Deep Water Cay – Luxury Lodging & Excellent Bonefishing at Deep Water Cay Club

Deep Water Cay Club – Fly Fishing Paradise Found!

Part One

Deep Water Cay has benefited  from  many recent changes, including major reconstruction and modernization of  the property, structures  and equipment . Now, more than ever, there are many more reasons to visit Deep Water Cay Club than just to experience the impressive Lodge and the outstanding bonefishing. Translation: your wife will like this place! If you are interested in Deep Water Cay  please read on! 

Luxury Lodging & Excellent Bonefishing at Deep Water Cay Club

It was the near end of summer vacation and my son Aaron would be off to college soon. Aaron and I were thinking where we could go that was really cool. We settled on a split week; half a week at Deep Water Cay Club on Grand Bahama Island and the other half at South Beach in Miami. Bonefish and bikini’s; sounded good to me, so the deal was sealed. 

I have mentioned the ease of traveling to Grand Bahama Island 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 many cities on the east coast to Ft. Lauderdale, then a 40 minute jump over to Freeport.  That’s it right there.  There is no need for a charter flight, no need to spend the night anywhere.

First discovered by Gil Drake and A.J. McClane in the 1950s, Deep Water Cay has been recognized by well-traveled anglers as one of the premier bonefishing locations in the world. Anglers who visit Deep Water Cay can add their names to the Who’s Who of shallow water angling history such as Ted Williams, Joe Brooks, Curt Gowdy, Lefty Kreh and many other contemporary celebrities.Deep Water Cay Club Directional Sign

Getting to Deep Water Cay is easy. You can take a taxi, but we preferred to rent a car at Brad’s located at the Freeport Airport .  It’s normally a one-hour car ride to McLean’s Town, however, we stopped  along the way and viewed places of our interest including North Riding Point, High Rock and Pelican Point.

We left our rental car at the McLean’s Town dock and called the Lodge. A sturdy launch was dispatched to pick us up and within minutes we were on the island.

I should mention; on the afternoon that we arrived, three private charter planes full of excited guests landed on the club’s private 4,000 foot  paved airstrip.  You clear Bahamian Customs right there on the island which saves some time. This is the way to go if you have a larger party of four to six anglers as the cost is reasonable when spilt accordingly and only a little more compared to commercial air plus a taxi.

Deep Water Cay received a new lease on life when it was acquired by a new ownership group in late 2009. A great deal of money has been spent upgrading the new Deep Water Cay Club to restore the tropical island paradise to its former glory.  Believe me, it shows!

Aaron and I had visited Deep Water Cay in the past, but the change that greeted us was impressive.Without a doubt, I am sure there was a look of amazement on both of our faces when we caught sight of the new grand entrance, the major additions and amenities that were added to the property. To a large extent, this property was not just remodeled, it was rebuilt.

The waterfront looked considerably different than it did on our previous trip. The old rickety wooden dock for the fishing skiffs was gone and replaced with a modern heavy duty floating dock secured by large stout pilings. A new Tiki Bar with a thatched roof flanked the marina to the west and a matching dock station and kayak shack bordered to the east. Right in the middle is the impressive new two-story Welcome Center.

As we marched up the walkway, Bill and Lisa Culbreath, the managers of Deep Water Cay were there to greet us. To say they are a lovely and gracious couple would be a huge understatement.  Bill and Lisa are exceptionally friendly and congenial. They immediately put you at ease and their good-natured kindness make you feel like you are home throughout your visit.

Welcome Center at the Deep Water Cay Club
We signed in at the desk in their Welcome Center which has a first-rate Gift and Pro Shop. The shop has a sizeable array of gear, larger than found in some fly shops I have visited. You will find a good selection of hats, technical outer wear and sunglasses. The Pro Shop is fully stocked with quality fly gear including Sage rods, Tibor reels, SA fly lines and a excellent selection of flies and terminal tackle. If you forget anything at home, don’t worry, you’ll find it here.  And just in case, they do have gear for rent.

The boatmen carted our luggage up to our comfortable little bungalow. During the short stroll to our room we admired the mature well-tended landscaping and caught a glimpse of curly-tailed lizards scurrying about and resident birds, some of which you will not find any place else.  The air-conditioned one-bedroom cottages are fitted with two full beds, a refrigerator, coffee maker, walk-in closet and a private bathroom. Each has a front porch has a southern exposure overlooking a shallow bonefish flat on the flipside of the island. The rooms are conveniently situated equidistant from the clubhouse, welcome center and docks.

If you prefer, comfortable private houses with multiple bedrooms are available if you want more room and privacy, or if you are traveling with your family or close friends. These homes are spacious and include full kitchens, dining areas, living rooms, and beach-front verandas. The folks at Leisure Time Travel  can help you choose from a variety of guests house options to suit your parties needs!

After we unpacked and freshened up a bit we ambled over to the Clubhouse which is the main gathering place at Deep Water Cay.

