ABACO BONEFISHING Pt 1: A NON-ANGLER’S SKIFF-VIEW – WHAT, HOW, WHERE & WHY?


             BE NATURAL (YET SHARP) ON THE FLATS – PART 1  

WHAT, HOW, WHERE AND WHY?

[I published the original of this post a year ago. I discovered that it had been put badly out of kilter by recent blog format change, so I have amended and to an extent updated it, with larger photos (NB the video was my first feeble foray).  So yes, it's a retread, which I rarely do; but I wasn't tooled up with Facebook & Twitter then, and thankfully a couple more people now read this thing, so it possibly deserves a fresh outing. No? Well I'm doing it, regardless]

It’s 7.15 and breakfast time at Delphi. At 8.00 the trucks, skiffs, guides and fishers will set off to the fishing grounds for the day, leaving you with an empty beach, shells, warm sea, the pool, the hammock and your book. For the moment, the talk is of the excellent ‘Full Abaco’ breakfast, the weather, ‘Delphi daddies’ & ‘crazy charlies’ and someone’s mislaid reel. Sandy enters to announce that there’s a place free on your partner’s skiff… and offers it to you. So what should you, a non-angler, expect of a day out on the flats?

THE SKIFFS These are top-of-the range boats, capable of considerable speed getting out to the fishing grounds. The ride can be bumpy, splashy and even chilly in the early morning, so bring a fleece and a waterproof top. Camera? Essential. Here is a Delphi skiff on a sand bar in Cherokee Sound, parked for lunch and some quality conch and sand-dollar hunting. So for a start, the day isn’t ALL about fishing…

THE FISHING GROUNDS You will leave from one of three launch points and speed across the water to the bonefishing areas. The main one is “Nettie’s”, with access via a narrow man-made channel to the Marls…

… more than two hundred square miles of mangrove swamp, islets, channels and fish. The journey to Nettie’s may seem quite a long way as you bump along through the pine forest on a network of logging tracks. Watch out for small birds flickering all around as you pass.

 

———————————

Launching a skiff at Nettie’s

Plans are hatchedGood to go…

Stowing gear in the front (forrard?) locker. There’s also one behind the seats for the lunch cool boxes. And the fuel…

The other two launch areas are Crossing Rocks (a short drive south of DCB) or Casuarina Point for Cherokee Sound (a slightly longer drive north of DCB)

The jetty at Crossing Rocks – skiffs being prepared

The launch point at Casuarina. A channel leads out to Cherokee Sound

Two boats in the channel – the authentic James Bond chase experience

WHAT’S THE POINT? Bonefishing! You’ve heard all the Club talk, you’ve seen your partner fussing over all those bits and pieces in your room: now see it in action. Once you get out to a fishing area, the guide cuts the engine… and suddenly you are being poled very slowly and almost noiselessly across the shallow flats

The guide stands on the platform at the back of the skiff, using the advantage of height to scan the shallow water; the fisher stands at the front looking tensely for grey shadows underwater, waiting for the magic words…

 “…hey, bonefish, 10 o’clock, 4 of them moving right, 30 feet… see them?” 

And it’s ‘game on’. This isn’t the place for a discourse about casting technique and style – I have neither (Sandy, of me: “Muppet”) – but I promise that you will get completely caught up in the excitement when a fish takes the fly and takes off towards the horizon, stripping the line and backing from the reel… (I realise the image above may suggest… well he’s just fishing, OK?)

THE QUARRY – grey ghosts below water, bars of silver above. Caught on the ‘fly’ which are in fact shrimp or crab imitations, with barbless hooks to make the chance of losing a fish that much greater… This ensures that a boated fish can be returned to the water as easily and quickly as possible. It’s all ‘catch and release’, though some (me) find that mostly the fish very sensibly self-release long before they ever reach the boat…

Abaco bonefish off Crossing Rocks (just caught and released)Guide Ishi with Abaco bonefish caught on the MarlsGuide Robin Albury removes the barbless hook before returning the fishgood specimen‘Ishi’s Fishy’, as he would say

All images, and indeed fish, ©RH

There is even the possibility that at some stage you may unexpectedly be handed a rod (even if you have never held one before, or wanted to) with ‘fish on’… Here, Robin has hooked a 2.5 lb fish and handed the rod to Mrs RH (then engrossed in eating a cheese roll) who successfully played and brought in her first ever fish…

PART 2 will deal with what else goes on during the day: the scenery, birdlife, sharks, turtles, blue holes and so forth. For now, here is a short clip of the skiff ride out to the Marls, to give you an idea. NB this was a very calm day – things can get a little bumpier and wetter at times. The seats are padded, but not very… 

