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Talk about a big bonefish! I’m indebted to Paul Vahldiek of Deep Water Cay Fishing Resort (DWC) on Grand Bahama Island for word of a 14.6-pound behemoth being taken this past month by a client from Houston, Jim Easterling. What makes the catch particularly noteworthy is Easterling had already caught a double-digit bonefish that week, plus another that almost made double digits. And, hold the phone: there is another wrinkle here. . . .
Continuing subscribers will remember that I was in the boat with an angler last fall (David Leake of Tailwaters Fly Company in Dallas) who took a giant permit at Deep Water Cay. The fish weighed in excess of 40 pounds. So, what is going on at DWC to account for these big fish? I’ll get back to that question in a moment. First, here is how Easterling described his battle with the big bonefish in a note to The Angling Report dated April 1:
“I caught the big fish on my fifth trip to Deep Water Cay in the past 20 months or so. I was there on a three-day visit. On the first day I caught a 9.4-pound bonefish, and on the second day I caught a 10.5-pound bonefish. The last day I fished was Friday, March 29. It had been pretty cool the first two days, but on the third day it began to warm up somewhat. It was mid-morning, and I was fishing with guide Omeko (“Meko”) Glinton. I was casting a version of a spawning shrimp fly with a No. 4 hook when Meko and I saw four fish in fairly shallow water coming out of the mangroves. I cast to the first bonefish and it came over to look at my fly, then kept going. Then I cast to the second bonefish, made one short strip, and watched in amazement as the big fish nailed my fly. He immediately ran parallel to the mangroves at a high rate of speed. Meko started the engine at that point, and we raced out into the bay, away from the bonefish, in an effort to exert enough pressure on him to keep him out of the mangroves. I had about 230 yards of fly line and backing out when we stopped to try to determine if the big guy was still on the line or if I was hooked to a large mangrove instead. I felt movement so I began to reel. It took almost 15 minutes to get my fly line back on the reel, whereupon he made a second run of close to 100 yards. When I finally got the fish in the boat, Meko and I were both ecstatic! In 18 years of guiding it was the largest bonefish Meko had ever landed. It measured 31 inches in length, 20½ inches in girth, and it weighed 14.6 pounds. A snapshot of my fly-fishing experience would include the Seychelles Islands (five trips); Christmas Island; the countries of Mexico, Panama, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Argentina (Tierra del Fuego), Chile, Bolivia (for Golden Dorado), and Cuba (with a visa); and the states of Alaska, Wyoming, Montana, Colorado, Texas, Louisiana, and Florida. So, I have put in some serious time on the water fly fishing, and right now my big bonefish ranks right at the top of my fishing accomplishments!”
So, why so many big fish at DWC? One reason is the lodge’s location on Grand Bahama Island. Clients at almost every lodge on Grand Bahama have taken big bonefish over the years. The habitat out there just seems to produce big fish. DWC’s Paul Vahldiek agrees with that notion, but he says there is more at issue here.
“Indeed, I attribute the size and number of bonefish in the DWC area to our having a vast area of healthy habitat and marine biodiversity. But some of the decisions we have made at DWC contribute to the productiveness of what is already a healthy environment,” he writes. “We strive in a number of ways to be good stewards of this legendary place.
“One way is by making a commitment to providing our clients a quiet and enjoyable fishing experience—i.e., we don’t overfish our area and we carefully rotate and rest areas. We disperse client pressure over many square miles—500- plus square miles, in fact.”
Postscript: You can see a photograph of Easterling’s big bonefish at: www.anglingreport.com/temp_3312014.cfm. And you can get more information on Deep Water Cay Tourist Resort at: www.deepwatercay.com.