Happy hour was underway. An appetizer of conch fritters accompanied our drinks. We chatted with some of the folks who had been out on the water that day and cheerfully shared their adventures. One young couple had a fantastic time; in addition to catching many bonefish, the wife hooked and landed a very nice permit. They plugged their camera into a flat screen TV mounted above the bar so everyone could see their pictures onscreen. Nice touch! Dining is excellent at Deep Water Cay Club

The dining is impressive. The tables are attractively set with white linen tablecloths, beautiful bouquets of flowers decorate each table and diners are pampered with attentive service. You will enjoy favorite island dishes and an ample supply of fresh locally caught seafood, including fresh fish, conch and lobster. Everyone seems to loves the dining style and ambience in the lodge.

There are numerous other amenities to enjoy onsite including a billiard room, game room, fly tying area, gym and infinity pool. Adjoining the club house is the poolside Barracuda Grill overlooking the water. The activity list is long and includes nature walks, bicycling, tennis, boat tours, deep sea fishing, kayaking, paddle boards, diving, snorkeling or just hanging out under an umbrella at one of the small beaches. Wireless internet is available.

You will find a Deep Water Cay Club video here.

Ok, enough said; Let’s get to the fishing! If there is a heaven for fishermen, this pristine piece of Bahamian paradise is it.

Scroll down to the next post to read part two or click here

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

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

For package rates click here.

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

Leisure Time Travel Inc. 531 N. Citrus Avenue Crystal River, Florida 34428

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

All Photgraphs by Edward R. Johnston

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

The Welcome Center at Deep Water Cay Club

 

Deep Water Cay – Fishing at Deep Water Cay Club

Deep Water Cay Club – Fly Fishing Paradise Found!

Part Two – If you missed part one click here

Ok, enough said; Let’s get to the fishing! If there is a heaven for fishermen, this pristine piece of Bahamian paradise is it. World class bone fishing on the east end of Grand Bahama Island at Deep Water Cay. Hundreds of square miles of pristine bonefish flats.  It just doesn’t get any better than this. If you are interested in bonefishing at Deep Water Cay Club please read on!

The floating Dock at Deep Water Cay Club

There are some lodges that you may visit in the Bahamas with pleasant locations but you still have to get in the truck and trailer the boat 20-30 minutes to get to your boat ramp. One of the nice things about Deep Water Cay Club is that your room is adjacent to the dock so you can realize a lot more fishing time.

The folks at Deep Water Cay claim they have over 250 square miles of flats to fish. Actually that’s where they stopped measuring. If you have studied a map of the east end of Grand Bahama Island you will realize it would takes you weeks of fishing just to explore the area.

Most of your fishing will be from the boat over turtle grass and patchy bottom flats, but there are plenty of places to wade if that’s what you wish to do. The flats that you’ll wade are hard-packed sand with just a little turtle grass on it, and the bones are easier to spot. Deep Water Cay Club- Deep Water Cay's Hells Bay skiff

Around here, they have two tides depending on which side of the island you are on, so you will always find a good place to fish. However, Deep Water Cay’s  guides know the area thoroughly, so this really isn’t an issue. They understand the intricacies of the tides and the way fish behave depending on the water level, therefore, the guides will automatically take you to the right place for the most favorable conditions.

The Deep Water Cay’s fleet of Hell Bay flats’ skiffs is about as good as it gets. The Lodge has five of the Hell Bay Marquesa skiffs , which measure out at 17’-11” and draw about seven inches of water and five of the Hell Bay Professional skiffs which measure out at 17’-8” and draw about five inches of water (mol). Although the boats seem to be about the same size they are not the same.

The owners deliberately purchased two sets of flats skiffs for slightly different fishing situations. The Marquesa is built for a slightly larger engine and is a little wider in the beam and handles rough runs in a chop a little better. The Professional is a lighter craft and built for a shallower draft which allows you to get into skinnier water.

All the comfortable boats are fitted with quiet four-stroke engines, and provide a pleasant ride and stealth in skinny water. The Lodge will make every effort to match their top of the line boats specifically to the conditions that you will experience during your day.

I understand the Lodge kept four of their Dolphin Skiffs in reserve which they have reconditioned. Hulls have been patched; glassed, buffed and new gel coat has been applied to all the decks.

Breakfast is served in the Clubhouse, and features a variety of fresh fruits, cereals, breads, coffee and tea. Some mornings, cold cereal just won’t do and something a little substantial is in order. No problem; eggs are cooked to order and served with bacon, ham, or sausage, toast and fresh pastries. You may opt for a custom made omelet with your choice of fillings.

After a hearty breakfast of omelets and toast we grabbed our gear and headed for the dock.

On this trip we fished with Joseph Pinder Jr.  His well-know brothers Jeffery and David guided here at one time, but they have their own fishing business now in Freeport. Just to fish with one of guys is just awesome.  I feel fortunate that I have fished with all of them including their distinguished Cousin Paul Pinder on Great Abaco Island.

