View Full Version : Any new input on the Bahama DIY conundrum?

02-25-2006, 09:22 AM
The Bahamas DIY discussion hasn't been added to in about a month and a half, and I'm wondering if anyone has been to the out islands recently and has anything to add. I'm thinking about doing a trip to Andros sometime in '07 which would include a couple half days of DIY fishing, but I sure wouldn't want to be jumping into a hornets nest. Any thoughts?

02-25-2006, 12:04 PM
I was part of one of those discussions. My plan was to head to N. Eluethra from Nassau and fish Spanish Wells. I'm still in Nassau but we never made it over there, so I've got nothing to report. The weather has been pretty calm all week with some mornings having glass conditions. The wind picked up last night though and is cranking now. We've been trying the DIY offshore trolling all week and have slowly been getting better. yesterday we caught a half dozen good-sized cudas and finally hooked a wahoo. Lost it after the first screaming run.

02-27-2006, 01:04 PM
There is no conundrum. I just returned from a week long vacation on Long Island, and DIY is alive, well, and completely legal. The earlier posts you allude to were a result of some people's experience with a Long Island guide by the name of Docky Smith, who operates out of the Stella Maris resort at the northern end of the island. He was chasing people off the flats, claiming that it was against the law to fish without a guide. That is completely untrue, and DIY on Long Island is doing fine, in spite of Mr. Smith. I fished with a guide for two days, and on my own a few others, and the guide was quite happy to recomend spots where I could easily get to the water and find some fish. Other folks staying at the same resort did the same, and were quite successful. The SMART guides know that not everyone can afford a guide every day for a week, and they would rather get a day or two of your business rather than none at all, and will happily answer questions to help you out for your unguided days. The smart DIY'ers will get a guide for a day or two, because their local knowledge about spots, tides, water access, best flies or lures, etc., is invaluable, and can save the DIY'er a lot of fruitless exploration time, and the guide will point you to areas that you could never find on your own. I can only believe that Mr. Smith is just plain lazy, and does not want to scope out areas which are not right next to the road, which are the only ones DIY'ers can really get to on Long Island. I saw lots of fishing places for everybody while I was there. I did not stay at Stella Maris or use Mr. Smith, in large part because of his stance on DIY fishing, and their support of his efforts (one of their policies is that you cannot use their kayaks to access fishing areas, or fish from). I hope others will do the same.

02-27-2006, 08:09 PM
Thanks, cweb, I'm feelin' better about this trip already.

02-28-2006, 10:10 AM
I just returned from Eleuthera on Sunday night and the guide I fished with talked a lot about how it was going to be restricted there. I did 2 guided half-days and the rest on my own. I will say that Savannah Sound was bordering on being crowded for the AM tides. I worked away from the crowds and tried to find other spots that were less "well-known". I will say that the biggest fish I saw were at Savannah Sound by a long shot. I had a lot of other places I just drove by which needed more exploration, but not enough time. It was a great adventure to just cruise around, Kalik, cuban and fly rod all at the ready. I would hate to see it shut down, but I also understand some of the economics of it as well. I am already planning for next year. --127-3-

02-28-2006, 08:50 PM
I got back from the Bahamas Sunday night and here is some info that may be helpful.

Before I left for the trip I was told by a couple of sources that a fishing permit was required to fish the islands and to contact a customs agent when I reached the country.

Upon arrival I went to the customs office and inquired about a fishing license. The customs officer said I needed to go to the Bahamian Ministry of Fisheries, "just a short distance up the road". So I start my short walk, 4+ miles, that felt like 10 in the hot sun.

When I arrived at the Ministry of Fisheries and inquired about a permit to fish the two gentlemen asked what type of fishing I was interested in doing. I replied that I wanted to wade fish and fish from shore. The gentlemen then informed me there was no restrictions, I didn't need any permit or license and told me to have a good time.

They never mentioned anything about restrictions on DIY.

I'm not sure who was correct, the people that informed me before I left or the guys at the Ministry of Fisheries, so use this information at your own risk.


