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.
The water and the sky look stunning! I would’ve probably made the same mistake by wearing summery clothes; when the weather looks like that you need to give your body as much vitamin D as possible – it’s just unfortunate it turned to be an overcast day!
Right? They looked at me like I was crazy for not bringing long sleeves and pants to the Caribbean!!
That boat is so tiny! I’m not a huge fan of fishing, but you made that sound fun. My husband would love trying it next time we’re in the Caribbean.
So small! I thought that was going to translate to one sick fisherwoman (I get sooooo seasick) but I was actually completely fine!
That sunset, though…..gorgeous!
Really is gorgeous. I agree with you. It catches my attention right away. O how I love travelling that involves sunset.
Thank you so much, Leigh and Marie! Hard to take a bad photo in the Bahamas, to be fair 😉
Looks a great place to learn how to catch some fish. What a beautiful place. The waters so clear. I find it funny when you wear the opposite. LOL!
I think I’m spoiled on fishing; the water is SO clear there—it almost seems like nowhere else could possibly compare!
I absolutely love the Bahamas. It looks like you had quite the fishing experience. Congrats on catching the needlefish!
I’m sure our captain was not congratulating me on the needlefish but rather cursing the fact he had to remove those pointy teeth from the line 😉
Your fishing experience in the Bahamas is really an interesting piece to read. The eye-striking and colorful pictures shows the beauty of the place. I wish to visit this place soon and capture its beauty under my lenses and also try my hands on fishing!
Thank you, Aadarsh! I never thought I’d like fishing (I don’t like killing anything except spiders!) but the catch-and-release method is definitely addicted and requires a certain amount of skill that was fun to learn.
Wow, these are incredible pictures! It looks like you guys had a ton of fun out on the water and really enjoyed fishing! Thanks for sharing a bit of the experience with us!
Nice photos! It looks like you guys had a great time. I took a vacation to the cayman islands last summer and stayed at a resort. I wish would of took a fishing trip like you guys did.
I might not have thought to bring my long sleeves on a beach vacation either. Glad you caught something, anyway. Thanks for the beautiful photos!
Thank you, Diver T! I’ll never travel again without a jacket, though—lesson learned 😉
Bonefish are famous for being really hard to catch, leaving even the most experienced fishermen (er, fisherwomen) shaking their heads in frustration. Hopefully you’ll have the chance to give it another try… let us know if you do!
I would love that, James! I’m hoping to go to Homosassa one of these days. And thanks for the encouragement 😉
Wow look at all of those conch shells! I’ve never seen them just pile up on the beach like that – I always thought you would have to dive down in the sea to find those.
It’s like a conch graveyard! I imagine because it’s a small island that they just discard the shells there after procuring the meat? Conch is everywhere to eat on the Bahamas!
Looks like a great vacation spot as well as a great fishing spot too. Water is so clear!!! It would be wonderful to enjoy moments there.
Wow! That place is awesome. I loved it. Thanks for sharing it..
What a post and specially what an images..amazing. Bahamas is always best place to visit but your blog is really attracts anyone in Bahamas very easily.
Fishing in the Bahamas isn’t something you hear about often, but those waters are gorgeous. And even though it wasn’t what you expected, it’s awesome that you at least caught something so quickly!
I think bonefishing is big on a few of the islands, but if you weren’t a fisherman, you probably wouldn’t hear much about it. Then again, the Bahamas does have 700 islands so a LOT to explore!
Wow! That pontoon is so little! I’m not a gigantic devotee of angling, but rather you made that sound fun. My significant other would love attempting it next time we’re in the Caribbean.
It looks like your family had a lot of fun fishing in the shallows. Would you ever consider doing something more offshore? I hear a fishing charter can be a good time for male bonding.
Ha ha. You heard some truth I guess.
Catching something (regardless of what it is) on your first fishing trip is definitely something to be proud of.
Fly fishing for wiper can be humbling, but if you get that one trip under your belt where you really get into them and figure them out, you will be hooked for life. Having these hybrid-vigor fueled fish tear line out of your hands is an amazing feeling, and we should consider ourselves lucky to have this fish available to us. It’s like saltwater fishing in the Rockies.
Hi Kristin, it’s amazing.. I am planning my fishing trip with my family very soon.. thanks for sharing
That’s pretty amazing you got a chance to go after Bonefish anyway though! I don’t know about that needlefish, ha, not quite as cool, but still a catch!
The Bahamas is a great place to go on vacation. I took a cruise their and it was absolutely stunning. I wanted to do some fishing their but never got a chance too. This article gives me ideas. Thanks!
Such wonderful place and an awesome place to fish. Great photos by the way, makes me want to go there.
Great article as always!
I’m just starting to teach my nephew to fish…he loves it but he’s scared of the maggots!…any advice?
Keep those great blogs coming….