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

 

 

 

H2O Bonefishing’s new “Bones” Clubhouse at Grand Bahama Island

H2O Bonefishing is proud to introduce to you to their latest addition to their fly fishing program on Grand Bahama Island.

The Bones Bar at Pelican Bay Bonefishing

The new “Bones” clubhouse

The new “Bones” clubhouse and bar is located at the Pelican Bay property at Port Lucaya Marina within a few yards of all the guest rooms  at Pelican Bay Hotel..

The Bones clubhouse will open daily as it would at any fishing lodge worldwide. Bones will be the meeting place for all H2O Bonefishing’s guests on arrival for orientation All H2O Bonefishing clients will receive reserved seating. Bones will serve daily as an ‘ Après Fish ‘ clubhouse for all bonefish anglers to relax, swap stories and the usual shenanigans. Side note: No, bonefish are not served here!The new Bones Bar at H2O Bonefishing

Bones clubhouse provides all anglers bringing their non-angling wives a quality place to enjoy a few sundowner cocktails overlooking the bay.  Also, for Kids to enjoy the pool while parents can ‘ supervise ‘ from the bar. A swim up bar is also part of the clubhouse. Bones is not a restaurant ( yet ) but will have some snack type bar food !!

Also available is an already expanding  retail area selling a selection of fly rods, reels, fly lines, flies, leader, tippet, sun protection items ie Buffs, lip balm and sunscreen and of course clothing, mostly Shirts and hats.

Whether you are an ardent angler seeking fine bonefishing on some of the productive flats in the Bahamas, or in the spirit of compromise, you wish to provide a good vacation for your non-angling companions, then Freeport Grand Bahama Island is the perfect destination to achieve your objective.

H2O Bonefishing is so uncomplicated to get to. 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 within a single day’s flight. There is no need for a charter flight and no need to spend the night anywhere en route.

You can take a direct flight from many cities in the United States to Ft. Lauderdale, then a 40 minute jump over to Freeport. From the airport, it is a short taxi ride to the Hotel. Also, there are not any specific transfer days at H2O Bonefishing, so you can arrive on any day of the week and visit for as many days you wish.

On Grand Bahama Island the fishing is as good as or better than ever . After a hot day have a cool beer in the Bones Bar!

The northern side of Grand Bahama Island is virtually uninhabited, and has some of the most expansive flats in the Bahamas. This is where you will be fishing. Grand Bahama Island is 96 miles long and 17 miles at the widest point. If you have fished the upper Bahamas before, this area is reminiscent of the middle bights of Andros, the east end of Grand Bahama Island, and the marls of Great Abaco Island. If you are new to this sport, this is where you will find some of the best bonefishing left on the planet.

Port Lucaya one of the few places that has great fishing for the angler and comfort and charm for the non-angler; there are numerous leisure activities the spouse and non-anglers can enjoy in area’s lively retail and restaurant district, casinos and of course the beautiful beaches.

The Port Lucaya Marketplace offers upscale shopping in duty free shops, dining at many fine restaurants and bars, and entertainment. This six-acre waterfront entertainment complex centers on the bandstand at Count Basie Square where local events are frequently held. The legendary jazz pianist built a home in Freeport. If you want to get in on the gambling action, the Lucayan Beach Casino will give you plenty of excitement and action.

Greg Vincent and Jason Franklin, of H2O Bonefishing will continue as they have for many years, operating a first class bonefishing operation.

For the H2O Bonefishing main page  Click Here.

For additional photographs of H2O Bonefishing Click Here.

Click Here for Rates.

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 Photograph’s courtesy of Greg Vincent

Copyright © 2014 Edward R. Johnston & Leisure Time Travel, Inc. 1996-2014

Greg Vincent and Jason Franklin, of H2O Bonefishing will continue as they have for many years a first class bonefishing operation.

H2O Bonefishing’s new “Bones” Clubhouse at Grand Bahama Island

Turneffe Island Resort Belize – A Caribbean Paradise

It’s time to begin a new story filled with adventure on a path less traveled, the rediscovery of a world class fishery and one of the world’s most spectacular marine attractions at Turneffe Island Resort.

Part One of Two.

bonefishing Belize

For the past few years this fishing trip has been an annual pilgrimage to the piscatorial Garden of Eden “Turneffe Island Belize” in search of the elusive permit.

Flats fishing BelizeBelize is an English speaking nation located just south of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. Belize is easily accessible by air, as there are daily flights from Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas, Houston, Miami and seasonal flights from Newark and Toronto. Our group of anglers hailed from California, Illinois, Massachusetts, South Carolina, and Florida. Most of us converged in Miami and had an uncomplicated uneventful flight to Belize City.

Turneffe Island Resort

We quickly cleared immigration, grabbed our luggage and strolled through customs. A Turneffe Island Hotels staff member was waiting to greet us just outside the customs door. Our luggage was cheerfully loaded into their cargo van and off we went. It is not necessary to touch your luggage again until it is delivered to your room on the island.

Our troop was whisked of the Radisson Hotel Marina on the seaside of Belize City. We gathered at the pool bar and had a few drinks while the remaining visitors arrived and our luggage was loaded.

Our transfer boat was securely ties to the wharf. A light south east breeze pushed a gentle swell which lapped gently on the hull. A few cumulous clouds dappled the sky on an otherwise sunny day, it would be a nice ride.

Radisson Hotel in Belize CityThis was my ninth trip to this Caribbean jewel and my fourth to Turneffe Island Resort. The trip really begins as you head out to sea, lose sight of land, and start your cruise to the Turneffe Atoll.

The transfer time to the island is 1 hour and 30 minutes. Beyond the inside islands you will see only blue water. Gradually you may perceive a haze, then a speck. Finally Turneffe rises magically out of the Caribbean Sea.

Turneffe Island Resort  (also know as Turneffe Island Lodge) is a secluded 14-acre private island located 35 miles off the coast of Belize. Turneffe Resort is located on the southern most part of the atoll among a group of small islands. Here you will find a beautiful tropical setting with a white-sand beach caressed by azure blue waters and the sense of true seclusion on this romantic and unspoiled coral island.

Turneffe Island Resort Manager Ronnie Barreto and cheery staff were waiting on the island pier to provide a warm welcome to their island paradise.

Past visitors will notice many changes and improvements to the property. If you have not visited the lodge in the past ten years, you will be pleasantly surprised. To a large extent, this property was not just remodeled, it has been rebuilt. The original buildings were stripped down the bare structure and refinished while preserving the original charm. The new cabanas were designed to blend in with the existing construction. It’s all pleasing to the eye.

Decisions and more decisions

You may know what you plan to do during your visit, but your spouse and companions will have many unique options to keep them busy and happy, such as; snorkeling the coral reef, visiting the famous Blue Hole, reading a book in a hammock with a spectacular view of the Caribbean, kayaking or sailing a Hobie Cat, perhaps a trip to Half Moon Cay Beach and coral gardens with a visit to the Red Footed Booby Bird Sanctuary, maybe a little pampering at the Serenity Spa, or relaxing on a chaise lounge by the pool sipping on a cool tropical drink and watching the hummingbirds play. That will be your dilemma, choosing between the numerous relaxing options.

Henry David Thoreau once wrote that, “Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not the fish they are after.” Henry was right; the fish are a bonus when you are in paradise.

Accommodations

permit fishing BelizeSpacious guest rooms, warm and comfortable, are entirely finish with brightly varnished mahogany floors, wall and ceilings. The rooms are tastefully decorated with simple island furniture finished with eye-catching colorful tropical material.

The rooms have plenty of closet space plus a private bath and shower plus an adjacent enclosed outdoor shower. The lodge utilizes solar panels for hot water.

Fresh water is from reverse osmosis or rain collection which then goes through a purification system and is UV sterilized. You can drink the water right out of the tap in your room, or if you prefer bottled water is available.

A king bed is standard and two beds are available upon request. Each room has a mini-spilt air-conditioning system with a handheld thermostat control to set your own preferred temperature. All windows have screens if you would prefer to enjoy the ocean breeze. There are no phones or televisions in the rooms. The resort has 110 Volt A.C. power; the same as the U.S.

tarpon fishing BelizeThere are many small touches: Each evening you will find a bedside note with words of wisdom plus a weather report for the next day. Each morning your choice of beverage, fresh coffee or tea will be left on your porch. The very early risers can go to the dining room and help themselves.

Your room will be spotlessly cleaned every day.

Food

Cocktail hour appetizers are served at the outdoor tiki bar and include freshly made ceviche, seafood pizza, tapas and other tasty finger foods. The Turneffe tiki bar is a good place to repeat the events of your day, telling stories and planning for your next day.

appetizers at the outdoor tiki bar The dinner menu is comprised of mostly Caribbean and Island classics concentrating on simple culinary delights and local flavorful dishes with a focus on locally sourced fresh ingredients

The good honest food is served family style and is delicious.

Home baked bread and other goodies are served at every meal.

Though there will be little room for dessert, the staff will bring it on.

You will not be underfed here!

Staff

Attentive staff sees to every detail and need with warm island hospitality. Managers and staff were excellent, making us feel like friends, not clients. Nice touches at Turneffe Island Resort

***

You may be interested in reading a previous post  “The Tale of Tacu”  “click Here

To read part two of this report click here.

Additional Pictures are on our Facebook page.

***

We would like to arrange your next trip to Turneffe Island Resort or one of the other fine lodges in Belize.

Edward Johnston, of Leisure Time Travel, Inc. has visited Turneffe Atoll nine times (last trip April 2013) and has caught 21 permit on a fly at Turneffe. (108 permit total in Caribbean).

Why take chances with your precious time? We’ve been there. Remember, There is no substitute for first-hand experience.

Tight lines !

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 photographs by Edward R. Johnston

Copyright © 2014 Edward R. Johnston & Leisure Time Travel, Inc. 1996-2014

 

Fine dining at Turneffe Island Resort

 

Turneffe Island Resort – A Caribbean Paradise

 To read part two of this report click here.

Turneffe Island Resort – Fly Fishing for the elusive permit

 

It’s time to continue our story filled with adventure on a path less traveled, the rediscovery of a world class fishery and one of the world’s most spectacular marine attractions.

World class flats fishing on the Turneffe Atoll Belize

The Fishing

For the past few years this fishing trip has been an annual pilgrimage to the piscatorial Garden of Eden “Turneffe Island” in search of the elusive permit.

I do know a thing or two about this part of the world given my beat, so here’s the story.

Edward Johnston with a fine permit

Here on the Turneffe Atoll the fish seem to outnumber the people one-million to one. For permit anglers, this is one of the best places in the Caribbean to have numerous honest shots.

