Fishipedia Report: Mount Pleasant Lodge, Andros – Day 1

August 19th, 2011| No Comments

Alone With the Bones: One angler, one week, alone on the flats of Andros Island. The first of seven reports, in which Rory Batho serializes his week spent fishing the waters around Mount Pleasant Lodge, Bahamas

Day 1: Nassau Airport – best place in the world

Nassau AirportYou’ve got to love Nassau airport. Not for its tumbledown facilities or the general whiff of decay – but when you’re sat in the domestic departure lounge waiting for a connecting flight to the Out Islands, is there anywhere else you’d rather be?

You can see it in the faces of fellow fly-fishermen, pacing about with coffees in one hand, rod tubes in the other, itching to hear their flight called. I saw the same look the night before on a bunch of pastel-shirted guys at the hotel, en route to Abaco. As the honesty bar was plundered for the eighth time, I started wondering if there’s anything else that returns older men to a state of youthful exuberance like the eve of a fishing trip. Drink flowed, laughter filled the bar and the stories couldn’t come out fast enough. It’s closest you get to being five years old on Christmas Eve.

If you happen to be heading for Andros, you can’t help but do the sums. Flight leaves at 7am… 12 minutes flying time to Andros Town… two minutes to retrieve bags… 30 minutes in the cab… an hour to settle in at the lodge… if the stars align you could be bent into bonefish number one within two hours. It’s fanciful, not impossible, and there’s a part of you that always believes it’s going to happen.

On this occasion, my hopes were given a boost by the LeAir flight attendant, who sauntered over at 6.45 to disturb my reverie. “Sir, you’re the only passenger today, so we’re leaving early. You ready?” Settling into my seat (which one to choose?), I thought it felt a little like hiring my own Lear jet – one without those big leather seats and scotch-filled cut-glass decanters, but you know, pretty cool all the same.

I was wrong about one thing though. Something like eight hours had elapsed before the backing was singing though the guides for the first time. The bit you never quite factor in, sitting there in the departure lounge, is the ring rust. You never visualize the moment where your unpractised eye misses the school of bones until it’s too late and your clumsy, leaden feet have sent them scattering for cover, or the ham-fisted first cast you’re glad no-one else was there to witness.

First (and biggest) bone of the week

First (and biggest) bone of the week

One thing, however, was exactly as I’d imagined: the first fish was an absolute hog. In fact, I peaked right there and didn’t end up catching anything bigger over the next seven days. The tide was falling, and as I rounded an outcrop of mangroves, a small school of fish appeared in the shallows, iridescent tails twinkling in the afternoon sun. Forty feet or so, gentle breeze at my back, you really couldn’t ask for a better shot. Nor could you ask for a more obliging fish, racing out of the school like he’d been expecting the fly, pinning it to the floor before turning and making off for the Turks and Caicos.

Kneeling down in the shallows 10 minutes later, doing my best to balance that beast in one hand as I eased the fly out with my other, I couldn’t help but smile at this most unlikely of scenarios. Eight pounds? Nine? More? Not a bad start. Nassau airport suddenly seemed a lifetime ago.


>> Check out other instalments from Alone with the Bones: 
Day 2,  Day 3Day 4,  Day 5Day 6,  The Journey Home

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