm talking miles and miles of knee-deep water), great food and wonderful cultural experiences.
This is authentic island fishing. You feel your blood pressure drop the minute you get off the plane, and it doesn't tick up a blip until the moment you see a big tailer cruising your way. Check out longislandbonefishinglodge.com for more details on this upstart operation, run by Nevin "Pinky" Knowles, his brother Leo, and sister, Darlene.
Now here's the real hook: The cost to stay for a week here is $1600 (you pay for your own airfare). By my ledger, that's about half of what it costs to stay at a bonefishing lodge, and go fishing with a guide, in most places. The cost advantage is one obvious appeal (not all of us have three or four grand to drop on a bonefishing lodge for a week of fishing).
But there's another aspect that makes this concept a slam-dunk in my mind, and that is, not all of us want a guide standing shoulder-to-shoulder, and chirping in our ears about where to cast, every minute of every day. Granted, most Bahamian guides I know are super laid-back, and good-intentioned, and they can be fantastic teachers of lessons we can apply wherever we dare to venture in the fly fishing world. But there's something very special about going out there, finding your fish, and hooking up, and relying on your own skills and MO to do so. That's true whether you're fishing for bonefish, trout, stripers or anything else.
I will say this. Bonefishing is very much about understanding tides, and how fish move into certain flats at certain times. And while this was a do-it-yourself deal, I never got the sense that the angler was dropped off in a spot and left hanging. The "guides" factor in very carefully what those tides are doing, and they'll put you in a spot with careful instruction. You work up this shoreline -- and as the water falls, you want to be at position "X." All the while, they're watching over you, from a distance, like a shepherd tending the flock. If you keel over, they're going to see you, and come to your rescue. If you get off course, they use radios to adjust your course.
When I think about fishing friends who organize "buddy trips" to the north woods, into the Rockies, up to Alaska -- I realize that the price of admission is fairly significant, no matter where you go. If ever you had it in your craw to check out some bonefish with a fly rod, I will vouch -- here and now -- that, for the budget-conscious angler, this is an outstanding option. Every day was a legitimate adventure, and the comforts of the lodge, from conch fritters to cold Kalik beers -- heck, we even ate lobster at night -- were all first-class.
As a rule, I don't plug specific lodges, and I trust readers to hone in on their own favorite adventure spots. But if you dream about bonefish, and you think you're ready for a do-it-yourself approach, you can trust KD that this is an option worth exploring.