The Bahamas are one of Yellow Dog’s most popular destinations. Between the ease of travel, the terrific fishing, and the number of lodges ranging from economical to lavish, fly fishing The Bahamas have been a perpetual favorite of Yellow Dog anglers. The islands are best known among fly fishing circles for the bonefishing opportunities and with over 500 miles of pristine crystalline flats, the possibilities to pursue bonefish are seemingly endless.
One of the big reasons the Bahamas are so popular is that it’s a year-round fishery. However, with that said, we see the majority of anglers traveling there during the “prime dates” of spring and fall. Both are terrific times to visit the islands, but winter is an often-overlooked time – especially if you want to target trophy bonefish.
The winter months of December through February are the offseason in the Bahamas but if you are looking for big bonefish and lodges with great availability then you should definitely look at these months.
The fluctuation in water temps pushes the smaller school fish off the flats for longer periods leaving the more ‘acclimated,’ multi-wintered fish on their own or in small groups. But the one problem we sometimes have in winter is the occasional cold fronts, which in this period, are at their strongest.
That said, however, their strength at this time is often a bonus for us here in the northern Bahamas because the cloud line moves to the south of us quickly and does not always stall out here in the northern areas. The back edge of the cloud is often so defined it’s almost as if you drew a line across the sky. And right behind that front is the dry air and sunny cool conditions we are looking for!
Sunlight, as we all know, is generally the main ingredient for sight fishing bonefish. We have even caught some of our record-sized bonefish here in the very worst of fronts. And lucky for us the months of December through March offer more sunlight than any other time of year- we need to take advantage of that. But let’s be clear this is the worst-case scenario and in reality is not a true representation of how the season plays out.
So what is the best part of winter? Two words- HIGH PRESSURE.
On a much more positive note, we do get winter high-pressure systems, which is centered over us, can create spectacular bonefishing weather lasting as long as a week or even 10 days at a time. So ironically, some of the best weather available for bonefishing we will experience is in the winter months.
When we do get a front, the wind is generally from the North/North West and we have access to 45 miles of oceanside flats that are always accessible and easily fishable. With that wind direction, the flats are as flat as a pancake so no matter what we always have a back-up option. There is hardly ever a situation (if at all) where it’s not fishable and ironically you will have more unfishable days in the spring and early summer when winds are light there are possibilities of lightning.
No doubt March, April, May, October, and November offer the safest options when it comes to weather, but boy oh boy are anglers missing out on some world-class winter fishing where we will see the most spectacular trophy bonefishing available anywhere in the world, let alone the Bahamas. Not only are the fish big, but they will ‘crawl’ into skinny, skinny water which only adds to the experience. On top of that, we have darker flats that help warm the water giving us more advantages. It’s not about throwing at shadows this time of year and the whole experience is much more intimate between angler and fish.
Once an angler has experienced stalking and then hooking an 8+lb pound bonefish that had it’s back arched completely out of the water and feeding in only a few inches of water that screams out over 150 yds of backing, then a 20 fish day of 2-pound fish never seems quite as appealing. Quality rather than quantity! This said, however, numbers are always a possibility here no matter what time of year. The majority of the fish are in the 4 – 6-pound range and anglers should always be prepared to throw at the magical double-digit fish. They are often a daily encounter.
Come on down and hang out with experienced guides and introduce yourself to the spectacular trophy bonefishing found in the Bahamas during the winter.
For more information on Bahamas lodges, trips, how-to articles, and more visit our Bahamas Fly Fishing page.