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Old 03-26-2005, 08:25 PM
alamborne alamborne is offline
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Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Golden, CO
Posts: 28
Eleuthera report

I got back from Eleuthera last week, fished March 12-20. Thanks to the board for lots of useful planning info.

While it wasn't what I expected, I did have a fun trip. Surprised at the level of devastation (I guess from years of hurricanes). Lot of abandoned places and lots of trash everywhere - maybe that's normal for Bahamas, haven't been to other islands for comparison. Got to fish at least a couple hours every day, and fished hard all day about half the time. We were happy to find lots of fishing spots on nice beaches where my wife could lay out and read.

This was only my second time bonefishing, so I've got a lot to learn. I was kind of disappointed in the number of bones. Actually, I saw plenty of fish, but clumped together in time - probably spent 95% (or more) of my time looking for fish vs. 5% stalking/casting to spotted fish. Understanding tides and the fish movement are obviously a key to finding fish in Eleuthera, and I don't have it figured out yet. I would say I saw fish most consistently on a low rising tide, but that rule seemed to be broken more often than not. It was much different from Belize, where I saw fish in practically every fishy looking spot and at all times of the day. There wasn't any noticeable tide in Belize when I was there, so perhaps that made the difference.

For those planning trips, I'll leave a few notes. Email me if you want more details.

Best dinners: Coco di Mama ($120 for 2 w/ several drinks), Tippy's ($80 for 2 w/ couple beers, live music on Sunday, cool expat beach-bar atmosphere)

Best lunch: Sip Sip on Harbor Island ($50 for 2)

Best affordable food: Bertha's GoGo Takeaway in Tarpum Bay ($15 for enough ribs & peas/rice to feed 4 people lunch), Mate & Jenny's (good fish & pizza)

Avoid Cigatoo Quality Inn for dinner - we went there when the place we'd planned on was closed, actually left without eating the dinner (though they were very nice, only charged for our appetizers & drinks)

For the fishing, I hit a bunch of spots from Harbor Island down to Rock Sound. Spent most of the time closer to Palmetto Point.

Savannah Sound - very fishing looking, beautiful sand flat w/ grass patches, at least 3/4 mile long (maybe more around bend to south, I didn't walk far that way). Saw quite a few fish (30+ in singles or small groups), but spent a lot of time walking with no spotted fish - probably spent 12 hours there on 3 occasions and had fish in sight for no more than 30-45 minutes. Fish incredibly spooky - had a couple over open sand spook at 150' with me standing still (and wearing light gray shirt/hat that shouldn't have stood out). Got a couple of follows but no fish caught - most would turn away when I cast or stripped or just let the fly sit - a 2nd cast would make them bug out if they hadn't already. I tried a number of flies here, down to unweighted #8s that blended perfectly with the sand, and just couldn't get interest. I was doing something wrong but can't figure what - had 12-14' leader w/ long 8# tippet, casting at a good distance (50-80') and I'm a pretty good caster (can put the fly down pretty quietly). Overall fish size was pretty big, would say most in the 3-4 lb range with plenty larger, biggest looked to be in 7-8 lb range. Saw no other species but did see/hear one large crash over shallow water that had to be a barracuda or shark nabbing something. If I went again, I wouldn't spend much time here - it looked so nice but was just too frustrating.

Tarpum Bay - my favorite area, fished near docks on Caribbean side and also on Atlantic side. Caught most of my fish and biggest ones here. Hit the area around docks late morning one day when it was calm and got 5 or 6 from a big school that was right there - fish caught ranged about 16-24" (think the biggest one was about 3-4 lbs), most of school was smallish fish but there were a few monsters among them. Should have spent more time there but wanted a more scenic spot for my wife and didn't realize how rare it would be to find fish so easily. Hit the same spot another day but waves were about 3' so coudn't see much. Did get 3 casts at the biggest bone I've ever seen (over 8 lbs, looked like it was close to 30" long), but the wave action didn't help - fish ignored the fly then spooked. My favorite spot (but not a nice beach if you have a nonfisher along) was on the Atlantic side. Found it on my last fishing day, but if going back I could fish there for days. I drove down at least 5 Atlantic side roads between TB and Rock Sound - you can explore to find the spot. Saw a number of bones, caught 1 big one, and spent a couple hours casting at small sharks. I was surprised how tough the sharks were, I got a bunch of good shots with several different big flies and only got some half-hearted follows and a couple of head turns at the fly with no hookup. Also caught some hogfish at this spot - probably would have been good for dinner if we weren't leaving.

Fished 10 bay one afternoon. Saw a few small bones, a couple sharks and quite a few big barracuda (1 was over 4' but had spooked by the time I saw it). Talked to a guy who rented a house there and he said he saw fish tailing along the beach at high tide. This is also a nice beach, but not one of the top 3 in my and wife's opinion.

Spent some time at Double Bay & Club Med beaches on Atlantic side. Caught a palometta in DB, didn't fish at CM. These were 2 of the nicest beaches and would be nice for snorkeling - coral heads just off the beach. No flats here, though both had shallowish corners that might be wadeable at low tide. Saw some bait fishers catch several reef fish but nothing that wanted a fly in spots I could reach the reef.

Saw bones and barracuda at beach in S. Palmetto Point - didn't fish long or at best tide. Pretty small flat. Caught some sort of mackeral-family fish about 6-8 lbs each, not sure what they were, from marina in next area south (still Palmetto Point).

Saw a number of bones in Governor's Harbor 1 day on incoming tide, but they were as picky as the SS fish (and smaller). I made short casts, long casts, tried a bunch of different flies, nothing worked for me here. There were several people who had fished the area before me, so maybe bones were still spooked.

Saw a school of bones at high tide on Coco di Mama flat, caught a few. Saw quite a few big barracuda and big shark (well, big to me, 5-6'). The shark was in 3' of water, where I had been snorkeling an hour ago. Cool to see, but glad I didn't see him while snorkeling. This was the nicest beach we hit on the caribbean side - 10bay might have been better, but CDM was one of the few beaches with little trash, probably because the resort cleans it up.

Airport flat looked great, but too windy the day I wanted to go there, plus didn't feel like lugging my wife's heavy beach chair in. You walk down the rocks from the north end of the airport, looks to be at least half-mile walk to the sandy flat.

The day we drove to Harbor Island was very windy, so didn't fish along the way. There were some nice looking spots along the Caribbean side. Did fish for a few minutes at bottom bay and an hour or 2 at JC bay in the evening (same area as bottom bay, but further around SE). Saw couple small ones at BB, very small flat, and several big ones at JC (mostly beach, but a few stretches of grass flat and some sand patches). Also saw 2 sea turtles and shark at JC - would definitely go back there if staying further north on island.

Tried a lot of flies, but all bones caught on #6 gotcha. Had a lot of puff-like flies in pink and green, but they looked too out of place on the sand (and fish seemed to agree). If going back, I'd tie some different looking patterns but stick to the tan gotcha color with pink or tan thread - just looked right on the sandy flats. I'd also take some #4 & 6 gotchas without eyes.

All in all, we had a good time. I would go back, and am sure I'd get more fish having found a few good spots and learned a little more. However, wife and I both agreed we'd pick Belize over Eleuthera any day, both for beauty of area and quality of fishing. Also, I would not recommend Eleuthera to a bonefish novice or first-timer - go somewhere where you can at least cast to a lot of fish. I'm hooked after Belize, would probably not be if Eleuthera was my first bonefish experience.

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