Grand Bahama Bonefishing – With the Pinder Brothers on Grand Bahama Island

This is our latest onsite report for the Pinder Brothers and Grand Bahama Bonefishing. Grand Bahama Island which is the northern most Island in the Bahamas is primarily a bone fishery, however this area offers occasional opportunities for tarpon, permit, plus a host of other species. If you are interested in world class bonefishing on Grand Bahama Island– read on!

Fishing with the Pinder Brothersat Grand Bahama Bonefishing

For anglers living in the eastern US, there is no reason to go half way around the world when there is incredible fishing in the Bahamas, many islands within a single day’s flight.

I was getting that bonefish twitch again, so I set my sights on Grand Bahama Island which is very close to my home in Florida. The fishing aside, one thing that makes Grand Bahama a great destination are the many daily flights from Florida, plus there is no need for a charter flight or to spend the night in route.Fishing with the with the Pinder Brothers. A fine bonefish caught and released at Grand Bahama Island

The coastline of east Florida disappears gradually. Soon we were at altitude and leveling off. It’s a short distance through sparkling open waters of the Gulf Stream. Visible in the distance is the west end of Grand Bahama with her white sandy beaches and water as clear as glass.  Tropical palms and Australian pines border the south shore.  I have missed this place.

Mentally I am plotting my return before I even get there.

We landed on time at Grand Bahama International Airport. I picked up my bags and breezed through Customs and immigration quickly.

Outside the terminal I am patiently waiting for David Pinder to pick me up. I am just about to grab my cell phone and David arrives. I peer into his van and all I can see is a big grin with large shiny white teeth. While I am expecting David to say is, how are you doing, or, are you ready to go fishing, or ask, how was flight. Nope, not David, the first thing out of his mouth was “Let’s go kick some ass”.  David is not one to mince his words.

The boat ramp we used at Hawksbill Creek is very close to the airport. The shiny Dolphin skiff was in the water when we arrived. We wasted no time assembling my travel rods and we were quickly off to the magnificent and beautiful northern flats.

Dolphin skiff at Grand Bahama Bonefishing - Freeport Grand Bahama Island

Blissfully we cruised carefree across the mirror like surface of the bay on a cushion of air and a patch of water.  It was one of those ideal sunny days; just a light breeze, good visibility and a nice incoming tide.  No worries, no drama, no problems, life is good!

After a short run David settled the boat on a beautiful turtle grass flat. Within minutes we are into bonefish and lots of themI am not single minded, normally I would rather fish for fewer big fish than a lot of smaller ones.  I have been playing this game for a long time. What I really like is the hunt and the ever-changing surroundings. Being out on the water a lot like I have, you see strange, interesting and remarkable things in these fertile waters.  I just love observing all the life around. The grey ghosts are a bonus.

David poles us inshore. We round a shallow mangrove point and find tailing fish working right to us, four and six pound fish wallowing around in water not even deep enough to cover their back. Releasing a nice Grand Bahama bonefish on Grand Bahama Island

I’m ready, fly in hand and line coiled on the deck. With a soft quiet plant of the push pole David holds us steady and I drop the fly just ahead of a slowly cruising fish.  A handsome broad backed bonefish consumed the fly confidently and then with my fly line tearing across the calm surface, does everything as advertised; made several great runs and really put on a show before conceding. Totally awesome! After a quick release the fine-looking fellow drifted away.

Bonefish have the brain the size of a pea but they still outsmart most of us a lot the time. Sometimes they will rush up and eat flies that land a dozen feet away and other times refuse a totally perfect presentation. It’s a lot like  permit  fishing.

The number of fish you can expect to catch at any time is directly related to your skill as an angler. The fish are spooky and the casting has to be accurate.  Accuracy is crucial on the flats. You need to be able to put that fly at 50-60 feet and you have to do without a lot of false casting.  Some anglers like to make big long cast that shoot out and land real heavy which scares the fish. In most cases this is not necessary. Finesse triumphs over brute strength.

