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The new flats fishing program on Bimini we told you about in the November 2010 issue is up and running. As this is written, a group of six anglers is on the island, and the word is that they caught some nice bonefish and missed a few permit. Bimini, youll recall, is the small Bahamian island just across the Gulf Stream from Miami, where Ernest Hemingway used to drink and troll for sailfish and other blue-water species. It’s also where presidential candidate Gary Hart was photographed with his paramour on the deck of the boat Monkey Business. The shenanigan ended his bid for president. Many other droll and interesting things have occurred on Bimini over the years. It would be an interesting place to visit even without the fishing.
Flats fishing has always taken a backseat to blue-water fishing on Bimini, and that will likely continue, but some real money and promotional firepower has been brought to bear on the flats fishing. The launch of Bonefish Bimini, the entity that is offering the fishing, occurs in conjunction with the Bimini Big Game Club becoming a Guy Harvey Outpost Resort. Vaughn Cochran of Black Fly Outfitters has been hired as a fishing consultant.
Cochran says that for the foreseeable future all of the guiding will be handled by the five local guides who have operated on Bimini for many years. Both wade fishing and boat fishing is available. As for the quality of the fishing, it may turn out to be much better than is generally supposed, not just in numbers, but in the size of the fish, too, according to Cochran, who can be reached at Black Fly Outfitters in Jacksonville (904-997-2220), and photographer Pat Ford, who fished Bimini this past February. This is how Pat Ford described his recent Bimini outing:
“I’ve fished Bimini’s flats off and on for 50 years, and the guides (there are only five of them on the island) tell me that the bonefish population has remained constant during that entire time span. That fact alone makes Bimini a very special place.
“On my latest trip, I fished a few days with Guy Harvey and Vaughn Cochran. That was in January, which is not what you would call ‘prime time’ for bonefish on the flats. The first afternoon Capt. Fred Rolle took us around South Bimini to an enormous wading flat where we watched school after school of bones push through the skinny water. The water was pretty cold but we still hooked six fish. As the tide rose, we moved over to the bay east of North Bimini and found singles, pairs, and small schools that jumped on every fly that we got in front of them. I was very impressed with the size of the bonefish. The second day we stayed in the bay east of North Bimini and Vaughn and I hooked probably two dozen bones between four and eight pounds despite the relatively cold water. Fred Rolle assured us that when the water temperature rises into the upper 70s, you can expect to cast to literally hundreds of bonefish every day and have shots at big barracuda and occasionally permit.
“Bimini’s bonefish seem to be larger than the standard for the Bahamas, yet they do not appear to be more difficult to catch. Actually, I think your chances of hooking a double-digit bonefish are about as good in Bimini as anywhere else in the Bahamas.”
If all of this intrigues you, make booking inquiries at www.biggame clubbimini.com/bonefish-package.htm. The phone number is 800-867-4764. Double occupancy prices start at $1,395 for three nights’ lodging, two days of fishing, and reach $3,555 for seven nights’ lodging, six days of fishing. That includes breakfast and a box lunch for the flats, but not dinner, airport transfers, or tips. If you go, file a report and let the rest of us know how things went.