When most people hear “I’m going to The Bahamas,” they think of cruises, Atlantis, and “the shell you can hear the ocean in.” When a fly angler hears “I’m going to The Bahamas” they immediately think of 8 and 9 weights, tailing bonefish, and blistering runs into your backing. I’ll take a hard pass on the cruises and Atlantis but I also like to include a sense of exploration, quality R&R time on an empty beach, snorkeling, and most recently, fishing a gear rod when I go to The Bahamas. Let's call it “vacation with a purpose.” A mix of enjoying family time and looking for tailing fish - after all, I’m not going to travel to the bonefish capital of the world and not bring a fly rod or two.
I recently got back from my third trip to the relatively unknown and quiet island of Eleuthera - Greek for Freedom. With a two-week vacation planned, I was excited about plenty of beach time with my family, and some quality time on a flat or two. For fishing gear, not only was an 8 and 9-weight TMR salt rod coming with me but so were some travel gear rods and plugs. I’ve learned to be the first to admit it’s ok to fish conventional tackle - especially when there isa couple of spots I’ve seen in the past that just isn't conducive to fly fishing. Plus, who doesn’t love the opportunity for some fresh fish when on vacation?
For our first week, funky low tide times on the Caribbean side of Eleuthera prevented a real “hardcore” effort to find tailing bonefish. Most of the spots I like to fish are best on a rising tide, and for a week those rising tide times happened in the dark. Oh well. It still felt great to be back in the salt and not be cold (Thanks to winter in Montana). I was able to connect with some of the typical flats bi-catch species. Needlefish, baby barracuda, and a new species for me - an almaco jack.
With all that being said, I did enjoy ice-cold Kalik’s, in a place I love, while getting pictures of the snow falling back home in Bozeman. Life was good with or without bonefish in it.
A big bonus to this trip was being able to connect with a guy that I had followed on Instagram and chatted with for well over a year before being able to finally meet. Daniel Waton is a born and raised Bahamian, an avid angler, and has a great YouTube Channel showing his Eleuthera fishing adventures. He had a couple of spots he wanted to share with me - one of which he’d seen baby tarpon in. After a drive down a bush road, a mile hike down a beach, then a 30-minute tromp thru the mangroves, we arrived at a brackish pond that sure enough… had tarpon rolling in it. I ended up jumping 6 baby tarpon while standing in one spot in knee-deep mud… What an experience! We’re already scheming how to get a paddleboard in there for next time.
As a general takeaway, and for those new to saltwater fly fishing, The Bahamas and DIY bonefishing is more attainable than you think. Keep in mind, some islands are much more conducive to the DIY angler than others. More hard sand flats, more bush roads, less guide pressure, etc. Utilize your favorite search engine, rent a house, rent a car, and start exploring random roads that lead to the ocean! Just remember to drive on the left.
Rod(s): TMR Saltwater 8 and 9 weight
Line(s): Scientific Angler Mastery Salt
Reel(s): Hardy Ultradisc