Bahamas with Fitz
Bahamas with Fitz
I’m still playing catch up here. Here’s how the fishing went down in the Bahamas with Fitz Coker at the beginning of this month.
After arriving in Key West from a trip to NY and PA, I quickly reversed directions and drove up to Lauderdale to meet Fitz at the airport. We had five days of fishing planned at the East End Lodge, and after a short plane ride and an hour in a car we were rigging up the fly poles and preparing for the first day of fishing.
Day one was the best weather of the trip, and we had an opportunity to look for permit in some water that I have never visited before. We found them, large fish in decent groups, most places we looked. While I had two fish fall in behind the fly, I was unable to get the grab from a permit and we spent a few hours fishing for large barracuda. Fitz caught a couple, and I hooked one next that caught the interest of a nearby lemon shark. The damage was quick but severe, and this was what was left over:
Following this we made a move towards another permit shot, which was similar to the others we’d had do far: a large group of large permit in current, suspended and not willing to buy the diablo I was selling. Fitz soon thereafter hooked the very shark that did the damage on a 10 weight, which was a little less than we needed for a shark that was much larger than we thought. Within an hour he had the fish next to the boat, but we were unable to take it on board for a visit due to a broken tippet. Given the size of this particular shark it was probably just as well. With that we went back to bonefish, and Fitz caught a small one from a mud before we called it a day and headed home for dinner.
The second day was the leading edge of a front that would take create havoc with the fishing, and we found a few smaller bonefish that didn’t hold our interest for very long. It was a short day, and on the way home we made plans to shark fish the following day. Before that, however, we found a small flat that had a number of mutton snapper hanging on a coral head. Fitz was up, and with ease hooked one that promptly broke him off on some nearby sargassum. We returned to find them again but they were gone. For the next two hours I threw an 11 weight with a large fly as we blew down the flat, hoping to come tight to my own mutton snapper. This didn’t happen, though it certainly wasn’t for lack of trying.
We shark fished the next day after a short stint on a shoreline for small bonefish, though we spent the better part of the day searching for a barracuda to use for shark bait. This worked out only after a long try, and in the afternoon we tried to get a few hooked up to the fly rods to make the windy weather tolerable. The fish were tough, however, and finally I broke and hooked one on a tube lure baited with barracuda. After that they turned on, and Fitz and I each hooked a few before we left.
The fourth day was spent in total pursuit of bonefish, and while we caught some none were large. It was chilly and windy, and the fishing was actually quite decent for such difficult conditions. In addition to many small ones I had a nice shot at a larger fish, though this didn’t work out, and Fitz got a five pound fish for his efforts.
The final day, we elected to brave to rough passage to outer water and look for permit once again. We saw a single permit on a bank, but as the depth decreased we started to see a number of large bonefish. I waded after a large single over white sand and hooked him twice–pulling the fly out each time. Fitz caught a small one, and I had another couple of wading shots at nicer fish. I missed a bite from another fish and then we left as a group in the boat in pursuit of permit. We didn’t find any, and Fitz wasn’t going to tolerate this pursuit all day. When we saw a group of large barracuda he grabbed his rod and overtook the bow. When the fly landed I wasn’t sure what had happened, mostly because it seemed so unlikely: the fish that grabbed it was involved with the battery of barracuda, but smaller and and sandier. Sure enough, it was a nice bonefish. Unable to resist the large flashy barracuda fly on the wire leader, it fell for the oldest trick in the book and we were happy to take pictures:
After this we took a look closer to home in some deeper water, throwing topwater plugs to lurking mutton snapper. Fitz and I each hooked a large fish, and we each were broken off by them on the coral.
With that our trip was finished, and we packed up for the ride home.
Since that time I had a three day fishing trip planned with Steve Huff in the Everglades, and we were joined by Jason Schratwieser. I’ll get that loaded up once I’m married.