Don Causey Note: Are anglers really getting on airplanes and flying to destinations outside the United States? Indeed they are, as witness this report I just received from Vince Tobia of Cattaraugus Creek Outfitters, who operates various kinds of trips to the Bahamas, including do-it-yourself outings. His note recaps a check-out trip he just took to the remote, southernmost island in the Bahamas Great Inagua. Read closely what he says you must do to gain legal entry to the Bahamas. Spoiler alert! There are not a lot details about achingly clear water, flashes of silver, and tails in the air, but the report that follows is still likely to bring tears of longing to your eyes. Mine are misted up as I write this statement.
Vince Tobia writes: “Happy New Year, Don! I just returned from Great Inagua in The Bahamas visiting our mutual friend, Henry Hugh, owner of Inagua Outback Lodge. You remember. Outback Lodge is on a hill overlooking the ocean at the very end of the worst road in the world. You can sit outside eating conch salad and gaze across an endless stretch of ocean. Right down the beach a ways you can catch bonefish just about any time of day.
I visited Great Inagua with a friend to check the place out and see how smoothly you could the travel there now that the pandemic appears to be running its course. We had no travel problems at all, and the fishing was really good. We were the only anglers on the island, we were told, which is not that unusual, of course, on Great Inagua. It wasn’t unusual even in pre-pandemic times to be the only angler. The fish were happy, and my friend and I were happy, too, to be back on an honest-to- goodness bonefish covered with beautiful water. We found plenty of tarpon and willing bonefish, along with some very nice barracuda. I even landed a permit one day and got my bonefish and tarpon afterward to complete a Grand Slam!
“At Cattaraugus Creek Outfitters, we are finally starting to see people plan winter getaways to the tropics. It’s starting slowly but there’s definitely more interest now that vaccines are becoming available. I am hopeful that it will continue to increase, as our friends in The Bahamas who rely on visitors desperately need our help. In that connection I have been keeping in touch with my friends on Crooked Island, where I have four hosted weeks lined up in February and March. Willie Gibson, Shakey Mckinney, Clinton Scavella and the rest of the guides are anxious for visiting anglers to return. I’m also getting ready to visit Acklins Island in a few weeks, staying at Ivels. I will certainly fill you in on all these trips as they take place.
“You and others interested in coming to the Bahamas should be aware that it is fairly easy and straightforward to do so, as this is written. The key document you need to acquire is a Health Visa. How you can get one is spelled out clearly at: https://travel.gov.bs/. The process starts with arranging for a Covid-19 RT-PCR (swab) Test within five days of your arrival in The Bahamas. Obviously, the test needs to indicate you do not have the virus. You simply upload the results of your test to the visa application website and pay a $60 fee, which includes health insurance and also the fee for an obligatory rapid test after you have spent five days in the islands. Typically, you get the result of one of these rapid tests within hours.
“I went to my local Walgreens for my initial PCR (swab) test. It’s important you choose a location that can deliver results within 2-3 days. I recommend visitors carry a printout of their health visa approval, as well as the actual lab test results. The ticket agent at American Airlines, the official at Bahamas Customs, and the ticket agent at Bahamasair all asked for these documents. I also had photos in my phone of all these documents for backup. Travel went very smoothly overall, and the Bahamians were very welcoming to us!
“The obligatory COVID Health Insurance, by the way, covers you for the duration of your stay in the event you become ill with COVID-19 while in The Bahamas. Coverage includes: Medical expenses incurred on-island due to COVID-19, up to $50,000 (USD); Trip interruption/delay for necessary quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19 up to $500 (USD) per day, $7,000 (USD) maximum.
“If you are thinking about a trip to The Bahamas any time son, it may be a good idea to purchase flights to Nassau in the near future, as many international airlines are offering great deals and also allowing changes for no fee. Just be sure you check for availability of connecting flights once you arrive in The Bahamas. Some Bahamasair schedules have been curtailed as this is written. Enjoy!
Postscript: You can get more information on Vince Tobia’s trips to The Bahamas by contacting him at Cattaraugus Creek Outfitters, 716-479-2327. Web: www.ccoflyfishing.com. You can also drive yourself crazy by watching the following video Tobia shot on his recent trip to Great Inagua. Yes, his permit appears in the video.