03-01-2006, 08:00 AM
DAQ-which island were you on?

Nassau Frank
03-01-2006, 08:06 AM
are needed for cruising boats not wading flats. Min of fisheries is right.

03-01-2006, 08:48 AM
What I have heard was that The Guide Assoc is pushing for no DIY fishing in the Bahamas. I think it may happen some day but not in the near future.
Enjoy it while you can!

03-01-2006, 11:48 AM
The info I posted came directly from the mouth of the head of the Guide Association on Eleuthera. I would hope there would be some compromise ground as it was a great experience, but not one that everybody wants, but we still want the option.

03-02-2006, 06:27 PM

Our first stop was Nassau, then Castaway (the Disney island).


03-09-2006, 06:20 PM
I'm headed to the west side of Andros for a solo kayak expedition shortly. I should be out for about 10 days, covering over 100 miles south from the North Bight. I'll let you guys know how it goes....with photos.

03-09-2006, 10:46 PM
Long Island the week after next, will also post...from my contacts, no problems anticipated. Any word on the cuda fishing on the east side?

03-10-2006, 08:20 AM
Sorry, I meant the west side of the island, inside the reef.

03-14-2006, 01:11 PM
We were worried about this as well when we went to in Exuma in Feb. Fished without guides the entire time without event. Spoke with guides at bars afterwards who saw us on the flats and it was nothing but amicable conversation between quaffs of brew. :-%

old geezer
03-16-2006, 09:43 AM
How about sending me a PM on how you did :)

The Geezer

03-18-2006, 10:39 AM
Check out the information on this posted yesterday on http://www.flyfishingforum.com/flytalk/index.htm
this carries the matter to where many feared it would end up.

03-18-2006, 06:35 PM
Josko is there now and has the latest info:

03-19-2006, 12:05 PM
We all know very well that the majority of fishing lodge owners in the Bahamas are non-native ,foreign capitalists and therefore can't help suspecting that they , along with their booking agents are the influence and driving force behind all this. Some may call it capitalism , some may call it greed .I say there is no difference and it stinks !
On the other hand,if this is what the Bahamian public wants, then we should respect that , after all it is their land however, I doubt the general public has anything to do or say about this matter.
Perhaps the Bahamian governament should concider eliminating foreign ownership of fishing lodges and see how well that would go over ?

03-19-2006, 05:10 PM
Given the number of DIY guys I saw on Eleuthera, there may be some point to this. On the other hand, let's figure that each one of those folks spent around what I spent for the 5 days I was there. There is not lodge on Eleuthera ( yet) and not that many guides. I fished with a guide for two half-days out of 4, with tip, $700.00 ( very much worth it :brow ) I also rented a car, paid for my hotel room, bought dinner every night ( and still left a tip even if included) bought gas, groceries, lots of kaliks, cigars and a fair bit of tourist junk to bring home for my kids. My total for airfare, lodging, car, food and fun for 5 nights was $2500.00. Of that, $1800.00 stayed in the Bahamas ( the rest went to US Air). $1800.0 X 20= $36,000.00 for five days on Island with a population of what, 1500?. So if you shut down the DIY completely you will make that fishery just as unaccessible to people who can afford DIY, but not the full on Lodge. To coin a a Benjamin Franklin phrase, "penny wise and pound foolish." Eleuthera was terrific, but relatively hard to access and the fishing while good, was not what I heard about from guys at the airport in Nassau where their guides put them on 50 fish days ( quantity had a quality all its own- I'm big into the parenthetical things today :-% ) Is the fishing so good on Eleuthera that a lodge could operate and survive? I don't really think so. It's too big and the flats are too dispersed. There needs to be a happy medium where everybody in the debate understands the costs and benefits. I hope I didn't make my only DIY trip; it was the experience of a lifetime and bears frequent repetition. Time for more :-%

03-19-2006, 06:09 PM
I'm thinking of a trip to the Acklins. Looking to wade a lot and want shots at larger pairs/singles on a fairly consistent basis. Might be staying at Grey's Point. Any feedback/recommendations on this island would be greatly appreciated!