Dependable Dolphin Super Skiffs with 50 Hp 4 Stroke engines provide maximum comfort, and speed you to various fishing sites around the Atoll.

Permit

Permit fishing is different for each individual. Generally, permit are just another exciting flats species. However, for some anglers they are worshipped as the highest form of piscatorial pursuit. It’s a high art attained by many years of experience on the flats plus a fanatical attitude as single minded as samurai.

It’s the relentless pursuit of permit that keeps anglers retuning to places like Turneffe. Unless you have been here there are no words that can adequately describe this beautiful coral atoll. You will find one of the world’s most pristine marine environments the planet. Indeed, most of the best saltwater anglers in the world have come down to pursue the sly permit.

Out here on the Turneffe Atoll the tide tells the time. Every day is a little different.

permit fishingThe guides here are among the most experienced anywhere, especially Tacu whom I have fished with for a very long time.

One particularly beautiful day a constant north east wind ruffled the surface of shallow lagoon. Tacu swung the skiff around and shut down on the lee side of a mangrove island which gave a break from the feathery wind.

We had our spell of intermittent cloudiness however at the moment the sun was brightly shinning. The sandy bottom potholes reflected the tropic sun. Sea fans and sponges wobbled in the current among ledges of beautiful coral. Aside from the calls of the gulls and the slight sound of the coral sand beneath the push pole the tranquility was wonderful

We spied a glassy tail breaking the calm waters surface. I made the cast and slowly stripped until the fly was within a few feet of the permit and was characteristically ignored.Permit fishing

Our guide Tacu really wanted this particular permit very much and was finding fault with my fly presentation and was looking for a degree of perfection in my casting abilities found only in Heaven.

I made another cast, almost head shot. The permit tailed again. I set the hook and the permit took off like a bat out of hell.

The fish were extra spooky on this fine day so I had dropped down to a 12 pound test fluorocarbon leader rigged on a large arbor Able Super 10 with 30 pound Cortland micron backing.

For permit, I usually set the drag at 10% to 15% of the tippet strength which is fine when you have the fish in close. As your line leaves the reel the drag increases due to decreasing spool diameter plus the effect of friction and water resistance.

Larry Fuller with a nice permitThis permit was screaming off toward the horizon and I was quickly running out of backing.

With no time to chase the fish I turned to my boat partner and good friend Bill Rychel and said “Bill, you should never increase the drag on a running fish, but in this case I have no choice” It was just a few seconds after that when the fly parted ways with the line. Tacu was pissed “What the f— did you do that for”? I was having a hard time pleasing the master on this day.

Author’s note: Tacu acts like that around me because we are friends and he holds me to a higher standard. Don’t worry, if you fish with Tacu, he will not berate you!

Tacu stepped down from his observation post atop the polling platform to unload a cooler packed with a delicious lunch prepared by the ladies back at the lodge. Afterward, we all celebrated my misery with cold beers.

***

On this particular 2013 week our five boats really did very well permit fishing. Our group landed 21 permit (average 4.2 per boat) which is considered very good anywhere including Ascension Bay or Espiritu Santo Bay.

In fact, during the past four years, each annual Leisure Time Travel group trip at the Turneffe Island Lodge, our anglers averaged three permit or better per boat for the week. This is exceptional permit fishing !!!

The Fishery

The Turneffe atoll is a vast maze of cays and flats with numerous good looking shorelines and mangrove estuaries.

Out there the sheltered waters are crowded with bonefish, tarpon, snook, grouper, snapper and jacks. In the ocean depths beyond the drop-off swim wahoo, kingfish and billfish.

For the ordinary angler, it’s bewildering dilemma where to start to fish. That’s where your guide comes in. Most of the guides at Turneffe Resort have been fishing these waters for decades.

For the seasoned angler, permit, bonefish, tarpon and snook are in the areas where you would expect to find them. Of course, we all know that is not necessarily true as we are often surprised. That is why I always have another rod ready for my intended species.

Permit inhabit much of the waters of the Turneffe atoll. You will find them inside the reef, in the channels intersecting the perimeter of the island, around mangrove islands and just about everywhere else within the atoll.

Bonefish are primarily found in the shallow waters inside the coral reef. Here you find a crunchy bottom and stealth is really not in your favor. You will also find bonefish in certain areas of the interior of the lagoon, but not usually in the numbers near the reef.

Tarpon are primarily migratory, but there always a few around. Best places seem to be the channels intersecting the perimeter of the island.

Snook are not plentiful but can be found along the mangrove shorelines especially near the deeper creeks. Plus you have Barracuda, jacks, snappers and a multitude of reef fish ….

An Amusing Diversion

Tacu at Turneffe IslandOne evening we made preparations for a run offshore to catch Queen Snapper, one of the most prized and best tasting fish in the ocean. First we needed to secure bait and our guide Tacu knew exactly where to find some live sardines.

After the bait was secured in the bait well we proceeded out to deep water just past where the Sayonara lays on the bottom. The Sayonara was the transport boat for the Turneffe Island Lodge. It was sunk by former Turneffe Lodge owner Dave Bennett in 1985.

We were deep dropping our rigs to 400 feet with three pounds of weight. It was easy dropping the rig down, but not so easy reeling up. Electric reels would have been nice. It did not take long and we had a cooler full of Queenies. Tacu cranked up the engine and we headed home just as the sun was setting.

The following evening the kitchen staff prepared the Queen Snapper. The sizzling fish dish went straight from the kitchen to the table and disappeared almost as quickly as it arrived.

 Tacu with a Queen SnapperSummary

Saturday morning is here. This vacation went way to fast.

I am savoring the last few minutes of this paradise before we depart. Here on the Turneffe Atoll I am standing on the top of a submarine mountain. From my vantage point on the upper deck of the Turneffe lodge I can see a few bonefish happily tailing. Near shore the crystal clear turquoise waters drop off to cobalt green then to cerulean blue and finally deep sapphire indigo. What a place!

Over the top experience! This is truly a paradise. You will arrive as strangers and leave as friends.

We look forward to sharing our experience and expertise to make sure your next fishing vacation is a success.

***

You may be interested in reading a previous post  “The Tale of Tacu”  “click Here

To read part one of this report click here.

Additional Pictures are on our Facebook page.

***

We would like to arrange your next trip to Turneffe Island Resort or one of the other fine lodges in Belize.

Edward Johnston, of Leisure Time Travel, Inc. has visited Turneffe Atoll nine times (last trip April 2013) and has caught 21 permit on a fly at Turneffe. (108 permit total in Caribbean).

You may be interested in reading “The Tale of Tacu – Flats Fishing Turneffe Island Belize” – “Click Here

This post is part two of two. To read part one of this post click here.

Turneffe Flatsw Fishing

Edward Johnston at Turneffe Island April 2013

Why take chances with your precious time? We’ve been there. Remember, There is no substitute for first-hand experience.

Tight lines !

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 photographs by Edward R. Johnston

Copyright © 2014 Edward R. Johnston & Leisure Time Travel, Inc. 1996-2014

 John Stout getting off to an early start at Turneffe Island Lodge

Turneffe Island Resort – Fly Fishing for the elusive permit

 

Tarpon Fishing The Homosassa River

Giant Tarpon Fishing – Crystal River, Chassahowitzka River and the Homosassa River

If you are interested in Giant Tarpon fishing the areas around Crystal River, Chassahowitzka River and the Homosassa River, located on the west coast of Florida (also known as Florida’s Nature Coast), read on!

***

Where the Gulf of Mexico and the land along the central west coast of Florida converge you will find the world renowned giant  tarpon fishery, the twelve-pound, sixteen-pound and twenty-pound fly IGFA fishing records are currently held from this beautiful area of Florida. In fact, over the years, all of the major giant tarpon fly fishing records have been caught off of Florida’s central west coast in the Homosassa area.

To be more specific, the three current record giant tarpon mentioned above were caught in an area between the Chassahowitzka River, which is just south of the Homosassa River and Pine Island which is adjacent to the Weeki Wachee River. This fairly large flats-fishing area is known for its light colored bottom often referred to as “Oklahoma” by the guides and knowledgeable anglers. The pale sandy (and rocky) bottom offers an advantage for sight fishing as the tarpon are easier to see versus fishing over a darker sea grass bottom found from the Homosassa River north to the Crystal River.

Tarpon Fishing Homosassa

The Story: A Tarpon Odyssey

There are many beautiful rivers in Florida, but none give me the joy of the Homosassa.  Cool spring water provides a seemingly endless supply of fresh water from the Crystal, Homosassa, Chassahowitzka River, and their tributaries. As those rivers snake their way toward to Gulf of Mexico the water begins to turn brackish. Within a few miles, the subtropical landscape gives way to meadows of saw grass. The saw grass gradually transforms to black needle grass and then to mangrove islands tight with brush. Beyond is the shallow beginning of the Gulf of Mexico where limestone bedrock reaches for the surfaces in the form of invisible obstacles. All that talk about the treacherous waters here is no joke. For the unwary, the gulf waters take no prisoners.

Tarpon Fishing Homosassa

Tarpon Photo courtesy of Capt. Dan Clymer

The coastal marshes that surround Homosassa are nature’s high production factories in terms of fertility. The coastal marshes gain their extraordinary productivity from the abundance of nutrients delivered by the abundant fresh water rivers and the tide, which disperses the nutrients over the broad shallow flats. Where there is food there are fish.

After a brief run out to the fishing grounds the engine is quieted. The 12 weight Sage fly rod coupled with a Hatch Tarpon reel is slowly removed from under the gunnel. The Rio fly line lays coiled upon the deck ready for action. The search begins. Arms are flexed and the push pole bends, silently propelling the skiff in search of the elusive tarpon.

Three brown pelicans sweep low alongside our skiff. They beat three long stokes upwards in unison. Once, twice, now gone. Left behind is the low sound of the gentle clear warm water quietly lapping against the hull.  Eyes strain in the first light for something which to focus upon. A tarpon breaks the surface and disappears into concentric rings. Another fish rolls further out. You can see the passing pod’s silhouette through the translucent water.

The fly begins its graceful journey as the line unrolls in tight loops along a perfect plane then shoots briskly through the guides. The fly sinks deep. A short hard tug on the fly line and the rods bends. The feeling is unmistakable.  A moment later the water erupts in an explosion. The air is full of fish. The rod bends deeply with a great heaviness on the end. The line shears through the water and sounds like a ripping bed sheet. The fly reel spins wildly. A tarpon is on.

