Bahamas Fishing Regulations: What’s Really Happening

8 comments / Posted on / by

As of January 19, 2017, new Bahamian fishing regulations are in effect and confusing both anglers and authorities.

I was recently on South Andros for the G&G Bonefish school and our group was the first to be issued Bahamian fishing licenses on the island. Implementation is a little messy but flats fishing in the Bahamas is operating as usual.

Here’s what you need to know about the new Bahamian flats fishing regulations.

Who does it affect?

The great majority of anglers will see no real difference fishing under these regulations. You will be required to buy a license ($20/week, $60/year), and for the time being, buying that license is a little cumbersome, but it’s very inexpensive. Anglers fishing with lodges or independent guides can count on help getting their licenses. DIY anglers will have to get licenses on their own, and will be restricted to wade fishing or single-person water craft.

There are only two groups who are really negatively impacted by the regulation. Anglers who DIY fish with a boat. Folks who, for example, own a second home in the Bahamas and have a boat, will have to hire a guide. That’s silly but it’s the law. Still, that’s a small group of anglers and if you are one of them I’d suggest you get busy organizing and lobbying for a change in the law. The other group negatively impacted are the guides themselves. All guides now have to pay a $150/year license fee, which they are not happy about. Interesting for a law which was supposed to support guides. If you are not in one of these two groups, once you have your license, the new regulations will not affect you.

How do you get a Bahamian fishing license?

This is where it gets tricky. The new law was put into effect without any mechanism to fulfill license applications. There will eventually be an online license site, but for now the process is quite cumbersome. When I landed on South Andros, even the local officials had no idea the law was in effect. This meant two things:

Read More »

3 Ways to Improve Your Fly Casting on the Flats

No comments yet / Posted on / by

About ten years ago, I embarked on my first international saltwater fly fishing trip, with a couple Texas boys I’d previously met while chasing peacock bass in the Amazon. The saltwater trip took place down in Mexico, specifically the Ascension Bay area. Our primary target fish were bonefish but we kept a constant lookout for permit and tarpon. The two born and raised Texas boys had grown up fly fishing in the salt, and they both had more than enough testosterone, ego and skill to handle the demanding fishing conditions. I on the other hand, had never experienced first hand the difficulties that saltwater fly fishing brings. I really struggled with spotting fish in an unfamiliar environment and managing my presentations in 25 mph winds. I’ll never forget the humbling feeling of defeat after our first day of fly fishing on the flats. My counterparts landed a dozen bonefish a piece while I only managed to catch one. Just about the entire trip I was plagued with the feeling of being under-gunned on the water. The wind totally kicked my butt and I missed numerous opportunities because I couldn’t cast far enough to consistently get my fly to the targets my guide was calling out.

At the time, the only problem I saw in my fly casting was I didn’t seem to have nearly as much power in my casting stroke as my buddies. That was true, but the real problem was I didn’t have the competency to diagnose what I was doing wrong and neither of my buddied did either. All they kept saying, over and over to me, was that I needed to work on my double-haul.

Read More »

Pay to Play

76 comments / Posted on / by

Something a little different this morning…

I’d like to have a friendly discussion with you, our readers, about something that I’ve noticed popping up on social media more frequently than I can remember happening in recent past. Over the past few weeks, I’ve caught a handful of posts, either an article or a video, that showcases an angler grinning ear-to-ear while holding a slab of a rainbow or brown trout that he or she just caught on a private, “pay to play” piece of water. Good for them, right? Well, some of the comments that have been posted and shared in response to some of these photos and videos might lead you to think that these anglers have made a deal with the devil and forsaken all that is holy in the world of fly fishing. Now, I can certainly understand some of the negative feelings that some anglers might have towards privately held and stocked sections of water that often require deeper pockets in order to fish their kempt waters, if they allow access to the public at all.

There are all sorts of private, “pay to play” waters that exist across the country. My home state. The Southeast. Throughout the Western states. Everywhere. And it’s not even limited to just trout fishing. There’s a small lake just down the road from my house that’s locally known for producing monster bass. You can fish there too as long as you can pony up $12,000 for the initial membership fee and monthly payments of $150. Places like these have been around for a long, long time, and there is no doubt they’ll be around as long as there is enough water for fish to swim.

