View Full Version : Eleuthera trip conclusions

03-26-2007, 02:10 PM
Well can't believe I've been home nearly a week and haven't had a chance to review.

Many reports on Eleuthera so don't know if I can add anything of further value but thought I'd summarize my experience and conclude from my last (perhaps slightly panicked thread) for those who are interested.

All in all we had a great two weeks. Don't know where else I could take the family and have bonefishing literally right outside our front door. We flew from Thunder Bay via Toronto to Nassau by Air Canada, then took Bahamas Air (it's actually a contractor/charter company) to Governour’s Harbour. This was not a through-fare, I bought the tickets separately on-line and we had a long wait in Nassau in both directions (but I've learned it's a good idea to allow several hours for connections in the Bahamas).

We packed one suitcase with frozen chicken and beef which I wrapped in my wetsuit and sweatpants. We also piled in other dry goods in our bags like breakfast cereals, drink mixes, coffee, crackers etc. etc. we ended up with 4 checked bags (one each) and no overweights.

People of Eleuthera are friendly and easy going with that great island mentality. I did see a hint of western hip-hop culture creeping in which is does not bode well for the future based on what we see in other parts of the Caribbean.

For the four of us (three adults and one child for airfares) for two weeks:
Airfare: Air Canada $1750 Bahamas Air $440
House rental: $2206
Car: $630
Gas: $70
Food and misc. (not including what we bought with us but including one night out): about $400

Total: $5496

I fished mostly half days because after all it was a family vacation and lost two or three days to weather. I hooked 12 or maybe 13 fish of which 3 unhooked, one broke off and one knot came undone. Should have checked closer after releasing the prior fish.

I am disappointed that the problem of trash continues to get worse. On the islands. Some say the trash comes from cruise ships and military vessels, most of the trash I saw on the beaches looked local to me. Regardless of where it comes from, the beeches are the islands only “Export” you’d think there would be some effort at clean up. I released all but one fish without touching the fish, but one was wrapped in a plastic bag by the time I landed it and had no choice but to handle the fish.

The burning of trash is also bad news and this happens most week days on E. Burning trash releases toxins into the air. The toxins rise in southern areas so have no real detrimental impact locally. The problem is what goes up must come down and the toxins, following the natural convection action of the planet fall on northern communities…yup affecting me and perhaps you too.

Now the fishing:
I Took a 10wt Winston BIIx, 9wt Thomas & ThomasH2, 9wt G loomis Slate, 8wt G loomis slate, and Winston BIIx 6wt. All rods are custom built by me. I carried the rods as carry-on along with one real and one box of flies.

Note: I've travelled many times with flies in my carry-on baggage and NEVER had a problem. In fact the TSA recommends-take expensive and fragile items "like expensive rods and flies in your carry-on baggage.” Anyway CATSA is not as clear and long story short, they took my box of flies.

Fortunately I had packed a small fly-away fly-tying kit so my first evening in E was spent madly tying my bonefish pattern from memory.

I'd have to say the weather was not ideal, over the two weeks we had two fronts come through, which is typical for the Bahamas in winter, but I'd hoped that mid March would have seen more stable conditions. The cycle for each front is generally predictable with some southern humid flow followed by rain and wind out of the NW followed by clearing and strong cool wind out of the NE. I had perhaps 3 days of fishing where the wind wasn't 20-30 knots out of the NE.

I thought that heading south would get me out of the NE wind, but E is relatively flat so there really is no leeside. The wind was blowing so hard across the southern flats that the water was whipped up and so was the bottom i.e. zero visibility.

I walked over a lot of good looking bonefish flats in the south and never saw a fish (you can believe me or not, but if there'd been a fish I would have spotted him). I suspect the cold wind/water had much to do with this.

I spent too much time going from place to place and too often the sun was out while I was driving, but clouds blocked the sun while I was fishing!!!

There is no doubt that fishing pressure in E has had a dramatic affect on the fish in the more frequently fished spots. One day when I arrived at savannah sound there were 6 anglers on the white flat and not a fish to be seen (and they're easy to see there). I saw more fish here on the falling tide then on the incoming, WAY more, likely because I was the only one there. I also fished there during no-sun conditions, then there were even more fish. On time I was on the main flat and literally surrounded by fish, tough to see when there's no sun but of course the advantage is the fish couldn't see me either!