03-20-2006, 07:32 AM
I can only speak from my experience and I have done no research on how many lodges are owned by non Bahamians but the ones I have been to were owned and run by Bahamians. Not sure about Andros because I go to the southern outer islands.
I first heard of this movement 2 years ago from a Bahamian owner who stated that this was going to happen. I have talked to others and I can assure you that they are in favor of guided only fishing and have been pushing for it. I do not think this is something that is being spearheaded by non Bahamian owners and outfitters. I think you will find native owners and guides at the forefront.

03-20-2006, 08:10 AM
We all know very well that the majority of fishing lodge owners in the Bahamas are non-native ,foreign capitalists and therefore can't help suspecting that they , along with their booking agents are the influence and driving force behind all this......Huh? Not only are you ranting, but
you're over the wall in left field.

This supposed action was started by guides, not lodge owners. I can't
imagine how it would benefit a lodge owner, as most of them "sub
contract" their bonefishing operations to native, local guides. The lodge
might get a comission, but that's how a lot of it's done in the US, too.
The lions share of a guide's fee goes directly to the guide.

+AND+ this is a story that's been floating around for well over a year, and
nothing substantial has come of it. Let's wait and see where the line
between rumor and reality lies.

Uncle 4

03-20-2006, 09:53 AM
I think I agree with Uncle4 in his "let's wait and see" approach.
But speaking for myself, if this does happen, I'd be very concerned that the cards will be greatly stacked against the DIY angler. If DIY bone fishing were to be eliminated/heavily restricted, the ripple effect that would sweep through the Bahamian economy would be significant.

In all the years I've been DIY fishing in the Bahamas, I've only encountered another guide in the area I was fishing just once! Only once! We need to realize going in, DIY anglers are normally restricted to only those areas they can reach by rental car, or on foot. For an experienced Bahamian bonefish guide, armed with a flats boat and outboard motor, and decades of experience to state the visiting DIY angler is hurting his livelihood is lunacy. Throughout the Bahamas, most, if not all of the best flats are only accesible by boat.
What of places such as Eleuthera, Cat, Mayaguana, Great Inagua that go have some pretty good bone fishing, but have virtually no organized bone fishing opportunities? So, will we still be "allowed" to visit these lovely locals, and spend our hard earned $$$, but since there are no bonefish guides, we won't even be allowed to wet a line? Talk about the ultimate 'dog in the manger.' I don't believe they can have it both ways.

IMHO, the Bahamian Govt needs to determine just how much money the bonefish guide actually bring into the archipelgo, or if they (the guides) have simply overstated/overestimated their importance.
Do they generate enough revenue to offset the losses in real estate rentals (villas), car rentals, gas sales, groceries, alcohol, and air fare once the DIY fishermen find another place which welcomes their money?

03-20-2006, 10:31 AM
Is there an alternative approach than to just sit and wait to see where this goes ? Could that be too late ? Before the Bahamian authorities make a final decision , if indeed they intend to , then they need to hear other voices on this matter such as those of rental property owners, grocers, car rental , gas stations, liquor stores, air lines , fishermen ,etc. As Bob said and I agree, these buisnesses will be effected by the outcome perhaps more than anyone else . Are these groups present or represented when the guide assosiation meet with officials to discuss this matter ?

03-20-2006, 11:13 AM
It's my personal belief that the real conundrum will be..."should the Bahamian Government entertain enacting the proposals put forth by the various "home island" guide associations, they will soon realize that the sheer cost of "enforcement" will come to bear!" Face it!, not everbody living on "bone-rich" Bahamian islands are directly (or even remotely) involved in the "guided bonefishing industry". Will these folks be willing to share the burden and additional expense that "enforecment" entails when they don't even have a vested interest in the venture? Especially when you consider that those interested parties want all the profits and proceeds for themselves irreguardless of the expense to the Bahamian government and her peoples at large. Will the meagre police forces that work hard to keep the peace be willing to take on the extra duties of patrolling virtually "every flat/every day"?. I don't think so!. Will additional "special" fisheries officers be hired, trained and salaried at great cost be acceptable to the Bahamian Government? Don't think so again. How about downloading enforcement costs directly to the interested guide associations who feel it so imperitive to restrict "non-paying customers"?. Hell no!!!...that would dig into their perceived profits.