I’m not writing this article as a way to call anyone out or “bash” these opinions in any way, nor do I think they are completely wrong. This isn’t about hurt feelings or defending anybody. I’m more curious about the rationale behind the reactions and opinions. The anglers that oppose private water, just like everyone else, are entitled to their own opinions and beliefs. I think we all would agree that there’s nothing

Read More »

American Potcake

11 comments / Posted on / by

A GROUP OF UNIFORMED US CUSTOMS OFFICIALS HAS ASSEMBLED TO INSPECT THE CONTENTS OF MY CARRY-ON LUGGAGE BEFORE I AM ALLOWED TO LEAVE THE BAHAMAS FOR HOME.

They each peer inquisitively through the zippered opening of the black tote and repeat, “Oh my God! She’s adorable.”

I have known for years that I wanted a Bahamian Potcake for my next dog. These bright eyed, slender dogs, common throughout the Bahamas, stole my heart. The Potcake, only recently recognized as a breed, is a kind of super-mutt made up of the working dogs that colonists brought to the islands to work the plantations. They are wicked smart, hardy and, once bonded to a human, fiercely loyal. They, in many ways, exhibit the traits I admire in the Bahamian people. Not surprisingly, as they, without meaning to be insensitive, share a very similar backstory. Each has carved out a life for themselves under harsh circumstances, maintaining strong family structures, and living by their wits. The Bahamians and the Potcakes, not only exist but thrive, against all odds, and in doing so have developed a strength of character which is both admirable and endearing.

I’ve been fishing at the Andros South Bonefish Lodge for many years. The staff and guides there have become friends and the island of South Andros a place of refuge where I feel an uncommon sense of well being. There is a small family of potcakes there, who I have become attached to, the eldest being a female named Brownie. Although these dogs enjoy the adoration of anglers from around the world, they are not exactly domesticated. They are not exactly feral either but some of them, especially the puppies, are untouchable. Brownie, however, is one of the best natured dogs I have ever known and, from each litter, at least a couple of her pups has her sweet disposition. While all potcakes are great dogs, this family line is truly special to me.

South Andros is a poor island. Its people, for the most part, have big hearts and small wallets. There is no veterinarian on the island and few folks have the money to fly a dog to Nassau for medical care. Certainly not for non-essentials like spay and neuter. As a result, a huge population of feral potcakes fight for limited resources. The name potcake comes from the traditional Bahamian dish of peas and rice, which leaves a burned matt in the bottom of the pot, called the potcake. These are thrown out for the dogs and beyond that their diet is random lizards, bugs and whatever washes up on the beach. Many of them starve, or are killed for hunting livestock.

This year, things lined up for me and I decided it was time for a dog. I could adopt a dog easily at home, but what I wanted was one of the Andros potcakes. There are always fresh puppies and I found myself drawn to one in particular. A little black puppy, the runt of the litter, who the guys at the lodge named Permit because she was impossible to catch.

Read More »

Sunday Classic / Should You Be Sharpening Your Hooks More?

No comments yet / Posted on / by

Casting all day long, searching for that beast of a brown. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. I know that’s what it’s going to take if I want a decent shot at landing a big mature brown trout. I’m looking for a 20 plus-incher and they never come easy. And where I live, you’re lucky to get a few opportunities at legitimate wild brown trout of this caliber all year long. We’re approaching a bend that’s known for holding butter slabs and I present a perfect cast right against the deep undercut bank. The retrieve begins, strip strip, pause…, strip strip, pause. Without any warning my six-inch articulated sculpin gets slammed and my fly rod just about comes out of my hands. It’s just been devoured by something very big, and I think it’s what I’ve been looking for. I set the hook hard and my rod bends as the fish breaks the surface thrashing violently, shades of butter are spotted. “It’s a brown!” I yell, but two strips and two head shakes later my fly pulls loose and the beast swims away. My prized catch is lost.

Read More »

Saturday Shoutout / Diplomatic Immunity

No comments yet / Posted on / by

The Winter 2017 issue of Southern Culture on the Fly is alive and well, With Diplomatic Immunity.

A little love for two-hand rods, and the wife. Some cold water, some saltwater, and some far flung water. Some fly tying and some tying one on. To understand the world, you have to understand a place like S.C.O.F.

S.C.O.F.: DIPLOMATIC IMMUNITY

Read More »

Make Better Backhand Casts: Video

6 comments / Posted on / by

The average fly fisher struggles with making a backhand presentation.

A good backhand presentation is the mark of an effective angler. Being able to deliver a fly on the backcast makes you more efficient on the water and, simply put, catches fish. If you can make a good forward cast, you already have the skills you need to make a good backhand cast. It’s just a matter of getting your head around it.

