By Rusty Chinnis
“Strip, long strip, stop, short strip, stop, strip,” Harry Neymour called out as I watched the bonefish home in on my fly. Neymour had spotted three fish as they hunted a shoreline in the Dressing Room, a vast, shallow, mangrove-lined bay on Andros North Bight. The experience I’ve gained over the years, combined with the coaching, paid off as I lowered the tip of my rod to the water’s surface and set the hook with a short strip-strike. The bonefish accelerated immediately, causing the fly line to create a rooster tail of water as the fish headed for the perceived safety of deeper water.
I instinctively took my eyes off the fish, separated my hands and concentrated on clearing the line that lay at my feet on the deck. As the line disappeared through the guides, I guided it onto the reel and gave two more sharp jabs of the rod to make sure the barbless hook was secure.
In what seemed like a split second, the fish was on the reel and deep into the backing on its first scorching run. After the first run of 100 yards, the bonefish turned and raced back toward the boat faster than I could recover line. I dipped the rod into the water so the tension would prevent the hook from coming loose and reeled as fast as I could. After catching up and having the fish on the reel again, I marveled as it made three more runs, each progressively shorter than the last but still strong and fast. Then I was able to work the fish back to the boat where my fishing partner Bill Partridge lifted it from the water for a quick picture and release.
This was the fourth day of a six-day fishing trip that had an inauspicious beginning. We had departed the Ft. Lauderdale Executive Airport on a Makers Air flight as a disturbance approached that would generate one of the heaviest rainfall events in the last 11 years. The approaching weather made for a bumpy ride and landing, also causing cloudy skies and high winds for the first two days of our trip.
We were staying at Frankie’s Two Boys Inn on the edge of North Andros’s legendary North Bight. It was here on Cargill Creek at Bering Point where some of the first anglers chased bonefish with a fly rod and where Charlie Smith, the Bahamian guide and inventor of the Crazy Charlie bonefish fly, lived and fished. The Nemours are an extended family of guides who are regarded as some of the Bahamas’ best, and my experience fishing with Frankie and his nephew, Harry, bore that out.
We had planned to fish for six days because, in my almost three decades of fishing in the Bahamas, it was routine to have at least two days of weather, clouds and/or wind that resulted in poor fishing. This trip was no different and I didn’t even make a cast for the first two days. That all changed on the third day when fishing with Frankie Neymour. As the conditions and the fish settled down and the skies cleared, we estimated that Partridge and I each caught 15 bonefish, including several doubles. The next day, we fished again with Frankie Neymour with similar results in places like Charlie Alley and Bight Landing. On that day I caught my largest bonefish (7 pounds) while wading a point and watched as school after school of bones departed the adjacent bay in waves.
On the last two days, we sight-fished with Harry Neymour, who put us on singles, doubles and trios of fish that required a well-placed fly and a nuanced presentation, my all-time favorite type of fishing. Harry is quickly surpassing the prowess of his father, Charlie, and Uncle Frankie with the energy of a new generation perfecting their style of angling.
Andros, the largest and least populated of the Bahamian archipelago, boasts some of the largest bonefish to be found anywhere from November to February. Frankie’s Two Boys Inn is quickly becoming one of my favorite bonefishing haunts. It’s one of the most reasonably priced lodges in the Bahamas, is a short run to fishing, and boasts one of the most expansive areas to explore. You must pay for your liquor, make your lunch, and fish maybe one hour less a day, but at half the price of most lodges, it’s the best deal and the best fishing I’ve found in almost three decades of pursuing the grey ghost.
To book a trip, visit Frankie’s Two Boys Inn online. If you are a flyfisher and haven’t fished for bonefish, you have one of angling’s greatest adventures to look forward to!