The Good Old Days Are Back

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Photo by Bob Reece

By Louis Cahill

I thought maybe you could use a little good news.

Fly anglers have become pretty used to bad news where fisheries and conservation are concerned. It seems everywhere you look fisheries are in decline. From steelhead rivers in the Pacific North West to the Florida Everglades and a host of great water in-between, as well as many fisheries around the globe. It’s easy to believe we are watching the inevitable decline of fishing as we know it.

I’m not always so positive about it myself. I have said many times that I feel fortunate to experience the outdoors in a way that future generations will likely not. I don’t know if you can call that pessimistic. It’s a glass half full outlook, but it’s still only half a glass. At any rate, the last year has given me cause for hope. I am actually watching a fishery get better and I couldn’t be more thrilled.

I’m speaking specifically of South Andros in the Bahamas. South Andros is kind of my home water. I’ll fish there five weeks this season and I can’t say I spend that many days a year on the river that runs by my house. It has been my favorite place to fish for over a decade and in the last twelve months I’ve seen a change.

It has been an incredible big fish season for bonefish.

I can’t remember a time in ten years when I have seen as many seven to ten pound fish on the flats. I was there with a group just this month and it seemed that someone landed a fish in that range every day. Even me. In fact, earlier in the year, I hooked the biggest bonefish I’ve ever seen. We got a good look at it, even though I didn’t land it. My guide estimated it at fifteen pounds. 

Permit sighting are up as well. South Andros is not thought of as a permit fishery but the fish are there and in good numbers. This was a great year for permit on Abaco. The guides at Abaco Lodge landed them in double digit numbers.

A buddy asked me if I thought there was some conservation effort behind the trend. Maybe, I do think there something generational going on. A bonefish baby-boom of sorts. I do think the Bahamas does a great job with regulation and conservation. They recognize the value of what they have. Bonefish and Tarpon Trust does great work there as well. Not to downplay the work being done, I don’t think it is the major force driving the success of this fishery.

South Andros just isn’t under the pressure most places are. I don’t mean just fishing pressure, but pressure of any kind. It hangs out there on the edge, mostly wild and uninhabitable. It’s just enough of a pain in the ass to get there, or do any business there, that it gets left alone. In the end, I think that’s all any fishery need. Just don’t actively ruin it and it will flourish.

Now that we’ve made it through the holidays, let’s not forget about the gift of our precious fisheries. Let’s try to be grateful and treat them with love and respect. At the very least, let’s not actively turn them into lumps of coal.

Not to be too shameless about it but If you’d like to join us for the G&G Bonefish School in the Bahamas, we still have a couple of spots open for South Andros in June and we just had a cancelation for Abaco Lodge March 7-12. Shoot me an email at hookups@ginkandgasoline.com if you’re interested.

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9 thoughts on “The Good Old Days Are Back

  1. I’d give good credit to the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust and specifically to Justin Lewis, who heads that fine organization’s Bahamas Initiative. I’ve had a couple opportunities to fish with Justin and can say he’s one of us … but with a master’s degree to back up his scientific bona fides and credibility as a Bahamas native to deal with that nation’s issues and opportunities. And he’ll out-fish you every day on the water.

    If you don’t belong … JOIN BTT.

  2. I’ve fished South Andros the past 3 seasons and am headed back in March. The locals no longer net or otherwise harvest bones because fishing tourism has impressed upon everyone a fact that’s lost on other wild and woolly destinations: the fish are worth much more swimming than on the grill. I just hope that the same realization takes place in BC and Alaska before it’s too late. Plus BTT does a great job in the Bahamas as well.

  3. I’d also like to give credit to Dr. Aaron Adams. Aaron is the Director of Science and Conservation for Bonefish & Tarpon Trust and a Senior Scientist at Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute of Florida Atlantic University. He’s from my neck of the woods up in Md, and has been involved with BTT for many years. I was in the Everglades yesterday, fishing has improved there recently but a long ways to go. In my home waters of SW Fl. the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has temporarily made snook and redfish catch-and-release only in the area of Southwest Florida affected by red tide. Every guide I know is in favor of this, however, degradation of water quality is a serious concern here and unless something is done to curb runoff pollution and Lake O, as well as the massive amounts of septics here it will not improve. As a close friend once said Water Quality Rules.

  4. Fished South Andros last spring and never saw and caught so many bones/barracuda and needle fish. Ha! the needle fish was fun! Going back this spring. My question to you is do you use Watermaker’s or do you fly into Nassau and stay over night?

  5. Great news, Louis, and spot on. I can report the same thing on North Andros and the West Side. We always get a few shots at double digit fish each week. Be ready!! Credit to B&TT and local guides who care about conservation, as well as all of us anglers who practice rigorous catch and release – barbless hooks, heavier tippet to get ’em in quick – and “Keep ’em Wet”. How many grip & grins do your friends have to endure, after all?

  6. Been to Andros South numerous times and have seen more Bone fish each time. It’s a great fishery. I have a question different from the subject. Has anyone used WaterMakers to travel to Andros?

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