Prior to our trip to the Bahamas in October, I had never held a fishing pole. I’ll let that sink in for a minute. I’m an active type of girl and I love the outdoors, but that’s just nothing my family has ever done and, as such, I’m a complete novice when it comes to angling. But bonefishing in Bahamas is a rite of passage, and so it was something I was determined to try.
Besides, when you’re in a place as gorgeous as this one, you don’t really have an option other than to try every last water activity you can. And that’s how I wound up learning that I’m a fisherman—er, woman—at heart.
An Orvis-endorsed resort, Deep Water Cay is a haven for bonefishing. With 250 square miles of flats to boot, the island’s pride and joy is definitely its ocean offerings. Bonefishing is a catch-and-release sport—otherwise, there’s no way I would have been able to do it, I don’t think—and the fish themselves range from four to 10 pounds. They’re also the color of the ocean, so super hard to spot, which is why it’s imperative you go out with someone with a keen sense of eyesight who also knows the turf inside and out.
Our bone fishing excursion took place on our next to last day on the island. I was happy to hear we didn’t have to be ready and to the boat until 9am because an early morning person I most definitely am not, and I always assumed like hunting (another sport I’ve never tried), you had to be up before the sun in order to have a successful fishing day.
Here’s where I made my first big mistake of the day. We were told to cover up—wear long pants, long sleeves, a jacket, covered shoes—and I wore, well, the opposite of that. To be fair, we were in the Bahamas for a week where it’s a glorious 80 degrees year round and I hadn’t even packed any of that, but I could have probably scrounged up something warmer if I tried. But again, I’m stubborn and I assumed the rules didn’t apply to me.
Well. You know what’s coming, don’t you? It was an overcast day and the wind was howling; we hadn’t even motored out of the bay before I was already super chilly.
But once we arrived in the flats and the wind and water weren’t simultaneously whipping against our souls, it was quite pleasant.
Our guide for the day was Howard, a native of the area who definitely knew what he was doing. He was extremely patient with the rookie (i.e. me) and an excellent teacher to boot.
We had the entire day ahead of us, so we practiced casting before Howard saw the first sign of a bonefish for the day. I didn’t realize how excited I would get, but I assumed my position and waited for his signal.
Several times, I got thisclose to catching a bonefish, but then they’d bolt away in the other direction. Bonefish are extremely skittish little suckers, and you have to really sneak up on them. It wasn’t long, though, before SVV hooked one.
No big surprise there; there’s not a hobby the kid has tried that he doesn’t immediately excel at (OK, except for playing tennis and watching SEC football maybe). It was a good-sized one, too, and we reeled it in before letting it loose again. Then, we continued on to our next series of flats.
Toward the end of our day, prospects weren’t looking good. We hadn’t seen many bonefish at all—just a ray or two, some stealth barracuda and several lemming sharks—and the wind was really howling. We were ready to turn in when Howard paused and told me to cast. I started to reel it in when suddenly something grabbed my line.
Something big. I reeled and reeled and reeled with all my might … could this be my first bonefish?
Alas, a girl can’t get so lucky—at least not, right away—and I had snagged a persnickety needlefish instead. I mean, at least I caught something on my first try! (Right???)
Howard reeled it in very carefully, then cut the line and released our catch. Needlefish have razor-sharp teeth and can be very harmful to anglers so he let it loose with a whole lot of care.
Maybe I have a career in bonefishing ahead of me after all!
The next day, we packed up our golf cart, motored 30 seconds to the dock, took the ferry back across, then met our driver to head to the Grand Bahama Island airport.
When we first arrived, I feared the tiny private island of Deep Water Cay might be too sleepy for us to spend an entire four nights, but as it turns out, I could have easily enjoyed another four—a telling sign of the perfect vacation, I’d say.
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