As far as SS is concerned I don't remember ever casting to so many fish without a pickup. I even fished here in bare feet to improve stealth! I eventually did get a hookup using Catspaw's pattern but this may have been a foul hook, I can't say for sure. The fish did a tight 360 at lightning speed and was gone (unhooked itself). I was using my 9wt with a Rio bonefish line 12' floro leader with 2' of 8# tippet added. The first time I presented Catspaw's pattern was typical...I saw a large single coming at me from the south a long way away. With the wind out of the NE these fish follow predictable paths, in to the shallow water (well below the knees) then cruise north routing around, then heading back to the deeper water after they found a bight. With the wind I could cast the whole rio, that's about 114' to the fly. I still had a few wraps of line on the real so let's say the cast was 95'. the fly landed well ahead of the fish (further than I would normally lead a fish) such that me and the fly were laying in waiting of mr. bone. I moved the fly as the fish approached but only barely. When the fish saw the fly he bolted. I say bolted because it wasn't just a turn and head off in another direction, it was panic as if I'd nearly stepped on him or something. I don't believe the fish could have possibly seen me, and I don't think he saw the line or leader, given he was coming head on. As I said this experience was typical for me on the savannah main flat. When the fish are digging its different, then you can just about knock ‘em on the head with the fly and they’re still ambivalent. So you wait patiently with the fly in position a couple of feed away. They fish stop mudding, look up see the fly and spook!

Fishing in the surf can best be described as kool. The fish are large and aggressive, and to see a bonefish or two flopping about in the surf more out of the water than in, will bring a chuckle. The fish move fast and you find yourself having to cast with the wind at all different angles. My biggest fish (28”) came from the surf on the Atlantic side from a cast over my left shoulder.

As impossible as the fish were on the SS main flat, the fish cruising the beach were more focused. One amusing time I had two large fish approaching me head-on. I crouched down in the surf and tried a cast... smack, fly in the back of the head. I reached up and retrieved the fly easily (another advantage of barb less) but by this time the fish are very close. I froze and tried not to look. These two fish coasted by me not more than 5' away. they seemed to be looking right at me, but didn't spook. After they went buy I slowly swung around and to my surprise they were in the surf tails out. This time I made the cast and one picked it up. That fish ran along the shore until my fly line was in the water then made a hard right through the turtle grass. I never felt the instant when he came unhooked but I reeled in a bail of turtle grass.

Needless to say I had fun, saw lots of life on the flats including stingrays, eagle rays, turtles, assorted jacks, lemon sharks (several in the 5' region) and even a 5' reef shark which is not common on a sand flat. I got my fly stuck in more than one tree which is a new bonefishing experience for me and had both my daughters age 11 and 13 on the flats a GHB with fly rods in hand. Unfortunately no fish that day but then where else could they just walk to shops instead?

Ten Bay where our rental was, was great for the family, good snorkelling and for the most part calm water. The bonefish were panicked most of the time because of the swimmers, anglers and as many as ten Barracuda that sunned themselves in the pools almost every day. I say almost because our last evening while I was taking apart my rods etc, I looked out and saw bonefish with no anglers or barracuda in sight. I waded out and got myself up wind made a long cast and for the first time saw the fish moving TOWARD my fly. Hooked three fish before the light was gone.

I had a few of those barracuda take a run at flies cast with the 10wt but always seemed to run out of stripping room before a strike, or perhaps they were just playing with me.

E is definitely a place we’ll look at again for a vacation. It wouldn’t be my first choice specifically for fishing however.

03-26-2007, 02:34 PM
Great report.

