Bonefishing in the Bahamas
Editor’s note: This is the third of a four-part series detailing a recent fishing trip to the Bahamas. The last column in this series (Feb. 23) focused on the author’s traveling troubles, and left off with his family’s long-awaited arrival after many delays and much frustration.
Upon getting my son settled and greeting my wife and daughter the following day, I began exploring the possibilities of getting to the southwest side of the island to do a little bonefishing on my own. First, I needed to find out about the regulations.
I checked downstairs with the Guest Services people and was told that there was no fishing from shore. This puzzled me because most of the bonefishing in the Bahamas is done either from flats boats or wading the shoreline.
I had done a check on the regulations for the Bahamas prior to leaving, but what I found was pretty confusing. One site said that a permit was needed and could be obtained at Immigration. It did not occur to me to check with Immigration given the other problems that my son and I encountered regarding an expired passport issue.
I figured I would check with a local fishing shop when I arrived on the island. As it turned out, the fishing regulations on the island are mostly put in place for their commercial fishing. Sportfishing is pretty simple, particularly if you hire a guide. My wife discovered the Department of Fisheries while on one of her many walks with my daughter and got me some brochures on the rules and regulations regarding fishing in the Bahamas.
While in Guest Services for the hotel, I also checked the telephone book for fishing guides and was surprised to find more than the one bonefishing listing I was told existed. I took the numbers down and proceeded to call them about a possible fishing outing later in the week.
The first guide I talked to appeared to have very little experience, plus I just did not like some of his responses to my questions and he was extremely pricey. The second guide I called was not available because he was out fishing, which is always a good sign, but I did reach his wife, who gave me some details on the prices and his operation. She told me to call back and talk to him for more details, so I decided that I would do that the next day.
Upon calling the guide, Monty Doyle, the next day he answered the questions that I had and I got to know him better. While his primary business, Custom Aquatics, was running dive trips, he had been guiding for bonefish for about five years. The answers to my questions regarding fishing proved satisfactory, so I went ahead and asked him when he thought would be a good day to venture out onto the flats. We had been having some unusually bad weather conditions for fishing. After discussing it I went ahead and booked him for that coming Thursday. The fact that he reminded me a lot of one of my fishing buddies did not hurt. He said that he would pick me up at the hotel at 7 a.m.
It is always a very good idea to interview the guide you are going out with prior to booking them. This can generally give you a much better idea of whether or not you will most likely have a good experience. Being compatible with a person can make or break the trip.
Thursday morning arrived and I went out to the front lobby of our hotel and sat on a bench outside to wait for the guide. It was a pleasant morning with the temperature already in the comfortable mid 70-degree range. It was sunny with some intermittent cloud cover ” a beautiful day.
It was not until around 7:15 a.m. when Monty showed up to pick me up. He had gotten tied up in commute traffic. When we headed back over the bridge, I could see the traffic coming into Paradise Island over the northbound bridge stopped and bumper to bumper. It reminded me of the Bay Bridge only on a much smaller scale.
It took somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 to 45 minutes to drive to the southern part of the island to Coral Harbour where Monty’s home and business were located. We would be fishing the flats in the south and southwest parts of New Providence Island just about 10 to 20 minutes from launching his boat from his backyard canal.
We quickly stowed my gear on board his skiff and proceeded out of the harbor and into the ocean, heading east to a flats near an area appropriately called Bonefish Pond. Arriving on an expansive flat with the tide coming in, we would be searching the very shallow water first to see if there were any bones near the mangroves.
Monty had me lay out a comfortable length of line at about 70 feet or so and had me lay it into a large stripping basket that he placed on the deck. We worked that flat for at least a half hour before I saw my first bonefish. Monty spotted them moving along the mangroves in water only about a foot deep and called them out to me.
“Three fish on your right,” he said.
I turned and saw four fish immediately, but they were way out of casting range and they were traveling upwind of us. Monty had me get out of the boat and move behind them in the event that they turned back while Monty pulled the boat back upwind. They did not and we got back into the boat and continued our search.
Bruce Ajari is a Truckee resident and regular fishing columnist for the Sierra Sun and other area newspapers.
The Little Truckee and Truckee River from Trout Creek to the Nevada state line will be open for winter, zero kill, artificial-only angling, beginning March 1 through April 27.