Had a chance to ride along with the crew of the Rascal out of Georgetown, SC for the 45th annual Georgetown Blue Marlin Tournament. The Georgetown tournament kicks off the South Carolina Governors Cup Billfishing Series. We had great weather on day 1 and released a white marlin and a sailfish – day 2 was a little sporty with the tropical storm brewing in the atlantic, but we still managed a blue marlin. It was a refreshing change to get out of the marsh for the weekend and watch some big ticked-off fish get airborne in blue water.
Had to fight off the dolphin throughout the weekend – I’m not ever going to get accustomed to trying to avoid bites from 20lb fish. Despite our efforts, we couldn’t keep the bait away from this guy.
This was pretty much how things looked arriving at the dock at 430am the morning after the captain’s dinner – wishing I had gone to bed a little earlier.
Our first fish of day 1 was this white marlin – it uncharacteristically stayed down pretty much the entire battle, only showing itself once we got it close to the boat.
The second fish of the day was this nice sailfish – it on the other hand freaked out and put on an aerial display that I still can’t get out of my mind.
Congrats to the winner – the Sadie Beth out of Charleston, SC (2 whites and 5 sailfish) – and thanks to the owners, Captain, and Crew of the Rascal for asking me to ride along for the tournament.
Capt Jay Nelson
Our plan was simple, go and catch fish…lots of fish. However, someone forgot to tell the fish we were coming and they either left town or ate before we were trying to serve them dinner. We were ready for just about any type of fishing. Deep dropping in 1,500 feet for queen snappers. Trolling the blue water for yellowfins, wahoo, and mahi. Fishing the reef for black groupers and yellowtails. Even sleep deprived middle of the night mutton fishing. It was game on and we were swinging for the fences….and sometimes you strike out.
I guess one of the good things about the target species not wanting to be cooperative was that it allowed me to take some photos of other fish I don’t normally catch on a regular basis. I thought I’d share some of the pics.
I’ll take “Things that not considered epic” Alex, for $100.
This weekend I was down there in Boca Grande Florida, arguably “THE” Tarpon capitol of the world.
Every summer the Tarpon migrate through Boca Grande and gorged themselves on the crabs that gets flushed out of Boca Grande pass.
I did not even picked up a rod while down there. I was basically down there to hang with some friends and get some images. There were plenty of tarpon that has moved in but the bite has been a bit slow all week. This weekend was no exception.
I got on a boat during the women’s tarpon tournament as well as the men’s tarpon tournament the next day. The tournament I’m guessing average about 30-40 fish caught. My opportunity for photos of jumping fish was not the best however. I had a chance at one or two predictable jumps but that was it for the two days.
One thing that stood out was there were not many sharks. I’m sure there are some there but I did not see and hear over the radio of any sharks sightings during the two days I was there.
Big Tarpon jump shots are tough to capture tact sharp and they definitely eluded me this time around.
I did find some spots that might hold baby tarpon and I will have to bring down my SUP next time to do some fly fishing.
Here are some images from Day one. Will get more done of Day two tomorrow.
This is part 2 of 2 of the D.I.Y. Bone fishing to to Long Island Key Bahamas.
Pinky, the guide that runs the Long Island Bone fish lodge tells me that 75% of all the flats on Long Island is wade able. Though he also offer the normal guided trips, he tells me this fact allows him to offer a D.I.Y. at a lesser price and makes his lodge a little different than most others.
The daily routine is:
- 6am coffee and breakfast to order
- 7-8 am consider the conditions and discuss options of what type of fishing was best that day
- 12 Noon Lunch break
- 4-6pm depending how things were going head back to the lodge
- 7pm – beer, appetizer and drinks at the club house
- 8pm Dinner of Conch, Lobster or Nassau grouper
The D.I.Y. concept is more of an assisted fishing rather than 100% on your own. This is great since the guides takes you places in their skiff drops you off in areas with the best conditions. Local knowledge like wind directions, water clarity, and tidal flows are considered when dropping you off on a flat.
