Fishipedia Report: Bonefishing on Mangrove Cay, Andros, with Alvin Greene & Swain’s Cay Lodge

April 29th, 2012| No Comments

Fresh from the Bahamas, Paul West reports on some dream fishing and schools of fish big enough to make even the guide drop his push pole!

Fishipedia Report: Bonefishing on Mangrove Cay, Andros, BahamasI was recently fortunate enough to travel to Nassau for business and, after some strategic date juggling, managed to sneak a couple of days’ fishing onto the back end of the trip. Work out of the way, I headed to Swain’s Cay Lodge on Mangrove Cay, located between the Middle and South Bights of Andros Island, a 20-minute flight from Nassau. Catching the 7am flight had me in the lodge in time for breakfast.

Swain’s Cay has a bonefish flat right off the beach from the lodge so I elected to fish without a guide on my first day. I checked the tide table the lodge had left on my bed and relaxed until just after low tide which was about midday. Rigged up and ready to fish I strolled out to the flat an hour after the low, cutting in towards the Cay until I reached the flat and then waded parallel to shore until I reached the deeper water. From here I aimed diagonally to shore, towards the yellow house. It wasn’t long before I saw my first bonefish, a school of about 10 big fish, but they were moving quickly and I barely got a cast in the air before they vanished. A reminder of how frustrating these fish can be! The afternoon gave me a couple of shots at some very big, dark-coloured oceanic bonefish but I couldn’t get a take. Anyway, I was nicely warmed up for my guided days!

Swain’s Cay Lodge was pretty much full when I was there so by late afternoon anglers who had been out with the guides returned to the lodge with tales of fish caught, fish lost and general fishy adventures. A good crowd, the beers flowed and the conversation was joyous. Not too many beers for me though, I was gonna catch some bonefish tomorrow…

The next day I went out with Alvin Greene, who I’d fished with many times before. Alvin is an excellent independent guide, one of the best there is, and we headed West through the Middle Bight. Our first stop produced a couple of shots, but still no takes. Same with the second spot. Not to worry, it was still early, surely this wasn’t going to be a bad day? Alvin then took us further West, to the North shore of the Middle Bight, just before you head out of the Bight, to a creek mouth. Jackpot! This is where the fish were, in droves.

First cast, we were in. And we didn’t stop, with constant action for about three hours. There were so many fish around that Alvin called over one of the other Swain’s boats who we could see in the distance so they could join in the fun. In all I landed 16 bonefish, average size about 4lb-5lb, lost a couple to sharks (sorry bonefish) and lost about 10 more to mangrove roots, snapped leaders, bad luck etc. It was one of those rare moments when you’re actually not sure which group of fish to cast to, the ones at 10 o’clock, 12 o’clock or 2 o’clock! Eventually the fish moved too far into the mangroves with the tide so that they were unfishable, but boy was that a fun few hours.

Fishipedia Report: Bonefishing on Mangrove Cay, Andros, BahamasThe next day Alvin and I decided to head to the West Side of Andros, the wild uninhabited side of the island, and the home of monster-sized fish. We left at 7am to get an early start for the 45-minute run through the Middle and North Bights. Our target destination was the mouth at Cabbage Creek, north of the North Bight West Side entrance.

Well, that early start paid off. We had our first fish landed by 8:15am, a lovely bone of 6lb. Two more fish followed in fairly quick succession, each one bigger than the previous with the largest about 8lb. I also missed shots at some very big fish, at least 10lb+. But then the action stopped, as if someone hit a switch and the bonefish vanished, just like that. We scoured the flat and eventually headed into the creek, assuming the fish had followed the rising tide, but didn’t see a single fish. Just about every other fishy species was around, an abundance of sharks, cudas and rays, but no bonefish. Where the hell had they gone?

Fishipedia Report: Bonefishing on Mangrove Cay, Andros, BahamasWe were close to giving up and going back into the North Bight but made a short diversion to a mangrove zone at the point of the creek mouth. This was immediately rewarded with a few fish sighted, but we were in the open wind and casting was challenging to say the least. We persevered and poled around a big clump of mangrove and suddenly saw, there before us, the largest concentration of bonefish I have ever seen. No exaggeration, there were hundreds if not thousands of fish schooled up together so thick that it looked liked like a trout farm! Alvin almost dropped his pole and I almost dropped my rod in awe. Wow.

Quickly regaining our composure I shot a cast into the school which parted as if I’d thrown in a stone. Two long strips though and they were fighting over my fly, we were away again. Each fish we caught forced the school further into the mangrove though, until again you just couldn’t fish for them. Time to stop for lunch and see if they would emerge again.

Fishipedia Report: Bonefishing on Mangrove Cay, Andros, BahamasThey didn’t come out by the time we’d eaten so we poled further into the mangrove to try and scare them out for the other boat that had travelled west with us. This proved a successful strategy as one of the guys on the other boat landed a lovely fish as the school came shooting out towards them.

So what a great couple of days fishing and a very worthwhile trip to Mangrove Cay that proved to be! Andros really has got to be the best place in the world to fish for bonefish. Swain’s Cay Lodge is such a convenient spot for fishing any of the Bights that I would recommend it to anyone who wants to catch big bonefish. The guides are superb, the company usually great fun and the rooms are extremely comfortable. Next time, I’m coming back for at least a week!

>> Both Swain’s Cay Lodge and Alvin Greene are listed on this website.

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