Joseph Pinder Jr is a friendly good-natured man. The amiable and cordial attitude seems to run in the family. Joseph helped Aaron and I stow our rods and gear and within minutes we were motoring away from the berth. Just outside the dock Joseph turned a hard right and sliped the Hell’s Bay into a wide creek mouth and then east toward the place of our pursuit.

Our first stop was Mangrove Island near Bonefish Cay. Joseph quietly poled the boat alongside a mangrove shoreline and through a maze of young mangrove shoots. In a sandy opening ahead we spied a group of bones happily feeding.  Joseph held the Hell’s Bay skiff steady.Deep Water Cay Club- Aaron with the days first bonefish

My son Aaron hooked the first fish. As always it was a spectacular scene; the bonefish blazing off in the shallow water to the sound of a screaming fly reel and fly line ripping through the water. Nice!

Within an hour or so, Aaron and I land half a dozen decent bonefish alongside the mangrove edge.

A Super King Air had departed the Deep Water Cay airstrip and was on a long low pass and banked hard our way, probably on its way back to the States. The twin-turboprops were at full throttle. The high-pitched sound of all that horsepower was tremendous. The fish didn’t seem to mind the shrill. The plane swiftly went to altitude and quickly faded from sight. The awe-inspiring sight of machinery and technology never ceases to amaze me.

After hearing about the young lady catching the permit and seeing the proof by way of photo’s the evening before, our curiosity was fired up and we were eager to take a look. Aaron has caught several permit and I more than a hundred with a fly, but only two in the Bahamas. The Bahamian permit are just a lot finickier and harder to catch than those of the Yucatan or Belize.

Joseph cranked up the four-stroke and we headed out towards Burroughs and Red Shank Key to look for permit. We were running across a beautiful grass flat with an occasional deep sandy hole,  and then all of a sudden we ran across a huge swirling mass of bonefish curled up in one of the holes. The gathering of fish didn’t spook. Aaron made a cast and easily caught one. After a careful release we continued on our way as that’s not our preferred way to capture bonefish.

I’ll make a long story very short. We chased permit for several hours but could not get them to partake in our offerings. They may have fancied a real crab, but a crab fly and various other crustacean imitations they would not eat. Deep Water Cay Club- Joseph Pinder

We decided to take a break. Joseph motored over to Burroughs Key and dropped the engine’s skeg into the sand to hold the boat. The ladies in the kitchen had taken good care of us with a nice picnic lunch and cool drinks. Afterward we waded for a while. A line of several barracudas staked out the flat just beyond us waiting for an easy meal for which we did not help provide.

We didn’t venture far that afternoon as we saw bonefish at nearly every place we went. At one time in mid-afternoon we were on a huge sand flat with masses bonefish in virtually every direction with their translucent tails happily flickering in the afternoon sun. We jumped out of the boat, waded and hooked a few.

We were poling out and had a final shot at another rouge permit, but no luck. Personally I would really like to spend some more time down there and try and figure those permit out. Without exaggeration, it was a spectacular day of fishing. It just doesn’t get any better than this. 

When you visit Deep Water Cay you will have many opportunities. However, it goes without saying, the number of fish you can expect to catch at any time is directly related to your skill as an angler. The excitement of the hunt and of watching the fish recognize and gobble up your fly is about as good as it gets. It’s pretty hard not to like them.

To preserve the sport it is beneficial to properly handle and release a bonefish.  Be careful when you are handling the fish and dislodging the hook. Barbless hooks are helpful.The wash down tub for fly rods at Deep Water Cay Club

The ever present sharks and barracudas are always on the prowl for an unlucky bonefish.  The speed of the bonefish is amazing, but the sharks and cudas stalk and occasionally hunt them down. A word to the wise: fighting a fish to exhaustion does not help much.

Back at the dock there is a good wash down area to clean your rods. Once that task is taken care of there is general migration by many anglers to grab a seat at the Tiki Bar overlooking the harbor. The Tiki Bar is always well-stocked with cool drinks, Bahamian beers and cocktails to quench your thirst, and some delicious appetizers which will tide you over until dinnertime.

Deep Water Cay is 105 miles east of Miami, 131 miles from Palm Beach and 94 miles from Ft. Lauderdale, on a private island just off the east end of Grand Bahama Island.

You will find a Deep Water Cay Club video here.

At Deep Water Cay Club you can count on comfortable and well appointed accommodations, excellent cuisine, first-class boats, world-class guides, and a staff dedicated to providing superb service and attention to detail. If you have been there then you know already, if you haven’t been, then go now!

Just remember, Edward Johnston told you so……….Book now for the rest of this year and/or reserve your spot in 2013. Please feel free to call us with any questions you may have.

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

Fishing trips and vacation packages for any length of time can be arranged. All trips are completely tailored to fits your requirements. For package rates click here.

We’ll let you know how South Beach was in another story.