That trash issue is something that's never going to go away I'm afarid. It's difficult to imagine just how bad it is, unless you've seen it first hand. How can someone just drive or push a car into a creek or the ocean, and just leave it there for decades to rot? Boats, of all sizes just get left in the mangroves to die, and spew all their fluids into the pristine waters.:mad: Is that giant bulldozer still in the water behind Governor's Harbor Airport? Who would ever think it's a good idea to place a dump right next to the ocean.
The one lasting sense I still carry with me, is the smell of burning trash you smell on every island in the Bahamas and the Caribbean. But, the only way possible for them to deal with their trash is to have it taken out on barges, the way it came in in the first place. You know that will never happen b/c it costs $$$.
They're too busy blaming the DIY anglers for ruining their bone fishery too worry about their trash.:rolleyes:

03-26-2007, 03:19 PM
Boats, of all sizes just get left in the mangroves to die, and spew all their fluids into the pristine waters:

Yup I'm afraid your right. It wasn't my intention to make the trash issue the focus of my report but it's hard to ignore it.

I am reminded of 1992 when my wife and I were living/cruising on our sailboat. We got to the British Virgin Islands and our Perkins diesel gave up. Cylinder head cracked. We were getting ready to pay $1800 for a replacement head shipped from the US. In fact we were walking in to Tortola to make the arrangements. On this day no one stopped to give us a ride and we ended up walking through one of those roadside junk collections. Old outboards, boats, nets empty wire spools. Among all this trash I saw something light blue...it was a rusty dismantled perkins diesel!

I paid the only person I could see $20, he thought he's died and gone to pusser's rum factory and I walked away with the 60# cylinder head. I took all the good parts out of both heads, made one good head and put the engine back together. That Perkins ran flawlessly for the rest of our adventure.

One man's trash.........

One thing I notices on E, particularily on the beeches is that most of the trash has been there a long time. Meaning that if there was at least an attempt at cleanup, it wouldn't be too hard to keep up once caught up. Still the unaswered question is what to do with it all.

Jim Miller
03-26-2007, 03:30 PM
Thanks for the report!
a thought on the trash/garbage issue.
It seems on Eleuthera that they are still recovering from the last big Hurricaine. It screwed with their economy in a big way. The goverment can't keep the roads paved .... so you can see where beach cleanup falls in the priority list. Maybe with more tourists and more economy ... the "up keep" funds will increase. From what I saw and heard on Eleuthera last summer, it seems the Gov. is funding Nassau & Grand Bahama and is not earmarking much funding for the family islands.
Maybe more foreign capital will help.
FWIW: the beaches with the most homes on them did a "self imposed" cleaning program. The remote beaches were pretty littered. But even in remote Alaska there is washed up garbage on the beach. If no one cleans it up , it just accumulates till washed away to another locale.
Too bad that is the state of the planet! :mad:

03-26-2007, 03:43 PM
I should have mentioned that I sight fish only. I did not fish Tarpum Bay as to me it seemed more like blind casting or shooting fish in a barrel.

I'm not a "bonefish snob" I just like what I like.

I mention this only because many guys are happy catching fish, and there is no problem catching fish on E.

For me it's as much about the hunt as the catching, the challenge of spotting fish and casting to them without spooking them. always nice to land a fish but it is sooo much sweeter when you've stalking it first.

I probably spent too much time on Savannah sound, but it became a challenge that I had trouble resisting (and there were days where I didn't see any fish at any other location).

03-26-2007, 03:49 PM
But even in remote Alaska there is washed up garbage on the beach. If no one cleans it up , it just accumulates till washed away to another locale.
Too bad that is the state of the planet! :mad:

Agreed - even in the early 90's we walked on windward beaches on inhabited and uninhabited islands throughout the caribbean, ALL had accumulated trash and tar marbles.

I did see road crews picking up trash along the roadside south of Rock sound which was a pleasant surprise.

03-26-2007, 03:51 PM
Don't mean to get too far off subject on this thread, but I'm thinking of going to the Bahamas next year for the first time. I would assume the resort beaches are clean, but do all the remote beaches and all the islands in general have trash/litter problems? I like to explore the deserted islands and cays and venture to the uninhabited islands (I'm specifically thinking the Exumas). Should I expect to see trash everywhere to the point where it is an eyesore? Just don't want the wife being disappointed if I take her to a "dump".