After three majestic jumps the fish sounds with surging energy and charges off like a locomotive. Fly line is surrendered and retaken. The tarpon breaks the surface for a gulp of air and then submerges with liquid fury. The rod bends and recovers. The tarpon twist and turns as she tries to get away from the mysterious power holding her.

The battle is over in twenty minutes. The magnificent fish is eased to the side of the boat to be admired. The silver sides of the tarpon seem to drain back into the Gulf. Her fins seem almost transparent. That huge eye stares in wonderment.  After pausing for a brief moment she is gone to be reclaimed by the gulf. Only her memory remains.

Fly Fishing Homosassa

Clearly this is the best time of the year to be here. Fish are everywhere and the finest tarpon fishing in the United States is here in my own backyard.

The suns brightness burns a hole in the sky. The water is as clear and flat as a windowpane and shimmers in the sun. You can see right to the bottom and watch the turtle grass sway in the current. Seagulls lift in the easy breeze and call to one another. The man-a war birds are riding the thermals skyward. Inland the cumulus clouds are piling up. Sounds of distant thunder bolts echo in the background as dramatic changes of light emanate from the ever changing sky and sea.

It is times like this that you wonder just what you have done right in your life to deserve such a gift.

Fishing for Tarpon:

Migratory fish begin to show from the middle to late April and their numbers will increase in May through June. The fishery is weather dependant, so if it a bit cool, the tarpon arrival will be delayed. The current tarpon season was delayed due to the unseasonable cool weather which Florida, Bahamas and the Northern Caribbean have experienced this year.

Fly Fishing for Tarpon at Homosassa

For the average angler, the most common way to find tarpon is to look for rollers. Tarpon have a primitive lung and frequently come to the surface to take a breath of air. After they drop back down they will usually let off some bubbles which you may see on a calm day. Another tip off is nervous water which is caused by the movement of fish below the surface.

If you really want to catch a tarpon you may consider hiring a guide. This is their business and the top guides perform their vocation very well.

The Gear for Catching Tarpon:

We all enjoy a fun day fishing, and there is probably nothing as exciting as catching a tarpon on light tackle. And to make the joy complete the contest is almost always at close quarters. The first time a 100-pound tarpon silver rocket goes off 20 feet from you, you’ll know what brought you to tarpon fishing.  No fly fisherman ever forgets the first time he hooks a large tarpon. Small tarpon, 25 pounds or less, certainly make an impression. But, the really big tarpon, especially those more than 100 pounds, really do something to your mind.

Flats Fishing for Homosassa TarponThe most important factor in fly fishing for a tarpon is adequate tackle. You see a lot of guys fooling around with light tackle, showing off, trying to set records. Those guys really don’t impress me. With the right tackle you won’t lose as many fish and you can make the fight shorter for those you do catch. You need a good sturdy 11wt or 12wt fly rod, such as a Sage One and a quality reel, such as a Hatch 11 Plus, capable of holding at least 250 yards of 30# backing. Add in a RIO Tarpon Fly Line which has front taper designed to cast large flies and you will have a first-class tarpon rig.

You don’t have to spend a fortune on a good tarpon rig, although the better you become at casting, the more you will want to spend.

Your drag should be set at 20% of your line strength. So, if you are using a 20 lb. class tippet, you drag setting should be set at 4 lbs. straight off the reel. A small scale is very handy for setting the drag. If the fish gets more than two hundred feet away, back off the drag a bit, the smaller the arbor/line diameter the greater the drag.

I have had anglers balk at this, but it works. It is very difficult to break 20 lb. test line with an 80 lb. test bite tippet on an average Homosassa fish, which arguably average sixty to a hundred pounds. Occasionally a tarpon will swallow the fly with only the class tippet in its mouth for which you will certainly lose as their coarse abrasive lips are like a file and will quickly cut the line.

If you have little drag set on your reel and the tarpon strikes, you will be into your backing in seconds. Then what are you going to do? Well, probably chase the fish and start a long dragged-out fight.

Personally, I only use 20 lb. test line. I have, or anglers in my skiff have caught hundreds and hundreds of tarpon. Again, for most tarpon it’s very difficult to break 20 lb. test line. Most of the time when we get a tarpon close to the boat we just take a fillet knife, strike the tippet and let the fish go on its way.

The really big world-record tarpon, which are few and far between, are treated differently as they can easily break light weight tippets, but unless you are chasing a record, don’t worry about it.

People who brag about two and three hour fights have seen too many reruns of The Old Man and the Sea. It may be noble but it isn’t sport. What do you accomplish by playing tug-of-war with a tarpon. Well, if the sharks don’t kill and eat the tarpon, the lactic acid build up within the fish might! All you have done at this point is kill a great game fish that no other angler will get pleasure from again. The tarpon won’t like it either.  All the romance of tarpon fishing exists in the mind of the angler and is in no way shared by the fish.

Flats Fishing Homossasa for Tarpon


A good example of why you should not fight a tarpon to exhaustion

With some knowledge about tackle and fighting fish we can keep the trauma to the fish at a minimum.  And don’t forget, the larger female fish are laden with millions of eggs of which only a few will reach maturity. Tarpon are a precious resource and we need your help to preserve them.

The Techniques for Catching Tarpon:

The best angle to cast to a tarpon is across their path of travel. Head shots are the tough, but when you have a opportunity, you take whatever you can get.  Time permitting, a great tarpon guide will anticipate the movement of the fish and line you up for the best presentation.

When fishing a string of tarpon, if you have the time aim for the second or third fish in the column. If the second or third spook, the rest of the school may not follow, if the lead fish spooks, there is a good chance the of the school will follow.

When fishing a daisy-chain of tarpon, you cast to the outside edge of the fish coming towards you. Cast in the middle and there a good chance you will spook the fish. If you are content, consider just watching the fish rotate in the circle which is an amazing act of nature. The experts can only surmise why tarpon daisy-chain; is it a pre-spawning dance or mating ritual? Only the tarpon know!

When stripping in the line have the rod low and pointed directly at the fish. Sometimes you can slap them beside the head with a fly and they won’t eat it, other times it’s like rolling a wine bottle across a jail cell floor!

When a tarpon hits the fly, expect him to strike hard. Set the hook with a strip strike. The tarpon pinches down hard on the shock tippet so strike the fish several times.  Never strike a tarpon by rising the tip of the rod as you will pull the fly out of the strike zone if the fish misses the fly.

As the fish takes off with the fly, sweep the rod in the opposite direction from the way the fish turns, with pressure on the bottom of the rod. As the fight continues make sure, you are holding the fly line tight so the fish does not come off the fly and be aware of your fly line as the fish strips it away.

The fly line comes through the guides very fast and can easily foul. After the hook is in, clear the line to the reel and get ready to go at it again.

Now comes the part where that carefully sharpened hook pays dividends. When the tarpon jumps be prepared to give the line controlled slack. The jump is usually the time a tarpon will throw the hook, so this is the most critical time. When the tarpon comes out of the water, all the weight of the fish stretches the line to the max as the fish moves away from you. Usually the hook is not embedded deep enough in the tarpon’s mouth to remain there while the tarpon is thrashing back and forth. You can compensate for this by bowing to the fish, but, remember to keep some tension on the line.

Applying constant pressure on the tarpon will get the job done with a minimum of time and with maximum efficiency.

You want to apply as much pressure on the tarpon as you can without breaking the leader. Keep your rod tip low, always opposite the direction the fish is heading. Then with the bottom of the rod, use short pumps, recovering line each time. When the fish gets close to the boat, they will frequently try to get to the surface to gulp in oxygen. You can prevent this and shorten the fight by placing your rod down low, even into the water. This technique can shorten the fight considerably.

Giant Tarpon Fishing Homosassa

Just remember, land your quarry quickly and don’t play the fish to exhaustion.  A tarpon is too valuable a resource to be caught only once (this goes for all fish). If the fish goes left, you go right; if the fish goes right, you go left; if the fish jumps, bow to it, if the fish comes to you, pull back. With the fish at boat side, cut the leader close to the mouth for a quick release. With adequate tackle and the proper drag setting you should have most fish boat side in less than 20 minutes.

Hooking a large fish is a tremendous rush. Everyone should experience the enormous strength of these fish at least once in their lives. But, killing a fish for no other reason than personal enjoyment runs counter to the very conservation ethic that defines our sport.

  Catch and release: Good techniques to help reduce fish mortality:

Trapon Fishing the flats of Homosassa


We don’t recommend you do this to a tarpon. Tarpon are not fond of this technique either.

1. Land the fish as quickly and efficiently as possible; the longer the fight the greater the stress on the fish.

2. Avoid removing the fish from the water.

3. To photograph a fish have someone ready with a camera and do it quickly. Keep the fish in the water if possible.

4. Use barbless hooks or pinch the barbs down. They are not only easier to remove from the fish they are also easier to remove from your fishing partners!

 Tricks of the Trade:

Clothing: Clothing for fishing should be selected from two viewpoints- comfort for the angler, and invisibility to the fish.

Knots: Arguably, the six most important knots involved in flats fishing are the Bimini twist, nail knot, blood knot, and the Uni knot (or uni loop) which ties your flies to the tippet.

For tarpon leaders, you need to connect two lines of unequal diameter. The Huffnagle and Albright knots are old standards. The Slim Beauty is my knot of choice.

Also, I like use a snell knot to tie my tarpon flies to the bite tippet. Some anglers use a loop such as the perfection loop.

The place to learn and perfect your knots is at home, not on the flats while you are trying to catch fish!

Fly lines: Make sure your lines are cleaned before you go on the trip and every day or so while you are fishing. Dirty fly lines drag through the guides and reduce the distance of your cast. There are several good fly line cleaners on the market which you should have. If you have not purchased a new line in a while this may be a good time to do it.

We like the Rio fly lines. You will need several lines to cover all the tarpon fishing conditions. For laid-up floating tarpon or tarpon high in the water column, obviously you need a floating line. A clear sink tip line or clear sinking line is best when the fish are deeper in the water column. I even keep a lead core line ready, as at least once a year you may find the tarpon hugging the bottom in deeper water, and a fast sinking line is the only way you going to get your fly down there.

Always stretch the line and leader before fishing.The line’s memory retains coils from being stored on the reel which is much harder to cast unless you straighten the line out.

A little trick I have learned is to mark the sweet spot on the fly line which will help you judge when you have the right amount of shooting line available. You can do this with a marking pen or just tie a nail knot at the proper location.

Leaders: After catching any fish always recheck your knots, and check the leader for frays. An easy way to straighten a leader is stretch the line an rub your fingers up and down the line until the friction heats the line and straightens it.

