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 email@example.com if you’re interested.