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 and for years, we have been dreaming of the perfect bonefish trip for those wanting to stalk the shallows for bones on their own.
However, while searching for perfect bonefish flats, one place has always reclaimed our attention. Acklins Island in the Bahamas. Only recently did we finally convince our partners in the Bahamas to let us set up such a European program; exactly the way we and our clients have always dreamed of: Long days – fishing different areas every day at our own pace.
We have designed what we believe is the perfect bonefish program for European fly anglers. The surroundings are stunning and Acklins Island has more great bonefish habitat than anywhere else we have fished. 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?
FLY TO: Acklins Island via Nassau.
Day 1: Arrival in Nassau, stay at hotel.
Day 2: Morning flight to Acklins, transfer to the Grey’s Point Inn, lunch, rig up tackle and hit the nearby flats for an afternoon’s worth of fishing.
Day 3-8: Six full days of fishing.
Day 9: Transfer to the airport for your flight back to Nassau and onwards to your final destination.
PRICE: From $ 2200 without flights and hotel in Nassau.
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…
Our partner in the Bahamas is the renowned Grey’s Point Bonefish Inn at Acklins Island. On this sparsely populated island in the southern part of Bahamas life passes by quietly and there is plenty of space for everybody.
The family-owned and operated Grey’s Point Bonefish Inn offers the best location on Acklins, carefully chosen by Reverend Newton Williamson Sr., who had a vision of building a guest house for anglers ever since he noticed the first Americans camping the beaches at Grey’s Point in the late ‘60s.
Today there is no camping but spacious rooms and a friendly service on the hill of Grey’s Point.
Though both his children and grandsons are engaged at the lodge, Reverend Newton Williamson Sr. is still there most evenings, having late dinner and chatting about bonefishing.
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.
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 action!
Cudas are fierce predators that will, quite literally, cut your bonefish in half while you are fighting it –and they can be super finicky and very difficult to lure.
Fortunately, Acklins has a very healthy population of them so you should get plenty of chances to practice.
Sometimes we carry a second rod, rigged with wire and a cuda fly. At other times, we will simply rig up the bonefish rod if we spot one.
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
#8-9 saltwater reel with 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
Sun/ stripping gloves
Long-sleeved shirts (UPF30+)
Light rain gear