Once dropped off they give an overview of the area and where the fish are likely to be found. They then give you directions of either when to come back or when they will pick you up to move to another location.
The Fishing Options
Wading on hard bottom on white sand flats of shallow bays nearby the lodge is one option that is offered each morning. Here the guide takes you out on their skiff and within 2 to 5 miles you are fishing white sand flats for bonefish.
Wading on salt flats is an option where they load everyone up and head south for about 30minutes. You will heading towards and abandon salt manufacturing plant that was owned by Diamond Crystal during the 70’s. Here you will pass abandon buildings and structured used to produce salt.
You will travel through canal systems and shallow flats that once was used to produce table salt. The canals and flats are now filled with bait fish, small sharks, crabs, tarpon, jacks, snappers and bonefish.
Wading via kayak as transport: this is an option in area of the Salt flats specifically in area that is too deep or the bottom is too soft.
Wading fishing the crystal clear water on the beaches: This option is the by far the most scenic of the all the options. You are on white sand beaches walking in gin clear water sight fishing bone fish, snappers and cudas.
Aaron from the bonefish institute and the guides did not need shoes at many of the spots. However there were places that were sharp and rocky enough it was treacherous with out them.
On the white sand flats even tried with no shoes on but once you get to the rocky area the rocks can be sharp indeed. I mean to the point where it can cut through the weak point of the shoes. Unless you are one tough SOB a good pair of wading shoes is a must have if you want fish comfortably here.
I brought along two pair of shoes. The Body glove 3 toe shoes and the Simms Zipit bootie. I gave the 3 Toe a try the first day and they did the job on the packed sand flats. When it got the rocky area these guys just did not have enough protection especially around the ankle area.
I used the Simms Zipit the rest of the trip which did great but even these I felt there was not enough protection. The next trip over for wading fishing I will be bring my Simms Flats boots. These have plenty of protection all the way around plus the added support for the ankle. I never thought I would need it there but there were plenty of flats with uneven rock bottom that the ankle support would have made it much easier to death with.
Another thing to consider since you will wading is neoprene wading socks. This will keep the debris out and keep blistering to a minimum. A couple of more experienced guys had these and I was a bit jealous after the 3rd or 4th day.
I would wear whatever is comfortable. Since you will not be making any big runs in a boat wide brim hat will be the best protection for wade fishing. Since it was so windy and overcast for the first few days, I stayed with my normal visor which worked just fine. Most of the guys wore baseball hats.
Do not make the mistake of making head wear an option. Under normal good weather the sun will make it hot for you real quick! This can lead to sunburn and even heat exhaustion.
Compliment this with face mask like a buff and you have the perfect combination to use there. Not only protection from the sun but bugs and such as well.
Since it was so windy bugs was not an issue with us but they are definitely something to think about.
Here is a POV video of me hooking a bone fish tailing in ankle deep water.
Another must have item is a good pair of polarize sunglasses. Most polarize sunglasses will work but try to bring the amber or copper colored polarize sunglasses. This allows for better contrast so you can spot the fish better. Bone fish is hard enough to spot even in the gin clear water of the Bahamas. If you do not have a polarize sunglasses you mine as well stay home for this type of fishing.
I used the Costa Del Mar 580 copper. I brought 2 pairs with me. This was a good thing too. While trekking through some bushes in the salt flats I lost one. Since the walk was almost 5 miles I had no idea where it could have fallen off my neck.
I wear the Zane frame. If you got a big head and a flat nose like me this is a good frame to try.
A good light weight rain gear is probably a good idea. This thing came in handy more than once. Bring something small enough you can compress and pack into your back pack or chest pack. Make sure it’s breathable.
It gets pretty uncomfortable when it’s raining so you have to wear your jacket but it’s so darn hot you are sweating on the inside.
I had a Columbia omni tech which worked out nicely.
Pants and under wear:
When I first started traveling I use to bring the kitchen sink! If I was going to go for 5 days I would bring five days worth of clothes and then some just for back ups.