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

Leisure Time Travel Inc.
531 N. Citrus Avenue
Crystal River, Florida 34428

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

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

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

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

Fishing with the Pinder Brothersat Grand Bahama Bonefishing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dolphin skiff at Grand Bahama Bonefishing - Freeport Grand Bahama Island

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For hotel package rates click here.

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

For additional photographs click here

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

Edward Johnston

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

Leisure Time Travel Inc.

531 N. Citrus Ave.

Crystal River, Florida 34428

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

 Pinders Brothers Bonefishing : Grand Bahama Bonefishing

All Photgraphs by Edward R. Johnston

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

Isla Blanca Fishing – Report on Isla Blanca

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

Isla Blanca Fishing

The dock at Isla Blanca

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

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

Isla Blanca Fishing

Sea Adventures Hotel : Isla Blanca

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

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

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

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

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

Isla Blanca Lodge

Two of three pangas at Isla Blanca Fishing

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

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

Isla Blanca Fishing

Edward Johnston with a juvenile Isla Blanca tarpon

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

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

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

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

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

Leisure Time Travel, Inc : Edward R. Johnston

 

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

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

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

 For hotel package rates click here.

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

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

Edward Johnston

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

Leisure Time Travel Inc.

531 N. Citrus Ave.

Crystal River, Florida 34428

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

 

All Photgraphs by Edward R. Johnston

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

 

Isla Blanca Lodge

A fine juvenile tarpon up close

Tarpon Cay Lodge Report – Rio Lagartos Estuary – Yucatan

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

Tarpon Cay Lodge

Marco casting at a tarpon along a magrove shorline

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

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

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

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

Tarpon Cay Lodge

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tarpon Cay Lodge

Mangroves in the northern Yucatan – look close

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

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

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

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

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

Tarpon Cay Lodge

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Edward Johnston 

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

Leisure Time Travel Inc.

531 N. Citrus Ave.

Crystal River, Florida 34428

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

 

All Photgraphs by Edward R. Johnston

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

San Felipe

View SW from Hotel San Felipe

Isla del Sabalo Lodge Report – Campeche Mexico

This is our latest onsite report for Isla del Sabalo Lodge which is located in a very remote region of northern Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula. The fishery in this region offers incredible opportunities for tarpon. If you are interested in tarpon fishing Isla del Sabalo Lodge in the Yucatan peninsula near Campeche Mexico read on:

A fine Campeche tarpon, up close.

It’s just after dawn and I’m sitting under a thatch-roofed palapa looking out onto the calm-as-glass water in a fishing village just north of the town of Campeche Mexico. After breakfast we will load up the van and make the drive back to the International Airport.

It does not take long for your senses to adjust to the solitude and the vast open spaces of the northern Yucatan. The sky so blue, layers of clouds moving different speeds, and the clear waters carve a setting unlike any you have set eyes on.

I have enjoyed a wonderful week of tarpon fishing here and I am reflecting on the things I have seen, the fine people I have met and of course the great fishing.

Isla del Sabalo until recently wasn’t on the chart of many anglers. The lodge is located in a remote region on the western side of the Yucatan Peninsula north of Campeche.

The tall thick mangrove forests found here is reminiscent of the heart of the Florida Everglades. And like the Everglades, there are many pristine rivers flowing out of the mangrove jungle.  It’s a beautiful area with abundant wildlife. You will find many species of birds, turtles, fish, two species of crocodiles, but most importantly, the area is home to lots of small tarpon.

Marco and Edward with a double hook-up to tarpon.

The fertile waters of Mexico’s northern Yucatan Peninsula are one of the most productive juvenile tarpon fisheries on the planet and the local waters here are abundant with tarpon. The grass flats are crystal clear and will remind the seasoned angler of the classic tarpon fishing at Homosassa or perhaps places in the Florida Keys or Biscayne Bay. The peak season at Isla del Sabalo is like most other tarpon destinations is May through August, although there is a good tarpon fishery in the many unspoiled rivers here year-round.

Each morning we would turn out of bed before sunrise. Hot coffee and a Mexican breakfast would be waiting for us in the main dining palapa.  After breakfast we would load our fishing gear into the spacious 18 foot panga’s and make the run to the prime fishing zone. We did not have any trouble finding the fish. Each morning the “poons” were there, rolling, jumping and smashing bait fish.

An 8 or 9 weight fly rod is all you need here and the tarpon are eager to consume a well-presented fly. The great thing about this vast undisturbed fishery is that you should have plenty of opportunities to hook fish.

 

Marco and Edward with a fine pair of tarpon

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

The accommodations at Isla del Sabalo are situated on the beach facing the Gulf of Mexico. The clean guest rooms are comfortable and well appointed with plenty of room for two guests sharing a cabin. There is a full private bath with shower and hot and cold water.

Housekeeping service cleans the room daily and replaces towels and bottled drinking water.

