Fishing on Crooked Island for us can be split into two categories: sport and food. We originally visited the Bahamas because we like to bonefish and then decided to build a home because we loved the area for everything else it had to offer. We also like to fish for food because we both really enjoy seafood. We have a lot of friends that also like to bonefish. Bonefish are called “the ghosts of the flats” because they can change their color to blend in with the bottom and can be difficult to spot. They live in tropical waters and feed in areas that are very shallow. We have traveled to several countries to fish for them including the Republic of Kirabati, Belize, and different islands in the Bahamas. We mostly walk the “flats” but occasionally have to fish from the boat if the bottom is too soft and muddy or too deep.
There are not many places that you can get to without a flats boat to bonefish. We know several places we can drive to and a few where we can access with our kayaks and/or paddleboards. Scott will join some of our guests occasionally when they go out with the professional guides on the island. We have gotten to know the guides and their families very well and helped them set up a website (http://www.cribonefishing.com/)to promote their business and that of the local restaurant and some guest houses. We usually go bonefishing with them at least once a year and live bait fishing also. Riding in the flats boats can be quite exciting as they go about 35 mph or more and in some extremely shallow water.
It is not always sunny and warm and it is always good to have a rain jacket with you. Sometimes you just need it for the wind. It is hard to fish when it is cloudy as it makes it difficult to spot the bonefish. After traveling from the marina to the flats we then find a spot to get out and wade looking for fish. Travel time can be up to 45 minutes depending on where the guide wants to fish. A lot depends on the tide and how many other boats might be out. We then walk from the boat along the edges of mangroves, up creeks and sometimes out in the open on some big flats. We can walk for hours sometimes so we always bring snacks and a bottle of water with us.
The water is warm but it can be a bit tricky walking when the bottom is soft. You want to be very quiet so you don’t spook the fish. The guides are really good at spotting the fish a long way away. Scott is an excellent caster and is certified to teach and I always say I’m his permanent class since I don’t cast that well. I need the fish a little closer than he does and I work really hard when it is windy. When you hook one they can swim 40 mph, it is amazing to experience. It is basically a catch and release fishery. Scott ties all the flies that we use and sometimes you have to change flies several times before catching a fish as they can be a bit picky.
Some of the areas that we go to on our own have some nice beaches and I will walk the beach looking for treasures while Scott fishes. I will also just watch him fish sometimes as he is such a nice caster and I love seeing him catch fish. In the area he is fishing in the photo below there are a lot of turtles in the water and I love watching them.
We catch some other fish in these areas occasionally. There are snappers, puffers, barracuda, lemon shark and depending on the area even small tarpon.
When we go live bait fishing with the guides it is just for food. They throw a cast net which is really fun to watch and haul in pilchards for bait. Scott usually poles the boat for them while they throw the net and I help pull the net in and get the fish in the live well.
We then motor out to a spot to fish. We mostly catch mutton snapper and you have to be quick getting them into the boat as sharks will chase after them. There are lots of seabirds around and they will dive after your bait on the hook. We also catch grouper but depending on the time of year the season may be closed so have to throw them back. Darn, they taste really good.
We have several beaches that we like to walk looking for trigger fish (or ocean tally). We have learned the areas they frequent and what tides are best (they show up just before the low tide). They come really close to the beach and we have one fly that they seem to really like. Their mouths are small with sharp teeth and it can be tricky to catch them. If they don’t suck the fly in all the way you can pull it out of their mouth, which is often what I do. I need to learn a little patience when fishing for them. Love using them for fish tacos.
Whether it’s fishing for food or catch and release we enjoy being on or near the water. We appreciate the opportunities available and the variety of experiences. This past season there were not many people around because of COVID and there wasn’t the pressure on the resources as usual. We felt a little spoiled and it was lovely. I’m sure things will change next year.