Through experience, research and observing other seasoned travels I have learned to bring the bare minimal. Bring high quality clothes yes but bring as little as you can.
When I say high quality I don’t mean designer wear. I mean technical gear that is specifically made to wear often, in tough conditions, wash and rewashed plus dry very quickly for next day’s use.
No matter how long I’m staying I only bring 3 outfits with me now. 3 pants(+pair of board shorts), 3 underwear, 3 shirts.(along with a couple casual wear items) The high tech material the travel wear are made of these days allow me to jump into the show with them on at the end of the day. I rinse it all up with soupy water and hang dry. By the next day they are completely dry and ready to go. This makes dealing with your clothe a lot easy to deal with.
The Rail Riders were the same way but the Rail Riders had tones of pockets. I used these for the airport travel as well. The multiple pockets allow me to carry my phone, wallet, passport and such. The zipper pockets on some of them made me felt very secure that I was not going to lose important items during my travels. These shorts were made to travel and fish with and I put them to the test all week.
The underwear I brought along were Under Amour and Exofficio microfibers. Not only are they comfortable, they dry super quick and was ready to use the next day.
These are not cheap items and are more expensive than the cheapest brands out there. I use to buy the $19.95 fishing pants but they would only last 1 year before they start to split up and falling apart. This is the last thing I need when I travel so I do my best to bring the most durable most efficient clothing.
My shirts consist of a short sleeve micro fiber for walking around the lodge plus a cotton T to sleep with. I brought along two long sleeves to fish with. Just make sure they are quick dry material with good sun protection ratings. Shirts with pockets are also good since you can never have enough pockets when you are wade fishing.
Suggested Fishing Gear
You can get away without a wading pack and use your pockets but you will probably end up regretting not having one.
One person had the waist pack and the rest either had a back pack or a back pack chest pack combo. This allows you to be self sustaining bringing extra fishing gear, rain jacket, drinks and snacks.
I used the William Joseph Confluence. This unit allow me to have all my rain gear and cameras in the back secure with zippers. In the front the confluence uses magnets for easy access and anti rust.
Most of the bonefish in Bahamas are smaller compared to the average size bonefish in Florida waters. Many guys had 6 wt with them to be a little more sporty and or stealthy on those calm days.
If you could only bring one I would suggest brining an 8 wt fly rod. It is perfect for 90% of your fishing there. It’s not too heavy and can still deal with windy days.
I brought along my BVK 8wt as well as my 9th NRX. Thankfully I did it was blowing 25 to 30mph for 4 days and the 9wt definitely came in handy. Not that the fish were large, but to deal with wind, it definitely became helpful turning the fly over against the wind.
When one of the guys noticed my bling NRX rod he told me, “man you got an awesome combo there”. I looked at his combo and it was the top of the line from a really famous company. I replied back, “Really? I figured it would be that new one, so and so company just came out with.. “. He said, “yeah but I think the NRX is better..”
So the moral of the story is…. If you’re into high end fly gear the NRX & NV combo is envied by some to notch guys out there. This is coming for guys that can have almost any rod & reel they wanted.
A waterproof fly reel is a must have while doing this trip in my opinion. Since you are wading 90% of the time dunking your reel in saltwater is inevitable. The last thing you need is your reel failing on you while on a trip and wading.
There are many waterproof reels out there. I brought along a Nautilus FWX. This super feather weight reel is waterproof but not as bullet proof as their NV series. I also brought along the NV series reel. This sucker is bullet proof and I’ve dunk the crap out of this thing on more than one occasions.
If you check out a couple of photo my Nautilus NV was wet from rain, submerged in mud, sand and saltwater. At one time I had such a bad tip wrap in 25 mph winds I say screw it and just dropped the entire combo while I fix the issue.
An unsolicited compliment I got there from a few of the big name writers there told me the Nautilus NV is probably one of the best if not the best Saltwater reel out there.
Being the low man on totem pole when comes to world travel out there made me felt good about my gear choices that day.