If you have been there then you know already, if you haven’t been, then go now! Just remember, Edward Johnston told you so……….Book now for the rest of this year and/or reserve your spot in 2013. Call us now at 800-771-2202 or 352-795-3474.

***

Fly-fishing the Yucatan for tarpon is as good as it gets.  The rate for a 7N/6D combo package is $3,295.00 per angler (double occupancy). This will include all transfers in a new air-conditioned Ford Super Van (seats eight including our bilingual host and driver), Hotel accommodations, meals and guided fishing.  Not included is airfare to Cancun, alcoholic beverages, and tips for the guide and staff.

Additional rate information is located here:

Please feel free to call us with any questions you may have.

Edward Johnston

 

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

Leisure Time Travel Inc.

531 N. Citrus Ave.

Crystal River, Florida 34428

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

All Photgraphs by Edward R. Johnston

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

Cenote near Isla del Sabalo

Cenote near Isla del Sabalo – I was informed by my guide that this particular cenote drains directly into one of the little creeks where we fished.

 

 

A Week at Casa Blanca Lodge

Edward Johnston, of Leisure Time Travel, has visited the Ascension Bay area in the Yucatan peninsula twenty-nine times in the past twenty years and has caught 80 permit with a fly rod at Ascension Bay. Edward Johnston is very familiar with Casa Blanca, Pesca Maya and Grand Slam Deluxe Fly Fishing Lodge which are located at Ascension Bay, and Playa Blanca and Casa Redonda Suites, both which access Ascension Bay and the remote Espiritu Santo Bay.

At Leisure Time Travel, we’re committed to seeing that our anglers are in the right place, at the right time, on their dream fish. Why take chances with your precious time? We’ve been there numerous times. There is no substitute for first-hand experience.

 The folks at Casa Blanca as always were great. Our story below:

Casa Blanca Lodge Dolphin Super Skiff

Casa Blanca Lodge Dolphin Super Skiff ready to go fishing

Ascension Bay offers the angler one of the best places in the world to catch a permit on the fly and is one of the finest saltwater flats’ fisheries in the world. Ascension Bay has a rare combination of environmental ingredients which create the ideal foundations for an abundance of wildlife. The flats of Ascension Bay are surrounded by a series of small freshwater springs and creeks which feed the brackish mangrove estuaries. These areas are used as feeding grounds for flats and reef species. Along the coast, a complex chain of submerged islands and little cays provide the ideal habitat for a shallow-water coral ecosystem. The coral heads absorb the brunt of the pounding waves, which creates a tranquil setting in the flats even if the outside ocean is rough. The crystal clear waters offer Permit, Bonefish, Tarpon, Snook, and a host of other species.

Ms. Noini with a nice Ascesnion Bay permit

Our group “Team Homosassa”, led by Edward Johnston of Leisure Time Travel visited Casa Blanca at Ascension Bay during the month of November a few years ago. Despite the fact that three days of fishing were hampered by strong northeast winds and a cold front “Team Homosassa” caught thirty very large permit

THE STORY
 

ARRIVAL DAY – The undulating coast line of the Yucatan peninsula became visible from about 100 miles out in the Boeing 757.  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.

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 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 Caravan 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 November day was great. The sky was clear and the weather was very nice with warm temperatures and a prevailing wind. Our group caught eleven 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 spread over 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 that night!

DAY 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 another whopper permit was approximately 40 pounds. An exceptionally good day.

Phil Clark and Tomas with a nice Ascension Bay permit

Phil Clark and Tomas with a nice Ascension Bay permit

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.

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.

We woulkd like to arrange your next trip to Casa Blanca, Playa Blanca or one of the other fine lodges at Ascension or Espiritu Santo Bay. 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 © 2012 Edward R. Johnston & Leisure Time Travel, Inc. 1996-2012

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

Edward Johnston of Leisure Time Travel recently visited the new Black Fly Bonefish Club on Abaco Island Bahamas We enjoyed fly fishing at Abaco Island, Moore’s Island, the Marls of Abaco and Sandy Point. The folks at Black Fly Lodge were great. Our story below:

Black Fly Lodge Abaco Island Bahamas

Black Fly Bonefish Club – Searching for permit at Moore

Waiting for us at the Marsh Harbor airport was Captain Clint Kemp, one of the proprietors of the Black Fly Bonefish Club, also known as the Black Fly Lodge. Clint is a native Bahamian and can trace his family’s Abaco Island roots back the 1700’s. Clint is the type of guy who makes you feel right at ease in his presence, comparable to being reacquainted with an old fishing buddy. Clint is as good at what he does as anyone I’ve ever met and is versed on many subjects, whether it is Wall Street finance, Bahamian history, politics in the Bahamas or the US, and especially fishing and fly tying. And, if Clint ever stops running his new lodge or guiding, he can be a good chef.

