Trip Report- Grand Bahama- April 2018

 

This past week my father and I took our first saltwater fly fishing trip. We had been discussing this for several years and finally made it happen. We decided the primary target for our first trip would be bonefish. With the expert help from Doug McKnight with Yellowdog Fly Fishing Adventures, we decided on the East End of Grand Bahama. We were intrigued about the larger bonefish Grand Bahama produces, as well as, how painless it was to get there. Yellowdog recommended The East End Lodge for our accommodations.

 

A fairly new lodge (5-6 years old), sits on the far east end of Grand Bahama. We booked 5 nights and 4 days of fishing. We landed in Freeport and were promptly greeted by a member of the lodge staff and headed out to the lodge. About an hours drive to the lodge and we were greeted there with ice cold Kaliks, a tour of the property, and our daily schedule. The accommodations were very nice. Two king beds per room with new appliances and an awesome porch with a view of the ocean. The lodge was equipped with a quality high speed WiFi connection throughout the compound and a satellite cable tv in the main bar. The food was delicious authentic Bahamian cuisine. Chicken curry, baked Mutton Snapper, conch and crab salad, and homemade pies were what to expect. Each night we would fill out a card and put a checkmark next to what we wanted for lunch the next day and any special request. Nothing fancy here just your basic cold sandwich, fruit, chips, and cookie. After breakfast each morning, we met our guide at the dock on the property. Guide skiffs were in the water ready to launch from there.    

 

 

 

The first morning of fishing we had incredible weather. Clear skies, no wind, and perfect conditions for an “Abaco day” as our guide HB says. Only a 45 minute boat ride east and you have countless flats to stalk and chase bonefish. A great alternative to be able to access different water when conditions allow. Our guide, however, opted to stay on Grand Bahama. We took a 25 minute boat ride to the Northern side and immediately started seeing feeding fish and 5 minutes in, we were hooked up.

 

Our guide HB, was very informative on how and why bonefish act, and their different characteristics. I thoroughly enjoyed soaking up as much information as possible attempting to scratch the edges of understanding flats fishing for bonefish. He worked hard to make sure we could see the fish we were casting to. As the days went on, our eyes started to adjust and see more fish. We had 15-20 shots at fish that day. We managed to land 7 fish and not a single one under 5 pounds with the biggest being 7 pounds and my father’s first ever bone on the fly!

 

 

The second day was the toughest weather day by far. Wind and clouds limited us on where we could go. Growing up next door to the lodge, HB new exactly where to be and when tough weather conditions arise. Harder to see the fish with the clouds and choppy water, the shots at fish were fewer and farther between than day 1, but we still managed 3 fish on the day thanks to HB’s seasoned eyes. HB was very articulate when helping us see the feeding bonefish and guiding us through our casts, presentation, and strips. Being around HB for the 4 days of fishing, we could tell this was his dream job and something he genuinely loved to do. It was noticeably reflected in his calming tone, style, and professionalism while guiding.

 

 

The last two days we experienced changing weather. Spotty sun and windy conditions made the fishing tough at times, but sure enough each of those two days we were blessed with a cease fire from the wind and bright sunshine. Taking advantage of these conditions was key. We had 5 or so shots at fish a day the last two days and both managed to catch our biggest fish of the trip. Although conditions may not have been ideal for bonefish, there were  plenty of other species to target. We had a dozen shots at barracudas and some mutton snappers as well. A few of the other guests even had a few shots at permit, but you can probably guess the end result there.

 

A brief overview. The staff at the lodge was top notch, extremely outgoing, very well organized, and prepared great food. They truly wanted you to have a good experience and get to know each and every guest. We were pleasantly greeted by the owner off the lodge for dinner one night. We enjoyed talking with him about the incredible and vast fishery of Grand Bahama.

Looking for an easy, painless saltwater destination trip with big bonefish, East End Lodge is a great place. Extremely easy to get to, load up on skiffs on site, and close proximity to fishing (10-25 min boat ride). I would definitely make a return trip to East End Lodge. Highly recommended!

 

Gear List

Rods:

790 Sage X

890 Sage Salt HD

890 Scott Meridian

990 Scott Meridian

Reels:

Hatch Gen 2 7 Plus

Nautilus NVG 8/9

Abel SDS 9/10

Lines:

Rio Flats Pro-Stealth Tip(Clear tip)

Scientific Angler Saltwater Taper

Leader and Tippet:

Rio 10’-12’ 12lb & 16lb Fluorocarbon Leaders

Rio 10lb-16lb Saltwater Fluorocarbon Tippet

 

Top Flies:

Chicone Bone Appetite

Avalon Permit Fly (the big bones loved it-heavier fly for the deeper water)

Peterson’s Spawning Shrimp

Hot legs Gotcha

 

My go to set up for the bonefish ended up being the 8wt Sage Salt HD with the Hatch 7 Plus loaded with Rio Flats Pro- Stealth, 12’ 12lb fluorocarbon leader and a #4 Avalon Permit Fly for deeper water and Tan #4 Chicone Bone Appetite for shallower water.