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Lonnie Utah
Citadel Fan
Utah!
Member since Jul 2012
11142 posts

Salt Water Fly Fishers: Bonefishing question??
So right before Christmas I had a good friend call and say that they had been in the doc because of some stomach trouble. Long story short, last week they got a stage 4 pancreatic cancer diagnosis with 12-24 months timeline. My buddy is a wintertime ski instructor and summer time fly fishing guide on the Green River here.

During the course of several conversations, one thing he mentioned is that his bucket list is not very long, but he would like to catch a bonefish if he could. My wife and I were sitting on the couch last night watching the game and decided to see if we could make it happen for him. I don't know if we'll be able to swing it, but I figured I'd ask. We've already reached out to several guide services and we are mainly targeting Andros in the Bahamas, Belize and the Keys. There are advantages and disadvantages to each of them. Obviously a lot of this depends on his ability to travel, treatment schedule (it will be very limited) and those sorts of logistical things.

Anybody with real world experience that they would like to add? We hatched this plan less than a day ago, but I think we are pretty determined to make it happen (if my buddy is game). We have not shared the idea with him yet. There are two types of trips we would consider. A trip with the 4 of us (him, me, my wife and kid) and or a 2 person "boys" trip.

Well that's about it. Any advice you'd like to provide will be appreciated. Thank you so much for listening.
This post was edited on 1/12 at 12:24 pm


Saskwatch
Ole Miss Fan
Member since Feb 2016
9254 posts

re: Salt Water Fly Fishers: Bonefishing question??
I have fished bonefish in Turks & Caicos and Bahamas.

Turks would be more family friendly (Capt. Will Vallely @ Bonefish Unlimited). More lodges and DIY opportunity in Bahamas. Cuba would also be neat. If it's bucketlist and funds aren't the deciding factor I would book a lodge in Bahamas and get as much casting in as you can until then. Lodges will have nicer gear if you don't bring your own. You can go wild on the fly selection but most of the bonefish were caught on crazy charlies.

Here's a link from Yellow Dog (destination fly fishing) with some Bahamas info. Bahamas - Lodges

You can absolutely make Bahamas work within any budget.

This post was edited on 1/12 at 12:44 pm


highcotton2
Auburn Fan
Alabama
Member since Feb 2010
7162 posts

re: Salt Water Fly Fishers: Bonefishing question??
Great Exuma has some excellent Bonefishing.


Saskwatch
Ole Miss Fan
Member since Feb 2016
9254 posts

re: Salt Water Fly Fishers: Bonefishing question??
quote:

Great Exuma has some excellent Bonefishing.


It does. Great island. We had to contend with lemon sharks picking off our bonefish when we went.


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Lonnie Utah
Citadel Fan
Utah!
Member since Jul 2012
11142 posts

re: Salt Water Fly Fishers: Bonefishing question??
quote:

Here's a link from Yellow Dog (destination fly fishing) with some Bahamas info. Bahamas - Lodges



Thx Saskwatch. My wife has already spoken with them.
This post was edited on 1/12 at 12:47 pm


Saskwatch
Ole Miss Fan
Member since Feb 2016
9254 posts

re: Salt Water Fly Fishers: Bonefishing question??
quote:

My wife has already spoken with them


You and your buddy can absolutely get this done depending on his pain level and treatment schedule. If you book soon there may be a chance to grab a steal on pricing as all the places down there are trying to bounce back from COVID closures.

If it were me I think I'd make it a trip between with just the two of you considering the circumstances. You can only fit 2 per skiff which would leave some back on land. Maybe catch a rain check with the boy and wife? Good excuse to go a second time. Fishing the flats is a beautiful experience.
This post was edited on 1/12 at 12:53 pm


Lonnie Utah
Citadel Fan
Utah!
Member since Jul 2012
11142 posts

re: Salt Water Fly Fishers: Bonefishing question??
Thanks again Saskwatch.

While I've got tons of freshwater gear, I'm not equipped for the salt. What would be your recs on that front?

The guy she spoke with (Doug?) said that give the world situation right now, you can book something within a month (or less right now) and have spaces.
This post was edited on 1/12 at 12:54 pm


Saskwatch
Ole Miss Fan
Member since Feb 2016
9254 posts

re: Salt Water Fly Fishers: Bonefishing question??
Check Ebay and buy lightly used.

8 weight rod and reel with a weight forward line (Scientific Anger Grand Slam, Orvis Ignitor, Royal Wulff Bermuda Triangle Taper).

FWIW I have an Orvis Recon rod and Orvis Mirage reel. Found rod, reel and fly line on Ebay. I think all together it was less than $500 which is about 1/2 of what that all would cost new.

If you want to spend more I would look at Sage and Scott for rods and Nautilus for reels.