Hooks: You are spending a good deal of money on the trip and tackle, so don’t chinch on hooks. Get the best hooks you can for your flies. A carefully sharpened hook pays dividends (especially with tarpon). I like a ceramic sharpening stone and I keep one ready on the boat for easy access. Triangulating the point works best.  The Owner Cutting Point and Eagle Claw Diamond Point hooks need no sharpening (at least initially).

Tackle: Make sure your have cleaned and lubricated your reels. Check those guides. Ceramic rod guides that crack or chip have rough edges which can damage a fly line.

Keep in mind that 3 or 4 piece rods are much more convenient than 2 piece rods and can be carried with you on commercial flights, thus alleviating any worries about lost or damaged rods. There is no doubt that travel rods are easier to carry on the plane and in the boat.

You’re Guide: The most important person in determining your fishing success (besides yourself) is your guide. Listen to him and try his methods first. If his method’s fail you might try some of your own. Remember: He lives in the area and his advice should not be ignored! Establish a rapport and communicate throughout the day. Try and stay upbeat even when the fishing is slow, he will try harder.

Capt. Dan Clymer fishing the flats of Homosassa

Capt. Dan Clymer

You: You are spending a good sum of money and valuable time to go fishing, hopefully to have a good time and enjoy yourself. You need to be over-prepared.We have seen people go fishing with all the best intentions, but end up angry at themselves, the guide, and sometimes other people because they did not spend any time preparing for the occasion.

First: If you are fly-fishing you need to practice, practice, and practice. You need to practice not only for your timing but also too built up your casting muscles. There is usually a breeze and you will seldom get a perfect downwind cast, especially for tarpon. Practice casting into and across the wind! If there is snow on the ground where you are located, find a gym or warehouse.

Second: Have all you equipment organized and ready to go well before the excursion. Make sure you have back up rods, reels, and fly lines.

Third: Make sure you have plenty of flies. Don’t worry about having too many flies. You can always use them again or somewhere else. You should have plenty of pre-tied leaders or material to make leaders.

Fifth: Have realistic expectations. Factor in the weather and other circumstances beyond your control. The angler rarely gets perfect weather for the entire trip. I tell my clients if you get more than three good days of fishing out of six this time of the year you are lucky

Sixth: Have Fun

Seventh: If you have any questions about tarpon fishing at Homosassa or information about any other Caribbean destination just call Edward R. Johnston. It’s easy, just dial 800-771-2202. We will be happy to help!

A note since this article was written:  Effective June 12, 2013 – FWC UNANIMOUSLY VOTES TO MAKE BONEFISH AND TARPON CATCH AND RELEASE IN FLORIDA!  The new rule not only protects tarpon in Florida waters, but extends catch and
release regulations into federal waters off of Florida.

The newly adopted regulations include the following provisions:

·         Eliminating all harvest of tarpon with the exception of the harvest or possession of a single tarpon when in pursuit of an IGFA record and in conjunction with a tarpon tag.

·         Keeping the tarpon tag price at $50 per tag but limiting them to one tag per person, per year.

·         Modifying the tarpon tag program, including reporting requirements and shifting the start and end date for when the tarpon tag is valid.

·         Requiring that tarpon remain in the water and are released near the site of capture.

·         Discontinuing the bonefish tournament exemption permit that allows tournament anglers to temporarily possess bonefish for transport to a tournament scale (this brings the state in line with similar rules in the National Parks in the Keys).

Read more at Bonefish and Tarpon Trust  and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

 

Tarpon Fishing the Flats of Homosassa

Tarpon Photo courtesy of Captain Clymer

 

A partial list of Homosassa Guides

 

Captain Dan Clymer    Withlacoochee River * Crystal River * Homosassa River  * Chassahowitzka River

You can call Dan at 352-418-2160

Capt. Jim Farrior       Crystal River * Homosassa River * Chassahowitzka River * Weeki Wachee River

You can call Jim Farrior at 352-621-3190 or 352-422-1992

Captain Jim Long   Withlacoochee River * Crystal River * Homosassa River * Chassahowitzka River * Weeki Wachee River

Call Jim Long at 352-422-1303

Captain Steve Kilpatrick   Withlacoochee River * Crystal River * Homosassa River * Chassahowitzka River * Weeki Wachee River

Captain John Bazo     Crystal River * Homosassa River * Chassahowitzka River * Weeki Wachee River

Call John Bazo at 352-895-7811 or email at  J.Bazo@Yahoo.com

 Captain Rick Lefiles   Withlacoochee River * Crystal River * Homosassa River

Call Rick Lefiles at 352-400-0133

***

Fly Fishing for Tarpon in the Yucatan

Finally; if you cannot work in a May or June Homosassa tarpon Trip consider the Yucatan. The season in the Yucatan is all summer long. Granted, you will not find the huge tarpon found around Homosassa Florida, but you will find plenty of the smaller (fun) sized fish.

Your writer, Edward Johnston has visited the Yucatan thirty times in the past twenty-two years and he knows where to find the fish!

A fine Campeche tarpon, up close.

A fine Campeche tarpon, up close.

 

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 © 2014 Edward R. Johnston & Leisure Time Travel, Inc. 1996-2014

Flats Fishing Homosassa for Giant Tarpon

An early morning tarpon jumping near Homosassa

Blackfly Lodge – Schooner Bay Abaco Island Bahamas

Blackfly Lodge – Luxury Lodging & Excellent Flats Fishing at Black Fly Bonefish Lodge

 The new Black Fly Bonefish Lodge is open for business at Schooner Bay, Abaco Island Bahamas. Black Fly Lodge officially opened this past March and enthusiastic anglers are making the trek, keen to sample the great bonefishing found on south side of Great Abaco Island. The launch of the new Black Fly Bonefish Lodge’s marks an important milestone for luxury Bahamian fishing lodges. If you are interested in bonefishing on Abaco Island and  Black Fly Lodge  please read on!

Black Fly Bonefish Lodge - Abaco Bahamas

There is something about the allure of the Bahamas; the beauty of the azure ocean; the smell of the salty air and the soothing sound of the waves; the feel of the moisture on your face as the ocean wind swirls it around; maybe it’s just a great place to get away from it all.  Perhaps, because the Bahamas are located just off the coast of Florida, but far enough away culturally and visually that there is a feeling of adventure.

For this quest I am heading to the Abacos which are a string of Bahamian islands located approximately 175 miles east of Palm Beach, Florida. The mainland is Great Abaco, the third largest island in the Bahamas.

For anglers, the main target in the Bahamas is bonefish.  Shimmering silver out of water, but grey green shadows below the surface, bonefish are difficult to see in the water and provide a worthy piscine adversary.

 Arrival Abaco Island

We left Florida on a United turbo-prop flight originating in Orlando, conveniently, just an hour and a half drive from my home in Homosassa/Crystal River. The sky was overcast and dark with rain when we left.  The ominous thoughts of the storms in the making were discomforting. The plane climbed smoothly through the clouds and finally sunlight poured into the cabin. The captain cut back the throttle and leveled off. The interminable cloud cover below us extended to the horizon and was not a good sign.

Finally the thick layer of clouds started to break up a bit. From our vantage point, white cumulous clouds hung like lily pads over the sapphire ocean below and wispy cirrus were suspended high in the blue sky above. Our flight path took us over the vast shallow flats of Grand Bahama Island and the Little Bahama Bank.

 Black Fly Lodge overlooking the harbor at Schooner Bay

The name “Bahamas” comes from the Spanish baja mar which means shallow sea. The cobalt blue water of the Gulf Stream gradually turns into many shades of radiant blue then a marine landscape of bright white coral sand under sparkling clear water. From the eastern edge of the Florida Straight to Great Abaco Island there is a 200 mile stretch of shallow water most of it less than twenty-feet deep.

The change in the sound of the engines signaled the beginning of our descent. A slight change of course and we were lined up for Marsh Harbor.

The Bahamas weather is generally pleasant; however, a winter or early spring cool front can create quite a breeze which obviously affects fishing quality. Summer tropical rains with their overcast conditions can make visibility a challenge and there is also the occasional hurricane. The official hurricane season is June to November, but mid-August to late September is generally the period of highest risk.

On this fine late March day the air was warm and velvety and a light breeze ruffled the palm trees. Yes this was the gorgeous weather the Bahama Islands are known for. However, the angler rarely gets perfect weather for the entire trip. I tell my clients if you get more than three good days of fishing out of six this time of the year you are lucky.

I stopped by Abaco lodge for a short visit before heading down to Black Fly Lodge as I had six happy clients lodged there and they had already spent three days fishing the Marls of Abaco. Their fishing reports were excellent with numerous catches including several big heavy bonefish. However, after reviewing the weather reports, the apprehension of the foreboding weather was in their minds as well.

The next day was different; I could paint a pretty picture of the weather and write that high in the sky a beautiful rainbow arched over the clear blue horizon and the bonefish happily danced and jumped over shimming crystal clear waters, eager to take a fly. The truth is the heavy weather we had left in Florida the day before had arrived and was making fishing life difficult, nevertheless, any seasoned angler understands, you take the weather like it comes and make the best of it. With harsh weather, fishing life is not over, just different. I will dwell upon this later.

Black Fly Bonefish Lodge Abaco Island Bahamas

 

 Schooner Bay at Abaco Island

 Schooner Bay is the brainchild of developer Orjan Lindroth and is located approximately 25 miles south of Marsh Harbor near the southern end of Great Abaco Island. The development enjoys a prominent location in a pristine environment overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Schooner Bay boasts the only protected harbor for twenty miles in each direction and possesses beautiful beaches for miles both north and south where you can curl your toes in the sugar white sand.  Schooner Bay on South Abaco Island

Orjan Lindroth hired a team of architects, planners and engineers to help create his dream of a walk-able traditional Bahamian village. Orjan has given great thought to this sustainable pedestrian community where a person can stroll throughout the neighborhood and everything you need is within easy reach.

Orjan’s vision is to provide a simple beautiful efficient lifestyle in this small town and he is well on his way to providing it.

This report is about fishing Abaco Island and it would take great detail to fully describe the plans for this practical and livable development. Once you have visited Schooner Bay you will understand why ultimately this development will be a great out-island family and fishing destination. (We at Leisure Time Travel can help make this happen!)

The Lodge 

Black Fly Lodge  is situated prominently at Harbor Square, perched on top of a slight hill and overlooking the marina in Schooner Bay. The harbor area has been designed to be the principle gathering place for the Schooner Bay development.

