Saltwater fishing foreign territory
Have you ever wanted to try fishing in saltwater? If so, setting up for the experience can be quite a bit different than fishing for trout, particularly if you are after more in the way of big game species.
Watching those shows on television where anglers fish the flats in search of bonefish, tarpon or permit really get one interested in fishing saltwater. I have resisted the temptation all of these years due to the fact that the gear is specialized and the destinations always tend to be pricey.
An opportunity presented itself for my first trip east of the Rocky Mountains. The destination was the Bahamas.
The Bahamas are a group of around 700 islands off the southeast coast of Florida. These islands are probably most notable because of the pirate stories from the 1700’s. Blackbeard, Henry Morgan, Calico Jack and a host of other famous pirates called these islands home.
My son had signed up for a semester at sea for a trip that left from the port in Nassau on New Providence Island. So it seemed that it was a perfect opportunity to give saltwater fishing for bonefish a try in combination with a family vacation. My daughter’s college break also corresponded with my son’s ship departure, so she and my wife joined us a couple of days after my son and I left.
I knew very little about fly fishing in saltwater other than my limited experience fishing for redtail perch in the surf while at college along the north coast and my more recent experience fishing the central California coast for barred surf perch.
Both of these species do not compare to trying to catch a bonefish.
So how does one go about learning as much as they can in a short time?
Fortunately, today we have so much information available via the Internet, that learning what it would take to fish in the Bahamas was a pretty simple task.
First, I searched Web sites to find out as much as I could about fly fishing in the Bahamas. I was looking to catch bonefish, so I concentrated on this species. What I found out is that the bonefishing opportunities on New Providence Island are very limited.
I did find reference to a location on the south part of the island for bonefishing. There was also one guide listed for bonefishing, so I checked that out as well. As I have said, hiring a guide in unfamiliar waters is always a good idea when you are traveling. Unfortunately, the rate was not something I could justify at $700 a day or $500 a half day.
The next step was to find out as much as I could about the locations to fish for bonefish on the island. Again the Internet provided me with some great details. It suggested targeting the southern part of the island. My son showed me how to use Google Earth to take a really good look at the island, which gave me a great idea of where I wanted to fish.
Getting definitive information on what type of permits or licenses I would need would prove to be a more challenging task. There is not a lot of information on this particular issue. Let me say that it turned out to be even more confusing when we got there. I guess not too many Bahamians, particularly on the island that we were on, knew much about the fishing regulations.
The tackle and flies necessary were also easy to find out about on the Internet and from some of the fly shops in the region. I also ran into a local angler that was going to be on South Andros Island for a week beginning three days after our trip. He gave me some great tips as well.
How things worked out for our travel and the bonefishing experience will be the subject of some future columns. I had some air travel experiences as well as a very interesting trip.
Bruce Ajari is a Truckee resident and regular fishing columnist for the Sierra Sun and other area newspapers.