We found ice cold Mojitos waiting for us at the lodge expertly prepared Clints staff. A perfect start to our fishing trip on Abaco Island! We found Clint to have that rare combination of grace and knowledge which are the essence of a fine host anywhere in the world.  Clint Kemp,  may be the best Bahamian cook in the Bahamas. The atmosphere, the camaraderie and the great cuisine at Black Fly Lodge are as good as the fishing.

Black Fly Bonefish Club - dinner at Black Fly Lodge

Black Fly Bonefish Club – dinner at Black Fly Lodge

For the time being, home base is an attractive beach house adjacent to Schooner Bay overlooking a beautiful beach and the Atlantic Ocean. Located at the southern end of Great Abaco Island halfway between Marsh Harbor and Sandy Point, this unique beach house is perfectly located to fish some of Abaco’s finest flats.The Beach House is comfortable and very inviting. The spacious home can accommodate six anglers very comfortably in four bedrooms, sharing three baths. There is a large great room, dining room area, living room, lots of porch and deck area, full bar and a fully equipped fly tying table. The lodge has telephone and internet access and provides maid and laundry service.

For breakfast you will have a assortment of eggs, egg omelets, pancakes, fresh fruit, breads et cetera. For dinner you can expect a variety of beautifully prepared Bahamian and American specialties including  fish, lobster, conch, and of course steak. Your cooler lunch will be a pleasure as well, with perhaps a lobster wrap, conch and/or lobster salad or a variety of sandwiches made on homemade bread.

After a day on the water a variety of appetizers are provided including thin sliced fresh Conch Ceviche marinated in sour orange and pepper, mixed with onion, peppers, and pickled ginger, conch fritters, lobster fritters and more.

During our three-day visit we dined like landed gentry.  Surf and Turf Tenderloin with basil butter lobster served on spinach smashed potatoes, a Steamed Filet of Hog Snapper with locally grown vegetables served over saffron rice with grilled asparagus, and the last evening a Roasted Pork Tenderloin with silky saffron potatoes with a roasted red pepper and garlic sauce.

For desert there was a Guava Cobbler with rum butter sauce, a homemade Aztec chocolate ice cream with double chocolate chip brownies, and the last evening a homemade coconut sorbet with grilled pineapple and fresh mint garnish.

Oh…..and did I say open bar? The lodge includes a premium selection of liquor, excellent red and white wine, beer, juices, sodas and other appropriate mixers and garnishes for your pleasure. Help yourself as all drinks are included during your visit.

Black Fly Bonefish Lodge

Black Fly Bonefish Lodge – Fishing at Moore’s Island

As Captain Clint Kemp likes to say “You can’t control the fishing, but you certainly can control the food”. He does!

For the non-fishing guest there is plenty to do. Around the lodge, let’s start with exploring the local beaches, investigating the famous blue holes, bicycling around the Abaco pine forest, kayaking the tidal marshes or searching for the elusive Abaco parrot. Or take the thirty minute drive into Marsh Harbor and shop, dine at one of the fine restaurants, a day of golf or perhaps take a day trip to the picturesque Elbow Cay and Historic Hope Town where you can see the last operational kerosene-fueled lighthouses in the world.

Ok fishing fans. There will not be any superfluous embellishment or useless rhetoric for this new lodge’s description of the fishing. Here are the facts.

The lodge fishing director and our guide for the trip was Captain Paul Pinder. Paul was born and raised on Abaco and knows the Island like the back of his hand. Paul’s vast knowledge of the fishery and good nature make for a pleasant day on the water. In short, Paul is one of the most knowledgeable guides we’ve fished with. Paul is organized and focused on maximizing productive fishing time. And for those of you who have fished around the Bahamas, the Pinder name is synonymous with great guides. You may have heard of David, Jeffery and Joseph Pinder, well Paul is their first cousin.

Southern Abaco has been fished lightly in the past. The new Black Fly Lodge is in the right place at the right time, located on the threshold of some of the most pristine bonefish flats in all of the Bahamas.

The Black Fly Lodge is currently using two amply powered 21’ Hewes Redfishers and two 16’ Beavertail skiffs all of which are trailered to various nearby boat ramps. The house ramp at Crossing Rocks is just a few minutes away. The longest haul is to Sandy Point and is approximately twenty-five minutes.

Black Fly Bonefish Lodge - Black Fly Lodge boat

Black Fly Lodge Hewes boat

Most of the flats close to Abaco Island are protected by numerous outlying cayes and small islands. This is a visual fishery and these island flats can be fished while wading or fished from the boat. Plenty of wading opportunities exist on white sand bottom. During windy days, you can expect to fish the coves and inland lagoons. These shallow flats are protected and ideal for stalking tailing fish and bones pushing water. When the weather is settled, the flats close to Moore’s Island and Sandy Point’s Cross Harbor lagoon are protected by coral reefs, resulting in calmer, clear waters.

The Black Fly Bonefish Club has divided lower Abaco Island into six distinct zones, or fishing grounds. Over the years, I have had the opportunity to fish all these areas with the exception of the Blue water out of Schooner Harbor, although I have fished offshore farther up the island.

