BIMINI, Bahamas -- Many South Florida anglers with small boats yearn for the adventure of fishing the bountiful waters of Bimini about 50 miles away. But crossing the Straits of Florida to fish in a foreign country — even a small and friendly one — an be daunting to some.
That’s why TV fishing show host/Salt Water Sportsman magazine editor George Poveromo of Parkland is running his Bimini Fishing Extravaganza for the 16th year.
A flotilla of more than 40 boats — 23 feet and larger — is expected to travel June 12-16 to the Bimini Sands Resort & Marina, where Poveromo and members of his pro staff will endeavor to enhance fishing success.
The event is sponsored by the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and Capt. Harry’s Fishing Supply. Slots for the trip are still open.
“The goal is for participants to have fun while learning the where-tos and how-tos of catching fish around Bimini,” Poveromo said. “We’ll tell them the areas — where do you go; what do you rig — everything from reef to offshore. Once people come and you get them on fish and they know how to rig, they’re like, ‘let’s go back.’”
The Bimini chain — celebrated in Ernest Hemingway’s novel Islands in the Stream — features grass flats teeming with bonefish; coral reefs that harbor large yellowtail, mutton and gray snapper, black grouper and kingfish and deepwater dropoffs where wahoo, dolphin, yellowfin tuna and blue marlin roam.
Anglers who sign up for the Extravaganza at www. georgepoveromo.com are advised what kinds of rods, reels, tackle, chum and bait to bring with them to cover all the bases.
“You have to be self-sufficient in Bimini,” Poveromo said.
On a recent scouting expedition aboard Poveromo’s 28-foot, twin-engine Marc VI, the host — along with pro staffers Carl Grassi and Dave Nyitray and two companions — enjoyed bountiful reef fishing near Bimini.
Anchored and chumming at a 70-foot-deep spot dubbed Hammerhead Reef, the party caught 25 yellowtail to 3 pounds; an 8-pound dolphin; a kingfish and two cero mackerel. They could have caught plenty more large yellowtail but for a gang of sharks ranging up and down the reef, gulping the largest of the snapper that took more than a minute to reel in.
Grassi, recovering from a pinched nerve and compromised in his ability to “horse” the big ‘tails, came up with an effective countermeasure for the marauding sharks.
Eschewing the typical light spinning tackle that many anglers use, Grassi deployed a conventional Penn International 12V Carnage reel loaded with 50-pound braid on a jigging rod. The braid was connected to 10 feet of 30-pound fluorocarbon leader and a small, brown size 4 hook. For bait, there were cut-up goggle eyes, bonito and ballyhoo.
Grassi inserted the rod in the gunwales holder, thumbed the lever drag on the reel to its lightest setting and free-lined his bait out with the current. When the bite of a hefty ‘tail began to peel line off the reel, he tightened the drag and cranked the fish in as quickly as possible without the need to pump and reel. The sharks got a few of his fish, but not many.
On the following day, before heading back to Miami, the group travelled to another popular reef called Piquet Rocks. Anchored and chumming in about 60 feet of water, they were hoping for black grouper and mutton snapper.
No blacks were caught, but they did manage a 12-pound mutton free-lining a glass minnow on spinning gear. Poveromo boated a 24-pound king on a conventional jigging outfit using a white, one-ounce Geoff’s Jig baited with a piece of bonito. And there were a few mystery cut-offs.
When the reef fishing slowed about midday, the Marc VI headed west to run-and-gun for dolphin on the way back to Miami. However, an impromptu safety inspection conducted by a boarding party from a passing U.S. Coast Guard cutter forced the group to abort that mission.
By the time the Coast Guard decided not to issue a citation and allowed them to continue on, an approaching thunderstorm prompted them to head straight for Haulover Marine Center.
There, Grassi and Nyitray cleaned the remainder of the fish and bulging packets were divided among the group: edible proof of their international fishing adventure.