Bairs Lodge | Bonefish and Tarpon Trust | Fly Fishing Andros Island Bahamas

World Class Fly Fishing for Bonefish on South Andros Island Bahamas at Bair’s Lodge

Bair's Lodge Andros Island Bahamas

Bair’s Lodge Andros Island Bahamas – Bonefishing Capital of the World

Bairs Lodge Bahamas  – Fly Fishing Andros Island

Bairs Bonefish Lodge January 2016:

What’s nice about living in Florida is the close proximity to the Bahamas. Some islands have a direct flight or direct charter service from Florida and most of the remaining islands are accessible in two hops.

And yet 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.

The weather channel tells me that New England is currently getting buried with snow. On this bright and sunny January day I am riding in a comfy Embraer 190 jet from Orlando Florida to Nassau, where I will catch a short hopper to South Andros Island.

Bairs Lodge Andros Island Bahamas

Bonefish photo courtesy of Bairs Lodge

Thirty minutes into the flight we are passing the west end of Grand Bahama Island with her white sandy beaches and water as clear as glass.  Tropical palms and Australian pines border the south shore.

We pass through a frontal band of heavy cumulus clouds, an ominous sign of tomorrow’s weather.  I have been in this game a long time and sometimes it is what it is, you just deal with it.

We landed on time at Nassau International Airport. I picked up my bags and breezed through Customs and immigration quickly, then on to the gate for my short flight to South Andros Island.

Over the years I have probably made 80 trips to the Bahamas and numerous trips to Andros Island.  My first trip to North Andros Island was in 1988. My first trip to South Andros was in 1991, which was twenty-five years ago, and I can tell you, not much has changed. The pace of life is mellow and relaxed. A few new buildings here and there but otherwise it seems time has stood still, which is a good thing is you’re an angler in search of a remote bonefish destination.

Bairs fishing Lodge and Andros Island

Andros Island is located approximately 150 miles Southeast of Miami, and about 30 miles Southwest of Nassau, New Providence, Andros is still one of the least developed.

Bairs Lodge Andros Island Bahamas

Bonefish photo courtesy of Bairs Lodge

Andros Island is divided by inland creeks and large channels, called bights. The island is comprised of clusters of large and small cays connected by mangrove estuaries, saltwater marsh, tidal wetlands and sandy beaches. When the whole thing is combined Andros is the largest of the Bahamian islands.

South Andros is part of the Andros islands that make up the 2,300-square-mile Andros chain.  One mile off the coast of the island lays the third largest barrier reef in the world, the Tongue of the Ocean where the water depth plummets to 6000 feet. The reef runs approximately north to south for about 170 miles. Cool waters from the depths flow upward against the walls feeding an unbelievable fishery. Just off the reef in deep water are Dorado, Tuna, Sailfish, Wahoo, and Jacks. On the reef are Barracuda, Snappers, and Grouper.

Andros is surrounded by hundreds of square miles of fish-able flats known worldwide for trophy bone fishing. It’s no secret that one of the largest populations and largest bonefish are found on the flats of South Andros. The south and west side flats are isolated and renowned for large, unpressured bonefish. Some of most consistent fishing in the Bahamas Islands is on South Andros and that is why it is considered the Bonefishing Capital of the world.

Bair’s Lodge is located on the southeastern side situated between Deep Creek and Little Creek. These creeks open out into a broad area of inland flats, with hundreds of small cays and connecting channels covering more than 100 square miles.  You will be fishing areas like Beach Cay, Grassy Creek, Hawks Nest, Cistern Point, the Curly Cuts, Jackfish, and Water Cays to name a few.

I will tell you more about Bairs Lodge and the fishing shortly, for now I will enlighten you on the research of the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust  

The Bonefish and Tarpon Trust

This past January the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust (BTT) scientists were conducting research on spawning bonefish on South Andros Island, Bahamas.  Bair’s Lodge had generously donated the space and boats for the scientists to perform their work.

Bairs Lodge Andros Island Bahamas

Bonefish & Tarpon Trust scientist at work

I wanted to see first-hand the work and research that the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust (BTT) scientist performed, especially the spawning research.  I can tell you it was a very interesting trip as I was able to see firsthand how the BTT scientist went about their business. The BTT crew shared their information freely at every opportunity and it was a great learning experience.

The BTT team initially tried to use seine nets to capture bonefish for tagging however the weather was not cooperating and the fish seemed to prefer the deeper water.  So, the fly rods were brought out and bonefish were caught.

The BTT team had deployed acoustic receivers around South Andros Island to track bonefish spawning migrations. Acoustic tags were placed on some of the captured bonefish which gave a good indication where the fish were headed to spawning sites. And as a result one huge spawning aggregate was found and observed. This information is important to protect these important spawning locations.