Edward Johnston at Black Fly Bonefish Lodge

Edward Johnston at Black Fly Bonefish Lodge

Each of these zones are large enough to spend an entire day or more. In fact it will take you several days in each area to thoroughly cover it with the exception of the hundreds of square miles of the Marls which will take you a very long time to explore. Fishing on Abaco is exciting and life plays out intensely on the flats.  Every day is different. We fished three of these zones on this trip.

The first day we fished Moore’s Island.  We boarded the big Hewes Redfishers and after a brief  thirty minute ride we were there. A number of nice bonefish were caught in the morning and we had several good shots at permit. It was exciting to see the permit and try to feed them. The permit on this day were picky eaters which does not surprise me as all permit are picky eaters. We just did not have the fly that they wished to eat. I have caught 106 permit on the fly to date so I am familiar as how to feed them. We just need a little time to figure out what the Moore’s Island permit would like to consume (and a reason to return). We then checked out a few spots where Paul Pinder had seen migratory tarpon occasionally in the summer months. The tarpon were not around on this day. To finish our time Captain Paul poled the boat along the eastern shore of the main island looking for bonefish and we did find a few. When our time was up, Paul cranked up the engine and popped the caps on a couple of bottles of Kalik and we were on our way back to the lodge. A nice finish to a beautiful fishing day.

Black Fly Lodge

Black Fly Lodge overlooking the Marls of Abaco Island

Second day we launched from the Schooner Bay ramp and fished the channel leading out to open water for an hour or so. We then went northwest eventually to Cornwall Point and within sight of Big Mangrove Cay, stopping at a few spots along the way. We had several good shots at permit and caught some bonefish in the maze of mangrove channels. This area of the Marls does not see much angling pressure, so the bonefish remain plentiful on these expansive flats.

On the third day  we launched from Sandy Point. We fished Cross Harbor point back along the flat towards Blackwood Point until we encountered the blue water, and then Rock Point to Galliot Point.  The Cross Harbor bay, is as beautiful and flat as you will find anywhere in the Caribbean. And along with Moore’s Island, Cross Harbor bay is one of the few places in the Bahamas with a predictable Permit fishery. We caught several bonefish early and then spent the remaining time looking for permit. We had numerous shots at permit throughout the day and came very close ” twice” to an interested fish. Occasionally a permit will just smash your fly. This day we were ignored, however, we will return and try again.

Location and Getting There:The Abacos are a 130 mile crescent shaped string of Bahamian islands located approximately 200 miles east of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and 75 miles northeast of Nassau Bahamas. With nearly 50 square miles of landmass, Abaco is the second largest island in the Bahamas. The Abaco Islands are rich with bird life and several areas have been set aside as preserves. The interior of the island is lush with Bahamian pine trees and here you will find the habitat of the Abaco parrot. Offshore, Abaco is also known for its elkhorn and staghorn coral reefs.

Marsh Harbour is the principal town and hub of the island and is only a 30 minute drive from the lodge.

Abaco Island has direct flights from Florida to Marsh Harbour. It is also possible to fly via Nassau, however a direct flight from Florida is by far the easiest.

For rates at Black Fly Bonefish Club click here.

The future:

On the main land of Abaco Island there is a place where the land narrows and the blue water of the Atlantic on the East and the vast flats on the west are only separated by a half a mile of pine forest, locals call it the “neck” of Abaco. Here you will find the new harbour side town of Schooner Bay. The project is situated on 330 acre parcel of land and will occupy 220 of those acres. The remaining acreage will be preserved as common green space which will only include native trees, indigenous flora and sand dunes. A lot of thought has gone into this development as it is being built to exact environmental and sustainable standards.

The new Black Fly Lodge at Schooner Bay Bahamas

The new Black Fly Lodge at Schooner Bay Bahamas

As of writing, Black Fly Lodge has a new inn under construction in the new Schooner Bay development and completion date is scheduled for March 2013. Black Fly Lodge will sit at the harbors edge where guest will enjoy the beauty and community of the surrounding environment. The lodge will be an intimate two story veranda house with cozy living room, bar and open family style kitchen/dining room on the first floor. On the second floor there will be eight bedroom suits that open to a second floor veranda.

The lodge plans to add a new fleet of boats including Hells Bay skiffs for the inland areas and Action Craft for the run out to Moore’s Island and South of Sandy Point. An offshore boat is in the plans as well.

 If you have been there then you know already, if you haven’t been, then go now! Just remember, Edward Johnston at Leisure Time Travel told you so……….Book now for the rest of this year and/or reserve your spot at the new Lodge in 2013. Call us at 800-771-2202 or email us.

 

Black FLy Lodge Abaco Island Bahamas

 

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

Leisure Time Travel Inc.

