The damage from Hurricane Dorian cannot be understated—it is estimated the total will be $3.4 billion dollars. Destruction of homes and infrastructure alone will total $2.5 billion and most of the damage occurred on Abaco and on eastern Grand Bahama.
Bahamians are proud and resilient, and despite the tragedy of Hurricane Dorian, the communities on Grand Bahama and Abaco will recover. For the fishing guides displaced or affected by Dorian, most of them are ready to get back on the water. So when the opportunity recently arose to bring supplies to Grand Bahama and spend a week with H2O Bonefishing, I invited my friend John G. to join me. Simply put: the bonefishing was spectacular, the guides were eager and ready to work, Bones Bar is fantastic, and Pelican Bay Resort is ideal for relaxing after a day chasing the big bonefish of Grand Bahama.
The affects of the hurricane can be seen throughout the island. Flying in, the scope of the damage from above was evident. The eastern portion of Grand Bahama saw the worst of the damage, while the western half of Grand Bahama and Freeport saw little damage compared to the eastern side of the island. The flats we would be fishing were saved from the devastating winds, but not the storm surge as many homes were flooded because of the hurricane. The flood waters are gone and damage is still evident, but recovery is on-going, and similar to hurricanes of the past, Grand Bahama will rebuild. There was no debris on the flats and it truly felt like we were the first people to have ever fished these flats.
Our arrival into the airport went off without a hitch. Domestic flights from Nassau are regularly scheduled and on-time. Customs and immigration were a breeze. A representative from H2O Bonefishing met us at the airport and we were casting to our first tailing fish within an hour of touching down, then releasing our first few fish shortly after. The fishing on that first day echoed each following day because for five days we had an endless supply of tailing, schooling, or cruising bonefish.
Each evening we enjoyed beers and drinks at Bones Bar—on property and on the waterfront right at Pelican Bay Resort. My traveling companion, John G, said “Bones Bar is probably now my favorite bar. And, I’ve been to a lot of bars.” After drinks we would then head to dinner, choosing one of several fantastic options all within walking distance of Pelican Bay Resort. The flexibility of choosing where, and when, to eat dinner suited our laid-back vibe after pursuing big bonefish all day.
On the morning of each day we enjoyed a plentiful breakfast buffet at Pelican Bay Resort. I especially soaked-up eating outside in the sunshine with views of the ocean—the first week of November at the Yellow Dog office in Montana only saw daytime highs in the 20s.
After breakfast, our guide picked us up and we drove with boat in tow to one of several boat ramps. This was ideal because fishing time was maximized as there were no long, bumpy runs in the flats skiff to get to the flats. I really enjoyed having the drive time with the guide because I was able to learn about the fishery and the habits of the big bonefish of Grand Bahama.
On all but one day we saw permit, had several quality shots at these elusive fish, but did not convince one to eat our flies. On the last day John landed a small tarpon and had some shots at permit, allowing him a legitimate shot at a grand slam.
H2O Bonefishing’s location offers unique access to miles and miles of flats, and it is my understanding that because of the recovery efforts, it may be a long time before any other guide operation on Grand Bahama has the ability and ease of fishing like H2O Bonefishing currently enjoys. Even with the ongoing recovery efforts, H2O Bonefishing is up and running and has access to the second longest mangrove shoreline in the Bahamas—only the west side of Andros Island has more.
We fished for five days and never fished the same flat twice. We never saw another boat. And at the end of each day as we enjoyed drinks on the waterfront at Bones Bar, our spirits were full because the best way to help the guides of Grand Bahama is to catch bonefish together.
Show your support by booking a trip to Grand Bahama to fish with H2O Bonefishing and take advantage of a winter special: get a free night and a free day of fishing. You can also give to the Yellow Dog Community and Conservation Foundation as well. Photos by John Gerber and H2O Bonefishing.
Contact Yellow Dog’s Doug McKnight to learn more.