Photo of Bill Mullis holding a trophy bonefish
caught on fly rod at Andros Islands.
While bass fishermen were searching for bedding bass on Lake Norman in late March, a group of fellow anglers and I traveled to the Andros Islands in the Bahamas, to catch bonefish. Not only was the bonefishing fabulous, but the clear skies and eighty degree temperature was a welcome relief from a rather cold winter and chilly spring.
What is a bonefish? Simply stated, it’s a lightning fast fish that swims the shallows of tropical waters around the world. Bonefish can be caught as close to home as Biscayne Bay in Miami, FL and are quite popular with fly fishermen in the Florida Keys. Bonefishing is a catch and release sport since as the name implies, their bodies are rather bony.
Stalking them while wading or poling a shallow draft boat is more like hunting than fishing, and when sighted, the lure must land quietly ahead of the lead fish in the school, which is moving most of the time. Known as the “ghosts of the flats”, their silver bodies reflect the colors of the bottom, which makes them nearly invisible while feeding.
Bonefish are known for their wariness, so care must be taken to not let them know you are fishing for them. The thrill comes when the fish takes the fly and begins to pull line off the reel at what seems to be thirty miles per hour. It is not unusual for a large fish, one over ten pounds, to strip all of the line and backing off a fly reel.
Everyone in our group, led by Richard Megorden, II of Charlotte, caught fish. Some had ten plus catch and release days, but for most, four or five was average. The largest, a twelve pounder was taken by Bill Mullis, an excellent fly fishermen and a retired surgeon. Bill’s trophy measured thirty six inches in length and had a seventeen inch girth. He said, “There was no doubt about its size. When I saw its tail sticking out of twenty inches of water, I knew it was big and was certain I could catch it if it didn’t run into the nearby mangroves. Thank goodness it ran toward open water and after several strong runs, I was able to land, photograph and release it.”
Andros is a short flight from Nassau. We stayed at Two Boys Inn (www.twoboysinn.com ). The guides, boats, fishing and food were great, as were resort owners Frankie and Melinda Neymour.
Tips from Capt. Gus: Bonefish are known for their wariness, so care must be taken to be quiet and not to cast a shadow on the water.
Free Safe Boating Class – “How to Navigate Lake Norman Day or Night” will be held at The Peninsula Yacht Club, 18501 Harbor Light Blvd, Cornelius, NC at 6:30 p.m. on May 13th. Becky Johnson and I will cover “Understanding LKN’s Channel Marker and Buoy System”, “How to Avoid Shallow Water”, “Ten Most Dangerous Spots”, and “Interpreting Lake Maps”. For more information, call Ashley at 704 892 7575.
Free Fishing Seminar – “Fishing Terminology” – Knowing the language is important in every sport, and fishing is no different. During this session, you will learn the meaning of many terms used in day-to-day fishing conversations. For example, the differences between hook sizes #5 and #5/0 or Umbrella and Alabama Rigs versus Texas and Carolina Rigs will be explained. Jake Bussolini and I will conduct this ninety minute session at 6:30 p.m. on May 20th at Gander Mountain, Exit 36, Mooresville, NC. For more information, call 704 658 0822.
Hot Spots of the Week: High water and late spawning has fish swimming in shallow water where they are easier to catch than normal. Best bets are topwater lures for bass early and late and soft plastics during the mid-day. White perch are schooling in twenty to thirty feet of water. The best fishing is early in the day using live minnows and Sabiki Rigs. Arkansas blue catfish are hitting cut bait and chicken parts in shallow coves. Crappies continue to please, but have moved off the banks and are holding around cover in ten to twenty feet of water.
The surface water temperature varies by location, but is mainly in the sixties and low seventies in open waters not affected by power generation. The water level is about 1.6 feet below full pond on Lake Norman and 3.3 feet below on Mountain Island Lake.
Capt. Gus Gustafson of Lake Norman Ventures, Inc. is an outdoor columnist and a full time Professional Fishing Guide on Lake Norman, NC. Visit his web site, www.Fishingwithgus.com or call 704-617-6812.