In fact!, the current state of fisheries enforcement is already in a sad state. One only has to visit the local fishing dock in the afternnon to view the numerouos Crawfish and Grouper for sale when those species are in fact "Out of Season". Calling Nassau Grouper "Black Grouper" or Carribean Lobster "Summer Crabs" for the benefit and re-assurance of their tourist customers is dispicable! (and this!!!, directly in front of/and with the apparent blessings of the local officials and general populous!!!???). I"ve seen it!...I know.!..and nobody can tell me otherwise!. But, I also want to go on record that I by no means begrudge islanders practicing "subsistence fishing". Taking what they need...when they need. That's been going on alot longer than anybody has ever been cheering the fighting abilities of bones and fortunately, there's still lots of bones around. Obviously, they've managed to strike some sort of balance.

How about those fortunate folks who've been able to purchase homes and properties in the Bahama's as vacations get-aways or retirement homes? Will the laws now dictate that they can't even fish in front of their own property? If so?...better warm up the printing presses and start pounding out the "For Sale" signs because "I" for one wouldn't stand for something like that!

Damn!...I tried like hell to not get myself involved in this discussion but it's become like a weed growing in my mind and I just can't get rid of it. I have a great deal of faith in the Bahamian Government to do the right thing. I'm certain that they'll determine that they have more to loose than to gain by limiting/eliminating DIY fishing. Please keep in mind that DIY fishing "in my estimation", consists of an angler or two...heading out on their own...doing what they love to do best!!!...NOT!!!...organized tours/packages/motherships circumventing just about every Bahamian fisheries law that exists just because there is no visible enforcement to keep them from doing otherwise.

I seriously doubdt we're ever going to see "flats cops" on patrol around every bend or deep in every creek system. Instead, I think enforcement will consist of "Pis__d - off" guides giving "Sh_t" to folks whom they feel are invading their "exclusive" territory along with all the verbal assaults, threats and obscene gestures inherent in such lively "on the water" disagreements.

I love the Bahamian people and look forward to visiting them at least once a year. To date, the only ever interaction I've ever had with a guide was when Denny Raskine of Savannah Sound Eleuther offered my pal and I a tow upwind (we were windbound in a 25K nor-wester) trying to paddle back up the sound after a great day of DIY fishing. What a fine professional as well as gentleman he was? This wasn't guide vs. DIY angler!!!...it was fisherperson to fisherperson! I'd never fish with a guide that I couldn't be friends with first. Last thing I would ever want to do is take casting directions from the bully at school.

Nuff Said!!!!

03-20-2006, 11:47 AM
Funny enough Henry- all my info came from Denny's mouth. He said he has signs from the Port Authority that he is supposed to post to keep DIYs off the flats. Again, I still believe that Denny and the Pettys are not going to run you off if you give them some business and do some on your own, but I do think it is unfortunate. Savannah Sound, at least the main flat by the park, was almost crowded when I was there. There are an awful lot of fishy looking places on that Island that the guides will never see because they don't need to leave their neighborhoods.

Obviously Henry, you have a lot more experience there than I do, do you think banning DIY on Eleuthera benefits anyone, including the guides? I don't think so. I can see limiting access to some flats, like Governor's or Tarpum or the Sound, but closing the whole thing would be ridiculous and unenforceable. :mad:

03-20-2006, 12:31 PM
I think that Paul Petty get's more bookings than Denny. Perhaps that's partly driven by location. Paul has a dedicated list of clients who have clued in to what he has to offer. Savannah sound is indeed big and beautiful...but it pales in comparison to other spots on the island where absolutely "NO" organized guided fishing takes place. Many of these spots could be deemed innaccessible by foot or by flats skiff. Fortunately for my pal and I...we can just barely sneak in with our inflatable kayak (don't you or anybody else think you can on foot, because you'll find yourselves chest deep in boot-sucking muck and marl on a rapidly rising tide). Gurgle!...gurgle...gurgle!!!

