Long Island, Bahamas, March 2010
A report from Jin for mikescatchreport.com
A front was blowing through the island. Waves were pounding the beach where just a day earlier we were enjoying the calm ocean with the kids. The sky was gray and winds were whipping the palm trees around the hotel.

The other guide boats were not going out so we had the entire place to ourselves. It was my last day to fish. I was not going to let a little hurricane-like weather keep me off the flats.
We launched from the
Stella Maris marina and headed north to the flats. The flats boat pounded through the waves while I held on. My guide James 'Docky' Smith explained earlier how the boat was made out of kevlar and could withstand any condition. I was used to these kinds of waves in open ocean but we were crossing the edge of flats where the water was barely waist deep.

We had less than ideal conditions on our first two days out. The wind would gust over 20 mph and a weak cast into the wind would leave the fly line in a pile in front of the boat. But Docky had no trouble casting into the wind. In fact, he made me strike the word "wind" from my vocabulary. The trick, as I learned, was to make a high back cast and punch the forward cast down, using gravity to help push your cast into the wind. It took me a couple of days to figure out but I started to get the hang of it by the third day.

I learned a lot about bonefish from Dockey. While most guides elected to wait out the weather in port, he found spots where bonefish would move to. It didn't take us long before we were casting to bones.

I went wide with my first cast to a pair of big cruising fish. The second shot was near target but I failed to set the hook quickly. When the guide says set you really need to set the hook. I missed what happened but it was conveyed to me that the fish came upon my fly, swam around it couple times, then three other bones showed up, a lively discussion ensued as to which of them should eat the fly, one willing volunteer ate the fly and chewed on it for awhile before spitting it out. I missed all of this.
I also learned that
the guide always sees the fish before you do and you cannot help him out by pointing at dark, immobile objects on the sea floor and say they are fish. The guide thinks it's distracting.

My third try was at a large group of bonefish hanging out near the mangroves.

"Ten o'clock, thirty feet," I heard from the back of the boat.

Just like the voices I kept hearing in my nightmare the other night, I instinctively let the fly go, let some line out, one false cast, and fired off a cast. Miraculously, the leader unfolded AFTER the flyline and I could see the fly make a small plop as it landed near the target. For clarification, my actual casts land plus or minus 45 degrees and plus or minus 20 feet from target. This time things worked out and a 4 pound bone ate the fly.
Just as I was ready to tighten my drag and crank on the fish, Docky told me to loosen the drag and give the fish running room.
A lemon shark heard the commotion and swam over to see what was for lunch. We let the bonefish swim into the mangroves while Dockey poked the shark with his push pole. The shark got the message and bugged out. I gingerly got the line, leader, and fish out of the mangroves. The fish fought a little more but quickly came to the side of the boat. Since this might be the only fish of the day, we took a quick picture.

The lemon shark was still around so while I held the fish underwater, Docky started the motor and we escorted the fish out of the area. Every once in awhile, we took the fish out of the water to break the scent trail for thr shark. We let the fish go near the mangroves where he could hide and recuperate.

We hooked over seven fish today, landing three. Couple of the fish were lost in the mangroves as we dodged sharks and barracuda.

I've fished for bones in other places in the Caribbean but what makes Long Island, Bahamas, a lot of fun is the opportunity to cast to some pretty big bones. We cast to a lot of fish in the five to seven pound range. Most of the fish moved around in small groups of two to six. We did come upon one school with over two hundred fish. There are opportunities to follow a large school of fish all day--if that's what you want to do. I really enjoyed moving on to new fish and new challenges.

If you need a guide, Dockey would a great choice. He's not shy about straightening out your cast and putting you onto fish even in the worst weather.
DIRECTIONS: Long Island is located 300 miles off the coast of Florida in the Bahamas archipelago, a collection of about 700 islands in the western Atlantic Ocean. The island is approximately 80 miles long and 4 miles wide and covers 173 square miles. The earliest inhabitants were the Arawaks (Tino Indians) and they named Long Island 'Yuma'. In 1492 explorer Christopher Columbus renamed it Fernandina Island but the name that everyone remembers is Long Island because it is--long.

EQUIPMENT: Fast action rods from 7 to 9 weight and any reel that can handle saltwater, has a strong drag and holds at least 200 yards of 20 pound backing.