Of bikini's and bonefish


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Posted by Ron Begnaud on 2009-06-10 11:39:56

My wife and I just got back from a week at Club Med on San Salvador Island in the Bahama's. This was primarily a "make the wife happy" trip, not a fishing trip, my wife selected the location with the caveat that I could "make do" with what fishing was available.

San Salvador is a small island, about 12 miles long by 5 miles wide. It is one of the eastern most islands in the Bahama's and is the reported site of Christopher Columbus' first landing in the new world. The island is sparsely populated with about 1,000 residents scattered in small settlements around the island. Other than Club Med, there is a marina catering to scuba divers and blue water fisherman, and not much else.

A while back a posted here asking about D.I.Y. techniques for the Bahama's and received and email from Walt Kleckley. Walt saw that I was heading to San Sal, and forwarded to me a ton of great info on fishing the island, as he had been there in November. Using Walt's descriptions of the area's he fished, I got on Google Earth, set points, then entered the lat/lon info into my GPS.

San Salvador island has a tidal creek and lagoon system in the southeast corner of the island, which is the opposite side of the island from the Club Med resort. Per Walts reccomnedation my wife and I rented a car for the week.

Tina and I arrived at San Salvador on Saturday, and spent the afternoon getting aquainted with the resort, which was fantastic. Sunday we got up, did the beach thing for a while, then Sunday afternoon I decided to drive around the island primarily to find my walk in spots and to get oriented. I wasn't really planning of fishing hard Sunday afternoon, but was bringing a rod "just in case". As I was walking through the resort to the car, carrying my fly rod, I bumped into a gentleman walking with a fly rod also. His name is Brian Anderson, form Calgary Alberta. Brian had been on the island for almost a week at this point, fishing every day. It turns out that Brian had gotten the same info from Walt that I had, and had been fishing the area's I was targeting with good success.

My talk with Brian got me excited so my plans for the afternoon changed from re-con to full bore fishing. I got to the flat and easily found the walk in. The water was a bit high and still coming in, it was overcast and quite windy, not the best conditions. The wading however was very good, the flat very firm and easy on the legs. After a bit of wading along the mangroves, I saw a shark pushing and he spooked out a school of bonefish. The bonefish quickly settled down and continued cruising my way along the mangroves. I made a quick cast to the magrove edge ahead of the school, gave the fly a small strip as the fish approached and it was fish on. I landed my first D.I.Y. bonefish. After releasing him I continued wading south on the flat and saw another good sized school of fish pushing toward me, another quick cast, strip and fish on.

After the second fish the wind started kicking much harder. I spotted a few more fish tailing and pushing, but never got close enough to them to get a shot.

Brian and I decided to fish together for the next couple of mornings. Monday morning we got to the same flat as the water was pouring out. Our window was fairly short before the flats completely dried up. Brian went north, and once again I went south. I blew 3 shots that morning, including one on a HUGE bonefish, and 2 shots on small schools of tailers. On the big fish, I had cast and didn't realize he had turned onto the fly, I picked up to re-cast spooking him, that's when he lifted up out of the water and I saw how big he was. On the schools I just threw too close and too noisily.

On Tuesday Brian and I checked out a different flat that Walt had told us about farther north. This flat is huge, about a mile wide by a mile and a half long, and is a little tougher to get onto. We made our way to the mangrove bank on the far side of the flat. While the main body of the flat offered excellent wading, once we approached the mangroves it got very soft, sinking to the tops of our boots. The tide was coming out so we set up near cuts in the mangroves hoping to intercept fish coming out with the tide. Brian was on the right cut, he picked up 3 nice bonefish, I caught 2 baby lemon sharks.

I didn't do any more flats fishing that week, I'd get up in the morning to check conditions and it was overcast and windy each morning. I decided to take it easy with my wife rather than fight the conditions. One morning I did get up early and make a few cast from the beach at the resort, and landed a nice trigger fish on fly.

Tina and I toured the island, visiting some very old ruins on the island, an old kerosene powered light house and generally enjoying the natural beauty and friendly people who live there. Club Med was great with outstanding food, very good service, comfortable rooms, and actually fairly reasonable package rates for an all inclusive.

I'm back at home now refreshed and recharged.

Thanks to Walt for all his help, and to Brian.

Tight Lines,

Ron

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