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Subscriber Elgan M. Ridley III says the trip to Crooked Island Lodge that Scott Heywood of Angling Destinations (www.anglingdestinations.com) booked for him and his son last June was memorable in a number of ways. For one thing, it was his son’s first bonefish trip. In fact, it was his first saltwater fishing trip, period. Here is how he and his son describe the trip:
“After casting his 8 wt. across the backyard pool for two months, my son, Sam (14), and I found ourselves stepping off a Bahamas Air flight onto Crooked Island last spring on a trip to Crooked Island Lodge arranged for us by Angling Destinations. Cynthia, the lodge manager, met us at the airport with a big smile and an air-conditioned van to transport us to the lodge approximately 20 minutes away. Because the flight from Nassau was full, no luggage was brought to Crooked Island that day. All 30-plus passengers were told they should not expect their luggage until the following day. Luckily, I always carry rods, reels, and enough clothing in my carry-on bag to go fishing.
“We were the only anglers at the lodge that week, so Cynthia offered to provide us meals whenever we wanted them. For sure, the food left nothing to be desired. The dinners were more than ample: salads followed by lobster, snapper, grouper, topped off with fresh cakes. We were spoiled with great food and service all week. Our guides for the week—Randy, Michael, and Jeffrey—all had well-kept flats skiffs, and they were eager to help us find fish. All three were patient and helpful coaches for Sam. It turned out that Sam hooked the first bonefish he cast to, and he went on to land several more that first day. This is how the fishing trip played out from his perspective:
“‘As this was my first bonefishing experience and my first trip to the Bahamas, I really didn’t know what to expect. I can honestly say I didn’t expect the lodge to be as nice as it was, considering the fact that it was on an island in the middle of nowhere. I loved the place! My first day at the dock I was pretty sure the fishing would be good but I doubted my ability to catch a bonefish. After all, I had never caught one before, and I was relatively new to fly fishing. As you can probably imagine, I was pretty surprised by what happened as we (my guide Randy and I) poled down a shoreline that morning. Pretty soon, Randy spotted a single bonefish and pointed it out to me. I promptly cast my Gotcha fly within a few feet of it, and it positively charged my fly. I set the hook and fought the fish for a minute or two before it managed to get away. What an awesome experience! I went on to catch several bonefish that day, plus a 15-pound tarpon that my dad hooked and passed on to me. We also saw a permit that day, though we didn’t have any luck getting him to eat.
“‘After a fun day of fishing, it was nice to come back and chill on the beach. I built a fire pit, made a fire, and we listened to music and talked until late. We ended up doing that every night we were there. It was really great sitting out there every night by the fire with my dad, relaxing and talking and just spending time together. Over the next few days we fished with three different guides. Randy, our first guide, took us bonefishing. Michael, our second guide, took us snapper fishing with live bait because the weather was cloudy. We caught a mutton snapper that day that really tasted great, plus I jumped a 50-pound tarpon in the afternoon. Jeffrey was our third guide. He was quiet but funny and cool to be around . . . like on my last day when he took us wadefishing: he and I just walked and talked about sports and life in general. He was a cool guy all around. Wade fishing was great because aside from walking close to an eight-foot nurse shark, we found some schools of at least 200 bonefish. You didn’t even have to be a good caster to get one, which was great for me because I get frustrated when I can’t cast well. I think if I had to pick one thing about Crooked Island that I liked the most, it would be the people. They were always nice and helpful. I think my father and I both gained ten pounds each. The one thing I hated was that I could not catch a barracuda. I hooked several during the week but could not land one. I loved the trip in just about every other way possible, however. The best thing of all was spending a lot of time with my dad.’”
Postscript: Ridley gives the cost of this trip as $2,500 per person.