When Seas Calm Down

The Virus & The Bahamas


On The Fly Saltwater

Featured photo by Polly Dean

By Robert L. Ulrich

Photos by Jimmy Jacobs

April 2020

It’s the middle of October and millions of anglers around the world are voluntarily or mandatorily locked down at home. We all know about the virus. We’re all feeling the frustration. We all know the dust will settle soon, and when it does, we’ll appreciate our pastime more than ever. But for now, let’s pull together keeping our families safe, our friends close, and let’s not forget those friends in the islands where we love to fish.  

And when the dust settles, what if our prized fishing spots were still locked down and our favorite fishing lodges still closed. Imagine that, and not due to the virus infection, but rather the negative effect of the financial impact. Like any other small, family-owned business, they too depend on cash flow. That is especially true during the winter season when occupancies are high, and the positive cash flow generated by a visiting angler trickles down through the entire community. Conversely, when our travel plans are impacted, the cash flow throughout the local community stops. 

The Islands of The Bahamas are a destination attracting thousands of anglers every year. They’re islands where records are set, and every day anglers enjoy the thrill of catching trophy-size fish. The fishing lodges here meet high standards, and survive on their reputation and credibility. With this said, and if you’re one of those anglers concerned about a pre-paid deposit, we ask you to consider leaving your deposit in-place. Instead of demanding a refund, work with the lodge to extend your travel plans. Most lodge operators and guides are holding fast to the terms of their cancellation policies in this critical time. If you booked direct with the lodge, call them and reschedule. Work with the lodge and they’ll work with you. In the long run, you’ll be glad you did. Guaranteed!

If you’re not holding any reservations, now is the time to make one. For all the reasons above, bookings now may come with pleasant surprises. Some lodges are offering additional days when booking at least five nights.  To this end, the publishers of The Bahamas Fishing Map & Visitors Guide in conjunction with their Go-Fish-Bahamas promotion, client lodges and media friends have decided to collaborate on a project designed to cast a bright light towards the end of the tunnel ahead of us in this current crisis. The solution is for anglers, lodge operators and guides during these unprecedented times, and that solution is working together to ensure that everyone gets what they want, and more.  

We are encouraging anglers to directly contact participating lodges in The Bahamas to rebook fishing vacations cancelled through the remainder of spring 2020 for available openings in the summer, and as far as 12 months out. This would permit anglers to redeem otherwise nonrefundable deposits while allowing lodges to sustain their operations and continue making payroll for dedicated employees in these difficult times. 

Fishing guides are also being brought on board as partners in this exercise, as they too are experiencing a sharp decline in business. They recognize it’s in their best interest to extend the traditional fishing season into the summer in order to recover what could be lost revenue and a missed opportunity. 

There’s a myth about fishing in The Bahamas that this corona crisis might help dismiss. The fiction to which I allude is that productive fishing in the islands is seasonal. The truth of the matter is that fishing can be enjoyed year-round, especially during summer.  In fact, the summer months provide even more fishing options than the winter season for anglers. For example, shallow water species of fish can be expanded beyond bonefish to include permit, tarpon, jacks and barracuda.

Finally, summer fishing is a very practical solution to the current challenges being experienced by anglers, lodges and guides at this time. It will allow for flattening of the traditional fishing peak experienced annually, which creates a limited time frame for booking opportunities, and generate more available fishing days. 

The following is a list of some lodges offering “Advanced Booking” discounts. The offer is genuine, and can give up to 40-percent value-added by offering two additional free nights when booking and paying in advance for five nights. Better yet, some lodges will include meals. The additional days do not include guides, fishing, beverages or gratuities. But there’s more: some packages may include roundtrip local airfare from Nassau to your Out Island destination. Ask the lodge for details.

Some air carriers serving the Out Islands, such as Makers Air, which serves many destinations, will be offering handsome discounts on flights and private charters. Use BOOKING CODE:  GOFISH with Makers Air to get these discount offers. 

For questions or more details, contact the author at GoFishBahamas@gmail.com or call (305) 778-5177.

It’s a good time to take advantage of these discounts, and at the same time, you’re truly helping the lodges and surrounding communities get through these trying times. 

Lodges Offering Advanced Booking Discounts

Andros Island Bonefish Club – Andros Island

Chester’s Bonefish Lodge – Acklins Island

Chester’s Highway Inn Bonefish Lodge – Acklins Island

Long Island Bonefish Lodge – Long Island

Old Bahama Bay – West End, Grand Bahama Island

Stella Maris – Long Island

Swain’s Cay Lodge – Mangrove Cay, Andros Island

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