This elegant two-story colonial-style plantation building was built in the form of a traditional Bahamian manor. The construction of the building adhered to demanding specifications and is solid as a rock. The whole structure sits on a massive concrete foundation (I know, as I visited the site under construction a year ago). The first floor exterior walls of the new lodge are constructed of vertical formed cast in place concrete. The second floor is poured in-place concrete and the second story exterior walls are built of 2” X 6” structural steel studs sheathed with plywood. The hip roof is covered with real wood shingles. Blackfly Lodge will be around for a long-long time!
Black Fly Boneffish Lodge Abaco Island Bahamas

As for aesthetics, functional wood porches and balconies on the facade and sides of the building dominate the appearance. A cement plaster finish swathes the first floor exterior walls and a light outer layer of wood siding envelops the second floor exterior walls, all painted in a subtle off-white pastel with bright white trim. Dark shutters frame the door and windows, and the soft hues of the wood shingles all combine to create a pleasing curb-site appeal.

As you step inside, the unique and intimate atmosphere will immediately put you at ease. Large windows allow ample light to flow in and a cool soft off-white pastel is the color of the interior. Fans of Vaughn Cochran art will be pleased to know that his work and logo adorn the walls throughout the Blackfly Lodge (and boats).

The lodge features a public restaurant and cozy little bar on the main floor. And. don’t worry about retaining your place at the table, Blackfly Lodge guest are first to have dinner seating, if there are any places at the table left then the general public can slip in and join the crowd. I am sure if outside guest show up at the lodge they will make interesting dinner partners.

Kitchen responsibilities are supervised under the watchful eye of master chef Devon Roker who trained at the culinary institute of Ft. Lauderdale and served in some of the best hotels in Nassau including the great kitchen of Compass Point. One word to describe chef Devon’s abilities would be “exceptional “.

Everyone generally dines together at one big table served in the Black Fly Club dining room from a set menu featuring gourmet dinners which include delicious locally caught fish, lobster, stone crab claws, aged beef, chicken and fresh vegetables from the Schooner Bay farm.

One evening developer Orjan Lindroth joined us and I was pleased to sit next to him. I asked him dozens of questions about anything from what materials the road would be paved with, how the community geothermal heat exchange system works, how the Schooner Bay hydroponic gardening was coming along, approximate build-out time of the development and a few curve balls, such as had he read Evan Cottman’s book “Out Island Doctor” which he had, and did he speak Swedish, which he does.  I can tell you with absolute certainty; Orjan Lindroth is an exceptionally knowledgeable gentleman (about a lot of things).

The Accommodations

Black Fly Bonefish Lodge Abaco Island BahamasBlack Fly Lodge offers unique comfortable accommodations with eight private rooms each with a ceiling fan, private bathroom, and air conditioning. Guest accommodations are located on the second floor which is off limits to the public. There is a wrap-around verandah overlooking the picturesque Schooner Bay harbor and the Atlantic Ocean in the distance. Typically there is one angler to the room, however if you wish to bring your spouse there are a couple of larger rooms with bigger beds. I would suggest you book well in advance if you wish to have one of the larger rooms (feel free to give us a call and we can arrange this for you!).

In the event you want to check your email or go online, for you convenience there is free Wi-Fi access.

Boats and equipment

 Anglers generally leave the Black Fly Club at about 8:00 am and normally return by 4:30 pm.  Anglers are provided with a picnic lunch and their selection of drinks for the day.

The Black Fly Lodge has brand new East Cape Skiffs rigged with new light weight Evinrude e-tech 90HP engines. The skiffs have comfortable padded seats, a custom leaning bar on the casting platform, rod storage and ample dry storage lockers.

As a long-time flats skiff owner I was very impressed by the boat and motor.

This was my first ride in an East Cape Vantage skiff. The Black Fly Lodge skiffs have been customized to their specifications. The good-looking open-water 19-foot skiff has an ample beam and she is built to take on rough water. I can certainly vouch for the reasonably dry ride as my fishing partner and I were literally smashed by big seas and high winds for three solid days.

Having guided tarpon anglers at Homosassa for many years, I know how to pole a boat. I jumped up on the poling platform one day and poled along a nice flat for perhaps twenty-minutes (I have already noted the wind was howling). The skiff tracked true and in amazingly skinny water for a boat of this size. One word to describe the new East Cape Vantage technical skiff would be “extraordinary”.

Black Fly Bonefish Lodge - East Cape Skiff
I have normally used Mercury motors on my boats, although I have owned Johnson, Yamaha and Suzuki motors in the past, so I have some experience with outboard motors. I was immediately surprised how quiet the Evinrude e-tech 90HP outboard was.  While visiting various Caribbean fishing lodges, I usually bring along a pair of ear muffs to deaden the sound of the Yahama 2-strokes found at many of these places. This is not the case with the Evinrude e-tech. The Evinrude motor is quiet and it is powerful. Paired with East Cape Vantage, you have a high-performance skiff. 

The Fishing

As far as the shallow water angler is concerned, the Bahama Islands  have long been known for the seaside charm, white sandy beaches, aquamarine water, and one of the best areas in the world to stalk bonefish.

BBlack Fly Bonefish Lodge Abaco Islan Bahamas

The main target on Abaco Island is also bonefish.  There are some permit to be found in certain areas, an occasional tarpon, sharks, barracuda and variety snappers. Off-shore fishing is also available at Black Fly Lodge. The lodge has purchased a 31′ Yellowfin for off-shore fishing and can accommodate up to 4 anglers.  You can check the rates for offshore fishing here.

Captain Clint Kemp, co-owner of Black Fly Lodge, is very involved in conservation and the health of the fishery and insists on catch-and release fishing using barbless hooks.

Black Fly Bonefish Lodge Abaco Island BahamasThe flats, creeks and bays surrounding south Abaco Island offer some of the finest light tackle fishing found anywhere. The great majority of the fishing is from boats, but there are ample opportunities for wading.

The fishing is divided into six different fishing zones, each area a little different. During a week’s time you will probably visit all of six of the fishing zones. The Schooner Bay ramp is the closest and is less than a half of a mile from the lodge. The remaining boat launch points are just 10-20 minutes away from the Black Fly Bonefish Club with the exception of Cross Harbour which is approximately 30 minutes away (but worth the trip!).

You can read more about the fishing zones in our previous 2012 Black Fly Lodge post found here.

The first morning, my friend John Stout and I polished off a hearty Black Fly Lodge breakfast at 7:00 am and met our guide Derek a half an hour later. The East Cape skiff was attached to the truck and ready to go. Captain Derek had the storage hatches open ready to store our gear. We stashed our equipment, jumped in the truck and continued on to the boat ramp.

As I mentioned in the beginning of this report, the weather was less than optimal. The early morning overcast leaden sky projected a menacing look as we boarded our waiting boat.

We quickly left the dock. Captain Derek swung our skiff into the shallow Schooner Bay channel and we headed west in search of those elusive grey ghosts. The morning run was cool and the scenery was spectacular. The reflection of light on the water as our skiff carved a smooth path across the skinny mangrove studded flat was awesome. For me, this never gets old.

At the end of the Schooner Bay channel, Captain Derek tried to bring us around a point to the north so we could investigate the southern end of the Marls. The squally breeze of the north wind was just too harsh to make the crossing, even for the seaworthy boat we were riding in. Black Fly Bonefish Lodge Abaco Island Bahamas

Just to give you an idea of the wind, we had a Fly Line Tamer, which is a device to store your fly line and keep the line from blowing overboard. The Fly Line Tamer is a cylindrical unit about 36″ High x 12″ wide with a weighted non-skid bottom and an open top which allows you to cast quickly without worrying about your line getting tangled. While my fishing partner John Stout was on the bow a gust of wind came along and blew the Fly Line Tamer into the water. As John hoisted the Fly Line Tamer back into the boat I suggested that he just leave the remaining five inches of water in the can as it would help hold it down.

Captain Derek knows what he is doing and took us south to an area where we could fish the lee side of the shore with some relief from the wind. With the morning sun behind us and a somewhat smoother surface it was easy to spot a fish at a distance.

John Stout was on the bow; with a faint shoulder tap to get his attention, I pointed ahead.

A few hundred feet in front of the skiff translucent tails were happily wiggling. Aside from the muffled crunch of our push pole we were in stealth mode.

Turtle grass and sea fans wobbled in the current. Suddenly, a pair of grey ghosts materialized on our port side within casting distance.

John adroitly loaded his Sage rod with a Rio Bonefish line.  The long forward taper of the Rio line turns over impressively and is perfect to smooth out the casting loop on long shots like this.

The fly landed on the fish’s nose. The water exploded before I could contort my face into a wince. We turned to each other and shrugged simultaneously. Oh well, on to the next fish.  We traveled too far to be foiled easily.

A bonefish is a solid bundle of pure instincts and it does not take much to spook them, but we can and do outfox them.

John and I both scored a fish as the morning progressed and we decided to call it a day just after noon and headed in. Back at the lodge, backgammon was the game of choice on this afternoon.

Black Fly Bonefish Lodge Abaco Island BahamasOur second day was again windy with the addition of heavy thunderstorms. Near our boat ramp we investigated a small mangrove estuary where small tarpon were known to live. We did find a dozen or so baby poon’s and a few bones as well, but could not entice them to the fly. The thunderstorms unleashed several bolts of lightning to close for comfort and we headed back to the ramp and to a shelter for a while. After the squall cleared we tried the flats again, but the storms returned and we decided we had enough of the foul weather by lunchtime.

The stakes were raised that afternoon on the backgammon board. Given that you could not fish-out your excess energy on the bonefish you could direct it on your fellow backgammon players.

One the third day the morning was fresh. The clouds parted and the sun burst through giving us some much needed visibility. There was still a stiff breeze from the northeast but the water cleared and the tide was right. We headed down to the south end of the island to an area called Cross Harbour where permit are known to frequent. John and I were on a mission and focused on permit  all day. It was a couple of hours before we spied a pair a small permit. John made a nice cast but the fish did not seem to notice. On the second cast John did have a nice follow but the permit turned off near the boat.  We found a large school of bonefish mulling around but passed on them.

After lunch Captain Derek brought us to the mouth of a lagoon where the tide was near the bottom but still flowing out at a steady pace. There were some smaller bones around but we did not fool with them. Captain Derek knew permit were occasionally found of this spot and it was not long before we had our shots. There were no permit caught on this day but we had set our eyes on the fish and that in itself was exciting.

We came, we saw, but we did not triumph over the wily bonefish or neurotic permit. However, we did have a good time.

