Edward Johnston of Leisure Time Travel recently visited the new Black Fly Bonefish Club on Abaco Island Bahamas We enjoyed fly fishing at Abaco Island, Moore’s Island, the Marls of Abaco and Sandy Point. The folks at Black Fly Lodge were great. Our story below:
Waiting for us at the Marsh Harbor airport was Captain Clint Kemp, one of the proprietors of the Black Fly Bonefish Club, also known as the Black Fly Lodge. Clint is a native Bahamian and can trace his family’s Abaco Island roots back the 1700’s. Clint is the type of guy who makes you feel right at ease in his presence, comparable to being reacquainted with an old fishing buddy. Clint is as good at what he does as anyone I’ve ever met and is versed on many subjects, whether it is Wall Street finance, Bahamian history, politics in the Bahamas or the US, and especially fishing and fly tying. And, if Clint ever stops running his new lodge or guiding, he can be a good chef.
We found ice cold Mojitos waiting for us at the lodge expertly prepared Clints staff. A perfect start to our fishing trip on Abaco Island! We found Clint to have that rare combination of grace and knowledge which are the essence of a fine host anywhere in the world. Clint Kemp, may be the best Bahamian cook in the Bahamas. The atmosphere, the camaraderie and the great cuisine at Black Fly Lodge are as good as the fishing.
For the time being, home base is an attractive beach house adjacent to Schooner Bay overlooking a beautiful beach and the Atlantic Ocean. Located at the southern end of Great Abaco Island halfway between Marsh Harbor and Sandy Point, this unique beach house is perfectly located to fish some of Abaco’s finest flats.The Beach House is comfortable and very inviting. The spacious home can accommodate six anglers very comfortably in four bedrooms, sharing three baths. There is a large great room, dining room area, living room, lots of porch and deck area, full bar and a fully equipped fly tying table. The lodge has telephone and internet access and provides maid and laundry service.
For breakfast you will have a assortment of eggs, egg omelets, pancakes, fresh fruit, breads et cetera. For dinner you can expect a variety of beautifully prepared Bahamian and American specialties including fish, lobster, conch, and of course steak. Your cooler lunch will be a pleasure as well, with perhaps a lobster wrap, conch and/or lobster salad or a variety of sandwiches made on homemade bread.
After a day on the water a variety of appetizers are provided including thin sliced fresh Conch Ceviche marinated in sour orange and pepper, mixed with onion, peppers, and pickled ginger, conch fritters, lobster fritters and more.
During our three-day visit we dined like landed gentry. Surf and Turf Tenderloin with basil butter lobster served on spinach smashed potatoes, a Steamed Filet of Hog Snapper with locally grown vegetables served over saffron rice with grilled asparagus, and the last evening a Roasted Pork Tenderloin with silky saffron potatoes with a roasted red pepper and garlic sauce.
For desert there was a Guava Cobbler with rum butter sauce, a homemade Aztec chocolate ice cream with double chocolate chip brownies, and the last evening a homemade coconut sorbet with grilled pineapple and fresh mint garnish.
Oh…..and did I say open bar? The lodge includes a premium selection of liquor, excellent red and white wine, beer, juices, sodas and other appropriate mixers and garnishes for your pleasure. Help yourself as all drinks are included during your visit.
As Captain Clint Kemp likes to say “You can’t control the fishing, but you certainly can control the food”. He does!
For the non-fishing guest there is plenty to do. Around the lodge, let’s start with exploring the local beaches, investigating the famous blue holes, bicycling around the Abaco pine forest, kayaking the tidal marshes or searching for the elusive Abaco parrot. Or take the thirty minute drive into Marsh Harbor and shop, dine at one of the fine restaurants, a day of golf or perhaps take a day trip to the picturesque Elbow Cay and Historic Hope Town where you can see the last operational kerosene-fueled lighthouses in the world.
Ok fishing fans. There will not be any superfluous embellishment or useless rhetoric for this new lodge’s description of the fishing. Here are the facts.
The lodge fishing director and our guide for the trip was Captain Paul Pinder. Paul was born and raised on Abaco and knows the Island like the back of his hand. Paul’s vast knowledge of the fishery and good nature make for a pleasant day on the water. In short, Paul is one of the most knowledgeable guides we’ve fished with. Paul is organized and focused on maximizing productive fishing time. And for those of you who have fished around the Bahamas, the Pinder name is synonymous with great guides. You may have heard of David, Jeffery and Joseph Pinder, well Paul is their first cousin.
Southern Abaco has been fished lightly in the past. The new Black Fly Lodge is in the right place at the right time, located on the threshold of some of the most pristine bonefish flats in all of the Bahamas.
The Black Fly Lodge is currently using two amply powered 21’ Hewes Redfishers and two 16’ Beavertail skiffs all of which are trailered to various nearby boat ramps. The house ramp at Crossing Rocks is just a few minutes away. The longest haul is to Sandy Point and is approximately twenty-five minutes.