531 N. Citrus Ave. Crystal River, Florida 34428

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

All Photographs by Edward R. Johnston

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

 

 

 

 

Spotlight on Belize River Lodge

Belize River Lodge

Belize River Lodge will be celebrating its 52ndbirthday this year.  Previously known as Barothy’s Caribbean Lodge, it was the first of three lodges built in Belize in the early 1960′s by the late Vic Barothy. In late 1986, current owners Mike & Marguerite, bought the lodge and renamed it Belize River Lodge.  Mike and Marguerite are both Belize natives with very prominent families in Belize. The husband and wife team were not new at managing lodges when they purchased Belize River Lodge. Their combined experience and talents make Belize River Lodge what it is today. When you choose to stay at Belize River Lodge you are getting more than just another fishing trip. You will receive the all star treatment from two of the most experienced host in Belize: Mike Heusner and Marguerite Miles.

Mike Heusner grew up in Belize between Belize City and Gales Point. As a young boy Mike learned and loved the sport of fishing. In 1966, he caught his first snook. The 12lb snook still hangs in the lodge today for all the visitors to see. Mike attended college in California where he studied environmental management. After college, Mike returned home to Belize. After his return he managed two different lodges before going into partnership with Maguerite who would later purchase Belize River Lodge. Mike is very active in several different organizations in Belize including Belize Audubon Society, Belize Chamber of Commerce and is a founding board member of Belize Tourism Industry Association.

Belize River Lodge

Your host at Belize River Lodge Mike Heusner & Marguerite Miles, welcome you to their Lodge and home.

Marguerite Miles, like Mike, is no stranger to Belize. She also spent her childhood days growing up in Belize. As a child she spent most of her days doing what kids do best, exploring and just “being a kid”. Swimming, fishing and riding her bike around the peaceful streets of Belize are what Marguerite enjoyed most. At the age of 12, Marguerite moved to Honduras with her family. Moving to a new country gave her a taste of what other ways of life where like and a great appreciation for travel.  A few years later Marguerite and her family returned to Belize so she could finish her schooling. After graduating she traveled to Mexico. During her stay in Mexico she was able to improve on her Spanish speaking skills. Marguerite took advantage of the opportunity to further her education by attending college in Michigan. Later a relocation to Pennsylvania was the last move for Marguerite until she returned back home to Belize almost 14 years later. After her return to Belize she worked alongside Mike Heusner managing Keller’s Caribean Sports.  Together Mike and Marguerite went on to manage another lodge in Belize until their return to Barothy’s Caribbean Lodge, which they would purchase in 1986 renaming it Belize River Lodge.

The Blue Yonder

Belize River Lodge has always offered traditional skiff fishing form the lodge. Most of your fishing day is spent checking out many different places, hunting or casting to fish. The main areas to fish from the lodge are the flats, channels, and mangrove islands near the Belize River, Sibun River, Manatee River, Black Creek, and several other creeks & lagoons.

Belize River Lodge also offers fishing cruises. The mother ship cruises are similar to the Lodge’s day except fishing can start earlier, returning to the yacht for breakfast and then going out to fish again until lunch, take a quick nap and go out fishing again until dark. You can choose your own fishing schedule. The mother ship is all inclusive and come with their own crew, Captain, guides, chef and flat skiffs. The air-conditioned vessel has two bedrooms and two bathrooms with hot and cold fresh water showers. The fishing cruise on the yacht will allow you to fish remote mangrove islands and cays which are not accessible from a land base.

In 2011 Mike and Marguerite added another option for anglers to enjoy Belize. They purchased a private resort on Long Caye

Long Caye Island Resort

naming it Long Caye Island Resort. The resort is a three bedroom double occupancy cottage that can accommodate groups up to six people. While staying at Long Caye Island Resort you will receive all the Belizian hospitality you have come to know and love about Belize River Lodge. You can choose your own fishing schedule during your stay here. Leave early to start your fishing day, return back to the resort for lunch, and then go out fishing again! You may choose to fish all day or half day. Maybe you would like to just fish right from the beach in front of the lodge. The choice is yours.

After 52 years the lodge still operates the same way it did back then, catering to anglers form all over making each fishing trip a success keeping the anglers coming back year after year.

Call Edward Johnston of Leisure Time Travel, Inc. for more details.

Turneffe Flats Lodge Last Minute Deal

Turneffe Flats, Turneffe Atoll. Belize

Turneffe Flats

Turneffe Flats Lodge celebrated their 30thanniversary this year. With the beach front  accommodations, excellent service and world known fishing programs, it’s no wonder after 30 years Turneffe Flats still remains one of Belize’s best fishing lodges. They are always working hard to make their customer have the best experience possible.  In September of this year, Turneffe Flats moved their Belize City operations to the Radisson Hotel Marina. This move will provide our customers with a much nicer experience upon arrival in Belize City. This hotel has two nice restaurants, a bar, and a coffee shop, just to name a few items , to keep you busy while you are waiting for your boat to arrive to take you to the lodge. [Read more…]