Some Advice for Fishing the Bahamas
By Don Cianca
I have a better understanding of why Grandfather was so wise.
It's the things we learn along the way to getting older. We can be
taught and forewarned when we are young, or learn the hard way
by making mistakes. Here is how it relates to fishing for Bonefish
and how experience affords me the opportunity to give some advice.
My three fishing partners and I just returned from a week of Bonefishing
on Andros Island in the Bahamas. It wasn't our first trip, but the success
of past trips made returning as necessary to us as getting a "fix" to a
helpless dope addict. The hurricane season was well behind and all
we needed to do was to find a slot between the Thanksgiving Holiday
travel rush and Christmas. That time turned out to be the second full
week in December. It was full moon time and a time for huge tides.
Those conditions are known to make seeing large numbers of
Bonefish difficult. On the other hand, it is also when the opportunity
to tangle with double-digit size Bonefish is reported to be best.
The usual procedure when staying at a bonefish lodge is to have your
breakfast and make your own lunch from foods that are made ready
for you. You do this either while waiting for your breakfast to be served
or afterward. Plastic containers are there to contain your preparation
then taken to your boat. Cold cuts, breads, condiments, candy bars,
decadent junk food, and fruits are all there for you to select for your
own lunch. The fruit selection is also there to supplement your
breakfast should you desire to do so.
On our third day of fishing out of Behring Point on Andros, Jack
and I were paired-up. Jack and I normally take our dogs "Bud" and "Ellie"
along whenever we float together back home in Montana. While I have
been steadfast in never giving my dog "Ellie" any table scraps, I have
seen Jack share everything from his peanut butter and jelly sandwich
to chunks of his regular lunch banana with his dog "Bud". During the
course of our Bonefish trip, we both mentioned we missed having our
Labs along. But, we were here to listen to the sound of our reels scream
as big Bonefish made their rocket speed runs. The dogs would have
many chances to join us when we got back home. We were anxious to
get into some Bonefish and were soon on our way to a pre-determined
destination planned by our guide Herman.
Herman Bain has become our favorite guide on Andros. He will work
his tail off to make sure you have every opportunity to tie into Bonefish.
The partly sunny day made spotting a little difficult since the huge puffy
clouds blowing in from the west would occasionally cover the sun. Herman
would even change the location of our fishing spots to try to take advantage
of the most available sunshine in order to make seeing fish easier.
" Okay, Give me a cast 40 feet at nine o'clock." Herman yelled
as a Bonefish the size of a World War Two Japanese 2-man Submarine
came through a slot of the nearby mangroves. The tan colored Crazy
Charlie dropped about 5 feet in front of the bruiser. " Strip! Strip!, STOP, Strip!
All these commands came from Herman as the big Bone followed the
fly until I felt the knot attaching my leader to the flyline pass through the
tip of my rod. The big Bone swam off and there was no take. "Damn!"
Herman said, "everything was perfect, I can't understand why
he didn't take the fly?"
Jack was next on the rod and a similar situation was duplicated. We
decided to try some wading on a favorite flat and after turning into it's bay,
we found another boat with fishermen already dispatched there, something
that had never occurred to us before. Our luck was proving to be pretty poor
this day. So, we chose to have some lunch before pressing on. We had yet
to boat a fish and the normal jovial atmosphere was very quiet. Our lunch
was interrupted when a small group of three Bonefish came into view. Our
lunchboxes were quickly stowed and Jack had his cast in the air and on
its way. It hit the water and the lead Bonefish turned 45 degrees and darted
at the fly.
"He's got it!"
ZINNNNNNNNNNNNNGGGG! A classic run taking Jack into the
backing almost instantly was under way. "It's a picture fish," Jack said,
meaning that once boated, we would get a picture of this fish. Suddenly
the toothy smile on Jacks face was gone; he stepped down from the deck
of the flats boat reeling in slack line. Another nice big Bonefish was ocean
bound. More bad luck.
Clouds now covered most of the sky. There were a few open patches
where we could see blue sky, but they were becoming scarce. Our attention
was now focused looking for the "nervous water" made by Bones swimming
in the shallow water. It looked as though we might get some sunshine as one
of the blue patches provided an opening for the sun to pass. The white flats
bottom suddenly glowed and made a small school of Bonefish visible. Jack
and I quietly waded to get into a better casting position. While doing so, we
heard a rumbling sound overhead. It was one of the military helicopters and
it was going to pass no more than 500 feet above us. "NO! Not now!"
You guessed it. The helicopter not only passed overhead, but the shadow
it made over the area we were about to fish, spooked the Bones and they
We finished the day landing only one bonefish between us. It was one of
those days. The fish were there; we had the opportunities, but just a lot of
'bad luck.' The sun was painting a pretty picture in the western sky and I
remember saying that at least we can get a couple good photos of sunsets.
Once at the dock we unloaded our gear and lunch containers. Because of
the interruption when we were eating our lunches, the plastic containers
were not properly closed. One fell on the dock and popped open. Sprawled
on the dock was a half-eaten candy bar and a BANANA.
Herman yelled "A BANANA ON MY BOAT?" No wonder we had
such bad luck today. You never bring a banana on a boat. It's bad
luck man !" It was Jack's lunchbox and the look on his face was that
of a boy about to be sent to stand in the corner for an hour.
So, here is the advice I promised. Experience has proven that the
superstition of bringing bananas on a fishing boat is bad luck . . . Is,
indeed true, and we proved it! You spend hundreds, if not thousands
of dollars on state of the art rods and reels, special Bonefish flylines,
spend big bucks on airfare, and arrive to an exotic fishing destination
in the Bahamas. If you are going to bring a banana on board a fishing
boat, you might as well have stayed home or left your fishing gear
behind at the lodge. I have never put much stock in superstitions.
Never the less, you will never see me with a banana on any fishing
boat. I learned from experience, that it really is bad luck.
Each of the remaining days of our stay, Jacks lunch box was inspected
before boarding a boat by not only his guide for the day, but his fishing
partner as well. With no bananas aboard our flats boats, the fishing was
much better for the remainder of our trip. ( Jack told me that on one of
our next floats down the Big Hole, that he is going to take a banana along
one day, then not take a banana the following trip. He wants to see if the
bad luck is limited to the Bahamas.) ~ Don Cianca (aka Uncle Don)
Lighter Side Archive