Posted by David H. Smith
From May 14-20, I fly fished the waters around Mayaguana Island, guided by John Pinto, with Jim Teeny and two other anglers. This was my first trip to the Bahamas for Bonefish. For an angler used to working Pacific Northwest and Patagonian waters for salmon, rainbow and sea run brown trout respectively, this was quite a change! By the time we flew back to Nassau a week later, I had landed and released 9 adult and two juvenile Bonefish, a Pompano, 2 Boxfish and a Blue Runner Jack. Whenever I gave a good presentation, the locals gobbled down my Teeny-tied barbless shrimp flies like popcorn.
What’s great about fishing with experts like John Pinto and Jim Teeny, is that if you apply their suggestions right away, your learning curve goes vertical, even if you’re just a “regular fly-tossing guy” like this writer. John has fished Mayaguana Island waters for years, and his intimate knowledge of the local environment and all its critters was obvious every day.
What I especially liked about this experience was that, rather than poling around in a boat looking for fish and then “dropping in”, we actually spent most of our time stalking them on foot. We went onto a flat (sometimes using a canoe to get there) where John had historically experienced success, and moved around slowly, watching for the tell tale signs of transiting or feeding fish. Upon locating one or more Bonefish, we made our presentation, using long, slow strips with rod tips kept low and line under control, in case our fly was “selected”. The hard part was to avoid making a reflexive strike like you would with a salmon, when – and indeed if – a Bonefish decided that fly looked like the Real Deal. And when they did, boy can those guys – even a three pounder – make a run!
I hope to fish Mayaguana again with John. The only thing I will do differently is to, in addition to sandals, take a pair of neoprene diving-type shoe booties that have a good instep-protecting sole and also maybe a pair of gators to keep out a lot of the sand and pebbles. These should work well on a mudflat section that has an uneven surface and on the occasional exposed coral beach rockworks.
Kudos to John Pinto, Guide Extraordinaire! Without his help I might have spent the week only sight fishing…as opposed to sight catching!