Jim Miller
03-26-2007, 03:54 PM
something just occured to me.
Even on Smith's Point on Nantucket there is allot of washed up garbage ..... except on ACK it is more expensive and fashionable garbage! :brow

Jim Miller
03-26-2007, 04:02 PM
after saying all this garbage stuff....
The beaches in Eleuthera were still the most stunningly beautiful I've ever seen! :-%

03-27-2007, 06:33 AM
Last Feb. was my fifth yearly trip to E. Most of the "garbage" I've seen on the beaches is the flotsom, jetsom type from cruising boats, not stinking type household garbage. I also noticed that someone or some entity is making an effort to clean the area from Gov. Harbour to Windemere Isl.. Everyday I would see a local bagging litter from the bushes on the side of the road and a truck would pick it up at the end of the day. Not sure if it's government effort or local investor trying to tidy-up but it's definately an improvement. As far as the burning of trash goes I've been going to different islands all through the caribean for 25 years and they have always burned trash everywhere and it may be a while before anything changes. Nassau may be able to support a co-generation plant but the out islands can't and I don't think they can afford to barge it out, too bad. Also the road from Tarpum Bay to Rock Sound is getting repaved with new seawalls in some areas, I've seen improvement in different areas every year I've returned, the politicians in Nassau must finally be realizing the value of the out island as well as the cruise ship stops, and casinos.
The fishing is definately getting tougher. I had forgotten how windy it can get in March, the fishing is tough enough without having to cast is gale conditions. Every year I go in Feb. but was thinking about changing to March to get some warmer water, I think I'll stick with Feb.. In two weeks I only had 3 or 4 days when the wind howled, I had one really severe cold front come through but I still saw fish everyday. I can't figure out why there's so few, like not any, fish on those southern flats, they're text book bonefish areas. I have some ideas for flies next year I'll keep you posted.

03-27-2007, 03:48 PM
Don't mean to get too far off subject on this thread, but I'm thinking of going to the Bahamas next year for the first time. I would assume the resort beaches are clean, but do all the remote beaches and all the islands in general have trash/litter problems? I like to explore the deserted islands and cays and venture to the uninhabited islands (I'm specifically thinking the Exumas). Should I expect to see trash everywhere to the point where it is an eyesore? Just don't want the wife being disappointed if I take her to a "dump".

As discussed, the beaches that are developed with resorts or houses will have some form of regular clean-up. But the remote beaches on the windward/east sides of the islands and cays will have accumulated trash mostly plastic & glass bottles, buckets, and various plastic containers, but also just about any trash that floats - polypropylene nets and ropes, running shoes, fishing net markers, plastic bags milk creates, styrofoam cups, six-pack wrappers etc.etc.

In addition oil spilt at sea, or dumped from bilge cleaning, gets rolled into small marble-sized spheres by the sea. Rolled around long enough they become like black rocks on the beach, newer ones are more like roof tar and you'll need a solvent to clean it off your feet. This problem is worse in south Florida than it is in the Bahamas, just to give you a sense of order of magnitude.

The surf and immediate beach areas will be largely pristine in most areas. It's the areas immediately behind the surf that are not so good as the wind and higher tides tend to deposit the stuff up around the tree line.

having said all this I've been fortunate enough to enjoy beaches from the north shore of Lake superior all the way down to Venezuela, and the Bahamas has the best beaches you'll find. If "no-trash" is a mandatory criterion, then Neys beach on the North Shore of Lake Superior is your place :brow !

Favour the developed beaches on the east shores and most of the beaches on the west side and you won't see too much trash. Cape Santa Maria Beach, north west side of Long Island (Bahamas) is the best tropical beach I know...sand as fine a flower, crystal clear water with a gradual drop off, uncrowded and DIY bone fishing within walking distance!

03-29-2007, 09:56 AM
I fished Eleuthera many times in the past. We'd do a rental house and rental boat. By "boat" I mean an old american car from the seventies...think Ford LTD sedan, hand painted in light blue marine paint. Those cars got a workout.

I started as a young kid under the guidance of my Dad. Fishing was challenging then, but NOTHING like it is today. This was well prior to the internet and nice websites like Bonefish Adventures. :mad: That site has been giving away the candy store for years. I'm pretty sure everyone who visits this board has probably seen their site. You know, bloated Brits in bikinis and banana hammocks holding up fish after fish in what once were unknown locations.

