Bum Trips – A Tough Pill to Swallow
Bum Fishing Trips. If You Haven’t…You Will.
I booked a DIY bonefishing trip to a far flung locale in the lovely Bahama chain. It is touted as an overlooked destination, not flogged to death like many of the Bahama’s more famous bonefish havens.
I received excellent information from the booking agent Vince Tobia with Cattaraugas Outfitters of New York representing a number of exotic outposts, and in this case: Great Inagua. Every communication from Vince was very professional, timely and detailed, helping me understand exactly what as in store.
We made the arrangements well in advance and I tied all the flies needed to handle bones, barracuda, and baby tarpon. And had a number of rods to handle any circumstance including a NuCast 8+ and 10 wt rods. I also used a Blue Crush Saltwater Fly Reel.
We finally arrived at Matthewtown, the only settlement on the island (an outpost for Morton Salt). We were met by our charming host Henry Hugh who did a great job of providing for our needs, cooked meals, and helped in other ways.
The lodging was comfortable given it’s very remote location. We were provided a small truck to drive around to all the fishing spots accessible by road, as part of the package deal.
Sounds good right? The best parts of the trip were seeing many exotic bird species, including the gaudy West Indian Flamingos now allowed to flourish on remote parts of the island.
Weather: No Problem
The weather was typical for a week long trip with a couple days of perfect light winds and bright sun. Other days were windy, typical for the Caribbean, but we had good viewing skies with few pesky clouds, most of time. This is critical for bonefishing and any type of site fishing, especially in saltwater.
We were given a detailed map showing all the “drive-to” locations for bones and baby tarpon. Included one day was a guided trip where we followed a local for several hours in search of tarpon.
The Main Problem? Fishing was Lousy!
One of the main issues: I am admittedly a beginning bonefisherman. I have caught bones in Grand Cayman, Roatan, Mexico & Belize, but never really been on a bonefishing trip, per se.
Tidal stages are key in understanding the movement of these fish. Most of the locations were touted as best fished at low tides. This makes since as the fish are shallower, making them easier to spot. However, with drive-time being at least an hour between spots, the tide does have a tendency to change constantly and we were not always there at optimum times.
We fished for five days. I hooked a total of six and landed two small bonefish. I expected to do this easily in one morning’s fishing. My wife and I drove everywhere, trying to find flats holding fish (while we were there) with little to no luck.
Although the accommodations were very nice for a “hard-to-get-to” location ( to put it nicely), I became increasingly frustrated by the apparent lack of fish.
I’ll put most of the blame on me, not understanding where the fish should be when, etc. But my expectations were SOOO high, it was really a big letdown. I assumed with all these unfettered fish, we’d have many opportunities whether there at the perfect time, or not. Other anglers at the Inagua Outback Lodge at the same time – were repeat customers and caught some fish, but I got the feeling not a lot.
Finally toward the end of the trip, we found a flat with some fish and hooked up a few. By that time I was pretty disenchanted with the whole thing.
We ran into some other anglers who had booked through a local (the only) guide on the island and done fairly well for the week. This told me the fish were there, but these anglers accessed the areas via boat and not car, as we did.
As a relative beginner bonefisherman – to do it again, I’d go to a location where one could rack up some numbers (even if the fish were smaller) to gain experience and employ a bonefish guide.
Once I understand the game better, I might try a DIY trip again. If you ARE an experienced bonefishing angler, I would recommend Vince Tobia with several destinations of which to choose.