For most fly anglers who pursue bonefish, their first experience is normally from a “flats” boat being pulled around by an intrepid bonefish guide. With more and more trips to the flats the angler gains experience. An epiphany eventually takes place and the time arrives when he steps out of the boat. For some, they never return. They have become bonefish stalkers.
Stalking puts the angler on level ground with the bonefish as they ascend the flats looking for their food being brought in by the rising tide. The angler is now eye-to-eye with his quarry. A true contest of “one-on-one”! What once was a 60-ft cast is now reduced to a 30-ft cast. The water is slightly higher than ankle deep. The angler works his way to a large bonefish that is half out of the water digging in the hard sand. The closure between angler and fish is now just over 30 feet. The savvy stalker has been in this situation before. He has tied on a small, eyeless fly and has added 2-ft of 8-lb tippet in an attempt to drop the fly quietly near the feeding fish very similar to trout fishing. He makes a soft cast to the side of the fish. The leader straightens and fly quietly enters the water. The fish has not spooked. The angler begins stripping the fly back ever so slightly. Small strips at first. The fish spots the fly through the under water sand storm he has created and charges the fly. The angler is hooked up. The battle begins!
This is how the fishing is done on Mayaguana. It is the uncontested capitol of bonefish stalking. Every cast made will be while walking the snow-white, hard sand flats of Blackwood Point, Abraham’s Bay, Betsy Bay and the greatest bonefish area in the Bahamas – Curtis Creek.
Mayaguana Bonefish Stalkers – “MBS” – has been taking groups to these areas for almost twenty years. We are the only experienced guides on Mayaguana and have developed our own series of “MayGwana” stalking flies. We use 16-1/2 foot fiberglass canoes at Curtis Creek to move around the channels and cays. When the tides work in our favor, we have started “First Light Fishing” when we arrive to Curtis Creek one hour before sunrise and before the wind comes up. We paddle the canoes to specific areas, the flats are like oil slicks and we spot tailing fish from over 300 yards away. This is very delicate, quiet and challenging fishing where light tippets and small, eyeless flies are used. Catching a tailing fish up to 11-pounds is not uncommon fishing in this manner.
All other Bahamian islands are low-tide fisheries and when the high tide arrives, the fish move into the mangroves and are unreachable. A long day on other islands might be just five hours of optimum fishing. Curtis Creek is unique in that the water fills this creek system from the west while the prevailing winds blow from the northeast. These two forces of nature fight each other. The wind holds the tide back and at “dead” high tide, Curtis Creek has low tide conditions. Bonefish are tailing at high tide in Curtis Creek. With this phenomenon working in our favor, we fish Curtis Curtis sometime during each day. There is always a place to fish on Mayaguana that has the proper tide so MBS does not run a “9 to 5” fishing operation. Depending on the tides, we can be out before sunrise and often stay past sunset if the fish are actively feeding.
BRIAN O’KEEFE PHOTOS – Essay
Anglers stay at the Baycaner Beach Resort at Pirate’s Well on the northwest side of Mayaguana. Owner Shorty Brown has taken care of us for many years and we have actually named a fly after him. The food is plentiful and very typical Bahamian. The “out islands” of the Bahamas are where all the great Bahamian dishes originated that found their way to the native restaurants in Nassau. If an angler is so inclined, he can report back to his friends back home about the “stew conch”, “boil fish” and “Johnny cakes” he ate for breakfast. Dinners include a lot of Bahamian table fare such as chicken, fish, conch and lobster when in season.
Mayaguana is NOT for everyone. It is 100% bonefish stalking, there is a lot of walking involved and the visiting angler should be in reasonably good shape. The rewards for those who visit is the possibility of hooking their largest bonefish. And every fish caught will be well earned.
Mayaguana is a crown jewel of Bahamas out islands. Bonefish are plentiful with a good supply of fish 7 pounds and larger. These wilderness trips will host six (6) anglers for a week-long Monday to Monday adventure of quietly stalking pristine flats for big bones.
Anglers will stay in sparkling clean, comfortable accommodations with three meals per day provided.
Lunch is taken to the flats each day with plenty of water, snacks and assorted beverages.
Dinner is a diverse sampling of American and Bahamian cuisine.
Cost is inclusive of lodging, meals, airport transfers at the destination and 6-1/2 days of fishing.
(not included are airline tickets, hotels, meals and taxis while in Nassau, and Bahamian departure tax.)
Example Rates – subject to change by operator
2 Anglers 4,295.00 per angler per week
3 Anglers 3,495.00
4 Anglers 2,995.00
5 Anglers 2,995.00
Trips are either Monday to Monday -or- Friday to Friday. Overnight in Nassau the night before going in only.
Price includes 6-1/2 days of guided fishing, 7 nights lodging, all meals, transportation to/from fishing areas and use of canoes and related equipment. Not covered are any airfares, expenses in Nassau, alcoholic beverages or tips. Baycaner Beach Resort takes major credit cards.
Anglers should be in reasonably good physical condition as there is much wading involved.
Flights, tips, tackle, and liquor not included.