 [Ultra-cautious music credit to Joe Satriani who sued Coldplay for alleged tune 'borrowing' saying "I felt like a dagger went right through my heart. It hurt so much". Case dismissed + unspecified settlement...  Way to go, Joe! Want to check? Cut 'n' paste this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zjB024bZoB4&feature=fvwrel Then by way of counterbalance try John Lennon's Imagine vs Coldplay's 'Fix you' at (cut 'n' paste)  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DksjpsAe3vk&feature=endscreen&NR=1]                

CLICK LOGO for the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust

 

BEACHCOMBING AT CASUARINA, ABACO, WITH KASIA – COWRIE / PHALIUM / CONCH


 BEACHCOMBING AT CASUARINA WITH KASIA                    COWRIE / PHALIUM & CONCH

I recently posted some photos of starfish taken by Kasia at low tide near Casuarina point – see KASIAS’S STARFISH. Now it’s time for some beachcombing news from there. The sandbanks and bars in the Casuarina / Cherokee Sound area are a rich source of conchs, sand dollar tests and shells of many varieties when the tide is out. The sandy areas revealed as the water slowly recedes are extensive, and it is a great place to hunt for specimens (and for a lunchtime break from bonefishing…)

COWRIES / PHALIUM

1. RETICULATED COWRIE-HELMET Cypraecassis testiculus Here is a pretty example of this shell, a relative of the large phalium family and originally misidentified by me as a Phalium granulatum

2. MEASLED COWRIE  Macrocypraea zebra / Cypraea zebra Colin Redfern says of this example “Immature shells have transverse stripes that are later covered by a spotted layer (hence “measled”). It looks as if it’s beachworn rather than immature, so the outer layer has probably been worn away. You can see remnants of the spotted layer adjacent to the aperture.” 

STOP PRESS: by coincidence, while looking for a completely different type of shell online I have just happened upon this early 1800s engraving of a Cypraea Vespa, which is very similar to Kasia’s one

CONCH I’m trying not to overdo Conchs, which are probably everyone’s favourite shell to collect. But this one is a wonderful pink, and came with a surprise inhabitant… Is anyone at home?

Oh! A hermit crab seems to have moved in…

It’s shyer than this one (from an unnamed online source)

Finally, a useful method to transport one’s shell collection, maybe?

STARFISH AT CASUARINA POINT, ABACO


STARFISH AT CASUARINA POINT, ABACO

Kasia, a vital contributor to this blog, has supplied a number of images taken at low tide in the Casuarina Point / Cherokee Sound area on Abaco, including these excellent starfish. I’m posting them right away because starfish haven’t so far featured at all in this enterprise. Whenever I have seen them from a skiff I have been otherwise (and mostly ineffectually) engaged at the sharp end of the boat… 

All images ©Kasia (c/o rollingharbour) 

BAHAMAS STARFISH – 10 ESSENTIAL FACTS 

  • Other names include Cushioned Star and Red Cushion Sea Star
  • Its  invertebrate body is covered by a hard shell with raised knobbly spines 
  • The color of adults may be brown, orange, red, or yellow. Juveniles are mottled green (for camouflage in seagrass beds) 
  • Found in calm shallow waters (depths 1m – 37m), most commonly on sandy bottoms. Juveniles are usually found in seagrass beds
  • Individuals can grow to 50 cm / 20″ diameter
  • Adults live in dense aggregations called ‘fronts’ of 200 to 4000 individuals
  • When food is scarce they can reabsorb body tissue to prevent weight loss / size decrease
  • They are omnivores, feeding on micro organisms, urchins, sea cucumbers, small invertebrates, crab larvae, and sponges 
  • They use their ‘arms’ to rake piles of sediment and then evert the stomach, enveloping the food in its folds (don’t try this at home).
  • The cushioned star is over-harvested for souvenirs and the aquarium trade, and is no longer common in areas of high human population
Sources: various (not Wiki except for chart). You are all stars. Sea stars, in fact


ABACO BONEFISHING Pt 1: A NON-ANGLER’S SKIFF-VIEW – WHAT, HOW, WHERE & WHY?


             BE NATURAL (YET SHARP) ON THE FLATS – PART 1  

WHAT, HOW, WHERE AND WHY?

It’s 7.15 and breakfast time at Delphi. At 8.00 the trucks, skiffs, guides and fishers will set off to the fishing grounds for the day, leaving you with an empty beach, shells, warm sea, the pool, the hammock and your book. For the moment, the talk is of the excellent ‘Full Abaco’ breakfast, the weather, ‘Delphi daddies’ & ‘crazy charlies’ and someone’s mislaid reel. Sandy enters to announce that there’s a place free on your partner’s skiff… and offers it to you. So what should you, a non-angler, expect of a day out on the flats?