You want a floating weight forward fly line in these conditions. Any tropical type line will do. The worst thing you can do is bring fly line made for fresh water conditions. It will drive you crazy. The heat will make the line limber, sticky and you will spend most of your time untangling the mess rather than fishing.
I like the SA Mastery Bonefish taper but any tropical line you are comfortable with will work just fine. Just make sure it is made for warm weather.
Another video shot on the Niko AW100 of bonefish in so skinny of water, it got grounded when he came unbotton.
Whether you tie your own, get them from friends or by them both trips to the Bahamas for me, the fish seems to like the gotcha flies. Get them in variety of colors and weight. I’m not saying this is the only pattern that works. We were catching them on all kinds of flies. Most of them imitated a crab if that gives you can clue.
You will mostly fish waters knee high or shallower so make sure you bring un weighted flies as well. We were catching tailing fish in ankle deep water the last two days. They were tailing on rocky flats that I would never thought to fish if I was back home in Florida.
Baby Nassau grouper caught in the wrecks
The winds made for some spectacular shore breaks
I brought along with me all kinds of gear. I packed GoPro, a Nikon D7000, Sony Nex5 , Nikon AW100, and other video gear. Since I wanted to really fish this trip instead of just taking photos however my gear I carried with me was very limited.
While wading my camera choice was the waterproof Nikon AW100 and the Sony NEX-5 in a zip lock bag. Wade fishing leaves very little opportunity for camera work especially if you want to fish as well. I find myself using the AW100 80% of the time. As you can see I did manage to get some good photos with it.
Wanting to give other fisherman space I find myself along quite often. Even though there were way more fish caught than the ones you see, there was very little grip and grin opportunity since most time we were hundreds of yards away from one another.
That being said the scenery was fantastic so the wide angle lens was used 90% of the time. A polarize filter is also a must to bring out the blues in the skies, lower the reflection in the water and increased the saturation.
Hope you find this How to DIY bone fishing trip to the Bahamas helpful. I know I could have used a no BS guide like this this first time I visited there to fish.
This is part 1 of 2 in the D.I.Y. Bone fishing trip to Long Island Key Bahamas.
This was my 2nd trip to the Bahamas. Compared to many of my photographer associates I am somewhat of a newbie to this concept of traveling and fishing outside of the US.
Though I consider myself a newbie many have not made these trips so I will do my best to help out my fellow fisherman.
I know this because when I come back, I get many questions about how, who, what to bring, cost etc. So this time, instead writing about how cool, interesting and fun the trip was I will make this article towards how you can do it yourself. I think this will prove quite more useful than, oh the fish was great, we had fun.. blah blah..
I will break this down into two parts:
- The Travel: Cost of the travel and the accommodation expected
- The fishing: What clothing and fishing gear to bring
I will do my best to put links up to the services to make it easier for anyone interested.
Though the Bahama is considered international travel, it is one of easiest foreign destination to travel to from Florida. Everyone there speaks English and the US dollar works fine there. No conversion is needed and the value is identical. Since their primary trade is tourism you are treated very nicely every where you go on the island.
90% of the flights to the Bahamas needs to make a pit stop in Nassau. This is the main airport and there you can take a hopper flight to your destination. This trip was to Long island key about 30-40minute south east of the Nassau.
Though there are many airlines flying to Nassau the cheapest one was Spirit Air. Spirit is not the fanciest airline out there but I was only going to be on the plane for only an hour. If you book your tickets 2 weeks or more ahead of time a round trip ticket will only set you back around $200 depending where you are flying in from. Me I was leaving out of Ft. Lauderdale.
The one thing I must warn you is that Spirit Air do charge $25 per extra bags.
Once in Nassau, you will have to get your passport stamped(yes it’s international flight so you will need your passport). The immigration here in relaxed but you still want your paper work in case there is any issue.
