Monday, May 19, 2014

Days 3 and 4: Sea Hunter 2014

This was a tale of two very different days!
Day 3, Tuesday, was wonderful!
Day 4, not so much… in fact, other than the company, Wednesday sucked.
So let's talk about Tuesday… out third fishing day aboard the Sea Hunter.
On this day, the relatively calm conditions that had been rolling in from the west and had made our bluewater day so relaxing swung to the northeast bringing a brisk 20 mph wind with it.

Getting the skiffs ready at dawn
Despite the wind, our day turned out to be superb! I started my day wading a softly curving bay. Guide and old friend, Kenny Scavella, had dropped me off and I had waded to shore at a nondescript point. This bay, which arched west, was all in the lee of the NE wind. After dropping me off, Kenny took off with Jim Woollet and Mike Kotrick headed for the next point where I planned to meet them. With these winds from the northeast, I had been searching for a lee shore hopefully with a creek on the downside and a big flat at the outlet to the creek. If we could find it, this would be a classic bonefish spot in these brisk winds. When I saw this point I thought it might work. I didn't know whether we would find the appropriate creek and flat on the downside. But it sure felt right, so I swung my legs over the skiff's gunnels and waded ashore. 

OK, so how good was my day?
I present the following evidence:

Exhibit A:
As soon as I had waded to shore from where Kenny had dropped me off, I saw a big bonefish happily meandering in and out of some mangrove shoots near shore. Kenny's Action Craft skiff was still idling into deeper water when I made my cast. I flipped my fly to the bone from my hiding place behind a bit of drift wood. Of course, the fish ate and was soon caught and released. For the next 45 minutes, I saw and caught 4 more big bones. They all motored slowly past me and were eager to scarf up my pink conch fritter fly. None of these fish were less than five lbs., the biggest was probably seven.

The evidence was clear!

Exhibit B: 
After I reached the end of the bay, I turned north to follow another bay. I could see my companions 100 yards off shore and obviously into fish. With the relaxed attitude only success brings, I searched for another spot to try. To the north, I could see a small creek dancing in the sun over a small slice of land that cut way back paralleling the bay I had waded. Slugging it out thru the soft mangrove marsh that separated the bay from the creek, I waded out into the shallow water forced to climb up and over many soft hummocks. In the process of getting to an appropriate depth, I made a huge racket. Soon I had to stop… this was ridiculous! I had hoped the bottom would firm up once away from shore. But no such luck, so I climbed indelicately up and onto a big white hummock almost falling in the process. I took a deep breath. I was sure I had scared away any bones in the neighborhood and it would take some patience on my part to wait until a few new recruits filtered back in.

But within five seconds of me gaining my perch, I heard a commotion behind me. I turned around to see two big bones weaving up and over a hummock and in and out of the marl they had stirred up. They were totally engrossed in their efforts somehow oblivious to all the noise I had made.

"You gotta be kidding me…". I mumbled to myself, then added "I must have sounded like a bull in a china shop!"

With my feet pinned in the muck, I launched a short twenty foot cast over my shoulder. The biggest bone charged and I was hooked up almost before I had time to catch my breath. I did this three more times before exhausted from wading in this quicksand, I abandoned the flat. Fish or no fish, I wanted out.

Exhibit C:
For something to do, I waded out to join Kenny and Jim. They were in a slightly deeper channel that pierced the flat. From where I stood, I could see many small bones streaming past me in large schools. I didn't cast to these schools, it just seemed anticlimactic after what I had just experienced. I watched Kenny and Jim coming towards me, then we all waded back in the direction I had come. Soon, a big cloud engulfed the sun.

I switched my focus to the water's surface until my attention was pulled to a tiny blip that scattered a few drops of water.  I thought it was the very tip of a bigger bone's tail. If so, it was moving fast. I tossed my fly trying to calculate where the fish might be. I stripped slowly three, then four times. Suddenly my line came tight. The fish rocketed off taking me into my backing twice.

"Good fish?" Kenny yelled wading closer to me.
"I think so!" I shouted back knowing this had been sheer luck.

Kenny Scavella with my "even a blind pig sometime get's an acorn sometime" bonefish!

Soon, I could see a 4-5 foot lemon shark tracking my fish. I cupped my spool hard and reefed the bone in. When he was alongside me, I flipped him over and nervously scooped him up and out of the water in one move. Kenny and Jim had waded over to help me, so we took a few photos then released the bone.

"How big?" I asked Kenny, totally having lost all perspective.
"Almost 7 pounds" Kenny said.

We released the fish and I waded off the flat to relax a bit. I walked back to the point where I had first seen my companions. Jim eventually joined me.

"The shark got your fish" Jim said.

Sure enough, when I got in the skiff, there was the front half a bonefish on the bottom of the skiff. Sad for such a good fish to be eaten, but it was a great day!

Released, but sadly not destined to survive

What a day, soon we were heading back to the Sea Hunter for snapper fingers, tuna steaks and a made to order sunset!

Razor cleans a snapper next to tonight's tuna steaks

Laughing Gulls pick up the scaraps

On Wednesday, the wind swung another 45 degrees to the east. This small change made a dramatic difference. Instead of the breeze being offshore on the southwest shore of Crooked Island, now the wind's fetch included almost the entire Bight of Acklins. With the wind and waves going unimpeded from Acklins Island all the way to Long Cay just south of Crooked Island, the chop was strong and unrelenting.

We looked hard, but it was tough

As a result, the flats were stirred up and a bit chalky. The bones were very difficult to see and virtually impossible to track once spotted. After a very tough day with only a few bones hooked, we decided to pull anchor and run to the southern tip of Acklins Island where the easterly winds wouldn't have a chance to roil the flats. It took the Sea Hunter a little under four hours, but tomorrow promised to be a much better day. And it was!

Fidel worked hard, it was just a tough day
Let's go to Acklins Island
With our four toys in tow

Reno watches the convoy

Planning Day 5 over conch fritters


  1. "not so much… in fact, other than the company, Wednesday sucked"

    Gave me a chuckle this morning--haven't we all been there before. Enjoying the storyline and looking forward to Thursdays events.

  2. Thanks Erik… all "fishing" days in the Bahamas are better than the "no fishing" days, but sometimes "fishing" days have no fish. I sound like Donald Rumsfeld!