On The Fly Saltwater
Articles and Photos by Jimmy Jacobs
Recent phone conversations and email swaps have made it clear that many of us have taken the Covid-19 warnings more seriously than some others. We are hardly venturing beyond the confines of our living rooms. After just a few days of the sequestration, we also are collectively climbing the walls.
Telling a southerner to not do something is not a very good idea in the first place. That just plants a seed that will grow into a plan to escape one’s own self-imposed captivity. It is much like dieting. Put me on a diet that only forbids the eating of stewed cauliflower and by week’s end I’ll have an insatiable appetite for the noxious stuff.
During these idyll hours of imprisonment, my thoughts constantly turn to past fly-fishing ventures. Those sweet memories are not enough to slake my desire to be on the water casting, but at least they do mentally take me to places that fill the slack hours. One such recently recalled venture fits right in with the gastric allusion that the cauliflower already has brought to these musings.
On several occasions while chasing bonefish in The Bahamas, we’ve had the good fortune to be with guides that provided the option of foregoing the sandwich in a bag for lunch. Rather, it was a short run back to shore for an island-flavored feast of local cooking.
Our first experience with such a meal came while fishing out of McLean’s Town on the eastern end of Grand Bahama Island. Frankly, the sight-fishing had been a bit slow that morning. The bonefish were scarce and skittish on the flats. Our guide, Bernard Bevins finally resorted to putting us on a mud in a channel, just so we could bring a couple of bonefish to the gunnels.
Like most good guides, he also knew that his job included making the day enjoyable, even if the fish were not cooperating. Just before noon he pointed the boat onto a shelf in the shallows, hopped onto the casting deck and soon had collected several lobsters and conchs. A short run back to McLean’s Town brought us to the dock at EJ’s Bayside Café.
Turned out EJ was a cousin of the guide, but it sometimes seems most everyone in the Bahamas is a cousin! We nursed a Kalik beer and soon were chowing down on the lobster and conch that a short time earlier had been on the sea floor.
Unfortunately, McLean’s Town took a battering from Hurricane Dorian last September. But, a recent online post mentioned that EJ’s was again open and cooking.
More recently, while again chasing bonefish on Mangrove Cay near Andros Island, lunchtime rolled around. This time we were in the boat of the dean of guides in the area Shine Greene. Unlike the earlier tale, this morning the fishing had been steady, with multiple shots at pods of bonefish in the shallows, a number of which were brought to hand.
When Shine suggested we run into Moxie Town for lunch, we were on board with the idea. Pulling up to the dock we found Shine’s brother among a group cleaning conchs. Owned and operated by Shine’s family, Greene’s One Stop Conch Shack is an institution on Mangrove Cay. But to everyone, the establishment is known simply as Shine’s Conch Shack. Again, it was only a matter of minutes before we were wolfing down tangy conch salad and some of the fried critters. Naturally, those were washed down with Kaliks.
Whether the angling has been slow or great, sometimes the fishing turns out to not be the most memorable of the facets of a day on the water.