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Written By: Sophie Porscheng on behalf of Abaco Lodge

Information Christian Pretorious with a memorable Abaco bonefish from 2019.
All photographs by Abaco Lodge

Nice Abaco Island, a 90-mile lengthy sliver of sand perched on a shallow shelf immediately West of Grand Bahama, abounds with fishable water. Practically each shoreline on the island holds bonefish sooner or later in the course of the tide, which generally is a bit overwhelming for anglers who haven’t but established a routine right here. Typically talking, Abaco has two essential fishing zones to select from: the Marls and the ocean facet. Every has its personal distinctive populations of bonefish, and every presents a unique set of challenges for visiting anglers.

The Marls

The legendary Abaco Marls is an expansive 300-square-mile space of shallow flats and backwater lagoons dotted by mangroves on the island’s west facet. The underside is generally delicate mud, so this space is de facto solely accessible through a skiff and a talented information. Anglers exploring the Marls are prone to encounter giant teams of “schoolie” bonefish (native legends recount faculties stretching all the best way to the horizon), though greater bones do make an look every so often. When you’re a “numbers” angler, that is the zone for you.

Exploring the huge reaches of the soft-bottomed Marls is simply possible by skiff.

Bonefish congregate in The Marls largely as a result of the extraordinarily shallow waters present welcome safety towards bigger predators, equivalent to sharks and dolphins, who gained’t normally pursue the bones into water lower than a foot deep. Because the tide begins to rise, then, the bones will probably be eagerly awaiting the chance to push up onto the flats into the skinniest water attainable. When you’re there early within the rising cycle, attempt to place your self close to the transition from deeper water to the sting of the flat, and look forward to indicators of motion because the fish push towards shallower water with the tide. If it’s nearer to excessive tide, you ought to be scanning for indicators of motion all the best way up within the shallowest margins close to the shore. 

A solitary bonefish prowls amongst pink mangrove roots within the shallows, in search of its subsequent meal.

The Ocean Aspect

The ocean facet of Abaco is huge open and incessantly windy, dotted by onerous sand bottoms and coral flats that make it far more wadable by DIY anglers. The bonefish on the ocean facet are bigger and extra solitary, usually cruising and feeding as singles or in pairs relatively than in faculties. These fish are usually spookier and pickier than their westside counterparts, and photographs at them will probably be fewer and farther between. Due to this fact, this zone is finest suited to extra skilled anglers.

The onerous, sandy backside of the ocean facet is far simpler to stroll and wade.

The perfect method to fishing the ocean facet is to discover a mangrove creek you possibly can entry in the course of the later a part of the outgoing tide, and observe it eastward to the mouth. Arriving whereas the tide is low however nonetheless outgoing has two benefits: first, the decrease water ranges make it simpler to identify bonefish exercise, and two, these creek mouths are doubtless ambush factors to search out bonefish in search of crabs, shrimp, and small baitfish swept up within the outflow. Because the tide bottoms out, the bonefish will usually transfer off the flats and towards deeper channels or drop-offs farther from shore, so make sure to control these transition areas as you proceed, able to arrange an ambush if the chance presents itself. Because the water will get shallower, bones can turn out to be extra skittish, so it’s particularly essential to be stealthy and make correct casts on this state of affairs.

Sophie Porscheng is the Advertising Undertaking Chief for Nervous Waters, operator of Abaco Lodge in Grand Abaco, The Bahamas.

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