Most of the flats close to Abaco Island are protected by numerous outlying cayes and small islands. This is a visual fishery and these island flats can be fished while wading or fished from the boat. Plenty of wading opportunities exist on white sand bottom. During windy days, you can expect to fish the coves and inland lagoons. These shallow flats are protected and ideal for stalking tailing fish and bones pushing water. When the weather is settled, the flats close to Moore’s Island and Sandy Point’s Cross Harbor lagoon are protected by coral reefs, resulting in calmer, clear waters.
The Black Fly Bonefish Club has divided lower Abaco Island into six distinct zones, or fishing grounds. Over the years, I have had the opportunity to fish all these areas with the exception of the Blue water out of Schooner Harbor, although I have fished offshore farther up the island.
Each of these zones are large enough to spend an entire day or more. In fact it will take you several days in each area to thoroughly cover it with the exception of the hundreds of square miles of the Marls which will take you a very long time to explore. Fishing on Abaco is exciting and life plays out intensely on the flats. Every day is different. We fished three of these zones on this trip.
The first day we fished Moore’s Island. We boarded the big Hewes Redfishers and after a brief thirty minute ride we were there. A number of nice bonefish were caught in the morning and we had several good shots at permit. It was exciting to see the permit and try to feed them. The permit on this day were picky eaters which does not surprise me as all permit are picky eaters. We just did not have the fly that they wished to eat. I have caught 106 permit on the fly to date so I am familiar as how to feed them. We just need a little time to figure out what the Moore’s Island permit would like to consume (and a reason to return). We then checked out a few spots where Paul Pinder had seen migratory tarpon occasionally in the summer months. The tarpon were not around on this day. To finish our time Captain Paul poled the boat along the eastern shore of the main island looking for bonefish and we did find a few. When our time was up, Paul cranked up the engine and popped the caps on a couple of bottles of Kalik and we were on our way back to the lodge. A nice finish to a beautiful fishing day.
Second day we launched from the Schooner Bay ramp and fished the channel leading out to open water for an hour or so. We then went northwest eventually to Cornwall Point and within sight of Big Mangrove Cay, stopping at a few spots along the way. We had several good shots at permit and caught some bonefish in the maze of mangrove channels. This area of the Marls does not see much angling pressure, so the bonefish remain plentiful on these expansive flats.
On the third day we launched from Sandy Point. We fished Cross Harbor point back along the flat towards Blackwood Point until we encountered the blue water, and then Rock Point to Galliot Point. The Cross Harbor bay, is as beautiful and flat as you will find anywhere in the Caribbean. And along with Moore’s Island, Cross Harbor bay is one of the few places in the Bahamas with a predictable Permit fishery. We caught several bonefish early and then spent the remaining time looking for permit. We had numerous shots at permit throughout the day and came very close ” twice” to an interested fish. Occasionally a permit will just smash your fly. This day we were ignored, however, we will return and try again.
Location and Getting There:The Abacos are a 130 mile crescent shaped string of Bahamian islands located approximately 200 miles east of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and 75 miles northeast of Nassau Bahamas. With nearly 50 square miles of landmass, Abaco is the second largest island in the Bahamas. The Abaco Islands are rich with bird life and several areas have been set aside as preserves. The interior of the island is lush with Bahamian pine trees and here you will find the habitat of the Abaco parrot. Offshore, Abaco is also known for its elkhorn and staghorn coral reefs.
Marsh Harbour is the principal town and hub of the island and is only a 30 minute drive from the lodge.
Abaco Island has direct flights from Florida to Marsh Harbour. It is also possible to fly via Nassau, however a direct flight from Florida is by far the easiest.
For rates at Black Fly Bonefish Club click here.
On the main land of Abaco Island there is a place where the land narrows and the blue water of the Atlantic on the East and the vast flats on the west are only separated by a half a mile of pine forest, locals call it the “neck” of Abaco. Here you will find the new harbour side town of Schooner Bay. The project is situated on 330 acre parcel of land and will occupy 220 of those acres. The remaining acreage will be preserved as common green space which will only include native trees, indigenous flora and sand dunes. A lot of thought has gone into this development as it is being built to exact environmental and sustainable standards.
As of writing, Black Fly Lodge has a new inn under construction in the new Schooner Bay development and completion date is scheduled for March 2013. Black Fly Lodge will sit at the harbors edge where guest will enjoy the beauty and community of the surrounding environment. The lodge will be an intimate two story veranda house with cozy living room, bar and open family style kitchen/dining room on the first floor. On the second floor there will be eight bedroom suits that open to a second floor veranda.
The lodge plans to add a new fleet of boats including Hells Bay skiffs for the inland areas and Action Craft for the run out to Moore’s Island and South of Sandy Point. An offshore boat is in the plans as well.
If you have been there then you know already, if you haven’t been, then go now! Just remember, Edward Johnston at Leisure Time Travel told you so……….Book now for the rest of this year and/or reserve your spot at the new Lodge in 2013. Call us at 800-771-2202 or email us.
Leisure Time Travel – Your best and most knowledgeable choice for fishing the Caribbean
531 N. Citrus Ave. Crystal River, Florida 34428
352-795-FISH (3474) 1-800-771-2202
All Photographs by Edward R. Johnston
Copyright © 2012 Edward R. Johnston & Leisure Time Travel, Inc. 1996-2012