On The Fly Saltwater
Guide Chris Cox casting at Pretty Bay. Featured Photo by Jimmy Jacobs.
By Jimmy Jacobs
There can be little doubt that Acklins Island offers the “out-back frontier” of bonefish action in the southern Bahama Islands. The isle’s location, sparse population and lack of easy access and amenities all point to a place that gets visited by fewer anglers. On the southern end of the island that especially is a prescription for tangling with unpressured schools of big bones.
On the other hand, the north end of Acklins has more communities, though each is smaller than Salinas Point in the south. Also, being nearer the airport at Spring Point, they offer a bit more of a “civilized” feel, as well as providing some very good DIY bonefishing. But, as a bonus, guided fishing from a flats boat is available as well.
Of special interest is the community of Chesters, which has two good options of bonefish lodges that provide nearby access to wadable flats.
The main factors setting the bonefishing in Chesters apart from that down in Salinas Point are very accomodating access and, particularly in the case of Lovely Bay, white sand flats that make spotting the fish very easy.
While most of the southern flats require a boat ride to reach, around Chesters anglers can access good wading by renting a car, riding a bicycle or simply walking to the flats from one of the lodges. That easy access does come with a price. The bonefish on this end of Acklins do get a bit more pressure and can be finicky at times.
Chris Cox guiding On The Fly South’s Polly Dean on the flats at Chester.
Chris Cox, who works out of Chester’s Highway Inn Bonefish Lodge has been guiding fishermen on these waters for the last decade and readily points out that difference. He noted that you need to use short, slide steps when moving to avoid spooking the bones. Part of the need for that stealth results from water depth. “Water up on your ankle is right for wading,” Cox pointed out. “If the water is knee deep, you should be fishing from a boat.” If that, indeed, is the case, Chris can accommodate, since he also guides from a flats boat.
You can expect to get multiple shots at bones here on the north end of Acklins. The fish are plentiful, often running in schools of 20 or 30 fish. But that is not always the case. “Finding a school of bones, you can catch one after another,” Cox said, then added. “That single big fish: you’ve done something when you hook him.” Rest assure, those type opportunities also will be available.
Targeting the flat across the road from Chester’s Highway Inn Bonefish Lodge on a falling tide. Photo by Jimmy Jacobs
One of the easiest flats to access is just across the street from Chester’s Highway Inn Bonefish Lodge. This one has an uneven bottom in places, with sand mounds surrounded by shallow holes that can make wading a bit difficult in places. On the other hand, it also has flat level areas with some light-colored bottom patches, and best of all, it holds schools of bonefish on the rising and falling tides.
A bit down the road within biking distance are the beaches of Lovely Bay. Here you find firm, pure white sand flats that offer awesome visibility. The schools of bones are easily spotted, allowing time to be ready when they come into casting distance.
Chris Cox also noted that all the flats around Chesters hold bonefish, but you have to know the specific areas on them where the fish hang out.
Picking a fly to toss to the fish is not difficult on this north end. Though described as “a bit more pressured,” the bonefish here still don’t see that many anglers. Most of the popular shrimp and crab patterns generally attract some hook ups.
Bonefishing guide services run in the $450 range for a full day with two anglers. You can contact Chris Cox via e-mail at email@example.com or via telephone at 1-242-423-3342.