It's disheartening to hear about the number of fisherman in your accurate post. My last trip there was 6 years ago. I was struck by how spooky the fish had become. (doing presentations to the bones like you described) The number of white guys in funny outfits walking the flats was also frustrating.

My first reaction was to not use familiar patterns like crazy charlies anymore. It was as if they had seen that trick one too many times before. Also I vacated my usual haunts. I still caught fish DIY but I felt I'd really accomplished something each time I hooked up. I hiked some miles for those fish.

I'm as guilty as the next guy for scouring the net for my next trip. I's pretty slick, but there is a downside.

03-29-2007, 10:37 AM
The number of white guys in funny outfits walking the flats was also frustrating.

Too funny....even my wife (has had a fishing rod in her hands maybe twice in her life) got a chuckle about the outfits.

I didn't mention this fact but the unfortunate reality is, that many if not most of the anglers I saw when I was there simply did not appear to have a good handle on how to fish (of course it's possible they were targeting a species I'm not familiar with), when you see a guy trudging in waist-deep or deeper water, I'd have to say he's no seeing fish, but they're seeing him and it will be pure luck if he achieves a hookup.

At savannah especially I was rarely in water much over my ankles and the fish were as much inside of me as outside. I'd come off the flat after seeing lots of fish and speak to other guys (and girls) who hadn't seen a thing. Now, Savannah with that pure sand bottom and big fish, when the sun was out, I could see fish 100yds or more away and many times their behavior was predictable enough that I could stand in one spot a simply wait for the next fish or small group to cruise past. If nothing else this is a great opportunity for anglers to learn how to spot fish and position yourself for an opportunity. Yet time and again I saw people trudging along out near the deeper water in thigh deep water. The SS fish would have spotted them long before a cast was possible.

Everyone must go through the learning process, but at least go with a guide a couple of times to get the basics. I saw Bonefish at Tenbay every day except one (rain and NW wind) out of the 14 days we stayed there, yet of the several the anglers I spoke to only one indicated he'd seen fish. The fish were spooky but most definitely visible, especially with that white sandy bottom and for the most part calm water.

on a remotely related topic, it was also amusing to see people bobbing along on air mattresses and whatnot within yards of the lurking barracuda. My guess is if they'd know they were so close to menacing-looking 4ft predators they would have been a little less relaxed!

03-29-2007, 05:22 PM
Can't agree with you more on the potential downside of publishing sites on the Internet. Eleuthera has undergone significant changes over the last 10 years primarily based on it being touted as the first "DIY" Island. The original website and passing out of preprinted instructions on where to find the flats has revealed a number of previous "prime" spots. Even that website is aware of the traffic as they now mask locations in photographs and refuse to distribute the pamphlet with the purchase of a dinner.

Its important to note that there are still plenty of prime locations to fish unpressured flats in Eluethera (However, none of those places are named are Savannah Sound, Governors Harbor, Ten Bay beach, or Palmetto Point, or Winding Bay). You just have to do the leg work to find them.

I used to post fishing logs as I felt it was a great way to repay the ton of information that I had gathered on this board over the years, but decided to quit as the situation in Eluethera grew worse. I still get frequent e-mails around how to find the locations in the old log's. Although I feel bad, I simply cannot share the info, and every report that I read from Eluethera confirms that my decision - although difficult is the right one.

04-01-2007, 02:09 PM
75% of what is interesting about fishing is finding fish. It is silly to post what amounts to GPS coordinates to locations, unless it is done on purpose to concentate the clueless. However all remote locations do require logistical scouting, and a broad, general sharing of experience is not a bad thing, otherwise we may as well surrender to the commercial outfitters.

04-01-2007, 03:58 PM
$5496 for 13 bonefish= $422.70/fish

bonefish cost about the same as tuna!


04-07-2007, 11:32 AM
$5496 for 13 bonefish= $422.70/fish

bonefish cost about the same as tuna!


A ha...I see you're a "glass is half empty" kind of guy.

The way I look at it, I paid for a family vacation, four people, two weeks, in a cottage right on a fantastic caribbean beach.

The Bonefish were FREE!