The trick is getting your body into a natural casting position, and remember to make a good positive stop. Once you get the feel for it, there’s nothing to it. It will make you a much more effective angler. Especially when streamer fishing.

WATCH THIS VIDEO TO IMPROVE YOUR BACKCAST PRESENTATION.

Read More »

10 Tips For Spotting Permit

2 comments / Posted on / by

PERHAPS THE LOFTIEST GOAL IN FLY FISHING IS CATCHING A PERMIT.

Maybe it’s not your thing but if there truly is a fish of ten-thousand casts, it’s the permit. There is enough to catching permit to fill a bookshelf or magazine rack. It’s a complicated game, but where it starts is simple. To catch a permit, you must find a permit. And to find a permit, the angler must know what to look for. With that in mind, here are 10 tips to help you spot a permit.

Have the right glasses
This is stupid simple but it really is the most important piece of equipment for the saltwater angler. There is no replacement for quality polarized sunglasses. Good saltwater glasses have a rosy color to the lenses. Pass on green or grey. Copper, rose or brown will offer better contrast. A lighter tint to the lens is valuable on darker days and a frame that shade your eyes is a plus. Glass lenses offer the sharpest vision and, unless you have a heavy coke-bottle prescription, that’s what I recommend.

Tails
The long, graceful forked tail of the permit is its most distinctive feature. It is black in color and stands out when the fish shows its profile. Often the permit’s broad, silver body disappears completely and it is the black double sickle tail that gives him away. This sight is never more exciting than when the tail is held up out of the water. Called ‘”tailing” this happens when the fish feeds off the bottom in shallow water. This means that the fish is actively feeding and the chances of him eating your fly are good.

Spikes
The permit’s long, sickle-shaped dorsal fin will often give him away. When the fish is

Read More »

8 Elements of Fly Design to Follow for Imitating Trout Food Sources

6 comments / Posted on / by

When tying fly patterns, it’s very important that you try your best to incorporate several different elements of fly design to increase their effectiveness. No one knows with complete certainty what order or priority trout rank each element of a food source or fly pattern, but most anglers agree that the value or ranking of the elements often change depending on how long a trout has been selectively feeding on a specific food source, at what frequency the specific food source is being eaten, and how diverse or consistent a trout’s diet is at the present moment. The order of the elements that I will talk about in know way ranks the importance of the elements. Instead, fly tiers should look at them together as a whole, and try to include as many as possible or as a check list of the features a fly pattern should have when completed. Doing so, they should find there fly patterns more effective on the water for fooling and catching trout. In this post, I will specifically talk about eight different elements of fly design that fly tiers should pay close attention to when tying fly patterns at the vise.

Read More »

Bonefish Body Language 

1 comment / Posted on / by

By Owen Plair

Being able to read the body language of any fish is by far one of the best ways to anticipate the bite, especially when it comes to feeding a bonefish.

Recently I had the opportunity to experience bonefishing on South Andros, Bahamas, and learned a lot during the week about how the body language of a bonefish can visually tell you what’s happening when you can’t see the bite.

From skating flies for Atlantic Salmon in Russia to targeting migrating Tarpon in Islamorada, and countless species in between, watching a fish open their mouth, and eat the fly was something I had always been accustomed to when sight fishing. I had never thought about sight fishing Bonefish and the fact that you can never really see that little white mouth open up and swallow the fly. There was only one fish during the entire week I could see open her mouth and swallow the fly because by chance it was 10ft off the bow on a cloudy day.

The first 4 or 5 fish of the trip I hooked simply by listening for the guide telling me, “Set mon, set!” It’s amazing how fast your brain and muscles work together when pulling the fly line tight to a bonefish’s bottom lip. Hooking those first few fish of the trip was amazing but the feeling I had, as an angler, not being able to anticipate the bite drove me absolutely nuts! I simply just couldn’t figure out what the guide was seeing that I wasn’t and I soon started to ask questions after every fish, learning through experience on the water with my guide.

One of the most important things I learned about reading a bonefish bite was looking for the sudden stop.

Most times in fishing when the fish stops behind your fly they’re stopping for a reason. Either they’re eating your fly or changing their mind and turning off. I found that with bonefish, it was that the best way to anticipate the bite. Every time a fish would stop I was ready for the long strip set. The bite was still invisible to me but I learned the “stop” which helped me anticipate the fish eating and prepare myself for the set. It also took some time to get used to stopping the fly for the fish to eat. Most other species I’ve targeted always like a constant moving fly.

Another key body language

Read More »