It was 9:00 AM and we were on our way to the dock on the other side of the island. Our driver was sucking down a Heineken as he pushed the salt-eaten pick-up hard through a minefield of potholes. When we hit a big pothole, the old pickup would begin bouncing uncontrollably on barely absorbing shocks. I felt like a Chicano low-rider bouncing hydraulically at a stoplight only we were hurtling along at 50 miles per hour. The odometer on the truck was churning on the far side of 267,000 miles, but somehow we made it to the dock just as the Heineken bottle tipped vertical and went empty. Realizing I had somehow dodged death, we quickly loaded up the big v-hull and idled out of the harbor to go explore some true Destination X territory.
Once we had cleared the reef, we turned south in some big swells towards the other end of the island. After motoring an hour, we found a breach in the reef and slid into a beautiful little bay. We dropped anchor, waded our gear ashore and in short order, were joined by two local fishermen who our host had arranged to show us their backyard during our explorations. They had motored their small skiff on the inside of the reef and we were going to use their fish camp as our home base during our stay. The plan was for Jason and me to bonefish and explore, while they, after pointing us in the right direction, conched and speared fish. After setting up tents and stashing gear in the bushes out of the reach of the many local iguanas, Jason and I strolled down a beautiful beach with an eye to fishing a classic white sand flat on the afternoon's rising tide. The flat stretched for miles and in some places it was only pure white sand while in other areas, light turtle grass was bent by the flood tide. The rising waters from both the lagoon and the ocean side sought the crest of the spit.... as did the big bonefish we found. The first fish I caught was over 8 lbs. The average fish was 5 lbs. and believe me, on this lovely late afternoon, we had a generous sample from which to calculate an average.
As dusk settled in, we walked back to camp fully expecting to cook something quick so we could get to bed early and be up at dawn. To our surprise, our companions had whipped up a stewed chicken and a tasty conch salad. As we feasted and watched the sun set from our beach camp, we wondered why the two local Bahamians were not joining us. After clearing our plates, we got up to see where they were and were amazed to see they were watching TV as a Honda generator almost silently hummed behind their shack. They were watching "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and it was all just a bit too much for me. I brushed my teeth under the last rays of the sun and then crawled into my little tent still processing the dichotomy between this remote and exotic spot and the "B" movie that infused the inside of the shack with a weird eerie light.
Over the next few days, we caught bonefish and explored. The bonefishing was best in the mornings and on rising tides. Afternoons and low tides were slow. On one low tide, we trolled from the small skiff among the patch reefs inside the island's edge. We caught numerous small jacks and some hefty barracudas. There was a lot of action and both Jason and I were amazed at the variety of reef species swimming around. We both agreed that on our next trip this would be a great area to fish and proper chumming would bring in all sorts of jacks, snappers and who knows what.
After we had our fill of trolling, we decided to grab our masks and fins for a little sub-surface hunting and gathering. There ensued little hunting and much gathering. In a staggering display of the wealth of wild places, we collected a 15 lb. Nassau grouper, a 10 lb. mutton snapper, three two foot long "summer crabs" and four huge conch in less than ten minutes. This was so much fun that Jason and I made a mental note to add this activity to our fall DX trip. So if you're signed up, bring your mask, fins and snorkel!
That night we had a stellar session of bonefishing before gorging ourselves on the catch of the day: conch salad, grouper fingers and lobster. Man, it just doesn't get any better!
The next morning, we explored some bluewater possibilities with promising results before motoring back to civilization (and cold beer). This had been a wonderful camping expedition, but there was little time to rest so after a hot meal and a few cocktails, we resorted our gear with the intention of spending our last morning on the north side of the island.
We hit a creek system at dawn and immediately encountered some medium-size tailers on a rising tide. Under a blistering summer sun, the creek's waters stayed cool enough until about noon when, as if a switch had been thrown, the flats became tepid and the bones predictably disappeared. After nearly four hours of action, we didn't feel too bad and retired to our hotel to pack, swim and prepare to re-enter the real world.
In summary, this island offers some great bonefishing, but it also offers opportunities to chum for reef species, troll the patch reefs, hit the bluewater on the outside of the reef and snorkel in absolutely pristine areas. In other words, the island we have chosen for our DX trip this fall offers some truly unspoiled areas that give visiting fishermen some unique opportunities in an angling world where such perfection is becoming harder and harder to find.
Written by Scott Heywood