Martin James MBE – why the Bahamas are such a wonderful destination & not only for the angler

You’re now on mañana time. Don’t get tensed up if your flight is an hour late, the taxi hasn’t arrived or the waiter hasn’t taken your order right away, have another beer. Relax and unwind.’

Most of the English visitors I meet in the Bahamas, visit the group of islands known as the family islands. It’s the real Bahamas where families enjoy extremely good weather, first class beaches, good diving, sailing and fishing. When you arrive at the island of your choice collect up all the watches and clocks, and then stuff the lot inside your suitcase.

You’re now on mañana time. Don’t get tensed up if your flight is an hour late, the taxi hasn’t arrived or the waiter hasn’t taken your order right away, have another beer. Relax and unwind. If you rent a car it will probably be owned by one of the fishermen. The Bahamian people are incredibly honest, friendly and most helpful.

Mañana Time

For the fishing I can recommend Moxey Town at Mangrove Cay on Andros. It also has a small airstrip. It’s a fifteen, twenty minute flight from Nassau. If it’s diving you’re looking for then Small Hope Bay on Andros is your best camp, with Andros Town your nearest airstrip.

Andros Island is about 100 miles long by 40 miles wide, with three big land areas North, Middle and South. Mangrove Cay is on the Middle right. If you stay at Moxey’s bonefish lodge you need only walk about fifty yards to reach a good bonefish flat, where it’s possible to catch half a dozen bones before breakfast. Apart from the excellent food at Moxey’s, you will find the rooms clean and tidy; in addition there is an excellent fly dressing room. The room has all the materials and tools required for tying any fly you might want.

The fish most anglers want to catch are bonefish; it’s the perfect quarry for the fly fisher. A question I’m most often asked is, “What is the best time of the year to visit? I can best answer this by saying I have visited the Bahamas in March, May and June August, October and November. I have caught fish on every visit. During the height of the summer it can be hot, but it doesn’t bother me. I make sure I keep covered up and drink lots of water. Often you will have a cooling breeze on the flats.

I have visited many of the family islands Abaco, Long Island, Green Turtle Cay, Crooked Island, Exuma Cay, Eleuthera and Andros. The latter is my favourite Island. If you’re visiting the Bahamas.

During the winter you will sometimes get a strong wind blowing from a northerly direction. It doesn’t stop me fishing unless it’s a twenty, twenty five knot wind. Most days you can find sheltered creeks, mangrove protected flats and bays. In fact the wind can often be to your advantage when stalking bones on the flats.

I take two Thomas and Thomas Helix fly rods, one nine foot eight weight and one nine foot nine weight. For most of my fishing I use a floating line, though I do take an intermediate line – make sure your lines are for use in the tropics. The lines you fish with in the UK are no good for the Bahamas. I have over the past three years been using the Cortland Tropics Ghost Tip lines with great confidence. Your reels should be corrosion proof and suitable for saltwater with two hundred yards of 20lb backing. 

You will also need are a good pair of wading boots to protect your feet from sharp coral which is quite poisonous and also beware of the sea urchin spines. Shuffle your feet when wading, rays will pick up the vibrations and quickly depart the area.

Take a selection of suitable flies; Crazy Charlie’s, Gotchas, and Pink Puffs, some crab and shrimp patterns in various sizes and colours are a worthwhile inclusion. Take plenty of sunscreen, for several years I have used Reimann P20. I have complete confidence in this product.

You will need a good pair of polarised glasses because without them your chances of success are virtually nil. The best hat I have found for use in the tropics is one similar to the Foreign Legion Kepi.

The best advice I can give anyone intending to visit the Bahamas for bonefishing is get hold of a copy of Randall Kaufmann’s book Bone Fishing.

Early this year I travelled by charter airline from London Gatwick to Nassau cost £255-00 return. I also had time to get a same day connection from Nassau down to Mangrove Cay.  Previously I travelled via Chicago, Miami and then into Nassau which means an over night stay in Nassau. If four of you are travelling it will probably pay to hire a small plane to take you from Nassau down to Mangrove Cay.

The Bahamas Sport fishing & Conservation Trust (B.S.C.T)

The main goals of the The Bahamas Sportfishing & Conservation Trust Organisation are as follows:

(1)  The Protection of the Mangrove nursery throughout the Bahamas. These are located on the west of most of the islands throughout the archipelago, with the exception of grand Bahama which is on the northern side of the island, Crooked Island and Acklins which are on the southern and northern parts of the Island. The major nursery systems replenish the marine life throughout the Bahamas, Caribbean, and Florida up and down the Gulf Coast.

(2) The B.S.C.T seeks to advance the sciences by getting students in major universities throughout the US in particular with regard to the marine sciences; namely marine biology, ornithology, and botany.

(3) The B.S.C.T seeks to develop partnership with other conservation organization throughout The US such as the Nature Conservancy, The Coastal Conservation Association and others throughout the world to carry out joint research especially in those areas that effect both countries e.g the Kirkland warbler that lives on 600 acres in Michigan and the Bahamas only.

(4) The B.S.C.T will seek to effect laws that would lead to a sustainable sport fishing industry throughout the Bahamas and the Florida area.

(5) The Bahamas and the state of Florida shares the Blake Plateau which indicates that this is one region when it comes to the marine eco system.

There are many examples of this in the marine areas as it relates to Florida and the Bahamas. The B.S.C.T is seeking to have a partnership with The International Game Fish Association, with regards to Data and record keeping that can be used to improve conservation, this partnership would act and serve as a ‘tell tale’ regarding marine life and habitat destruction so that proper steps can be developed and taken to improve the habitat overall.

The name of the B.S.C.T Board members chosen for the US board are as follows:

Mosby Bogler

Joel Moxey

Alex Powers

Martin James MBE, United Kingdom.

Dr. Robert Halvorsen, Sarasota, Florida

Robert Gates, New York.( Secretary)

Prescott Smith, Andros Island, Bahamas.

Jim Berrend, Dallas, Texas.

Barrett Clark, Odessa, Texas.(President)

Mal Jozoff.

Chris Miller (Treasurer)

Writing & Images Martin James MBE – May 2022