Catching a bonefish is always thrilling. The excitement of the hunt and of watching the fish recognize, gobble up your fly and tear across a slick surface is about as good as it gets.

David’s sister in law (Mrs. Jeffery Pinder) packed a nice lunch for us. So David directed the skiff to a secluded lagoon where he occasionally sees tarpon. David lowered the anchor and we talked about old stories and recent events for a while. No tarpon today, but lots of small Green turtles leisurely poking around looking for a morsel. David explained the small turtles stay in there to avoid the larger predators and I know he is right. I have seen bull and tiger sharks prey on these graceful saltwater reptiles.Grand Bahama Island bonefishing - David Pinder casting at a bonefish

David pulled the anchor and slowly poled out of the lagoon as we searched for bones. A nice small permit hurried past. There was no time to act on him so David poled on. We end up spending the rest of the afternoon slowly working our way down a long sandy bank with small mangrove on the shore and young mangrove shoots pushing out along the edge.
We enjoyed nonstop action for the next hour or more, so I asked David if he wanted to catch a few bones and he jumped at the chance. I poled and he fished. It was a delightful experience watching a master fly caster at work and I received a casting lesson as well.

We still had good visibility, but big cumulous clouds were building in the north and sky started turning leaden grey so Captain Pinder decided to head home before the showers came. Well ahead of the rain, David shut down the skiff a couple of hundred yards from the boat ramp at Hawksbill Creek, just so we could look for a few more fish before we headed back to the hotel. David really likes to make sure his clients are happy. Heck, I was already more than satisfied with the day, but Mr. Pinder would not take no for an answer, so we caught a few more.

David droped me off at the Radisson Grand Lucayan which is located on the beach at Port Lucaya and we agree to meet early the next morning in front of the hotel and have another go at it. Day one on the water has ended; then again, I still have a few more days to go. Life is good! Your beachfront hotel accomodation while fishing with Grand Bahama Bonefishing

 Your stay at this beautiful Radisson Grand Lucayan beachfront hotel is included in your fishing package.

 On Grand Bahama Island the fishing is as good as or better than ever and with the slow economy, the Bahamas fishing industry has cooled off a bit. As a result, many lodges that were always booked now have some availability, including Grand Bahama Bonefishing. Let us help you arrange your next trip!

For hotel package rates click here.

If you have been there then you know already, if you haven’t been, then go now! Just remember, Edward Johnston told you so……….Book now for the rest of this year and/or reserve your spot in 2013. Please feel free to call us with any questions you may have.

For additional photographs click here

Call us now at 800-771-2202 or 352-795-3474.

Edward Johnston

Leisure Time Travel – Your best and most knowledgeable choice for fishing the Caribbean

Leisure Time Travel Inc.

531 N. Citrus Ave.

Crystal River, Florida 34428

352-795-FISH (3474) 1-800-771-2202

 Pinders Brothers Bonefishing : Grand Bahama Bonefishing

All Photgraphs by Edward R. Johnston

Copyright © 2012 Edward R. Johnston & Leisure Time Travel, Inc. 1996-2013

Isla Blanca Fishing – Report on Isla Blanca

This is our latest onsite report for Isla Blanca Fishing  which is located in the north-eastern Yucatan peninsula near Cancun. The fishery in this region offers opportunities for tarpon, permit, snook and a host of other species. If you are interested in Isla Blanca fishing in the Yucatan peninsula – read on!

Isla Blanca Fishing

The dock at Isla Blanca

This was my 30th trip to the Yucatan in the past twenty-one years. Much has changed here during that time including a complete makeover at the international airport. One thing that hasn’t change is the ritual of going through customs. You are instructed to push little button which activates a green light or red light. You get the green light and you move straight through, or if you get the red light the customs officials check your bags. Thirty trips to the Yucatan and still haven’t caught the red light. It’s only a matter of time.

Outside Customs Marco Ruz, owner of Isla Blanca Fishing, and his business partner Jesciel Mena are waiting for me. They quickly grabbed my luggage and stow it in their new Chevy Express van and we were off to the Hotel which is located about 30 minutes from the airport and about 3 ½ miles north of downtown Cancun.