Other duties included tagging bonefish to collect information on bonefish movements and collecting fin clips for the Bonefish and Tarpon Genetics Program to help understand how the bonefish populations in different locations are related.

After bonefish spawn in deep water near full moons, the larvae that hatch from the eggs drift in the open ocean almost two months. Some of the larvae may remain in the local area while other larvae may drift for hundreds of miles to places far removed from the spawning sites.

It is thought that a significant amount of the Florida Keys bonefish population originates in Cuban and Caribbean waters, and as a result of commercial fishing there, the Keys bonefish population is diminishing. BTT scientists haven’t reached a consensus that the Florida Keys bonefish originate from spawning in the Caribbean and Cuba, but that they are investigating the probability with additional studies because they think it’s a viable possibility.

Bairs Lodge Andros Island Bahamas

Bonefish & Tarpon Trust scientist at work

The BTT scientist are conducting research to hatch fertilized bonefish eggs and may start an Aquaculture Center in South Florida to breed bonefish to replace those lost to the breeding stock in elsewhere in the Caribbean. After watching their efforts on South Andros I have no doubt they will succeed.

How You Can Help?  Join the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust.  BTT will provide you with envelopes for saving the fin clips and collecting information like location, date, and bonefish size. When you return home just send BTT the completed envelopes. Collecting the fin clips for genetic analysis is that simple.

And while you are at the BTT website you will notice a huge amount of information, not only on bonefish, but permit and tarpon research as well.

Please click here to go on to Part Two – Bair’s Lodge and Bonefishing South Andros Island

Please click here to view a short video of Bair’s Lodge and the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust scientist at work.

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 unless otherwise noted
Copyright © 2016 Edward R. Johnston & Leisure Time Travel, Inc. 1996-2016

 

Bairs Lodge | Bonefish Capital of the World | Fly Fishing Andros Island Bahamas

Bairs Lodge Andros Island Bahamas

Bairs Bonefish Lodge –  Andros Island Bahamas

Bair’s Lodge on South Andros Island offers deluxe ocean-side lodgings. The lodge accommodates guest in spacious and comfortable air-conditioned guest rooms, each with tile floors, well-appointed furnishings, luxurious bedding and private bathrooms with plenty of hot water.

Bairs Lodge Andros Island Bahamas

Bedroom photo courtesy of Bairs Lodge

The beach and flats boats are at your door step. Two outdoor showers are available on the beach should you desire to take a swim.

Most rooms at Bair’s open onto a spacious, ocean-facing veranda. There you’ll find comfortable benches and tables to enjoy morning coffees and a great place to relax after a successful day on the flats. Delectable appetizers are served on the veranda and include local specialties such as cracked conch, conch salad, fried fish fingers and ceviche.

Laundry service is available upon request, and laundry bags are provided in all bedrooms.

A fully stocked open bar is open 24/7 with a variety of beverages for your enjoyment.

Bairs Lodge Andros Island Bahamas

Each morning at Bair’s Lodge begins with an a la carte breakfast. You will choose your boat picnic lunch from a menu. And for dinner you will find meals containing beautifully prepared Bahamian specialties such as fresh seafood, fried conch and fresh bread baked daily.

There is also a fly tackle shop fully equipped with flies, rods, reels, lines and a small selection of clothing.

The boats are well maintained sturdy 16-foot Dolphin Super Skiffs powered by Mercury outboards. The skiffs have two bucket seat for the anglers, plenty of storage for rods and baggage and of course a poling platform for the guide.  The guides are the best you will find on south Andros and fun to spend time with.

 My friend John Stout joined me on this trip. I have known John 20 years and he is a good angler with hundreds of bonefish scored and a fair number of permit.

As I mentioned in Part One a front was passing over so the weather was not optimum.  We started out under a heavily overcast sky with rain on and off the entire time we were on the flats. We had some shots, got some nibbles and caught a few. Our guide Harley did his best, but it was just one of those days.

By the second day the front had mostly passed by. Some remnant clouds, however the winds were still howling.  Bairs Lodge rotates their guides which I actually prefer. On this day we were assigned to Tee whom we were both very impressed with. Tee really thinks the conditions out: tide, wind, sun, water temp, et cetera. Standing on the poling platform, with his set of eagle eyes, Tee constantly on the lookout for the elusive Grey Ghost.  Despite the high winds John and I both scored several nice bones each.
Bairs Lodge Andros Island Bahamas

The third day we had clear skies but the wind was still high. We fished with Chris, another fine young man who worked hard and did not give up until late in the day. Standing on the back of the skiff, he pushed hard constantly scanning for fish.