I would consider this an average winter/spring week in the Bahamas. Sometimes you will get balmy weather for weeks at a time, but this time of the year cold fronts affect the Caribbean. The angler rarely gets perfect weather for the entire trip. I tell my clients if you get more than three good days of fishing out of six this time of the year you are lucky. As I mentioned in the beginning of this post, I had six happy clients lodged at Abaco Lodge and they had three good days fishing the Marls of Abaco before the front approached. I am sure the anglers that replaced us after the front had good fishing as well.

Last year, during a trip in March 2012 the weather was more cooperative and we did quite well. You can read our previous 2012 Black Fly Lodge post here.

The lodge has a small fly shop with a good selection of local fly patterns and some technical clothing should you have the need or just want to stock up. And for you avid fly tyers, the vice is on the table and tying materials are within easy reach for your fly-tying enjoyment.

Conclusion

Before dawn on departure day I had my only chance during my brief visit to catch a glimpse of the rising sun. I walked down to the kitchen and poured myself a fresh cup of coffee and went back up and settled into a nice rattan chair.

The sound of halyards clanged against the mast on the couple of boats in the harbor below. As my eyes adjusted to the early morning light I noticed the tide was just coming in. The setting made me think of the hundreds of mornings I have spent in the pre-dawn darkness at Homosassa waiting for the first tarpon to roll.

A cool ocean breeze with the smell of fresh salty air was coming in from the east which bade well for the incoming anglers. In the distance you could hear crashing sound of the surf pummeling against the beach. Seagulls slowly started their morning cacophony of cries.

The whole experience, both on land and on water is exceptional at Black Fly Lodge. The staff at the lodge and the guides make a genuine effort to take good care of you.

You will be rewarded with excellent flats fishing for bonefish and an occasionally permit. The area has hundreds of flats, many which offer protection from north winds.

True taste of the Abaco out island fishing experience; great fishing, fantastic guides, handsome accommodations and beautiful scenery make Black Fly the perfect combination for your next fishing trip or family vacation.

 

Black Fly Bonefish Lodge Abaco Island Bahamas

***

It does not take long for your senses to adjust to the solitude and the vast open spaces of the Bahamas. The sky so blue and ever clear, layers of clouds moving different speeds, and the crystalline waters carve a backdrop unlike any you have seen. 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 at the new Lodge  in 2014. Call us now at 800-771-2202 or 352-795-3474.

Click here for rates.

 Visit our main Blackfly Lodge page here.

 Read our 2012  Blackfly Lodge report here.

 More photographs can be view here

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

 

Black Fly Bonefish Lodge Abaco Island Bahamas

Ascension Bay Permit on the Fly

The Pursuit of Giant Permit with Dr. Rick Weisenburger (a.k.a. “Dr. Dick”)

This is a story about permit fishing at Ascension Bay Mexico with my good friend and client, Dr. Rick Weisenburger and a bunch of other cool guys. Fourteen enthusiastic anglers converged at Casa Blanca Lodge on Ascension Bay to search for permit. It was an unusual fall week at Casa Blanca Lodge and Ascension Bay for permit fishing on the Fly.

Ascension Bay permit : Dr. Rick & Augustin

My good friend and client, Dr. Rick Weisenburger lives in a nearby State, but he occasionally has reasons to visit Florida. He called me recently and said he would be passing through my home town of Crystal River on a certain date and he would like to stop by and visit with me. I readily agreed as I like “Dr. Dick” immensely and always look forward to spending a little time together.

On the agreed date Rick Weisenburger called me in the morning and said he would be by my travel office by noon. He was an hour early and I was quite surprised. Not by the early arrival, but by the souvenir he brought me.

You see, Rick Weisenburger, twelve of our fishing buddies and I had one heck of a good week fishing at Ascension Bay from Casa Blanca Lodge. As a reminder of the great time we had, Rick brought me a memento from our trip

Our group of fourteen anglers fishing out of ten Dolphin skiffs caught a total of thirty permit during this certain week. Rick Weisenburger caught several including the permit in the photo at the top of this story. Dr. Rick had a fiberglass replica made of the large permit he caught and bestowed upon me.

Wow….I was delighted. What a thoughtful gift! That huge permit is already mounted on the wall in my office. I gaze at it every day and reminisce about the many wonderful and exciting trips I have take to the Yucatan. Thanks again Dr. Dick !!!

Dr. Rick Weisenburger giant permit

 

THE STORY

 Ascension Bay offers the angler one of the best places in the world to catch a permit on the fly and is arguable one of the finest saltwater flats’ fisheries in the world

Edward Russell Johnston of Leisure Time Travel and a group of ardent anglers visited the Casa Blanca lodge at Ascension Bay during a blustery fall week. Despite the fact that three days of fishing were hampered by strong northeast winds and a cold front, our group of fourteen anglers caught 30 permit during the week!

ARRIVAL DAY – The undulating coast line of the Yucatan peninsula became visible from about 100 miles out in the Boeing 737. As we neared Cancun the Caribbean water colors stair cased from the deepest blue, to azure, to aquamarine, to palest green where the waters lap the famous coral sand beaches.Ascension Bay permit

The first breath of Gulf air became fact. The warmth of the Caribbean was apparent. Once through customs we were quickly back into the air on a charter flight to our final destination, Ascension Bay. Soft trade wind clouds floated in a clear blue sky. Islands appeared with luxuriant vegetation shading white sand beaches.

A fine rain scattered on the windshield as we started our decent toward Casa Blanca. The water below was a myriad of turquoise and blues. We could see palm trees spread far along the shore. The coral reef edged deep blue water. The lumbering Cessna Carvan landed at Punta Pajaros (Pa-ha-row-s) just a short distance from the lodge. “Team Homosassa” was on the ground. Fourteen eager anglers were ready to tangle with all Ascension Bay had to offer, especially the wily permit.

DAY ONE – Our first fishing day was great. The sky was clear and the weather was very nice with warm temperatures and a prevailing wind. Our group caught 11 permit that day.

DAY TWO – A cold front moved in slowed things down. The wind changed to the northeast and started too blown hard. Thunder clouds overspread the whole heaven and only occasionally was the sky clear. Light showers in the afternoon became torrential the evening. We caught two permit.

DAY THREE – A Total blow out. It rained hard and steady. The wind was so high it was extremely difficult to fish. No permit. We did have a great party in the lodge that night!

Dr. Curt Johnson's Permit : Casa Blanca LodgeDAY FOUR – The wind was still from the northeast but staring to slow down a bit. The temperature had dropped considerably from the beginning of our week. The main bay was still muddy from the turbulence, but there were areas of clear water. We caught three permit.

DAY FIVE – The morning was fresh. The clouds parted and the sun burst through. There was still a mild breeze from the northeast but the water cleared and the tide was right. Most of the casting was into the wind, but we caught 11 permit. All the permit caught on this day were big fish. Most of the permit were in the 15-20 pound range, but one was in the mid-thirties and the whopper permit caught by Dr. Rick Weisenburger was even larger; an exceptionally good day in any angler’s book.

DAY SIX – Last day. The wind shifted to the west with a mild breeze. There were plenty of permit but they were very spooky. We caught three permit one of which was well more than thirty pounds. (Note: most of the anglers had 30# Boca-grips for weighing so when they bottomed out we had to estimate)

CONCLUSION

I would consider this an average fall week at Ascension Bay. Sometimes you will get balmy weather for weeks at a time, but this is fall and cold fronts affect the Caribbean. The angler rarely gets perfect weather for the entire trip. I tell my clients if you get more than three good days of fishing out of six this time of the year you are lucky. Call the specialists at Leisure Time Travel today and get the counsel to assist you in booking the best fishing adventure you’ve ever experienced.

Edward Johnston, of Leisure Time Travel, has visited the Yucatan peninsula  30 times in the past twenty years and has caught 80 Ascension Bay permit with a fly rod .

Why take chances with your precious time? We’ve been there numerous times. There is no substitute for first-hand experience.

Tight lines !

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 photographs by Edward R. Johnston

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

Ascesnion Bay permit

Edward Johnston with a nice Ascesnion Bay permit

The Tale of Tacu – Flats Fishing Turneffe Island Belize

Twenty-one years ago on Turneffe Island Belize, a few of my friends and I were on an exploratory fishing trip to this interesting coral atoll.
Read on for a story about flats fishing at Turneffe Island Belize.

Turneffe Island Lodge : Tacu Johnson and Edward Johnston

This tale starts twenty-one years ago on the Turneffe Island about 35 miles off the coast of Belize in Central America. A few of my friends and I were on an exploratory fishing trip to this interesting coral atoll.

A year or so earlier I had fished the well know tarpon flats around Ambergris Cay Belize from the El Pescador Lodge and also I had visited Ascension Bay Mexico which was located about 100 miles north up the Yucatan coast, so I was not a total stranger to this part of the world.

Turneffe Flats Lodge : Edward Johnston with a Turneffe permitWe flew into Belize City on a Saturday afternoon and spent our evening in town at the Radisson Hotel. First thing Sunday morning we boarded the Turneffe Flats Lodge transfer boat and headed for our destination.

These days Turneffe Flats takes you to the lodge on Saturday afternoon, so you don’t spend a night in Belize City any longer.

The ninety minute trip takes you past the famous St. George Keys and out to blue water.  In the craft, you run a short distance through sparkling open waters. In the distance, lining the horizon, a string of palm trees border Turneffe Islands, dazzling and inviting. As you near your destination at the Turneffe atoll, the water colors changes from the deepest blue, to azure, to aquamarine, to palest green where crystalline waters lap the white coral sand beaches.

The Turneffe Islands, Located 35 miles east of Belize City , comprise part of the largest and most biodiverse coral reef system in the western hemisphere. Turneffe is the largest of the three offshore atolls in Belize. Inside the atoll there are more than 200 mangrove covered islands, brackish lagoons, deeps creeks and expansive flats surrounded by shallow reef. Together this area supports an abundance of wildlife. The crystal clear waters offer Permit, Bonefish, Tarpon, Snook, and a host of other species.

Craig Mathews was manager at the time and the lodge was quaint but quite primitive by today’s standards. Since that time the entire lodge has been rebuilt with spacious ocean side guest suites, a beautiful gathering dining area and a swimming pool.

I was to be escorted a young Belizean fishing guide by the name of Tacu. Tacu and his brother Fabian grew up around the island helping their father fish for conch, spiny lobster and some of the various species of food fish. Brother Fabian still owns the land on Turneffe where his father’s fish camp was located. Both brothers were, and still are extremely familiar with the geography of both above and below the surface of this beautiful place and know every creek, nook and cranny of the 35 mile long and 12 mile wide island.

