On The Fly Saltwater
Featured Photo by Jimmy Jacobs
By Jimmy Jacobs
Our host Rev. Felton Rolle had met us at the Spring Point airport on Acklins Island just after midday to shuttle us to the south end of the island and Salinas Point Bonefish Lodge. There we met our guide Joseph Emanuel and quickly headed out to take advantage of the late afternoon on the flats at Croaker Cay.
Wading the hard sand in just inches of water, I began to question the wisdom of coming here to the outback of The Bahamas for do-it-yourself bonefishing. For more than an hour Polly Dean and I had scanned the water for our quarry, with nothing to show for the effort. As the light faded, we headed back to the boat in disappointment.
Then we spotted a school of perhaps 40 bonefish coming straight toward us. Polly’s first cast in front of them led to a hook up and our first fish of the trip. Next, I realized there was another school of bones behind us and a third off to the left. Making a bad cast to one of the schools, I still found myself hooked up to a bonefish that eventually broke me off.
This was the kind of action we were expecting and it was a precursor to the next two days of fishing.
Polly Dean with an Acklins Island Bonefish. Photo by Jimmy Jacobs
Acklins Island lies roughly 280 miles from Nassau on the southern fringe of the island nation. It is not a place you stumble across – you have to know about and want to get to it. You could say it is the “out back” of the The Bahamas. Bahamas Air has just two flights weekly from New Providence to Spring Point. As a result, you simply do not have crowds of anglers, or anyone else on Acklins.
Another hook up on the flats. Photo by Jimmy Jacobs
What you do have are miles of deserted bonefish flats that teem with those fish. Pods of 20 to 50 fish roam over the seagrass and sand flats, and these gatherings make it easy to spot them even when the wind is rippling the water’s surface.
Our second day, Joseph took us to an area known as Big Creek. This time there was no lull in the action waiting for the first bones to show up. They were all over the flat in small pods and big schools.
It may sound counter intuitive when I mention do-it-yourself and having a guide in the same sentence. The “guide” part is misleading. All the fishing is by wading and Joseph was more like a fishing buddy than a true guide. Once the open skiff anchored, he was in the water with us with his fly rod and fishing.
oseph and Polly with a double they brought to hand. Photo by Jimmy Jacobs
If we wanted tips and advice, we could wade with him and he would even spot the fish for us. On the other hand, we were free to head off on our own to look for fish. Either way, the bones were not hard to find.
These also were the least spooky bonefish we had ever encountered. Unless you blasted the fly down in the middle of the school, you could expect to get multiple shots at the fish. Catching more than one fish from a pod was even possible. The bonefish on the southern end of Acklins Island simply do not see enough fishermen to get wary.
We found much the same conditions during the third day of angling at Jamaica Cay. All of these locations are along the eastern edge of the Bight of Acklins that is surrounded by Acklins and nearby Crooked Island. At this cay we encountered open flats, but also some backwater areas where you could wade into sparse growths of mangroves in search of bonefish
Casting amid the mangroves at Jamaica Cay. Photo by Jimmy Jacobs
Everywhere we fished, there was no difficulty in picking a fly. While tan was the most productive color, the pattern seemed to matter little. Crazy Charlies, Gotchas, Bonefish Scampis and even Avalon Crabs worked fine.
The bottom line was, the do-it-yourself bonefishing at Salinas Point lived up to its billing. The fish were plentiful and ready to give you a fight.
About the Island
Photo by Jimmy Jacobs
The 30-minute drive to Salinas Point Bonefish Lodge gives you some insight into Acklins Island. Most of the southern end of the island, with the exception of the modern highway, looks just as it did when Christopher Columbus first sighted the island chain.
The landscape is dominated by low scrub composed of gumbo limbo, lignum vitae and pigeon plum with occasional thatch palm. There is virtually no wildlife on the island, just some lizards and birdlife. Quite hilly by island standards, a row of ridges rising up to 60 feet high runs north to south down the spine of the isle.
The government says the population of Acklins is anywhere from 565 up to 900 inhabitants. On the other hand, locals say that number includes folks in graveyards and they place it at closer to 400.
Part of the islands colorful history can be seen at the Spring Point airport. A multi-engine airplane sits in the scrub looking as though it crashed there. Actually it was abandoned at the site by drug smugglers a couple of decades ago.
Photo by Jimmy Jacobs
Where to Stay
When challenging the bonefish on the southern end of Acklins Island, you have but one choice of accommodations. Salinas Point Bonefish Lodge is an oasis of modern convenience in that area.
Owner Felton Rolle pastors a Baptist congregation in Nassau, in addition to operating the lodge.
Salinas Point Bonefish Lodge. Photos by Polly Dean & Jimmy Jacobs
The lodge sits on the beachfront on a 10-acre tract. Five cabana-style guest rooms are available with two queen beds, private baths and air conditioning in each.
Meals are served in the dining room and bar, which is fronted by a large open deck. Meals are served Bahamian style, featuring local, fresh seafood. There also is a fully stocked bar and wi-fi connection.
The fare at Salinas Point features fresh seafood and local favorites. Photo by Polly Dean.
For more information check out their Facebook page or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
What You Need To Know
Be aware that Salinas Point is for serious anglers. Other than the fishing there is nothing to do but lounge on the porch (assuming the mosquitoes are not active). Other attractions and restaurants here are non-existent.
Also, stay in contact with the lodge prior to heading down there. Make sure you know in advance what the plan is. Miscommunication that leaves you without a boat and guide can make for a very difficult time of fishing.
Because of the scarce number of flights into Spring Point on Acklins Island, you are very likely to have to lay over for a night in Nassau. A good option for that is booking a stay at the Towne Hotel. Located in the heart of the capital, it offers 46 rooms with air conditioning, private baths and free continental breakfasts. They also can arrange your transportation to the airport.
The Towne Hotel in Nassau. Photo by Jimmy Jacobs
During your stay you can enjoy the interior patio deck, a dip in the swimming pool or try a cold, refreshing rum punch at their Talking Stick Bar.
Photo by Jimmy Jacobs
With an afternoon to kill, you can arrange a tour of the nearby John Watling’s Distillery for a free sample of fine Bahamian rum, or to take along a few bottles for your fishing trip.
Photo by Jimmy Jacobs
Also be sure to check out the Bahamas Air specials. Excellent discounts are frequently offered for flights from Nassau to the out islands of the The Bahamas. For additional details on traveling to the Out Islands, visit myoutislands.com.
Bahamas Air offers flights into Spring Point from Nassau on Saturdays and Wednesdays. Photo by Jimmy Jacobs