One inhibiting factor that keeps most fly fishers from traveling to that far away destination for the ultimate bonefish trip usually comes down to its cost. The never ending saga of not having enough cash to go where you want and still get that new fence or shed. Here is a way you can do it without breaking the bank and have great 'shots' at this highly sought after gamefish.
Well what about my spouse? 'They think I'm spending too much money or they don't want me to go away without them.' Well heck, take them with. Most Bahama islands are beautiful and you and your spouse can enjoy a nice trip and you can also get in quality fishing time. This is the easiest way to go bonefishing without spending a ton of money as long as you do the research ahead of time. Sure, if you have the money and time definitely spend it and take that world class trip to Andros, Belize, or the Yucatan (there are many other world class bonefish destinations).
Where do I go? Any Bahamas island with access to flats via car. This is the trick to going cheap. If you find an island with road access to flats you're golden. All you need to do is rent a car and get a hotel room. Airfare, hotel, car, and food are the four things you will need. Except for equipment of course.
What will it cost? An estimate based on two people; airfare - 0 each (prices vary) , hotel - 0 per night for two, car - per day for two, and food - 0 each for the week. This is of course an estimate which comes out to 0 each based on a 5 night stay. About a third of the cost of most trips.
Will I catch fish? Almost all flats in the Bahamas will have bonefish on them at one time or another. My first 'cheap' bonefish trip cost me 00 (that included airfare, car, food, and lodging) total and I caught about 30 bonefish (approximately 5-6 fish a day). They averaged 3-4 pounds and a few were over 6 pounds. I had shots at plenty of fish over 8 and 10 pounds but unfortunately they evaded me. There is always the possibility of going and not catching fish even if you went to a lodge. Weather is the biggest factor.
How do I go about it? Research! Research your best options, its pretty easy. There are map companies that have maps of the islands which will show you water depths and roads that lead to the water. What you need to look for are areas of shallow water. These are usually flats and will have bonefish on them anytime from 2 hours after low tide till about 3 hours after high tide (this depends upon the flat). You could do it without a map but it definitely helps.
What should I bring along? You should bring a 7-9 weight rod (preferably a 4 piece and a spare for back-up), a reel with 125+ yards of backing loaded with a matching weight forward line (a warm water line is better in the heat), some leaders and leader material (9-12 foot with stiff butt sections down to 8-12 pound maxima or flourocarbon), a good pair of sunglasses (2 pairs is helpful, amber for low light and a darker pair for midday), a couple sets of warm weather clothing that breathes, a hat (a flats hat will keep the sun off your neck), a pair of flats booties, and the bare essentials including flies (size 4-8 gotcha's in tan, white, and pink - clousers in tan and white are effective), toothbrush, nippers, hook hone, suntan lotion, etc. There are some other items that could help but those are the necessities.
When should I go? Traditionally the best months of the year are in the spring. March, April, and May are the most popular months and usually the most dependable (as far as weather and fish on the flats in good numbers). The bugs are usually not bad and the heat is still tolerable. The winter can be good but it can also bring cold fronts that will sometimes push the fish off the flats for a few days. The fall can be great if the weather permits but usually it is very buggy with the possibility of a tropical system that could dump rain for days on end. The summer is productive but the heat can be nasty and the bugs are usually 'hungry.'
Bonefishing doesn't have to be out of reach for those of you yearning to go. Sure, the other trips are worth every penny but if you don't have the extra pennies it can still be done. If you are an average caster that can consistently throw 30-40 feet of fly line you'll be able to catch bonefish. Sure, the farther you can cast the better you will most likely do, but that's relative to all fishing (certainly presentation is very important in bonefishing and all other types of fishing as well). Let the bonefish come to your fly and make sure to strip set the hook; do not lift the rod till you feel the fish is hooked! It is a very relaxing trip, on your own, which makes catching fish all that much more gratifying. I've done my own trip three times now (caught over 20 fish each trip) and each time went down with the attitude 'I'm going cheap and if I catch fish it's a bonus, otherwise it was a nice trip to the Bahamas!'
Want further info? E-mail Andrew Moy @ Info@tightlinesflyfishing.com
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