Haven't seen BlueMoons post in a while but he would be the go to Outdoor Board Bonefish guy.
This post was edited on 1/12 at 1:02 pm


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bluemoons
New Orleans Saints Fan
the marsh
Member since Oct 2012
4512 posts

re: Salt Water Fly Fishers: Bonefishing question??
Still here. Just mostly lurking these days, ha.

I'm not a bonefish pro, I spend a good bit of time in the Bahamas each year bonefishing. 2020 was an exception because of obvious reasons, but we are currently planning a spring trip. I'm happy to answer any questions you may have. Baseline thoughts from your post:

1. Considering your circumstances and based upon those destinations, I would try to book with a lodge on Andros. Bairs Lodge is great. This would give you and your buddy a lot of skiff time together and get him the most shots at bonefish. I'm a DIY guy and have not fished with a guided outfit in the Bahamas, but if I were to book with one, I would go with Bairs Lodge. This would be a no bull shite fishing trip with lots of opportunities at fish (ideally), and you would hopefully get to explore the west side of Andros which is absolutely insane bonefish habitat. Depending on the time of year, you may have shots at permit and tarpon. There are plenty of barracuda too. Full disclosure, most of my trips are "family" oriented trips, so I can offer some insight there as well as to location and planning if that's the way you want to go.

2. I would recommend the Bahamas over the Keys or Belize. The Keys are definitely easier to get to and you will catch bigger fish there on average, but the bonefishing in the Bahamas will give you guys the feeling that you are much further away than you actually are. You should also have a better chance at much higher numbers of fish. I have never been to Belize, but it is pretty well-accepted in the flats fishing world that while there are a lot of bonefish there, they are small.

3. Avoid booking a trip during peak hurricane season, which is July-October in the Bahamas. June is fine, but I would avoid the southern Bahamas at this time because if you get down there on a 90+ degree week, the fishing may be tough. Bones get off the flats when the water gets too hot. This matters less fishing with a guided outfit considering you have skiff access, local knowledge, and can fish deeper water.

4. Re: Turks (and Saskwatch's good suggestion). I have some friends who have fished Turks DIY and done well. Seems to be some big fish there though I think the Bahamas probably has it on numbers. Will Vallely was the guy down there for sure, but my understanding is that he is not currently guiding down there and may not be for the foreseeable future. I'm not aware of any other outfits down there.

Happy to discuss this with you and your buddy offline if you'd like as well. Just let me know and we can get in touch.
This post was edited on 1/12 at 1:15 pm


Lonnie Utah
Citadel Fan
Utah!
Member since Jul 2012
11142 posts

re: Salt Water Fly Fishers: Bonefishing question??
Thanks Bluemoons.

The more people I talk to, the more fingers are pointing towards Andros. I think, depending on his treatment schedule, we'd be aiming for Late April/Early May.

And yes, I'd like to hear your recs on the family aspects for a trip.



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bluemoons
New Orleans Saints Fan
the marsh
Member since Oct 2012
4512 posts

re: Salt Water Fly Fishers: Bonefishing question??
April or May are great times to go down there. May can get a little bit hot the further south you go, but Andros is far enough north that I wouldn't be worried about it. Your chances for a good weather window are really good in those months, which ultimately will have a bigger impact on your fishing success (or lack thereof) than anything else.

I generally make two trips a year. One is with friends and the other is with my family. When we take the family trips, I try to plan around a neap tide with low during the day like I mentioned earlier and if possible, I like to have the low be very early in the morning right when I get there. This means the low bumps 45 minutes to an hour back each day. Considering that the majority of my fishing is around the low, this gives me the most fishing time. I normally stay in VRBO's and will try to locate one which is within walking distance of at least one fishing area or flat. This also increases fishing time because in addition to trips to other fishing areas, I'm able sneak out around the house for an hour or two while the family is hanging out at the house, napping, or whatever. Family trips normally involve 4-5 days of fishing out of 7-8 and I will try to schedule my fishing days around the best weather days where possible.

The out islands of the Bahamas are just that - out islands. You will not have the amenities that you might have on Nassau, but Nassau is kind of dirty and there's a good bit of crime. The bone fishing is also not great to put it nicely. That said, islands like Harbour Island/Eleuthera, Great Exuma, and Abaco (check into this post-Dorian) offer a lot to do besides fishing. The busier islands have towns with grocery stores, bars, and restaurants, along with collections of food shacks they call fish fries. The water in the Bahamas is really indescribably beautiful and you can book snorkeling or diving tours, rent boats, or drive around the island exploring. Plenty to do over a week's time and then some.