After grabbing my luggage it was off to get on the hopper plane through Bahamas Air. The flight was booked online and cost about $100 for a one way ticket to Long Island Key. When you are waiting for a flight, there a a cafeteria style restaurant there that serves some good authentic Bahamian eats. I’m always hungry so this was awesome. Oh, there is also a Wendy’s at the airport for those not so adventurous.
Once you land(Deadman’s Cay airport), the lodge is only 5 minutes away. A quick cab ride works but Long Island Bone fish lodge actually comes out to pick you up and will be waiting for you. This made for a very worry free from airport to lodge trip.
Points to make your travel easier:
- Bring a pen to fill out forms(I’m guilty of forgetting this and keep having to borrow all the time)
- Bring your green card if you are not a US citizen.
- Everyone will need a passport.
- Luggage needs to be under 40lbs per bag.
- Wear comfortable clothes with plenty of pockets. This allows you carry your gear like wallets, passports, phones, etc easily with out fear of loosing things.
- I’ve been wearing Rail Rider Bone fish flats travel shorts the last couple months. They are specifically design for travel and adventure. Super tough, tons of pockets w/ security zippers.
This trip we were staying at the the Long Island bone fish lodge. Though the standard guided trips are available, the lodge specialized in a Do it Yourself trip. This type of trip is geared towards intermediate and up fly fisherman. Basically guys that already know how to fish. Basic knowledge of spotting fish, know how to tie knots, does not have any issues landing and releasing their catch.
Since this is an assisted trip, the cost is much less as well. At $1600 for a 7 day trip with 6 days of fishing included it’s a bargain. This include water front cottages with AC, hot/cold running water, internet access plus three meals a day. The place is pretty much brand new and is better than many of the US hotels I have stayed at. This is an awesome deal considering at non DIY lodges it can cost you over 4k.
The breakfast is to order of the standard, eggs, beacon, fruits, omelets, sausages toast etc. The packed lunch for the boat are usually sandwiches with fruits and chips. The dinners were exceptionally awesome. We had either conch, Nassau grouper or lobster for every meal at the lodge. All this is included in the pricing. The only thing that is not included is the alcohol. Though liquor was available I opted to stay away so I could fish the next morning. I had a few Kalik (the local Bahama beer) it was $4 each.
The food at the lodge every night was either, grouper, conch or lobster!
The lodge is located on the water, so you just wake up, eat and go.
The beach fishing was full of scenic views indeed.
it was hard to take a bad photo.
Glen from Midcurrent was my fishing partner that day
The group gets ready to do some beach sight fishing for bone fish
Dean’s Blue Hole, Deepest blue hole in the world
Awesome sunset views
Fresh conch for the conch salad
A baby Nassau grouper
If you’ve never eaten a soft shell crab before, you need to do yourself a favor and call your local seafood market. Every spring, our blue crabs go through a molting phase and shed their hard shells, leaving behind an entirely soft body. The entire blue crab is edible after the crab has molted – even the legs and claws. There’s very little prep involved…just remove the gills or “dead man’s fingers” and cut off the eyes and mouth with a pair of culinary scissors. Dredge the crab in your favorite seafood breader and drop it in the fryer.
Unfortunately, once spring redfish in SC have had a taste of a softshell crab, they basically go lock-jaw for a short period of time and won’t eat anything else. I will tell you from experience, it HURTS to put a soft shell crab on a hook and fire it off into the sea. However, you won’t find a more effective redfish bait on a spring day when the fish won’t cooperate. Here’s one Carl was forced to feed a crab to this weekend – the crab barely settled to the bottom before this fish came along and roped it. Thank God the redfish are back on a mullet diet and things are normal again – no more fishing with culinary delicacies.
Capt. Jay Nelson
Here is a video and photo of a baked salmon dish I made today. The point of the video is to test out the new Sony NEX-7 camera. This is new mirrorless aps-c sensor camera with interchangeable lense. At 24 megapixel and full HD in a small body you can carry around with you. Here I am shooting at iso 800, 18-55 kit lens. As you can see it looks pretty darn good.
The still was shot with out flash and cropped down from 24MP.
Now for the food part.