THE SKIFFS These are top-of-the range boats, capable of considerable speed getting out to the fishing grounds. The ride can be bumpy, splashy and even chilly in the early morning, so bring a fleece and a waterproof top. Camera? Essential. Here is a Delphi skiff on a sand bar in Cherokee Sound, parked for lunch and some quality conch and sand-dollar hunting. So for a start, the day isn’t ALL about fishing…

THE FISHING GROUNDS You will leave from one of three launch points and speed across the water to the bonefishing areas. The main one is “Nettie’s”, with access via a narrow man-made channel to the Marls…

… more than two hundred square miles of mangrove swamp, islets, channels and fish. The journey to Nettie’s may seem quite a long way as you bump along through the pine forest on a network of logging tracks. Watch out for small birds flickering all around as you pass.

 

———————————

Launching a skiff at Nettie’s

Plans are hatchedGood to go…

Stowing gear in the front (forrard?) locker. There’s also one behind the seats for the lunch cool boxes. And the fuel…

The other two launch areas are Crossing Rocks (a short drive south of DCB) or Casuarina Point for Cherokee Sound (a slightly longer drive north of DCB)

The jetty at Crossing Rocks – skiffs being prepared

The launch point at Casuarina. A channel leads out to Cherokee Sound

Two boats in the channel – the authentic James Bond chase experience

WHAT’S THE POINT? Bonefishing! You’ve heard all the Club talk, you’ve seen your partner fussing over all those bits and pieces in your room: now see it in action. Once you get out to a fishing area, the guide cuts the engine… and suddenly you are being poled very slowly and almost noiselessly across the shallow flats

The guide stands on the platform at the back of the skiff, using the advantage of height to scan the shallow water; the fisher stands at the front looking tensely for grey shadows underwater, waiting for the magic words…

 “…hey, bonefish, 10 o’clock, 4 of them moving right, 30 feet… see them?” 

And it’s ‘game on’. This isn’t the place for a discourse about casting technique and style – I have neither (Sandy, of me: “Muppet”) – but I promise that you will get completely caught up in the excitement when a fish takes the fly and takes off towards the horizon, stripping the line and backing from the reel… (I realise the image above may suggest… well he’s just fishing, OK?)

THE QUARRY – grey ghosts below water, bars of silver above. Caught on the ‘fly’ which are in fact shrimp or crab imitations, with barbless hooks to make the chance of losing a fish that much greater… This ensures that a boated fish can be returned to the water as easily and quickly as possible. It’s all ‘catch and release’, though some (me) find that mostly the fish very sensibly self-release long before they ever reach the boat…

Abaco bonefish off Crossing Rocks (just caught and released)Guide Ishi with Abaco bonefish caught on the MarlsGuide Robin Albury removes the barbless hook before returning the fishgood specimen‘Ishi’s Fishy’, as he would say

All images, and indeed fish, ©RH

There is even the possibility that at some stage you may unexpectedly be handed a rod (even if you have never held one before, or wanted to) with ‘fish on’… Here, Robin has hooked a 2.5 lb fish and handed the rod to Mrs RH (then engrossed in eating a cheese roll) who successfully played and brought in her first ever fish…

PART 2 will deal with what else goes on during the day: the scenery, birdlife, sharks, turtles, blue holes and so forth. For now, here is a short clip of the skiff ride out to the Marls, to give you an idea. NB this was a very calm day – things can get a little bumpier and wetter at times. The seats are padded, but not very… 

 [Ultra-cautious music credit to Joe Satriani who sued Coldplay for alleged tune 'borrowing' saying "I felt like a dagger went right through my heart. It hurt so much". Case dismissed + unspecified settlement...  Way to go, Joe! Want to check? Cut 'n' paste this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zjB024bZoB4&feature=fvwrel Then by way of counterbalance try John Lennon's Imagine vs Coldplay's 'Fix you' at (cut 'n' paste)  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DksjpsAe3vk&feature=endscreen&NR=1]                

CLICK LOGO for the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust

 

HURRICANE IRENE: AUG 30 ABACO DAMAGE ASSESSMENT REPORT – ESSENTIAL READING


HURRICANE IRENE: LATEST ABACO NEWS UPDATE

 AUGUST 30 (post 2 – Pathfinders Task Force Assessments)

TO SEE TODAY’S MAIN POST 1 CLICK===>>> IRENE 30 AUG (1)

TO SEE YESTERDAY’S POST CLICK===>>> IRENE 29 AUG

21.30 GMT DOWNLOADABLE  & PRINTABLE VERSION of the Pathfinders Task Force SWEAT-MS [Sewer, Water, Electricity, Academics, Transportation, Medical, and Security] ASSESSMENT FOR ABACO. This assessment gives full details of the state of the electricity supply in the various parts of Abaco, with detailed maps and photos of supply problems caused by Irene – for example, Sandy Point was without electricity when the assessment was made…  CLICK===>>> PTFSWEAT-MSAssessmentAbaco

