Bonefishing Eleuthera

Discussion in 'Trip Reports with Pics' started by Jslo, Jun 13, 2013.

  1. Jslo

    Jslo Active Member

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    This spring, I did kind of a DIY bonefishing trip/family spring break on the very sparsely populated island of Eleuthera in the Bahamas. The island is kept quiet, and is not the typical glitzy resort Bahamas. It has one potholed 100 mile north/south road, and in places the island is only a mile wide. The population is about 10,000 people! It's probably best known as a retreat for celebs- Lenny Kravitz, Mariah Carey, David Bowie, etc own homes on the island. We rented a house which had a private beach and we only saw 4 people other than ourselves on the beach the entire week. The beach was honestly breathtaking. (link to home at the end of the post).
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    The house was pretty awesome, a bit rustic in some ways, but keep in mind this is NOT a busy island. It's quite remote actually.
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    On to the fishing- The second day we were on the island I went with a guide, his name was Paul Petty. I HIGHLY recommend him if you are going to attempt fishing in Eleuthera. He guides in the flats, but will also take you reef fishing or whatever you fancy. No matter where I went on the island the name of "Paul Petty" opened doors and earned smiling nods. A common phrase was "well if you are with Paul, you are in good hands and he will put you on fish!" Apparently Paul is a second or third generation fishing guide on Eleuthera which is pretty cool, and his father Gladstone Petty is literally a legend. The cost for the day with Paul as a single angler was $250 cash plus a generous tip, this guy was great. I'm guessing he doesn't take credit cards or check! It's a very simple island without much tourist trade. Bring cash! Bring all the gear you need! There is no fly shop on Eleuthera. If you might need it, bring it.The web has some decent sites regarding DIY bonefishing on Eleuthera if you spend some time googling.

    My wife got a kick out of my flats sun defense clothing, but alas I was off and running at the crack of dawn.
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    I met Paul at the Governor's Harbour Library early in the AM, and we headed out in his truck to where the flats boat was docked. A 20 minute speeding skim across waveless water brought us to the edge of some large flats.
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    We fished the entire day, and as it was my first time bonefishing the learning curve was steep and fast! If there are "however" many steps in landing a bonefish, that's "however" many fish I lost moving sequentially along the learning curve from casting to the right place, stripping the correct speed, setting the hook the ideal way, staying untangled from the slack line once the fish runs, allowing the reel's drag do it's job, etc. You get the idea. At each step of my failure I lost another fish :eek: . However, by noon I had the gig down and was landing bonefish. I was the only angler on the boat, so I don't have many pictures. But it was an epic day, one I'll never forget. When that first bonefish ended up in the boat I was all grins and promptly opened a Kalik to celebrate. One feisty bone took me into my backing twice. Amazing creatures, the speed and power was spectacular. These fish are the ferraris of the flats!
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    WOW! So...a little background is in order.

    My biggest "win" before going was to take the advice of a friend who encouraged me to get outside a few weeks before the trip with my 8wt, and learn to cast quickly and accurately to a hula hoop at 65 ft. Into the wind, side wind, back wind, you name it. I practiced making one or two false casts and then BAM onto the hula hoop. He also encouraged me to get my double haul cranked up for line speed. Taking this advice, over a few weeks I spent hours pre-trip getting my arm and shoulder conditioned to an 8 wt with 75 ft of line out- as well as dialing in my accuracy using a double haul. This turned out to be advice that won the day. Since I mainly fish smaller rivers and streams with a 4 or 5 wt, I would not have been ready for this kind of casting with accuracy and I'm quite certain I would not have caught any fish. I had other problems like setting the hook wrong from time to time, but the guide told me "no casting problems mon, you jus gotta set de hook right..." lol. ;) In fact, I ran into several other flyfisherpeople on the flight home and at the airport who caught *nada*. Said they battled wind and casting, and saw many bonefish but never landed one. Glad I practiced my casting :)

    I can't wait to get to my next bonefish trip. These fish were amazing to fight, I couldn't believe how fast they got into my backing. Tons 'o fun. I love this quote I found on the web:
    "Bonefish swim, at top speed, about thirty-five miles an hour, or fifty feet per second… in about the time it takes to pee your pants the fish had ripped out nearly all of my backing."
    ~Dave Ames
    As for our house on the beach, it was great. And in fact I caught many more bonefish, yellow snapper, and palometa right in front of our house as well as up and down the beach. Very relaxing days that included fun with the kids on the beach, some R&R, a Kalik or two, a few casts, and a nap. Hard to beat my friends! I would recommend DIY bonefishing on Eluethera. It's an island about a mile wide, and 100 miles long...plenty of flats you can drive to and lots of deserted beaches, quaint beach houses, and friendly people. And hungry bonefish :)

    BONUS ROUND: Here attached is an AMAZING vintage article written on bonefishing in the Feb. 1959 issue of Sports Illustrated. It's a fantastic piece:
    The Bonefish: Ghost Of The Shallows - 02.02.59 - SI Vault.pdf

    The house we stayed at: http://www.labougainvillea.com/La_Bougainvillea/La_Bougainvillea.html
    Eleuthera DIY Fishing: http://bonefisheleuthera.com/Index.html
     

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    Skysoldier, Bruce Baker, dcm and 2 others like this.
  2. Skysoldier

    Skysoldier Trout Hunter

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    Beautiful pictures! I would do this trip for those killer beaches even if there were no bonefish.
     
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