Since I’m so A.D.D. I find it hard to keep on task especially when I”m cooking. It’s either under cooked or over cooked. So for me to get edible food I have to use a timer with a temperature sensor.
First I season the salmon with Stan’s Stuff seasoning. Stan’s is made right here in the Florida panhandle. If you have not used it, it is an excellent all around spice. I have a cupboard full of seasonings and this is the one I use 90% of the time for fish, chicken, steak and veggies. It pretty much replaces my salt and pepper for cooking.
- I preheat the oven to 350 degrees on baked.
- I heat the pan on high with some olive oil.
- I then sear the fish on both side from 30 to 45 seconds.
- After putting the temperature sensor into the thickest part of the fish I stick it in the oven.
- Once the core temperature of the fish reaches 130 degrees it’s perfectly done.
- I take it out of the oven and let it rest for 5 to 10 minute so all the goodies stay inside.
I do the same with chicken breast. It is perfectly cooked at 160 degrees.
This is a video clip of us wading for Bone fish on the rocky flats out of Long Island Bonefishing lodge at Deadman’s Cay Bahamas. I would never thought fish, especially bone fish would ever get this shallow. I am talking ankle deep and some places not even.
I shot this video of Glenn hooking up to a tailing bone fish in super skinny water. The fish eventually came off but could not move as he was stranded. It was so shallow his body was two thirds out of the water. I actually thought it was a rock sticking out of the water when I first saw it. Glenn eventually walked over and the fish spooked and swims off in inches of water.
It is one of those stories that if I didn’t have the video to prove it no one would believe me.
I got a call from a friend asking if I wanted to fly over to Bimini and fish a couple of days, then help take the boat back to Fort Lauderdale. The plan seemed simple, a little trolling for wahoo, some deep dropping for queen snappers, and maybe a little chumming for yellowtails. The only thing we couldn’t control was the weather. We knew a front was coming, and the trip may have to be cut short by a day or two, but I didn’t really care. Any reason to spend a little time on the other side of the gulf stream sounded good to me.
We arrived in Bimini about noonish on Friday and decided to drag some high-speed lures for an hour or so. No bites, the only thing that was being put in the boat was a little rain here and there. Without a reason to fight the elements we opted to head for the house and take a little lunch break and get ready for some afternoon yellowtailing. A few hours later we headed out of the channel and quickly noticed the wind had picked up and the seas were a little bigger. The guys on the boat were arguing about the size’ “They look 2-4″, “No, those are 3-5′s”, I just say they were, “hold on to the tower or rail or risk getting thrown out of the boat size”. Needless to say, when your yellowtail jig heads are skipping on the surface, the current is way too strong to fish for snappers. That would be the end of fishing for day 1.
Saturday morning didn’t look much better. The seas were still big and the forecast was calling for 9-11 foot seas in the stream. The wind was going to pick up and blow harder on Sunday and Monday. There would be no taking the boat back so we charted a plane to fly us out in the afternoon. As we sat on the couch looking out over the water we could see the front way off in the distance and the water was nothing but whitecaps. I suggested we go give it one last chance, heck we all had foul weather gear and the fish were already wet, what would they care. Besides, we had three hours before we were going to get on the plane. We grabbed four trolling rods and off we went. It didn’t take long before we had a double hook up. After a short fight we had wahoo in the boat and we headed for the house.
As I sit here and type this it almost feels like I never left my home, like it was all a dream. Maybe it’s due to the lack of sleep or the removal from the daily grind. Whatever it is, it puts a smile on my face. I was able to spend time with old friends and meet some new ones. Had some great food, good laughs, and shot a few photos along the way. That’s what makes life good!
Cool website I came across this morning. If you’re into fly fishing and travel it is worth checking out.
The website lets you put up your own photos and videos via the google map. If you’re a guide or shop you can add your info on there as well.
Besides that it thought it list usual resources like ramps, lodges, fly shops these destinations. Could save you tons of time googling.
Along with the map you have a search feature complete with a filter system.