Bahamas bonefish 


 Fly fishing for bonefish

The charter is booked for 7.30 in the morning. Beneath an astonishing Milky Way, I make the last meticulous check of the gears. There can be no room for failure. New fly line, new tapered bonefish leader, 150 m. 30 lb backing and reel with powerful brake.

Even when there is plenty of flats around the island, after this long journey up to here, I feel like deserving a full immersion in the recondites of this territory of mangroves and lagoons. An experience that only an expert guide can offer.

When I park the cart at the beach a lonely boat is moored by the public jetty . The guide's already waiting. A man of few words and lot of sense that I appreciate right away. We load the stuff and after a nod of understanding, propelled by 150 HP, we are off the coast.

We enter a first lagoon, the engines goes off in favour of the poling navigation. The flat is scattered with turtle grass speckled with turquoise sandy banks. As we slide on an opalescent water, lots of fishes swim by in the silence of the morning. I recognize a nurse-shark when the guide gives the get-ready signal. Fifteen meters of line lie at my feet. A school of bonefish is approaching at 2 o'clock. Yet too far to cast, the heartbeat's almost hearable in the stillness. Time to cast now.. too close and I just managed to scare them off.

There is no time to regret. After inspecting my fly box the guide selects a small pattern on a 8 size hook. Tiny for the Bahamian standards but he's the man. I am still reckoning on the failed chance when a large school of bones seem to make its way toward us. The fish approch fast, in as sort of spread wedge formation that reminds me the helicopters scene in the movie 'Apocalypse Now'. Overblowned by the sight, I can almost hear Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries in the moments preceeding the cast.

I cast 15 meters from the boat, a good 10 meters in front of the school. The fly sinks and once the fish are about 3 meters from it, I start a descrete stripping. I do not see the take but I feel it. Strike ! What happens in the next secods is pure madness. The reel start spinning at the speed of light. No way to limit the output of backing that is rocketing into the blue water. The run slows down after about 70 meter. I reel back some tens of meter of backing, before the 2nd run takes it out again. This time he does not go that far but the fury is as intense as the first flight. There 2 more runs in a diminuendo before I get to see the fish.

I get off of the boat to free the fish in shallow water. Fantastic creature, almost an arm in length. Set free from the hook, he swims promply back into its element like nothing had happened.

Released from the pressure of the first catch I spend some time stalking a group of bonefish that are tailing in shallow water. They are suspicious and after a while they swim away. Time to ride to a new area

We are poling now in front of a beach that could have come out of a post-card. There is a wide nebula, about 50 meter long, that fogs the crystal turquoise water, a classic bonefish "Milk". A hugh school of bone must be somewhere nearby.

I can't see the bones but the poling guide has spotted somethings and gets me cast at 11 o'clock. 'Wait, now strip, slowly' and so do I and..PAM! A bone is on the hook and like a train is pulling out line from my screaming reel. The large bone took a Gotcha fly on hook 4. A pattern that is a must have in the Bahamas.

We stay for a while in this generous flat, catching some more bonefish before leaving to the next place.

A dream bone is about being released.

The next stop is a lagoon with a mix of turtle grass and blue sand patches. A nice bone bites and his run catch me by surprise. Some slack line at my feet unrolls uncontrolled as I realize that a knot with a 20 cm loop flies through the rod rings, along with some tens meters of backing..

.. and if the knot made the situation complicated , a new climax of drama is reached when a shark starts chasing my bone, that even more scared try to save his fins with a desperate flight

even if not visible in the terse blue sky, a lucky star must've been shining for the bone and I: while the shark got distracted by another smaller bone I managed to manually retreive the line with the help of the guide. There is still some work in taking the hook off his mouth before the fish is released. Then it is time to un-tangle the knot, that in the fight got tight as hell (the line will break 3 days after as result of the damage done to loosen it..sic)

The bonefish of Bahamas are big and plenty. At the end of the day I feel like I caught enough fish and seen great landscapes. It is time now to check out the beach and spots around my lodging. This time by foot and on my own but this is another story .. coming next on bonefish do it yourself