I have a great deal of respect for Paul and Denny. They are two professionals trying to scratch out a decent living on an island suffering some pretty tough economic woes. I'd personally "LOVE" to have either of them join me walking on a flat...not as client and guide...but as fellow bonefishionado's. If it were'nt for DIY bonefishing...it'd be DIN bonefishing (Do-it-Never) because I just don't have that much disposable income to permit it.

The flats at Govenor's, Tarpum or S. Sound don't even compromise 1/100th of the suitable bonefish habitat on the island. Selectively prohibiting DIY fishing those flats wouldn't bother me a bit!!! I like "stupid" "uneducated" bones...you know? ...bones, ...just being "bones?". Not acting like frightened sparks shooting out of a campfire.

Not much else to say other than I'll be on Eleuthera Next Saturday and I'm greatly looking forward to it. If I meet any guides (no doubdt I will again)...I'll talk fishing and flies, wives and daughters, uncles and son's but if they bring this topic up...I'll politely excuse myself and make for the nearest exit. Nobody needs to have that aggrivation while on holiday.

03-20-2006, 12:47 PM
Denny is the Chairman of the Guides Assoc., Paul the Deputy Chair. Denny was busy when I was there. I needed more time to expore than I had, I found some really beautiful looking areas, "down south" shall we say, that I know don't get touched by anybody. I'll be back there next year, one way or another. Have a great time Henry, I am extremely jealous. :brow

04-16-2006, 06:07 AM
hi all, im new to this forum so first of all hi to all here, i have read a lot of the threads/posts and have been impressed with the honesty and frankness of the people present. I cant help but put my opinions on this subject down as it has troubled me for a good while. I have recently been in Eleuthera and happily its still ok for diy, however increasingly we seem to encounter an attitude from some of the guides. Whilst most are friendly and wave/chat ect there are a number who increasingly resent the diy angler.
Eleuthera is a big island, the Bahamas cover a massive area, there is room for everybody. There are poor people on the islands, but at $300-$500 a day i dont suppose the guides are. I dont want to be taken to fish, told where to cast, which fly to use ect ect. The main attraction for me is the enviroment, and then finding, seeing, casting to,hooking ect ect on my own. I also havnt got the money to hire a guide for two weeks.
I know the guides serve a need, and a lot of people who have limited time need to maximise it, are very grateful for the service they provide.
I have been to Eleu 3 times in the last year and must have spent $3000-$4000 in the local economy, if the islands are shut down to diy anglers I will sadly shrug my shoulders and go somewhere else.
How will that benifit the local economy? me and hundreds of other anglers who will have no alternative to do the same will go to Cuba or South America, or the Seychelles.
I love Eleuthera and hope I can always visit and fish on my own in relative peace. I also love the bahamian people, and hope they will realise if they alienate diy anglers they will loose a huge amount of tourist /$.
The Bahamas are not the only bonefishing destination on the planet though,
and im sure the people of Cuba/South America will welcome the extra income.

Mark Dougherty
04-16-2006, 11:07 AM
1. Not enforceable
2. Not a movement that will garner support of local non-fishing biz's
3. It will never materialize (see 1 and 2 above)
4. The government wont be getting a piece of the action, hence, no new
5. Most guides I know dont make a living guiding....they crayfish, work construction and whatever other source of income they can find.
6. After a trip or 2 with outfitters (one of which I worked for), it fairly easy to examine the island culture, pick up a phone and ask any guide "wanna fish tomorrow" when you know you will have good weather....versus booking a week and rolling the dice on weather (no refund for blown off days is the standard lodge policy).

So, kick back...relax...get some guide tel#'s..check the weather. AND FISH !!
Sorry, but, I could resist posting on this subject. I usually use guides and some DIY........guides, to the degree I can afford them....DIY on lazy days with limited $$....