Isla Blanca Fishing

Sea Adventures Hotel : Isla Blanca

If you are going use the package pricing, you will stay at Sea Adventure Hotel which will be just fine for most anglers. This all-inclusive hotel is located on a white-sand beach facing the Caribbean.

The Sea Adventure hotel is close to Isla Blanca so you will be virtually just minutes from the launch site.

At five-thirty the next morning Marco Ruz’s right-hand man, Rafael was patiently waiting for me in the hotel lobby. We packed my gear in their new  Chevy van and head for the dock at Isla Blanca and the unspoiled Chakmochuk lagoon system.

Ah, the smell of a gentle salty breeze reminds of the many trips to the Yucatan in the past and hopefully many more in the future.  We unload and proceed down a sandy path edged with tall wavy grasses where we find the Isla Blanca panga boats and our guide Enrique ready to go.  “Esta listo ” I said. ”Si – Vamonos”  said Enrique.

The bay is large and in most places shallow. The tide was low so we putted for a while until we had enough water to jump up in. We ran over the clear water and into a light briny wind for few minutes and shut down on a beautiful fine grass flat where we searched for permit. We saw a small green turtle, spotted eagle ray and few palometa’s, which are a smaller cousin of the permit. No permit here today. That’s fine; I have caught one-hundred and five permit on a fly to date, so I do not feel compelled to catch one each day I fish. It happens when it happens, but you always need to be ready or the chance will quickly pass you by.

Isla Blanca Lodge

Two of three pangas at Isla Blanca Fishing

My guide Enrique asked if I wanted to tangle with some juvenile tarpon and I readily accepted that invitation. Baby tarpon are always a thrill and challenge; nevertheless, the little guys can be more difficult to hook than the big guys. I have heard it said that the interior of a tarpon’s mouth is as hard as a concrete block and I agree.  With the smaller fish, you don’t have the weight of a big fish to help set the hook; as a result, more juvenile tarpon have a tendency to throw the fly.

There are coves and deep mangrove estuaries all along this part of the Yucatan are loaded with baby and juvenile tarpon! Enrique’s technique was to move the panga near the mangroves, pull the engine up and with minimum sound, pole the rest of the way. Only a man who has spent years in this backcountry could navigate the maze of channels thru these mangrove forests. Enrique’s knowledge of the area paid off as we caught a few juvenile tarpon and spooked or missed hundreds more.

Isla Blanca Fishing

Edward Johnston with a juvenile Isla Blanca tarpon

By mid-afternoon we had worked our way more than an hour from the ramp nearly to the eastern edge of Isla Holbox. Heading home we passed Cayo Raton where we stoped for a few minutes to pole a beautiful sandy ocean flat and look for permit.

The eastern edge of the lagoon near Isla Contoy is a very healthy marine environment similar to portions on the eastern side of Ascension and Espiritu Santo Bay, which are to be found farther south in the Yucatan.

The sound of the ocean and the swaying palm trees provide a nice calming effect. A small palometa blows by, but nothing else, so we continued on our journey.

Another fifteen minutes and we cut through Cayo Sucio and slow down to watch a flock of pink flamingos feeding in the shallows. Beautiful!

We arrive back at the dock with salty skin and tales to tell. Day one on the water has ended, then again,  I still have six more days to go. Life is good!

Leisure Time Travel, Inc : Edward R. Johnston

 

If you are considering the prospect of making or renewing your familiarity with the tarpon, Isla Blanca is a great place to visit. Plus, you will have an opportunity for permit, snook and possibly bonefish.

It possible to visit two fisheries in one week.  For instance, you could fly into Cancun, fish Isla Blanca three days, transfer to Tarpon Cay Lodge and fish another three days.  To keep transportation cost down, it would be best to have a small group (six max) or let us hook you up with a few other anglers.

Guide trips only are $395.00 for a full day and include guided fishing, lunch, beverages, fishing license, loaner tackle (if needed) and pick-up and drop off at your Cancun hotel.