As far as a specific recommendation as to where to fish with a family, I'd check into Great Exuma. It's a really cool place and you can fly directly there from the states. The only "problem" with Exuma is that lack of some sort of paddle craft will greatly inhibit your access to fishing areas. We travel with inflatable paddleboards which makes this less of an issue. If this is something you're interested in, let me know and I will reach out directly to you and give you some recs on places to stay. I can also help you with some prospective areas to fish and would happily do so particularly considering your buddy's situation, but would like to keep that off the internet ya know. Keep in mind though that my thoughts and ideas involve DIY fishing. Exuma has a couple of good guides, but my experience is that they fish easily accessible DIY areas.

If I were going somewhere and the wife and kids weren't a concern, I would go to Andros. Your chances there at an incredibly successful trip are much higher than on Exuma.
This post was edited on 1/12 at 4:04 pm


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KemoSabe65
Member since Mar 2018
3534 posts
 Online 

re: Salt Water Fly Fishers: Bonefishing question??
If you can’t get this trip booked, come to LC and I will fish you and your buddy for two days for free, it means that much to me. FIL died with PC and you need to get going ASAP.


Lonnie Utah
Citadel Fan
Utah!
Member since Jul 2012
11142 posts

re: Salt Water Fly Fishers: Bonefishing question??
KemoSabe,

Thank you so much for the offer. Where is LC?

I've already had folks offer to chip in airline miles, and one of the guy I spoke with in Hawaii, while not the #1 destination right now, knows some folks with Make a wish. While they normally only deal with kids, he was going to see if they could pull some strings. I had another buddy here, who lost his mom to PC, offer to take us on his boat for Cutts as soon as ice off happens.

My dad is a retired surgeon, and he has said time is of the essence too. I lost my aunt to PC about 10 years ago. They gave he 12-18 months and she made it 8.

Thanks again for the offer. I am always astounded by the kindness of "strangers".
This post was edited on 1/12 at 6:55 pm


KemoSabe65
Member since Mar 2018
3534 posts
 Online 

re: Salt Water Fly Fishers: Bonefishing question??
Lake Charles La
No bone fish but I will work my arse off to put y’all on trout, red fish and flounder.My FIL died of PC and watching wife deal with it and seeing him finally accept death was tough for all.


Lonnie Utah
Citadel Fan
Utah!
Member since Jul 2012
11142 posts

re: Salt Water Fly Fishers: Bonefishing question??
So I spoke with my buddy last night. You could tell he was tired (he's not been sleeping) but he was upbeat and positive. Given the twists and turns of the conversation I told him what my wife and I were thinking about. He politely turned me down on the Bone Fish trip for several reason, 1)It's too much/too generous, 2)It's not the point of wanting to do something together, and 3)Someone else (in a better financial situation) might have beat me to the punch. Another buddy of mine offered to take him fishing for cutthroats at ice off and he accepted that offer.

He also said he's going to look for a dog to be a companion animal. He's had labs in the past and is going to look for a yellow (preferred) or black if he can find one. He said 6 months to a year old. He knows that it will be short term so to speak. As such, he has already found a family with a young boy to take the dog after he can no longer care for it. The boy has been asking for a dog for a while, but they are in the middle of a home remodel and can't take one at the moment. So it's a perfect situation.

I am going to float some other ideas by him, including KemoSabe's. If he bites on that one, pun intended, I'll make sure KemoSabe is properly compensated for your time/efforts. To those that have already posted in this thread, a deep thank you again for the all the advice and offers.
This post was edited on 1/13 at 9:58 am


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257WBY
Baylor Fan
Member since Feb 2014
2900 posts

re: Salt Water Fly Fishers: Bonefishing question??
Call Tyler. He’s in Vero Beach.

LINK


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Solo
LSU Fan
Member since Aug 2008
7416 posts

re: Salt Water Fly Fishers: Bonefishing question??
Payers to your friend. Please check the Travel Board re Covid tests and international travel. Sounds like leaving the US in 2021 is not advisable, especially for someone with health issues. May want to look at the Florida Keys instead. Hope it all works out.


Lonnie Utah
Citadel Fan
Utah!
Member since Jul 2012
11142 posts

re: Salt Water Fly Fishers: Bonefishing question??
quote:

Sounds like leaving the US in 2021 is not advisable, especially for someone with health issues.


Thank you for the concern (seriously), but the cancer is terminal. the only question is the time frame. COVID would be the least of his worries.


Saskwatch
Ole Miss Fan
Member since Feb 2016
9254 posts

re: Salt Water Fly Fishers: Bonefishing question??
quote:

Lonnie Utah


You're a good friend. I hope your buddy can find some enjoyment where able from here on out. Hope yall two can spend some quality time together in the interim.



Lonnie Utah
Citadel Fan
Utah!
Member since Jul 2012
11142 posts

re: Salt Water Fly Fishers: Bonefishing question??
quote:

You're a good friend.


Thanks. I texted a mutual friend last night and the words he used were "a little overwhelmed with the kindness."


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