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We just keep getting information about affordable do-it-yourself (DIY) bonefishing, a way of fishing that has skyrocketed in popularity of late thanks to Rod Hamilton and his Web site and blog called DIY Bonefishing (www .diybonefishing.com). Take a look at this place we just learned about from subscriber and occasional correspondent Bill Horn. He writes:
“Finding a place to fish that is truly ‘out the front door’ is the Holy Grail for DIY bonefish anglers. And with good reason. DIY bonefishing commonly entails slogging through gumbo-like mud, squirming through mangrove thickets, relying on junker rental cars or leaking boats, or fishing heavily pounded accessible flats with lock-jawed bonies. The Seascape Inn on Mangrove Cay in the Bahamas provides a charming and funky antidote to these problems. There are indeed willing bonefish out the front door of the Seascape Inn – often no more than 150 feet away across a sandy beach under swaying palm trees.
“Mangrove Cay, of course, is the center island of the three that make up Andros Island, the largest island in the Bahamas. The cay is bounded on the north by the Middle Bight, the south by the South Bight, and the east by Oceanside flats reaching to the reef and the indigo Tongue of the Ocean. The Oceanside and South Bight flats in particular are accessible by foot, bicycle, car, or boat, providing excellent opportunities for wading anglers.
“The Seascape Inn, presided over by Brooklyn ex-pats Joan and Mickey delightful access to this shoreside fishery. Five small cabins and a rickety upstairs open-air bar and restaurant front the Tongue of the Ocean. A stone’s throw from the bar are the home flats, a genuinely excellent sandy bonefish flat right out front. About 300 yards to the northeast is Swains Cay, which offers more bonefish wading opportunities on its south, west, and north shores. The area around a small blue hole on the north side of the cay almost always holds a few bones. You can wade right out to Swains Cay from Seascape Inn, no kayak or boat required. Other flats are available via bicycle or taxi off Mangrove Cay’s single road. Joan and Mickey provide bicycles, allowing a visitor to pedal along the road and hit the beaches and flats down any number of trails off the road. I can personally testify to both its safety and relative ease, having done it multiple times with my daughter and my spouse. The locals are used to seeing folks cycling along with their fly rods.
“The key to successful DIY fishing here is a mid- to late-morning low tide. The best wade fishing is the hour or two on each side of the low tide. Fish are present on high water but wading can be difficult and the fish spread out, making them harder to find. Various tidal Web sites offer predictions for Fresh Creek, Andros Island. These tides are very close to those at Mangrove Cay and can be used to pick optimal tides for a DIY visit.
“Gear is relatively standard. An 8-wt. fly rod, a reel with a good drag, bonefish taper floating line, and nineto 12-foot leaders tapered to 12- or 15-pound test tippets are good bets. The local fly of choice is the red-headed Gotcha in sizes #2 or #4; this is a regular Gotcha tied with hot red/pink or red thread rather than the traditional coral pink head. Other good patterns are a #4 tan/white Greg’s Flats Fly, small tan Merkins in #4, or #2 to #6 Clousers in tan/white or chartreuse/white. Bead chain eyes or unweighted versions are needed for the shallow water. Good wading shoes/boots are a must, as coral outcrops among the sand and marl will chew up your feet. Quality polarized sunglasses, in brown or copper shades, are another requirement for spotting the elusive fish.
“Guided skiff fishing is also an option at the Seascape Inn. The Mc- Gowans can put you in touch with local guides if you want to fish deeper into the bights or make the long run to the justly vaunted west side of the island. Prime time is late October (after hurricane season) into June. There are daily 20-minute flights from Nassau to Mangrove Cay. Small groups of anglers might want to charter out of Ft. Lauderdale for direct flights to the cay.
“My spouse and I fish Mangrove Cay every year. We spend a week at the full service, five-star Mangrove Cay Club but always come early to enjoy a couple of days on our own at the Seascape Inn with Joan and Mickey. For more information, check out their Web site at www.seascapeinn.com.”
Postscript: The Web site indicates a year-round cost of $159 for a standard beachfront cabana, single or double occupancy, and $175 for a superior beachfront cabana. That cost includes breakfast and the use of various amenities such as bikes and kayaks. Just be sure you click on the Bahamas vacations specials tab before you book. At certain times of the year, a stay of several days includes free roundtrip airfare to and from Nassau to Mangrove Cay.