19.30 GMT DOWNLOADABLE  & PRINTABLE VERSION of the Pathfinders Task Force Rapid Damage Assessment for Abaco. The maps are incredibly helpful in revealing the extent of damage found in many areas – Marsh Harbour, Treasure Cay, Sandy Point for example – graded by severity.  CLICK===>>>  PTFRapidDamageAssessmentAbaco

Thanks to Bahama Islands Info for putting it in the public domain – much easier to read! TO SEE WHOLE ARTICLE CLICK LOGO===>>>  

13.00 GMT  HURRICANE IRENE ABACO DAMAGE ASSESSMENT REPORT (29 AUG)       ESSENTIAL READING

I have already provided the links to this report in my earlier post today. This one deserves its own space. Over the past few days I’ve had a vast number of hits from searches including the words ‘Abaco’, ‘Irene’, and ‘Damage’ in various combinations. Clearly many people are desperate for information, especially as communications have been down completely in many places, and very variable elsewhere. Now at last there is available a detailed preliminary assessment of Irene damage on Abaco, with a report, maps and photographs, posted on BAHAMASLOCAL.COM  It will be of great interest to everyone on Abaco or elesewhere concerned to find out more about the effects of Irene on the Islands and Cays. I will add anything else that arises later today to the main post of today (see top of page for LINK), but I thought this report merited its own publication and title tags (for Google purposes). CLICK==>> BAHAMAS LOCAL 

A TRIP TO CHEROKEE & LITTLE HARBOUR, ABACO


A TRIP TO CHEROKEE & LITTLE HARBOUR (revised Oct 2012)

YOU WILL NEED camera; binoculars; possibly swimming kit; a car with (if you are going to get seriously stuck in at Pete’s Pub) a non-drinking driver; good appetite; and if you get weather like we did, something waterproof to wear…

ROUTE  Turn right at the end of the drive, head north past Bahama Palm Shores until you get to the right-hand turn to Cherokee / Little Harbour / Winding Bay. Take the made-up road to the end, following the right-hand bend that will bring you to Cherokee. You will pass the Abaco Club, Winding Bay, a Ritz-Carlton enterprise. It doesn’t need any meagre publicity from this quarter – just ask Sandy what you have to do to play golf there, eat there, use the spa, buy a cabana and so forth. 

ABACO CLUB, WINDING BAY

Photo Credit: Simon Rodehn

Continue to CHEROKEE, park and have a wander round this charming settlement. It poured when we went and we were barely able to leave the car… so any description I could give is obscured by extreme wet, low cloud and yes, a touch of gloom. Not even any birds to report. Explore for yourself, why not. Thanks to Simon Rodehn for his fine aerial views of the Abaco Club Cherokee (and see his aerial view of LITTLE HARBOUR at the end of this post).

CHEROKEEPhoto Credit: Simon Rodehn

After you have had a look round Cherokee, drive back the way you came, past the Abaco Club, until you get to a right-hand junction with a sign to Pete’s Pub and Little Harbour. This is described on the map as ‘dirt road’, which doesn’t do justice to some of the impressive rocks en route. However, with care it is easily negotiable by car. Carry on until you get to Pete’s, which is a good place to leave the car and explore from.

LITTLE HARBOUR is a good place to wander round. Nice boats for a start; the renowned Johnston’s Foundry, with examples of its work scattered round; the Gallery, which is well worth investigating; a shell-strewn beach on the back-side (as it were). And Pete’s Pub for excellent sustenance at the end of it all… fresh fish of many kinds, and a lot more besides. Here are some pictures – I haven’t attempted to photoshop them to disguise the fact that the weather that day was… inclement. Bleak, even. On a sunny day, when you go, it will surely look better…

MAIN STREET, LITTLE HARBOUR

PETE’S PUB

PETE’S PUB – BRING YOU OWN TEE

THE GALLERY, LITTLE HARBOUR

THE BEACH Shells, but no idea about the swimming: thwarted by drizzle!

PETE’S PUB & GALLERY Here is the direct link to Pete’s, where you will find all the info you could wish for about the Pub, the Foundry, the Johnston family, cottage rental, fishing and the locality generally. There are also plenty of excellent pictures, so check it out for a far sunnier view than I have provided here.

CLICK LINK====> PETE’S PUB & GALLERY, LITTLE HARBOUR

NOV 2012 Addition

DOLPHINS AT LITTLE HARBOUR

AND FINALLY… a great aerial view of Little Harbour, looking roughly north. Click or double click image to enlarge

Photo credit Simon Rodehn (CHEROKEE COTTAGES)