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Bonefish in the Bahamas: Authentic Island Fishing at a Good Price

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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.

Comments (11)

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from ALJoe wrote 2 years 5 weeks ago

Great article. I am actually going to the Bahamas in June on my honeymoon. My soon to be wife and I have already scheduled a day when we are going to give flyfishing for bones a shot. Thanks convincing me even more that this will be a great way to spend a day in the islands.

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from dleurquin wrote 2 years 5 weeks ago

It's always good to hear about cost-effective ways to enjoy our hobbies. I will tuck away this nice idea for a year or two down the road. Thanks.

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from buckhunter wrote 2 years 4 weeks ago

I will have to put this on my list if things to do.

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from Pray- hunt-work wrote 2 years 4 weeks ago

I'm in Logan Intl. Headed for Eleuthera, Bahamas as we speak! I should be wetting a line by 3:00! Wish me luck!

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from kirkdeeter wrote 2 years 4 weeks ago

Good luck!

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from goin2themountains wrote 2 years 4 weeks ago

Outstanding Pray. have a fantastic time. I am soooo jealous

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from badsmerf wrote 2 years 4 weeks ago

Is the big deal about bonefishing the weather, or the fishing itself? I don't see how bonefish can be sought after so much. I can see tarpon, tuna and marlin, but bonefish just don't seem that unique.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from kirkdeeter wrote 2 years 4 weeks ago

An excellent, fair question badsmerf.

I would answer by saying that bonefish swim 27 miles per hour, while a trout's top speed is 9 miles per hour. Granted, tuna and marlin swim even faster, but those are bluewater fish, and very expensive to chase on a regular basis. There's definitely something to that dragster run when you hook a bonefish.

There's also something extremely appealing about the sight fishing element. If you're into stalking and spotting, bonefish are always worthy adversaries, and unlike some fish, they're usually willing players. Mind you, they're always moving... so blink and you can literally lose your shot. Whereas, trout hold in fairly predictable places in a river. Probably harder to spot a trout initially in the water, but definitely harder to keep a bead on the bonefish.

When you spot and cast to a laid-up tarpon, and it eats... yeah, that will blow your mind. And that will wreck you forever. But remember, that usually happens from a boat, so that's tough to do on the cheap also.

Oh yeah, to your other point... you're dead right, there comes a time when the fly guy wonders why he's standing in a sideways rainstorm in 35-degree weather chasing trout, especially after he's seen the flats.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Brent Wilson wrote 2 years 4 weeks ago

Badsmerf - bonefish are incredibly unique and sight fishing for them on the flats with a fly rod is one of the greatest ways I can think of to spend a day. They are wily and strong...they will peel 75 yards of backing off your reel as soon as they are hooked. I have become a bonefish addict. Yes, tarpon, tuna and marlin are magnificent in their own way, but bonefish are amazing - and they will usually reward a good presentation.

I live within a short drive of 1/2 dozen of the nation's finest trout streams, but I daydream about bonefish flats every day and squeeze in 2-3 flats trips per year.

Try it and you will understand.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from bassman06 wrote 2 years 4 weeks ago

This is another excuse to learn to fly fish, and to tie flies! Although, I do love my bait caster and spinning rod...

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Kevin Johnson wrote 2 years 3 weeks ago

Great article, I was in Hondouras last week on my honeymoon and had the chance to hit the flats for the first time ever. What a feeling.... hunting and fishing combined with a flyrod. From the first sight of the tails I was hooked. Didn't land a Bone but had a great time with three who allowed me the opportunity to play. I have always been a Do it yourself kinda guy. I have been looking for a place to take my son for his graduation trip and looks like Long Island Bonefishing Lodge is now the destination. Thanks for the information. I am forever hooked.

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from kirkdeeter wrote 2 years 4 weeks ago

An excellent, fair question badsmerf.

I would answer by saying that bonefish swim 27 miles per hour, while a trout's top speed is 9 miles per hour. Granted, tuna and marlin swim even faster, but those are bluewater fish, and very expensive to chase on a regular basis. There's definitely something to that dragster run when you hook a bonefish.

There's also something extremely appealing about the sight fishing element. If you're into stalking and spotting, bonefish are always worthy adversaries, and unlike some fish, they're usually willing players. Mind you, they're always moving... so blink and you can literally lose your shot. Whereas, trout hold in fairly predictable places in a river. Probably harder to spot a trout initially in the water, but definitely harder to keep a bead on the bonefish.

When you spot and cast to a laid-up tarpon, and it eats... yeah, that will blow your mind. And that will wreck you forever. But remember, that usually happens from a boat, so that's tough to do on the cheap also.

Oh yeah, to your other point... you're dead right, there comes a time when the fly guy wonders why he's standing in a sideways rainstorm in 35-degree weather chasing trout, especially after he's seen the flats.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from badsmerf wrote 2 years 4 weeks ago

Is the big deal about bonefishing the weather, or the fishing itself? I don't see how bonefish can be sought after so much. I can see tarpon, tuna and marlin, but bonefish just don't seem that unique.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from ALJoe wrote 2 years 5 weeks ago

Great article. I am actually going to the Bahamas in June on my honeymoon. My soon to be wife and I have already scheduled a day when we are going to give flyfishing for bones a shot. Thanks convincing me even more that this will be a great way to spend a day in the islands.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from dleurquin wrote 2 years 5 weeks ago

It's always good to hear about cost-effective ways to enjoy our hobbies. I will tuck away this nice idea for a year or two down the road. Thanks.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 2 years 4 weeks ago

I will have to put this on my list if things to do.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Pray- hunt-work wrote 2 years 4 weeks ago

I'm in Logan Intl. Headed for Eleuthera, Bahamas as we speak! I should be wetting a line by 3:00! Wish me luck!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from kirkdeeter wrote 2 years 4 weeks ago

Good luck!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from goin2themountains wrote 2 years 4 weeks ago

Outstanding Pray. have a fantastic time. I am soooo jealous

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Brent Wilson wrote 2 years 4 weeks ago

Badsmerf - bonefish are incredibly unique and sight fishing for them on the flats with a fly rod is one of the greatest ways I can think of to spend a day. They are wily and strong...they will peel 75 yards of backing off your reel as soon as they are hooked. I have become a bonefish addict. Yes, tarpon, tuna and marlin are magnificent in their own way, but bonefish are amazing - and they will usually reward a good presentation.

I live within a short drive of 1/2 dozen of the nation's finest trout streams, but I daydream about bonefish flats every day and squeeze in 2-3 flats trips per year.

Try it and you will understand.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from bassman06 wrote 2 years 4 weeks ago

This is another excuse to learn to fly fish, and to tie flies! Although, I do love my bait caster and spinning rod...

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Kevin Johnson wrote 2 years 3 weeks ago

Great article, I was in Hondouras last week on my honeymoon and had the chance to hit the flats for the first time ever. What a feeling.... hunting and fishing combined with a flyrod. From the first sight of the tails I was hooked. Didn't land a Bone but had a great time with three who allowed me the opportunity to play. I have always been a Do it yourself kinda guy. I have been looking for a place to take my son for his graduation trip and looks like Long Island Bonefishing Lodge is now the destination. Thanks for the information. I am forever hooked.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

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