The mahi arrived to our table as ordered — nicely blackened and seriously fresh-tasting with slices of lime and melted butter. Bowls full of peas ’n’ rice and fried plantains made it a Bahamian feast for the books.
ON THE FLATS
All my career writing about the Bahamas, I have heard how difficult it is to get a bonefish on the line.
Once again, it pays to hire a charter guide. I buddied with a fishing writer to head out of Stella Maris with Capt. Maurice Rahming at the north end of secluded, old-Bahamian Long Island.
Summer is best for bonefishing, the captain told us. But as we pulled into beach- and rock-rimmed Calabash Bay, I could not have cared less about casting for bonefish. All I wanted to do was gape at and shoot pictures of the way the shallow waters changed shades of jewel-tone green according to shifting clouds and white sand or rocky bottom.
But bonefishing is serious business in the Out Islands, so as soon as Capt. Maurice spotted what he called “smokes” — cloudy waters where bonefish were feeding and stirring things up — we were casting off the boat’s stern.
Cast, jig, reel, repeat. That went on for about 15 minutes before I felt my line tug and heard the zing that would become music to my ears.
Bonefish like to run with a hooked shrimp, and this one had me circling the boat, reeling when I could, letting it run when it felt like it, and finally pulling in about a 2 1/2-pounder. I followed that with a couple of three-pounders within 15 minutes. That was fun! So, what’s so difficult about catching a bonefish?!
Not all that much when you have a guide like Capt. Maurice, possessing some sort of super-vision to detect these phantom “smokes.”
I learned from the fishing writer that the more difficult style of bonefishing involves sight-fishing, fly tackle and getting into the water. We, however, used the easier spooling method from the 18-foot Fly Craft boat.
We moved out of the bay into the skinny, skinny waters of Cape Santa Maria Beach, where the white sand bottom seemed to make the water disappear altogether, as though we were floating above it. The clouds lined up above the treetops like marshmallows on a skewer toasting in the warm Bahamian sun.
The famed fishing waters in Glinton’s Sound yielded zero, and we moved around to another spot. Green turtles poked their noses at us, sting rays skimmed across the bottom and a small shark wiggled past our boat. With all that action, who cares if the fish are biting?
Well, evidently the fishing writer and the captain do, and so we moved on.
I caught my fourth and final bonefish before heading to old-island-style Stella Maris Resort for a rum punch party, conch fritters, a steak and fish barbecue, and tales of catching fish — a conversation in which I could now actually join, expert that I’d become in two short days.