Out on the Flats: Bonefishing on Andros, Bahamas


Not for nothing is Andros known as the “Bonefishing Capital of the World.” The island’s shallow surrounding waters hold a huge population of the “gray ghosts of the flats.” For those unfamiliar with the sport, bonefishing is widely regarded as one of the most exciting forms of fly-fishing.

Although they are not particularly large — in the Bahamas, a 10-pound bonefish is a monster — they are shy and require a high degree of skill to catch. You must, for example, be able to cast a small fly accurately and delicately over a considerable distance to be successful. Above all, bonefish are almost unbelievably strong and fast. A startled bonefish can accelerate to around 40 feet per second, and a mere 5-pounder will strip 100 yards of line and backing from your reel before you fully grasp what is happening. Indeed, at times, it feels rather like being accidentally hooked up to a motorbike.

Many of the dedicated fishing lodges on Andros, places such as the famous the Mangrove Cay Club, are located close to the Middle Bight, a 25-mile-long waterway that winds through a wilderness of islands and mangroves, where, fishing lore maintains, huge bonefish smash up 8- and 9-weight fly rods with impunity.

The ultimate way to track down a leviathan is to charter a private yacht such as the Eleven Mothership, owned by the Colorado-based Eleven Experience adventure travel group. This enables you to cover large areas with the ease, and also to explore the remote west coast of Andros, which is otherwise inaccessible.

On my recent trip, however, I was based primarily at Kamalame Cay on the northeast coast. The great advantage of this resort is that it is equally appealing to non-anglers, and fishing widows (or widowers) will be quite content either in the spa or poolside.

Our local guide at Kamalame Cay perched atop the boat to help us spot bonefish - Photo by Hideaway Report editor
Our local guide with our catch of the day - Photo by Hideaway Report editor

Full- or half-day guided trips aboard specialized flats skiffs enable anglers to find fish even if the tides and prevailing conditions seem to be unfavorable. Bonefish tend to retreat into the mangroves at low tide, where they feel safer from predators such as sharks and barracudas. (The best fishing months on the east coast of Andros are generally reckoned to be October through January, when air and water temperatures are cooler.) For me, the pinnacle of the sport is wading the flats knee-deep in translucent water, but an eagle-eyed professional guide perched atop an elevated platform will usually contribute to greater success. Bonefish are extremely difficult to spot — indeed, it is virtually impossible without polarizing sunglasses — not least because their thousands of silver scales act as tiny mirrors, reflecting the colors of the seabed. In his splendid illustrated book, Bonefishing!, author Randall Kaufmann memorably writes: "A bonefish mirage can suddenly transform into reality and just as quickly dissolve into illusion." Further, they live in shoals that are constantly on the move, so you must be able to see a specific group of fish and to cast to where it appears to be heading. Casting randomly is pointless.

Out on the flats, the world’s troubles seem infinitely remote.

My local guide at Kamalame Cay proved to be a skillful and agreeable man, and our two excursions together yielded nine bonefish, the largest of which weighed about 5 pounds. Aside from the thrill of the fishing, Andros provides a profoundly therapeutic environment of space and solitude. In addition to dolphins, we encountered rays, turtles, several sizeable lemon sharks and a 5-foot blacktip shark that cruised alongside our skiff for a while. Out on the flats, the world’s troubles seem infinitely remote.

By Hideaway Report Editor Hideaway Report editors travel the world anonymously to give you the unvarnished truth about luxury hotels. Hotels have no idea who the editors are, so they are treated exactly as you might be.

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