Despite the weather conditions John is on top of his game. Up to this point John has been out fishing me. Let me tell you, I’m no slouch. I have hundreds and hundreds of tarpon of all sizes, more than a hundred permit and many bones under my belt, but for the last few days John has been “kicking my ass”.

Finally, I’m on the bow and Chris tells me “there’s one, man, one o’clock”. I spot the lead fish, a nice one, along with a few others slowly making their way through kelp grass in skinny water.  I made the cast a few feet in front of the lead fish and let the fly sit.  When the lead fish was almost on top of the fly I gave it a small tug. The bonefish pounced then flushed dragging my fly line through the kelp grass as it fled.  I was surprised the tipped held but gradually I brought the bonefish to the boat. He was a fine one, but more importantly he had a tag which our guide Chris promptly cut off to return to the BTT staff at the lodge.

Unfortunately, I was scheduled to return home the following day, however my friend John stayed one more day and fished solo.

As a side note:  John Stout had just returned from Belize where he encountered eight straight fishing days in a row with wind over 25 mph.

Bairs Lodge Andros Island Bahamas

John’s own words in a note to his fishing buddies:

Well what do you know……no wind!  It’s been eleven straight fishing days in a row with high wind. I forgot what it’s like to be smoking down a cay with nary a ripple on the surface. Sweet, finished the trip with Leslie who has been guiding here 22 years. We headed to the west side of Andros for the first time this week. Let me state for the record, Edward Johnston from Leisure Time Travel was the one who brought Bairs Lodge to my attention, South Andros is VAST. You could fish here every day for over a month and never be in the same spot twice. I think that’s what I liked best about this place.

Of course, on this day we found the bones. Ten fish on and seven to the boat. A 5 and a 6 lb fish were tops. I had various shots at another twenty or so. The highlight was the 5 lb fish. The water was skinny, gin clear, the bottom white sand and the sun high overhead. Leslie spotted the fish coming out from behind a mangrove. He got the boat into position for the expected shot once the fish came out. The fly landed about 2′ in front. We literally watched in 4K HD as the fish eat the fly. Three attempts to head into the mangroves were thwarted, barely. Any more pressure and the tippet would have broken. All very cool when the fight was finally over, South Andros is pure magic.

 ***

In closing, South Andros has some of the most under-fished flats in the Caribbean. Places like Deep Creek, Little Creek, the Water Cays, Curley Cut Cays and West side are naturally linked to sight fishing for some of the world’s largest bonefish.

On the south end you will find sandy hard-bottomed flats particularly good for wade fishing. These wadeable, productive flats are home to large populations of bonefish.Bairs Lodge Andros Island Bahamas

Bair’s Lodge has established the benchmark for quality of the fishing in the Bahamas.  The management and house staff are delightful friendly people and work hard to insure your visit is enjoyable. The professionalism of their guides sets a very high standard in all of the Bahamas. Combine that with their excellent accommodations, wonderful hospitality and delicious fresh food make up an outstanding combination.

Bairs is fairly easy to get to. Flying commercial you will go to Nassau International (NAS) and pick up the Western Air flight to Congo Town (TZN). Or there are multiple charter operations from Florida available.

What’s the cost?  For current prices for Bairs Lodge click here.

Let us help you plan your next perfect trip… For impartial advice and a wealth of knowledge there is no substitute for firsthand experience.

If you missed Part One Please click here to go on to Part One– Bairs Lodge and Bonefish and Tarpon Trust.

Please click here to view a short video of Bair’s Lodge and the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust scientist at work.

 

 

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 unless otherwise noted
Copyright © 2016 Edward R. Johnston & Leisure Time Travel, Inc. 1996-2016

 

Bairs Lodge Andros Island Bahamas

 

 

 

Report on Black Fly Bonefish Club – Bahamas Newest Fishing Lodge:

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:

Black Fly Lodge Abaco Island Bahamas

Black Fly Bonefish Club – Searching for permit at Moore

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.

Black Fly Bonefish Club - dinner at Black Fly Lodge

Black Fly Bonefish Club – dinner at Black Fly Lodge

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.

Black Fly Bonefish Lodge

Black Fly Bonefish Lodge – Fishing at Moore’s Island

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.

Black Fly Bonefish Lodge - Black Fly Lodge boat

Black Fly Lodge Hewes boat

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.

Edward Johnston at Black Fly Bonefish Lodge

Edward Johnston at Black Fly Bonefish Lodge

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.

Black Fly Lodge

Black Fly Lodge overlooking the Marls of Abaco Island

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.

The future:

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.

The new Black Fly Lodge at Schooner Bay Bahamas

The new Black Fly Lodge at Schooner Bay Bahamas

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.

 

Black FLy Lodge Abaco Island Bahamas

 

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 Photographs by Edward R. Johnston

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