ACKLINS ISLAND BONEFISH CLUB
The thing we love about bonefish is wading and stalking them on beautiful flats. On our own. With only ourselves setting the pace. Choosing our own flies and enjoying the moment, when we spot a school or a single bonefish. Hopefully before the fish sees us. Calculating the path of the fish and presenting the fly, when we think the time is right – and then gently setting the hook is a great feeling. Of course, the long runs are pretty cool too.
Unfortunately, very few places on the planet offers this scenario. It’s easy to find lovely bonefish destinations but most of them require a boat and a guide – just to get you to the fish. We do know of a few accessible bonefish spots but they seem to have gotten way too much attention – the result being shy and spooky bonefish.
Good bonefishing on your own – at a fair budget – have turned into the fishing of dreams. We have a 30-year-history with Acklins Island in the Bahamas (starting long before anyone thought of starting a company called Getaway, and before most Europeans had even heard of bonefish!).
Over time, we have accumulated as much knowledge about fishing the island as the local guides (we’ve fished with most of them, too – and still do). We have succeeded in transforming the traditionally guided trips into what we and our clients have always dreamed of: Long days – fishing different areas every day, at our own pace – and with the odd guide day thrown in for a bit of variation.
Utilizing cars, a truck, kayaks and decades of experience, we have designed what we believe is the perfect bonefish program for dedicated fly anglers. The surroundings are stunning and Acklins Island has more great bonefish habitat than anywhere else we have fished. It’s all about knowing where to look, when to look – and to have access to the areas. Tailing fish in ankle deep water, on white sand flats and in the mangroves – and most importantly, you can wade and stalk them yourself. Bonefishing doesn’t get any better than this.
On our bonefish trips the novice bonefish angler will find himself in a relaxed environment and he will enjoy the company and knowledge of our experienced tour leader and fellow anglers. The skilled bonefish angler will definitely appreciate the opportunity of spending extra hours on the flats. Feel like going?
Acklins Island ITINERARY
FLY TO: Acklins Island via Nassau
PRICE: From $2600 without flights and hotel in Nassau.
Arrival in Nassau, stay at hotel.
Morning flight to Acklins, transfer to the lodge, lunch, rig up tackle and hit the nearby flats.
Six, nine or ten full days of fishing, depending on your booked itinerary.
Transfer to the airport for your flight back to Nassau and onwards to your final destination.
You’re at the bottom of a small bay, where the water is too deep for spotting any bones. However, where the bay ends, a little channel connects the bay with a shallow lagoon the size of three or four football fields – a place with a hard, light and sandy bottom. There is no one else in sight… your friends went in the other direction and you’ll meet them back at the point in a few hours.
The water is still low, too low for any bones to enter the lagoon. For now, that is. Casting a glance at the stick you planted at the water’s edge before sitting down for a drink, your hopes are discretely affirmed; the tide is coming in. With it, the bones will be coming too, and they’ll pass through right here.
Suddenly your heart skips a beat. There it is; the first bone; slowly cruising along the edges of the bay, impatiently waiting for the rising tide and for access to all the crabs, worms and shrimps of the lagoon. You sneak into position and make the cast. An easy one – fifteen meters, maybe less, but you still manage to almost hit the fish on the head. Bones hate that. Damn! Better chances don’t come along very often. The only consolation is that more fish are bound to come in soon.
You don’t quite know how the fish got there; unnoticed, passing you at the entrance of the channel, but that’s what bonefish do. Sneaky invisible bastards… Anyway, now it’s tailing in the shallows. You creep closer. Now you’re the sneaky one. This time the cast is right on the money. A few strips and the fish is on the fly – fish on!
The line cuts through the surface and the bone is into the backing in seconds. You are supposed to enjoy the moment, but halfway into the fight you just want to close the deal: Another fish is tailing in the lagoon now… no there’s two! Now you’re in a bubble, closing out everything else. You’re in bonefish heaven and you plan on taking full advantage of it.
Eventually, the tide gets too high, and in some mystical way only known to the bonefish themselves, they disappear as quietly and quickly as they had arrived two hours earlier – perhaps via the mangroves? God, how time flies! It’s probably time to meet up with the other guys again…
KILLER OF THE FLATS
Although we love bonefish, Acklins offers a lot more. You will most likely find large barracudas and small sharks as well as fast moving jacks.
The barracuda is a totally underrated quarry on the flats – if you get a chance to fish for one, do it! When hooked, they will make long runs and often propel themselves out of the water in spectacular jumps. Imagine hooking a four feet long fish in one foot of water… then you will get some serious action!
While cudas are fierce predators that will, quite literally, cut your bonefish in half while you are fighting it, they can be super finicky and very difficult to lure on a fly. Fortunately, Acklins has a very healthy population of them so you should get plenty of chances to practice.
If you have the guts for it, the sharks patrolling the flats can also be tempted with a fly. It’s quite a sight when you set the hook on five-foot lemon shark and it realize something just isn’t right and decides to leave the shallow flat in seconds. You’d better have a good drag and a decent amount of gelspun backing you up!
When targeting these apex predators we usually carry a second rod, rigged with wire and a cuda fly.
A selection of small and light crab flies is your best bet in the mangroves. In here, the bones are extra wary and alert, but a nice little tan crab with rubber legs is hard to resist for a tailing bonefish. To avoid getting snagged, consider adding a weed guard to some of your crabs.
Classic shrimp flies are a must on Acklins. The huge sandflats call for lightly coloured bonefish flies and variations of Gotchas, Mantis Shrimp, Puffs and Crazy Charlies. The same goes for the modern, lifelike shrimp flies used for European sea trout fishing. Fortunately, Acklins has a very healthy population of bones so you will get plenty of opportunities to experiment.
If you’re ready to hook up with big barracudas, strong jacks – or even sharks – you should bring some baitfish flies tied on heavy-wire hooks. In order to effectively hook cudas and increase landing rates, a stinger hook is recommended.
On our bonefish trips the novice bonefish angler will find himself in a relaxed environment and he will enjoy the company and knowledge of our experienced tour leader and fellow anglers. The skilled bonefish angler will definitely appreciate the opportunity of spending extra hours on the flats.
The go-to rods for the Bahamian flats:
9’ #7-8 saltwater rod for bonefish
9’ #8-9 saltwater rod for barracuda and sharks
#8-9 saltwater reels with 150-200 m 30-50 lb braid backing
#7-9 floating bonefish taper line
#9-10 floating tropical saltwater line
Tapered saltwater leaders 9-12 ft. 10-20 lb
Wire leader / shock tippet for barracuda