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Anglers looking for a place their nonfishing spouses will like should read this report on fishing the Turks and Caicos from Honor Roll subscriber John W. Harrison. It’s a real dandy. Thanks, John, for staying in touch!
“I would imagine there are many fly fishermen my age (retired with adult children) who are looking for places with good fishing that also offer activities that will occupy their nonfishing spouses. Over the past few years, I have found several such places (the Elk River in Fernie, British Columbia; Isla Holbox in Mexico; and Pelican Bay on Grand Bahama Island), but in all these places either the fishing is better than the opportunities for the nonanglers or vice versa. Enter the island of Providenciales in the Turks and Caicos.
“My wife I went to Providenciales (or Provo, as everyone calls it) this past January and both of our expectations were amply fulfilled. Grace Bay, a fabulous six-mile-long white sand beach on Provo has everything your nonfishing partner could wish for, including beautiful resorts, luxury shops and spas, plus many fine restaurants and a wide range of activities and excursions.
“As regards the fishing, everyone I talked to beforehand said I should go to South Caicos rather than Provo, as the bonefishing there is better. Without your spouse, this would indeed be the thing to do, but South Caicos is relatively undeveloped. Basically, there is nothing to do there but fish or dive. So we stayed on Provo and rented a small Jeep. On the second day of our trip, I drove six miles to Walkin Marina on the northeast end of the island, where Capt. Darin Bain (www.turksandcaicosbonefishing
.com) was waiting for me.
“Frankly, my expectations were not high, since all the fishermen seemed to head to South Caicos, thinking Provo was only for the holidaymakers. However, Darin met me at the dock at 7:30 a.m. in his 17-foot Action Craft boat, and we ran flatout southwest for almost an hour, by which time we seemed to be in open ocean, and certainly out of sight of land.
“Darin abruptly stopped the boat and said, ‘OK, get out here.’ I will never forget the next few minutes after stepping out into about 12 inches of water onto a perfect sandy bonefish flat about five-and-a-half miles long and half a mile wide. My mouth literally hung open, as no matter which direction I looked, there were large single bones tailing. Lots of these were in the four- to eight-pound class, and several were much larger. As any fisherman knows, small bonefish usually swim in shoals, while the large ones go alone. However, everywhere I looked there were large single tails flashing in the morning sun. I said to Darin, ‘Have we died and gone to heaven?’
“The fish were neither spooky nor particular about which fly I used. They would hit virtually anything in size 4 or 6, particularly shrimp, squimp, and leggy bonefish patterns. I was broken off several times on a 12-pound, 10-foot leader, so I quickly moved up to a 16-pound leader. The larger leader had no ill effect on the readiness of the fish to hit. I caught probably 25 to 30 fish in the three- to 10-pound range before my arthritic wrists gave out. A younger, more dedicated man could have caught many more fish. The sheer size of these fish, their spectacular runs, and the fact that so many of them were tailing on the incoming tide made this one of my most memorable bonefishing days in 20 years of saltwater fly fishing.
“The area I fished, by the way, would be an ideal location for two anglers, as the flats are so extensive that the guide simply leads the way, with both anglers fishing either side of him. On the rising tide it was fairly easy to spot the fish, but as the water deepened it was good to have Darin’s eyes.
“The second day we went to a different flat, but the experience was pretty much the same, with tailing bonefish everywhere. We saw several good-sized lemon sharks (always a good sign on a bonefish flat), and I lost two sizeable fish to one particularly aggressive shark before we jumped back in the boat. On the way back, Darin put in a spot where I could cast to snook on the edge of a mangrove swamp. We actually encountered three or four large snook, but I spooked all of them with bad casts.
“As for our lodging on Provo, we stayed in the delightful Harbour Club Villas overlooking Flamingo Lake, where Barry and Marta do a splendid job. The villas are extremely comfortable and located on the south side of the island, where you can fish Turtle Lake (directly in front of the villas) or the flats at Jim Hill Bight, Discovery Bay, or Stubbs Point, all a short drive away. I waded several of these places on a rising tide, and although I caught some small jacks, barracuda, and the like, I neither hooked nor saw any bonefish. It was obvious these flats get a lot of pressure.
“As nice as the villas are, I should note that they are situated on an unpaved road two miles from the nearest shop and four miles from all the activity on Grace Bay, so one must rent a vehicle. In our case, that meant my wife had to shuttle me to the marina each morning. This is fine for fishermen, but with a nonfishing spouse, one of the many villas or resorts on Grace Bay would probably be a much better option.
“The only reservation I had about the fishing was the long run that was required each morning and evening. Also, Darin was a little over-anxious to get back to the dock, particularly the second day. In addition, everything is very expensive on Turks and Caicos (meals, accommodation, car rental) and the fishing is no exception. It cost me $750 for a full day, excluding tip and license. Ultimately, the whole experience was well worth the cost, and my wife I will be returning next year.”—John Harrison.
Don Causey Note: Harrison notes in his report that there are other guides on Provo. Two have been written up in The Angling Report, namely, Barr Gardiner (www.provo.net/Bonefish) and Arthur Dean (www.silverdeep.com). As for the size of fish Harrison gives, a ten-pound bonefish is huge. Few anglers have even seen such a fish, much less caught one. We wouldn’t be doing our job if we didn’t express a twinge of doubt about catching fish that big around Provo. Does anyone have a photo? I’d love to have my doubts disproven.