By: Trey Dyer
After a skunk in Cherokee Sound on bonefish the day before, my guide J.R. Albury, decided we would head to the west side of the island and fish the famous Marls, a vast expanse of undeveloped flats and wilderness areas that offers some of the best bonefishing in the Bahamas.
We set off at 8:00 A.M. from the Abaco Club and headed for the Marls. The Marls represented everything I had ever seen on T.V. or online about bonefishing. Crystal clear flats, short but thick mangrove islands and shorelines and lots and lots of bonefish in shallow water.
The weather was not ideal for sight fishing. Cloud cover made it difficult to see these fish until we were right on them. This forced us to read the water much more rather than simply see a fish and present to it.
We started the morning off right. It did not take long before J.R. spotted a small bonefish cruising on its own about 60 feet from us. Without me even seeing the fish, J.R. was able to tell me exactly where to cast and after a couple slow strips, bonefish on. A nice run later and I finally caught my first bonefish.
We kept poling down the mangrove shorelines looking for more bones. It was not long until we came upon two slightly bigger bones than the last one, cruising around a couple mangrove roots. This time I was able to see the bone and present a cast softly in front of it by three feet. As soon it hit the water, the bone inhaled the fly and took off running around a mangrove root and out into the open flats. After freeing the line from the mangrove, I was able to reel the fish in. Second bonefish of the day.
We took a break to eat some cookies and hydrate. J.R. graciously shared his sandwich with me while we relaxed and messed with big barracudas with fast moving tube lures. You have not seen violence until you have seen a giant cuda demolish a tube on the flats.
We went a couple hours without seeing any bones before we made our way to a shoreline with two long winding creeks that flowed out onto the flats (I believe J.R. called it a Kajook). We were able to see a school of 12 bones headed right at us. I led the school and waited for the bonefish to swim near my fly. Once in range, I stripped once and the bone was on. At this point my snook fishing instincts kicked in as the bonefish took off for the mangroves, I decided to try and horse it out and keep it from running through them. You can imagine my anguish as I watched my fly catapult out of the fish’s mouth; always remember, you cannot stop bonefish. Unfortunately I did not remember this and did it again to the next bonefish I hooked.
At this point, my ego was bruised and these fish continued to humble me but I was not going out that way. We came to the mouth of another creek and spotted a school of half a dozen bonefish headed out. I casted a backhand presentation to the bones and have it good strip, nice bonefish on. This fish ran further into my backing than any fish I have ever caught on fly before. A great fight.
All the commotion must have alerted the predators because soon after that a small black tip shark came to try to take my bonefish. With some very quick and frantic reeling and a couple of defensive strikes at the shark with J.R.’s Push poie, we were able to get the bonefish away safely only long enough for it to run into the mangroves to start doing zig-zags between the roots. I decided not to take any chances and hopped of the boat to follow the line through the mangroves. After a little but of twisting and winding, the best bonefish of the day was in my hands. By far the most rewarding fish of the trip.
We ended the day on that catch and headed in for cracked conch and kalik. The next day I took a break off the pole and snorkeled and played tourist before heading back to Orlando. On the plane home, I was already planning the next trip in my head… either the everglades for tarpon or the keys for permit.
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