Turneffe Flats Lodge : Pool overlooking a bonefish flat

Throughout the week we fished the hard bottomed coral sand flats of the eastern side of the island for bonefish and the deep creeks of the western side for tarpon and were successful at both, but always in my mind was that elusive permit.

I will never forget one calm morning; we eased away from the dock in the predawn darkness. The first rays of light were just peering over the coral reef. There is a large deep channel adjacent to the lodge and this morning it was full of tarpon. We motored for just a couple of minutes and Tacu cut the engine and poled the skiff as far as he could go until he lost contact with the bottom. We drifted in a slow current with the incoming tide. The surface of the water was like a sheet of glass punctuated by the backs of the rolling tarpon around us. There were literally hundreds of tarpon surrounding our boat. Turneffe Flats Lodge : Early morning tarpon fishing

One short cast and I was hooked solid. I made quick work of the fight and released the fish. I was a bit dirty from the encounter. Moments later a friend eased up in his boat and took one look at me and said “you rascal” as he knew I was already up one “poon” for the day.

Towards the end of the week there was little wind and the sea was calm. Tacu had a bright idea and decided we should visit the Lighthouse reef on this fine day and we should take the 16 foot Dolphin skiff the fourteen miles across. This action would be frowned upon these days as it was very risky, especially with the less than dependable little two-stroke engine we had, and looking back I certainly would not recommend you try it. However, at the time Tacu was determined and I did not know any better, so we went.

It was a smooth boat ride in the skiff and from the midpoint of the very deep oceanic waters you could see both islands, barely. Famous for the Blue Hole, the Lighthouse Reef is nearly as large as Turneffe, but most the area is submerged with just a few small islands above sea level.

Turneffe Flats Lodge : Edward Johnston with bonefish

The north end has a decent fishery but is too small to support a lodge or excessive fishing pressure. There is a small mangrove island with nice grass flats and a slightly larger island with hard coral flats on the north side and a deep harbor on the south side with an abundance of bonefish (at the time).

The bonefish was easy that day and we moved on the hunt for other species.

Tacu poled us along the mangrove island and spied a school of juvenile tarpon one of which we soon had to the boat and released. A short while later we came across the telltale sign of a permit feeding with its sickle shaped fins protruding from the surface.

My good friend Ted Williams was an excellent angler and also a master fly tier. Ted had success with a buggy looking fly which he used in the Florida Keys and bestowed a few samples to me. Well, I can tell you, when the permit saw that fly he jumped all over it. I was tight to my first permit and gently persuaded the fish back to the boat. I had never caught a permit on the fly and I was delighted. After a few photos the fish was released back to the ocean and we headed back to Turnefffe.

The ride back to Turneffe was pure bliss, I was in paradise and life was good! However Tacu was not finished just yet. We had to check a few other places before we called it a day.

This part of the story I have rarely told; it would be hard to convince most anglers as the rest of this remarkable tale as it was amazing. Tacu took me to a swampy area deep in the mangroves where we found baby tarpon rolling. I downsized my tackle for the little guys and started casting. A few moments later I was fast to a…..snook, and “wow’, a super grand slam, four flats species caught in one day.

Edward Johnston's first permit Tacu wanted to take me to a spot on the south side of the Turneffe island near Cay Bokel where he previously guided a client to a world record cubera snapper on the fly rod. It was late in the afternoon I was not about to consider the hour run down there and back. He did convince me to try a place nearby where we could sight fish for snapper. Sure enough, the fish were visible in the crystal clear water. I tossed a fly and watched a fine mutton snapper engulf my offering. The snapper did not willingly come to the boat, but to the boat he came.

Five flats species in one day. Hard to believe, but true.

I returned to Turneffe the following year with permit obsession. Tacu and I had a good week and caught five permit together. I was so pleased that after the fifth permit I traded places with Tacu and poled the Dolphin skiff along a grassy flat until he caught a permit on the fly.

Tacu and I did not see each other for a long period of time. Tacu quit guiding for a while and went to live in the United States. It would be nearly twenty years before we were reunited on the flats….

In the interim period I became fairly successful at catching permit and had caught exactly one-hundred on a fly when Tacu’s and my path crossed again.

On this particular trip I was with a group of anglers I normally travel with every year to a Caribbean destination. We were staying at the Turneffe Island Resort on the south side of the Turneffe Atoll. The lodge has five dolphin skiffs which would normally fish two per boat or ten anglers. That week the lodge was short a fishing guide so they brought an extra guide from Belize City. Obviously, being a good group leader, I had the fishing manager assign the recognized “house guides” to my friends and clients and I opted for the unknown guide from the mainland.

Early the first morning at the Turneffe Island Resort I was wandering around the portion of the property where the staff quarters are located. As I rounded the corner of a building I came face to face with a person I had not seen in a very long time, Tacu.

After a happy hello, I wondered what would bring us back together again. Tacu informed me that he was the back-up guide for the week.

I started contemplating the situation; I caught my first permit on the Turneffe Atoll more than twenty years ago with Tacu and here we were together again potentially for permit number 101.  The karma seemed good and I realized it was our destiny to catch that permit together, which we did and a few more that week.

Turneffe Island Lodge : Edward Johnston with a fine permit Tacu’s long absence did not affect his memory and we investigated every nook and cranny on the Turneffe Atoll. We caught permit number 101 and 102 on the second day of the trip.

Every day we would look for migrating tarpon and finally found them mid-week. These were not the huge migratory tarpon, but rather smaller fish from the reef in the 20-60 pound range, which in my opinion are the perfect fun size. Later that week we caught permit number 103.

An incredible story, but true. And that’s the Tale of Tacu! Stay tuned as the saga continues!

With regard to our trip to Turneffe Island Lodge that particular week with Tacu – I would have to say it was one of our best trips ever. Not just remarkable fishing, but all around. Our group averaged 3.6 permit per boat for the week. (18 permit/5 boats =3.6 per boat). This compares to some of the best trips we have had at Ascension Bay. Our best week to date at Casa Blanca Lodge at Ascension Bay was 30 permit divided by 10 boats which equals 3 per permit per boat for the week.

Worth mentioning is our colleague and fellow angler Peter Merriam who experienced some great fishing at Turneffe Island Lodge for that entire week  and came very-very close to a Grand Slam.

Turneffe Island Lodge : Phil Clark with a Turneffe Island permit***

In Twenty-one years I have visited the island eight times, each for a week, including the last four years in a row. The graceful manatee can still be seen gliding lithely throughout the atoll. The pelicans, wading birds, and seagulls are there performing their avian wonders.

The large schools of tarpon are not as plentiful as in the past, but you can still find tarpon if you look for them. The huge bones that used to tail on the Oceanside flats are harder to find, but again there are plenty of bonefish to cast to including the rare and elusive golden bonefish. The permit fishing is holding up and the experienced angler will be successful. And occasionally you will score a nice snook. Turneffe is still a premier saltwater fly fishing and that’s why we continue to return.

***

On the southeastern side of the atoll a five story hotel is being built on a sliver of picturesque costal land with sand dredged from a beautiful ocean side turtle grass flat. The building silhouette is a visual distraction you can see from miles away in this pristine environment. On the interior side, a channel has been dredged for a marina. The dredging has reduced precious ocean habitat and nursery areas for a multitude of  species.

Turneffe Island Resort : Larry Fuller releasing a nice permit The cruise ships heading for Belize City pass the island displaying a striking form and a spectacular sight at night, but pose an ominous threat over the fragile ecosystem.

Will a visit to Turneffe in the future be similar to a trip to Biscayne Bay with the Miami skyline in the background? As of this writing, thankfully, as a result hard work from many concerned people, I don’t think so.

Recently, the Turneffe Atoll, has been designated a Marine Reserve by Belize’s Government, thanks in large part to the hard work of Craig Hayes, owner of Turneffe Flats lodge and the folks at the Turneffe Atoll Trust..  This sets aside 325,000 acres of this unique ecosystem for environmental management, scientific research, sustainability, as well as species protection and promotion of catch and release sport fishing.

Two fish spawning sites were recently chosen as Turneffe Atoll Marine Reserves. Dog Flea Caye Marine Reserve one of the largest spawning sites for Nassau grouper in Belize, and Caye Bokel Marine Reserve which is a large spawning site for mutton, cubera and yellowtail snappers, permit and other species.

Will I return? The answer is yes, as long as the fishery holds up. Would I still recommend Turneffe as a world class fishing destination? The answer is yes and with active management I believe the fishery will improve.

***

We would like to arrange your next trip to Turneffe Flats Lodge, Turneffe Island Resort or one of the other fine lodges in Belize.

Edward  Johnston, of Leisure Time Travel,Inc. has visited Turneffe Atoll eight times (last trip April 2012) and has caught 18 permit on a fly at Turneffe. Why take chances with your precious time? We’ve been there. Remember, There is no substitute for first-hand experience.

Tight lines !

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 photographs by Edward R. Johnston

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

Turneffe Island Resort : Tacu Johnston with a very fine Turneffe Island permit

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

Abaco Lodge – Report on bonefishing Great Abaco Island

Abaco Lodge has top quality accommodations, incredible food, a perfect, unspoiled location on the Marls of Great Abaco Island and world class fly-fishing for bonefish, all combined in an ideal tropical setting. If you are interested in bonefishing at Abaco Bonefish Lodge – read on!

Abaco Lodge : Great Abaco Island : Bahamas
We quickly ascended eastward from Orlando. Our pilot leveled out the jet-prop at cruising altitude and pulled the prop rpm back for a nice ride. Soon we are on the Florida coastline just north of West Palm Beach. The vastness of the deep blue Atlantic was before us.  Seemingly tiny looking ocean going freighters are plying the high sea between their ports leaving white foam trails in their wake.

Fifteen minutes later we are above the west end of Grand Bahama Island. The little Bahama Bank and miles of expansive flats, creeks and mangroves cays are clearly discernible. I have been there many times, searching for that elusive grey ghost, but not on this trip.

I had not finished the drink the stewardess provided when we start descending over the east end of Grand Bahama Island. Mores Island is visible in the distance and the coast of Abaco is perceptible on the horizon. We come in low over the vast Marls of Abaco, props are at max and the gear is down on our way into Marsh Harbour International. A short screech of the tires and a fine smooth landing; we are at our bonefishing destination.

Abaco Island Bahamas : AbacoLodge

I make several trips to the Bahamas each year to visit the various fishing lodges as it is just so simple to travel to many of the Bahamian Islands from my home near Homosassa Florida.

