Andros Island is known for its healthy population of big bonefish. The fishing from Kamalame is just spectacular with a 3-mile-long flat right on the backside of the cay for bonefishing on your own to a seemingly endless supply of flats to the north all the way up to the Joulter Cays that are best fished with one of Kamalame’s experienced guides.
Fly fishers will need a good mix of fly patterns to effectively target the bonefish around Andros Island, and it might be wise to have a few permit and tarpon flies handy just in case you come across those guys (in the Joulters and on the Westside).
Fly Fishing: The fly fisherman has an advantage over the spin fisherman due to the delicacy of the fly presentation and a more diverse selection of patterns.
General Fly Selection Guidelines: It is important to match the fly’s overall color with that of the bottom. The food items that bonefish prefer are also experts in camouflage and will match to their surroundings perfectly. There are also days when bright pink is the only color that will work. When in doubt, ask your guide for recommendations.
Recommended Bonefish Flies: You should consider taking two to four dozen of the assorted flies listed below for a week’s fishing. You needn’t include all of these. Most should have standard bead-chain eyes and should be in size #4 to #6. Add some size #8 for finicky or spooky fish. Include a handful each of eyeless and lead-eye flies.
• Crazy Charlies (tan, light brown, pink)
• Shrimp imitations (light brown, light pink), both with rubber legs and lightly weighted such as the Peterson’s Spawning Shrimp or Veverka’s Mantis Shrimp.
• Small Clouser Minnows (chartreuse and white, tan and white)
• Bonefish Scampi
• Crab patterns, including Barry and Cathy Beck’s “silly leg” version and yarn crabs in light brown and light green, work well for both bonefish and permit.
Rods: The ideal rod for Andros Island’s bonefish is a stiff, fast-action 9-foot, 7-, 8-, or 9-weight. The 8-weight will effectively handle most conditions and have the power to punch out a line in a fairly stiff breeze.
Reels: Should be anodized saltwater models that will hold a full fly line with 150-plus yards of 20-pound backing. Reels with a high quality, smooth disc drag are essential to prevent break-offs from the blistering runs of hooked fish.
Fly Line: Tropical saltwater weight-forward floating fly lines are all that is necessary. Carry at least one extra spool / line in case a fish frays your line on a mangrove root or coral.
Leader/Tippet: Tapered leaders 9- to 10-feet long in the 8- to 12-pound range are recommended. It’s always a good idea to start the day with a fresh leader so take enough to cover your days of fishing along with spools of 8- to 15 pound tippet for rebuilding or lengthening leaders.
You certainly shouldn’t expect it, but you may encounter permit in the Joulters or on the Westside of Andros. These fish should be considered a bonus in The Bahamas.
Permit are by far the most difficult, picky, frustrating fish you’ll encounter on the flats and are considered by many as the ultimate flats species. They have superb eyesight and a well developed sense of smell. Unlike bonefish, permit are excessively finicky about what they eat. They will often charge your offering with reckless abandon, only to stop at the last moment and snobbishly refuse it. Don’t become discouraged.
Recommended Permit Flies: Permit have a particular weakness for small crabs so the majority of productive patterns are crab imitators. Generally, the most productive are the Rag Head Crab, Merkin Crab and Cathy Beck Fleeing Crab in muted colors like tan, cream and olive in sizes #6 or #4. Other patterns include Clouser Minnows in various colors and Veverka’s Mantis Shrimp.
Rods: The ideal permit rod is a fast-action 9- or 10-weight.
Reels: Those listed for bonefish should fare well against permit; make sure to have at least 150 to 200 yards of 20-pound backing.
Lines: Tropical saltwater weight-forward floating lines are all that is necessary.
Tippet / Leader: Nine- to 12-foot tapered leaders in the 16- to 20-pound range. Fluorocarbon tippet is recommended.
Tarpon (May and June Peak)
Tarpon are the largest, strongest and most acrobatic of the flats species. Even juvenile fish will put your angling skills to the test and strain your tackle. This tarpon fishery is not as significant as what can be those found in Belize, Mexico, and Florida. As with permit, tarpon should be considered as an added bonus, since the numbers found in these waters are fairly limited. A few, especially the juveniles, remain in the area year-round. Migratory fish begin to show up at the beginning of May and increase significantly from May through June.
Tarpon Flies: A selection of the following in various colors should cover all conditions (sizes 1/0, 2/0 and 3/0): Cockroach, Laid-Up Tarpon, Tarpon Toads, Tarpon Bunny, Sea Habit Bucktail, Black Death, Big Eye Tarpon, Dave’s Bead-Belly and Lefty’s Deceiver (red / yellow, chartreuse / white).
Rod: The ideal rod for tarpon here is a 10-weight. You can get away with a stiff 9-weight, but if you hook a 60-plus pound fish or your guide asks you to cast a 3/0 fly in a 20-knot breeze, you’ll wish you had the backbone of a heavier rod.
Reel: Tough, no-nonsense reels are a must when you are playing tarpon. A strong, reliable drag is vital. Capacity: 200 yards with 30-pound backing.
Lines: Tropical saltwater floating lines are recommended, and you may want to take a sink tip fly line to fish the deeper channels.
Leaders and Tippets: For most anglers, pre-made tarpon leaders (offered by Rio and Umpqua) will simplify things considerably. In any case, you need a 12- to 15-inch shock tippet of 60-pound or heavier monofilament. We recommend buying these pre-made leaders with 16- or 20-pound class tippet sections.
Other Game Fish
Barracuda, Jacks and Sharks: Lurking at the top of the food chain, these tough flats predators offer some outstanding action on a fly or lure. They will strike anything that darts away from them in an injured manner. When hooked, they are some of the fastest and most powerful fish to be taken on light tackle. For barracuda and jacks, an extra-fast retrieve will usually provoke more strikes than a slow retrieve.
Flies: Barracuda — Needlefish patterns (green/white, chartreuse, blue/white), Braided Barracuda Fly (chartreuse), Rabbit Barracuda (2/0).
Jacks and Sharks — Lefty’s Deceiver (red/white and blue/white), Bob’s Banger Poppers, Lefty’s Cuda / Shark Fly; 2/0 to 3/0 hook.
Rod / Reel: Follow tarpon guidelines; a 10-weight rod is ideal.
Line: Saltwater taper, floating line.
Leader: A wire shock tippet is mandatory for barracuda and sharks. Rio’s Toothy Critter Leader or Rio’s Knottable Wire are perfect.