Jamie and I just returned from the Bahamas, spending the better part of a week and a half on the island of Eleuthera. We were lucky, getting our trip in just before the Coronavirus shut down most of the world.
As some of you know, our yearly Bahamas trip is a highlight for me; an excuse to relax after a long winter and try my luck bonefishing. While we’ve spent time (and fished) on other islands in the Bahamas, this was our first adventure to Eleuthera, hoping its reputation for a mellow out island and decent DIY fishery lived up to its reputation. After overnighting in Nassau, our good friends Kurt and Kelly met us and after some delays, we boarded the Bahamasair flight to Rock Sound in South Eleuthera. We rented a house on the Caribbean, allowing for out the door fishing, swimming and general beach bumming. Additionally, the house was a great home base for exploring the southern end of the island.
Fishing-wise, we had the usual strikes and gutters. Despite promising water in front of the house (rock, coral and sand flats), Kurt and I weren’t able to find any bonefish. We fished incoming tides, out going tides, etc. and were left frustrated by the lack of opportunities. While walking the beach one day we came across a local’s fishing “camp”. Strung out over a hundred yards was a gill net and I wonder if that might explain the lack of fish? We were able to catch a variety of reef fish though so it wasn’t a total bust. Besides fishing from the house, we also explored other flats and beaches in search of bonefish. The Atlantic side proved to be windy, making seeing a problem. I did manage a nice Jack thanks to Kurts coaching. Some other promising spots proved empty despite being beautiful. Each day we fished promising water only to be shutout. I think morale would’ve been higher had we at least seen some fish to cast too, but none were to be found.
As our time on Eleuthera progressed, so did the global pandemic situation. Originally Jamie and I decided the best course of action was to stay in the Bahamas longer to ride things out. However, when the State Department issued a warning telling US citizens to get home immediately or risk being stuck indefinitely, we decided we needed to get back to Wyoming. We all scrambled, buying additional plane tickets to get off the island, only to find flights canceled when we showed up at the airport at the appointed time. So we made the most of things and decided to enjoy ourselves, deciding to explore yet another creek system; a place with a white sand beach for the ladies and bonefish flats for Kurt and I.
It’s as if the bonefish Gods took pity on us (or decided we’d put in the time and deserved to be rewarded). With an incoming tide, Kurt and I proceeded to have a field day, hooking more bonefish than we’ve ever experienced! It got to the point where fish that came off didn’t matter and I stopped fishing and got Jamie, helping her catch fish. After working the creek system, we waded the white sand flat where numerous schools of fish were moving. I’ve never had a day like it and likely never will again. It made us forget the shutouts we received earlier.
Afterword, we headed back to the house, stopping at a local restaurant that was open for take out. Earlier, the Bahamian government had implemented a curfew and closed the liquor stores. Thinking we’d get out earlier, we’d drank all our booze and now were in need of some cold Kaliks. Fortunately the local proprietor understood our predicament and happily sold us what we needed around back. We returned home, sat on the porch overlooking the caribbean, and toasted our amazing day.
The following morning we reported for our flight (which the day before was assured would go) only to learn that it wasn’t coming and that flights were being suspended. We immediately hopped in the car and headed north in the dark to Governors Harbor hoping there might be a flight there. Running in the airport, we explained our situation to a Pineapple Air worker. She made some calls and we got the last four seats on the soon to be leaving flight to Nassau. Once in Nassau, we all caught our respective flights home. Eventually Jamie and I (after delays, cancelations and a night in SLC) made it back to Jackson.