 For hotel package rates click here.

If you have been there then you know already, if you haven’t been, then go now! Just remember, Edward Johnston told you so……….Book now for the rest of this year and/or reserve your spot in 2013. Please feel free to call us with any questions you may have.

Call us now at 800-771-2202 or 352-795-3474.

Edward Johnston

Leisure Time Travel – Your best and most knowledgeable choice for fishing the Caribbean

Leisure Time Travel Inc.

531 N. Citrus Ave.

Crystal River, Florida 34428

352-795-FISH (3474) 1-800-771-2202

 

All Photgraphs by Edward R. Johnston

Copyright © 2012 Edward R. Johnston & Leisure Time Travel, Inc. 1996-2012

 

Isla Blanca Lodge

A fine juvenile tarpon up close

Tarpon Cay Lodge Report – Rio Lagartos Estuary – Yucatan

This is our latest onsite report for Tarpon Cay Lodge which is located in a very remote region of northern Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula. To see the full cycle of a tarpon’s life, from baby tarpon found in the back creeks and ponds, to the juveniles in the mangrove estuaries, and the larger fish near the Gulf is a unique opportunity for any dedicated angler.  If you are interested in tarpon fishing at Tarpon Cay Lodge in the Yucatan peninsula between Parque Natural San Felipe and Rio Lagartos Estuary – read on!

Tarpon Cay Lodge

Marco casting at a tarpon along a magrove shorline

I am relaxing on the upper balcony of the four-story Hotel San Felipe admiring the view of this Yucatan fishing harbor and Gulf of Mexico. A cool sea breeze and the sound of the sea create a tranquil sensation in this paradise. Soon, I will be making the drive to the western side of the Yucatan peninsula near Campeche and indulge in the fishing there.

It is difficult to leave this picturesque place. Amazing beautiful, is still isolated from the rest of the modern world. San Felipe is a small port town located on the northern Yucatan’s mangrove coast and is accessible only by long winding roads through the Yucatan countryside.

The unique topography of the northern Yucatan peninsula is low-lying and almost flat land with a thin crust of soil. The jagged porous lime rock base protrudes everywhere.

If you look at a map of the Yucatan showing surface features such as rivers, ponds, hills and valleys, you’ll notice that the northern peninsula’s has no inland rivers at all, but it does have many sinkholes, called cenotes.  In The Yucatan, underground water drains relentlessly in underground caverns dissolved by rainwater, from the inland region toward the coasts. This water originates far away in the Peninsula’s interior and creates a unique ecosystem. There are thousands of cenotes in the northern Yucatan. Inland the cenotes may create a spring-fed pond, lake or swamp. When the freshwater sinkholes are located near shore, or off the coastline, the local people call them “ojo de agua”, or eye of the water. I call them fish magnets which create a center of attraction for various species and you will find them here.

Tarpon Cay Lodge

There are countless little tarpon like this in the low areas surrounding San Felipe. Friends gather these little guys up during the dry season and place them safely in the mangroves.

If you have fished Ascension Bay or Espiritu Santo Bay you know what I am talking about, as there are dozens of fresh water sinkholes in the back bays (there are also saltwater  tidal “blow holes”, but we will talk about that another time).

The fishery in this region offers incredible opportunities. This is tarpon country and they come in all sizes here. From itty-bitty babies to juveniles to giants, they all live here in the estuaries of the mangrove lined lagoons, clear turtle grass flats near shore and mysterious deep water places offshore. To see the full cycle of a tarpon’s life, from babies found in the back creeks and ponds,  to the juveniles in the mangrove estuaries, and the larger fish near the Gulf is a unique opportunity for any dedicated angler.

San Felipe is straddled by two of the most beautiful Biosphere Reserves in the world, Parque Natural San Felipe which extends more than 20 miles to the west and Rio Lagartos which extends more than 30 miles to the east. The reserves have similar eco-regions; clear turtle grass flats transitioning to mangrove lined lagoons and coastal wetlands, and dry upland forests.

