Raspberryfisher's Blog

notes on fishing & travel

DIY – Bonefish Exumas

with 2 comments

One of the flies that got a lot of attention, our Polar Charlie.

polar gotcha IMG_1328

Some do it yourself, hints and ideas for bonefishing in the Exumas.

Guides – Recommendation – Garth Thompson

double DSCN0936s

One of the two doubles that Garth got us into, and I believe this was Judy’s best fish of the trip.

I still believe in guides, to help you understand the fish, water, how to see, the water, et cetera. So with this, I can highly recommend Garth Thompson whose instructions are well timed, his directions clear and his sight is amazing.

Guides – NOT – Stevie

Stevie (bonefishstevie) – In a display of territorial aggression Stevie charged me in his boat at speed, I was on my feet on the flats so I was at a significant disadvantage. Once the unfriendly encounter was done, he roared out, ensuring our spot was ruined for the day.

Judy’s note, “he is probably a good guide, but just not a good person”.  See TripAdvisor, but, please note Bahamas regulations limit the number of people on a guide’s boat to 2.

stevie review

Enough said, but I dislike negative reviews, but several indicated it was worth noting on this occasion.

Next time when I see a boat charging me, get the camera out, video tape and post it on YouTube.

Kayak or SUP

Yes, a kayak will substantially improve your access, as often there is a deep channel at the shore, before it opens up the cays and flats. In our case, the channel in front of our stay in the middle of the Airport Flats is walkable, though deep.

In the past, I have found kayak’s painful – literally – and this was no exception. Next time, I am bringing an iSUP.

view in the morning IMG_1271

The view from our front step, as the sun rises at high tide.

Logistics – Car – a necessity

Simple: Berlies Car Rentals and if you are looking for a larger car to move kayaks, consider a Jeep and bring your own ropes.

Berlies is located just outside the airport, they will pickup you as you exit the small airport and drop you off.

Logistics – Flights

The Exumas is an out-island, so the infrastructure is downsized. Daily flights from southern Florida or Nassau are present, but otherwise few long-haul flights are available.

In our case, we flew in by Air Canada from Toronto (that comes in-out on every Saturday) to George Town on a small jet. To make the early morning flight out easy with reduce risk (de-icing, weather), we arrive the night before and stay in Toronto (at the Airport Alt Hotel).

Logistics – Food and Alcohol

Yes, we are on an out-island, where the food comes in by ship on Tuesday or Wednesday, so if you land on a Sunday (Air Canada), expect limited food availability.

We stayed at a very nice cottage on the Airport Flats, booked through VRBO, with a small but complete kitchen, so what were the essentials we brought or should have brought:

  • Cliff’s Oatmeal Bars – withstand the heat well, when you are fishing!
  • Ground Coffee and UHT Milk – we even bring our steel French press.
  • Asian Noodles – Breakfast with Poached Eggs (bought at the convenience) . Alternatively, any canned-dry goods you want for 2 days if you arrive on the weekend – Peanut Butter, Granola, et cetera

And when the week comes, you can go to Prime Island Meats north of George Town, and then swing back through George Town to Exuma Market to pick up anything else. When stocked, you will fine better greens and fruits at the Exuma Market, but the Chicken and Crab salad at Prime Island makes great sandwiches.

Kalik is a great beer. I would note for Canadian’s – Beer is more expensive, but alcohol is cheaper than what I can buy in Ontario. Like Ontario, Alcohol sales is controlled and there are limited retailers, we acquire ours south of George Town at the turn off to the old airport (before Cheaters)

For restaurants, definitely recommend ….

    • Santana’s (get the Grouper), also stop next door into Mama’s Bakery on Little Exuma
    • Shirley’s north of Georgetown (get the side dish of fried plantain)

shirleys IMG_1322

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plaintain IMG_1262

Oh yes, my preference was to stay have dinner at the cottage, letting us fish the flats to sunset.

Logistic – Maps

Google Earth is better than Google Maps, as Google Earth Satellite shows the unmarked roads!

Best interactive map of key locations around the Exuma is courtesy of a unknown person who created > https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=1rWCO5UyeQGR4OLZ1VVdpjI6YQJg&ll=23.438098271246115%2C-75.60763117177737&z=13

Cameras – GoPro 5

Just before the trip, Judy’s GoPro 4 died and we bought a replacement GoPro 5. The images from this camera is amazing and I hope to post some of her videos soon.

If there is any negative we found with the camera, is that the GoPro 5’s audio does not work well with Gimbals.

Fishing the Airport Flats – Leaders

Go with long leaders – 10-12′ – with a 8 lb or 10lb fluorocarbon.

bonefish DSCN0960

Judy was using a traditional Bonefish Line with a 10+’ leader and did well. I was trying a clear tip line with an intermediate poly-leader. I do not believe there was any benefit with the clear tip (it still have mass), but the setup still work.

Having dealt with good and bad fluorocarbon, I now only use Seaguar Blue.

Yes, there is wind, but with a 8wt rod, we were fine.

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Fishing the Airport Flats – Tides

The tides are about 90-120 minutes behind those reported at Steveston and George Town.

Fishing the Flats – Walking

The flats are mostly sand, so you can walk barefoot; and when the bottom is more mud than sand, it is better to walk barefoot as the feedback help you to respond so much better to the changing conditions.

My SIMMs booties with neoprene socks continue to serve we well.

As noted last year, Judy as a smaller women can not find a boot from the traditional fly-fishing OEMs that will fit her. Last years Ski-Doo boots died within 3 days, but this year she found some Akona boots at a Dive Shop that worked.

Please remember to cover your feet when you are out in the open (out of the water), as burn feet are not fun.

walk flats DSCN0955

Fishing the Exuma Flats – Flies

Light colour flies, as most of the sand is white with a grey tinge, I would suggest white to a light ecru.

Images of flies in a water, with sand from the flats under.

flies in water IMG_1344

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flies in water IMG_1343
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Judy’s last fish of the trip.

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judy fish DSCN0969

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sunset in water DSCN0976
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Written by raspberryfisher

2018/03/31 at 22:52

Posted in Bahamas, Saltwater, Vacation

2 Responses

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  1. Hey nice informative post. I believe my wife and I noticed you all at santanas (Exumas) on April 2019 when the shark was pushing on the beach. Skunked twice on a bonefish charter and looking for all the help I can get before leaving in a couple of days for a diy bonefishing trip. I feel as though this info can get me hopefully on my first bonefish and of course I am receptive to any more pointers or suggestions.

    All the best!

    -J

    Julio

    2019/04/04 at 19:25

    • Julio, yes, it was and small world. If you see me again, say hello. Thursday with the high wind is tough! I am using a 12′ leader and suggest a light tan Charlie. I have having a tough time guaging the tide, but right now I would suggest you locate some mangroves and get them as the come in, and scout them as the tide comes out. Seeing bonefish can be easier in the shallows in the mangroves.

      I have not found any tailing fish.

      Did you get some Rum Cake at Moms!

      raspberryfisher

      2019/04/05 at 02:23


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