Traveling to the northern Bahamian island of Great Abaco is no exception. There are many commercial airlines that fly daily from Florida, starting in Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Miami, directly to Marsh Harbour on Great Abaco. And fortunate for some anglers, I included, Orlando Florida currently has a direct flight to Marsh Harbor as well

I have mentioned the ease of traveling to the northern Bahamas in previous post: It just isn’t necessary to go to the other side of the world to have great fishing. You can take a direct flight from the east coast to Florida, then a quick jump over to Marsh Harbor.  That’s it right there.  There is no need for a charter flight, no need to spend the night in Nassau, Miami or anywhere.

Nice bonefish : Abaco Lodge : Great Abaco Island

Oliver White is patiently waiting just outside the exit door at Marsh Harbour International Airport. After a quick greeting we are on our way in Oliver’s pick-up truck. His constant companion, Bono, a rather large German shepherd is in the back.

Oliver White, a pleasant young man, is a talented entrepreneur, well-traveled angler and a gracious host. Right now he is running one of the nicest small luxury bonefishing lodges in the Bahamas.

Abaco Lodge opened in 2009 has been nearly full during the October to June time of year ever since and there is a good reason why. The accommodations, cuisine and fishing operation create quite honestly, an all-inclusive bonefishing vacation spot at its finest.

Abaco Lodge : Great Abaco Island BahamasThe lodge is only ten-minute drive from the airport and is situated on a picturesque site overlooking the “Marls of Abaco” on the western side of Great Abaco Island.  The Marls have long been known by well-traveled bone fisherman as one of the most exceptional and productive fisheries in the Bahamas.  The vast area encompasses literally hundreds of square miles of prolific bonefish flats, creeks and mangroves cays negotiable only by shallow draft skiffs. The angling pressure is light and spread across a great expanse and as result; the bonefish are not as wary as those found where the fishing pressure is much higher.

Oliver pulls his truck off the pavement and right up the rocky driveway to the lodge. Bono jumps out of the back and ambles away to a nice shady spot with a good vantage point of the property.

The understated elegance of the place is obvious. You enter the main lodge through a large open-air well-appointed lanai which radiates simple elegance. The central gathering area has window walls taking in the full view of the Marls, exposed wood ceilings, and a unique reclaimed wood floor with a pickled sanded finish which together set the theme for this unique fishing lodge.

After a quick orientation, Oliver grabbed my gear and showed me my room which is only a few steps from the main lodge.

Main Lodge at Abaco Lodge : Great Abaco Island

Each angler has their own private single-occupancy room. The ten top quality rooms are stylish and simply decorated in a minimalist fashion with a Queen Anne bed frame with comfortable mattresses covered in fine linens, end tables with lamps, sitting bench, and writing table. All the rooms have ceiling fans, mini-split air-conditioners, and private baths with plenty of hot water. Eight of the quest rooms have balconies overlooking the water.

Oliver’s good friend, Captain Clint Kemp, likes to say “You can’t control the fishing, but you certainly can control the food”. Oliver makes sure of that; simply, the food is incredible here.

A fully stocked bar featuring premium selections of liquor, red and white wine, domestic beer, juices, sodas and other appropriate mixers and garnishes is open for your pleasure.

After an exceptional diner washed down with fine Argentinean wine, Oliver, the other lodge guests and I gathered around a fire pit overlooking the Marls and watched a beautiful sunset on the endless Bahamian horizon.
Typical Bedroom at Abaco Lodge : Great Abaco Island

The next morning I woke from a very comfortable bed eager to explore a day on the flats. And I say explore as it would take you months just to be acquainted with this place. The smell of coffee made from freshly ground beans permeates the main lodge. After a made to order breakfast I grab my gear and head for the boat dock, which is less than twenty-five steps from the main lodge.

Fishing

Oliver is at the dockside with his companion Bono surveying the scene.

Neatly tied to the floating dock are a fleet of “hard core” Hells Bay Waterman skiffs with 50 HP outboard engines. And before you wonder about the horsepower, I can assure you it is more than sufficient.  These light boats run shallow, pole with little hull slap and will get you into the skinniest places possible. The boats are equipped with padded seats with backrests, bow mounted leaning bars and coolers to ensure your time on the flats is as comfy as it is enjoyable.

I asked Oliver about the tides: “The tides in the marls are tricky. As you get further in the tide is almost negligible. All that really matters for us on this side is the wind as it literally overpowers the tide. If it’s blowing from the west we get incoming water all day”.

Marty Sawyer-  one of Great Abaco's legendary guides I was surprised to learn, Marty Sawyer, one of Abaco’s legendary guides and I would share a fine sunny day together.  I first  became acquainted with Marty back in 1993 while he was a guide for Nettie Symonette at the “Great Abaco Bonefishing Club”, then renamed the “Nettie’s Heritage Club” and now disbanded. Back in those days, all of Nettie’s guides came from the English Loyalist town of Cherokee Sound which is about twenty-two miles south of Marsh harbor.

The Bahama Islands are primarily known for their bonefishing, and Abaco is no different. There are the occasional shots at permit, tarpon, barracuda, jacks, and sharks. Most of the fishing in the Marls, with its soft, muddy flats is by boat.

Marty is extremely familiar these waters; he grew up commercial fishing for lobster and conch, knows the area like the back of his hand.

Marty shut down just a few minutes from the lodge and within a short time we were in bonefish. The fishing was steady all day and I’m not sure how many bonefish we caught as I just didn’t keep track, but there were a lot of them in the 4-6 pound range.

There were a couple of remarkable incidents for which I shall mention:

We were probably a good 30 minutes west of the lodge and poling along a mangrove island, with several adjacent islands semi-enclosing a large pool of water of maybe 40 acres. There were two deeper main green-blue channels entering and exiting the lagoon. We noticed a massive push of water across the deeper part of the flats. I said to Marty I thought they were dolphin, not the fish, the mammal. Marty said “no, those fish are huge permit”. Now, I know a thing or two about permit as I have caught more than a hundred on a fly, but I never saw anything like that.Abaco Lodge : Edward Johnston with a fine Abaco bonefish

Marty, quickly pushed us into the path of the stampeding permit. I always have a permit rod rigged ready and my first cast was right on the money, but it didn’t draw a strike. One more casts and another refusal. The permit were on a mission and would not be enticed by a crustacean imitations, however, as always I was thankful to have had genuine shot. That’s permit fishing.

A couple of hours later, Marty dropped an anchor in a small cove by an interesting rock abutment covered with indigenous small trees and shrubs. While enjoying our picnic lunch in this beautiful spot I noticed a small tarpon causally swim by and proceed to a small mangrove nook at the end of the little bay where we were located. You just never know what you will see out there. I can tell you, on a previous trip, just north of where we were that day; I hooked several small tarpon in the 20-30 pound range and landed one.

Oliver is waiting for us at the dock. “Well, how did you do” Oliver asked. I replied “It was an OK day, we caught a few”, however, the Cheshire grins on Marty’s and my face gave it away. Oliver knows better, it is a rare day when you stalked the beautiful flats of the Marls of Great Abaco without catching plenty of bonefish.

I dropped my gear, grabbed a beer from the bar and found a nice spot to relax by the pool overlooking the vast expanse of the Marls. What a great place and what a great experience we had today.

Tomorrow I will fish with Captain David Tate. Abaco Lodge rotates its guides every day so you enjoy a variety of different fishing experiences. Every guide has his favorite spots. It will be hard to match today encounters, but hey, we’re fishing the Marls and you just never know how the day will unfold.

Hells Bay Waterman skiffs at Abaco Lodge : Great Abaco Island

Activities and Things to Do

Taking a non-angler on a fishing trip may seem to be a fairly reckless move. However, fear not, you are safe here.

Some people are under the impression that Abaco Island is out of the way and there is nothing other than fishing and boating to do there. Quite to the contrary, if you are looking for genuine natural outdoor experiences there are a lot of things to do.

Tourists can embrace the relaxed culture and feel like locals. Abaco Lodge is only 10 minutes away from Marsh Harbour, which has many shops, restaurants and marinas.

So here are some easy things to do: Relax, read a book and recharge at Abaco Lodge’s refreshing pool with the convenience of being close to your room. Go shopping and have lunch in Marsh Harbour. Rent a bicycle, a scooter or a car and explore Abaco, but whatever mean of transportation you choose, don’t forget that Bahamians maintain the British custom of driving on the left hand side of the road!

Deconstructed Tiramisu : : Enticing Flavor Combinations : Abaco Lodge

Bird Watching – Bring your binoculars and enjoy the outstanding variety of birds to be found on Great Abaco and the surrounding islands. 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

Day trips for the more adventuresome:  My family and I have vacationed in the Abaco Islands for more than thirty years and have enjoyed all the activities listed below.

Beaches – The Abaco’s have some of the finest beaches in the world, most of them completely deserted. Go to one of the rental boat companies in Marsh Harbour and captain yourself across. While you’re there, grab your snorkel gear and explore the pristine world class elkhorn and staghorn reefs just off the Beaches or scuba and discover the many offshore wrecks and caverns.

Take the ferry from Marsh Harbour and spend the day Nippers Beach Bar & Grill on Great Guana Cay.   Nipper’s is open 364 days a year. Stop by for the music and fun, mix with the locals, tourists and cruisers. Everyone’s here but there’s plenty of space to chill at Nipper’s, too.

Ride a 20 minute ferry from Marsh Harbour and spend the day at Hope on beautiful Elbow Cay. Rent a cart and explore the island. There are lots of things to do to keep you busy. Be sure to visit the famous red and white striped Elbow Reef Lighthouse; probably the most recognizable landmark in Abaco.

Abaco Lodge : Great Abaco Island BahamasTake the ferry from Marsh Harbour and spend the day at Man-O-War Cay. Watch how the English Loyalist descendants still build boats by hand, walk around town, take a stroll on the beach or rent a golf cart and explore. Man-O-War is less touristy than the other islands. Do you enjoy snorkeling? Visit Fowl Cay underwater park – A national underwater sea park.

Take the ferry from Treasure Cay and spend the day at the Green Turtle Club on Green Turtle Cay. Visit the historic settlement of New Plymouth, a quiet 18th century village by the sea, with its museums, garden, shops, restaurants and pastel-painted clapboard homes that remind one of a turn-of-the-century village of the New England coast.

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.

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 current flight information click here.

For Rates at Abaco Lodge click here.

To return to the Abaco Lodge main page click here

Recent Photographs of Abaco Lodge

and more Photographs are here

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, except photo of Oliver white by Adam Barker and green bonefish by Brian Grossebacher
Copyright © 2013 Edward R. Johnston & Leisure Time Travel, Inc. 1996-2013

Great Abaco Island : Bahamas : Sunset at Abaco Bonefish Lodge