You will find the four major Caribbean mangroves species here. Near shore the water has a slight tannin stain which is derived from decaying mangrove stems and leaves. Mangroves are vital to the whole inshore ecological community as they provide habitat and shelter to many species from the bottom of the food chain to the top.

The mangrove estuaries are loaded with baby and juvenile tarpon. This region is also home hundreds bird species including Flamingos, Roseate Spoonbill, Osprey, Pelicans, Frigates, Gulls, Egrets, Grackle, and Chachalaca. You may also encounter White-tail Deer, the elusive Jaguar, Margay, Coati, Gray Fox, and numerous other Yucatan mammals.  And, there are many reptiles here including various turtles, Iguanas and a small population of crocodiles.

Tarpon Cay Lodge

Mangroves in the northern Yucatan – look close

The fishing program for Tarpon Cay Lodge centers on the Hotel San Felipe which is situated harbor side in the center of this small fishing village. The hotel is not fancy, but it is clean, comfortable and well appointed. The air-conditioned rooms are more than adequate for two guests with two double beds, and private bath with shower.

Your host at the Hotel is Veto or “Bee-tow” for English speakers. With any new experience there is a feeling of unfamiliarity and uncertainty. Veto will immediately put you at ease and make you feel like you are with friends and family. You can travel here by yourself and never feel alone. I asked Veto where he learned English. Veto told me he watched a lot of American movies, especially Arnold Schwarzenegger Terminator movies. “Hasta la vista, baby” he quoted!

Veto’s main duty at the Hotel is chief chef, but he also joins in at bartending and serving. During Veto’s off time he is delighted to show you around the town and country side. Veto make take you to a cenote to fish for mojarra, a sightseeing trip to Rio Lagartos, let you lend a hand rescuing stranded baby tarpon, or take you to a bull fight, which is quite a cultural event in the Yucatan.

Tarpon Cay Lodge’s peak season is May through August.  The weather is calm and the tarpon are usually plentiful.  Tarpon Cay Lodge, like its sister Lodge, Isla del Sabalo, is a fly fishing lodge developed for one purpose and that is fishing for tarpon and offers some of the best tarpon angling available today. These fish are largely undisturbed and will respond to most well-presented flies. There are other fish available here including jacks, snappers, barracudas, spotted sea trout and snook, however consider those as a bonus species.

The fertile waters of Mexico’s northern Yucatan Peninsula represent one of the most productive juvenile tarpon fisheries in the world. Tarpon Cay Lodge is relatively inexpensive, easy to get to, and very compatible to light tackle and fly fishing.

Tarpon Cay Lodge

Veto will take good care of you while you visit Tarpon Cay Lodge

For a remote destination experience offering a pure unspoiled tarpon fishery, look no further than Tarpon Cay Lodge.  The clear grass flats and backcountry lagoons provide extraordinary fishing opportunities.

The rate for a 7 Night / 6 Day combo package is $3,295 per angler (double occupancy). This will include all transfers in a new air-conditioned  Chevy Express Super Van (seats eight including our bilingual host and driver), Lodge accommodations, meals and guided fishing.  Not included is airfare to Cancun or Merida, alcoholic beverages, and tips for the guide and staff.

See additional rate information here. You will find some additional photos on our facebook page which will give you an idea of the size of the Yucatan tarpon.

If you have been there then you know already, if you haven’t been, then go now! Just remember, Edward Johnston told you so……….Book now for the rest of this year and/or reserve your spot in 2013. Please feel free to call us with any questions you may have.

Call us now at 800-771-2202 or 352-795-3474.

 Edward Johnston 

Leisure Time Travel – Your best and most knowledgeable choice for fishing the Caribbean

Leisure Time Travel Inc.

531 N. Citrus Ave.

Crystal River, Florida 34428

352-795-FISH (3474) 1-800-771-2202

 

All Photgraphs by Edward R. Johnston

Copyright © 2012 Edward R. Johnston & Leisure Time Travel, Inc. 1996-2012

San Felipe

View SW from Hotel San Felipe