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Is there any limit to the new bonefishing operations in the Bahamas? You need a score card to keep up with them all. And, amazingly, most of them are filling up as fast as the owners can drive the last nail, hire guides and buy boats.

One of the frontiers of bonefishing that has up to now been largely undeveloped is the northern part of Andros Island, from about Fresh Creek north to the remote, uninhabited Joulter Cays. Yes, individual guides have been operating in this area for many years as independents and a handful of them have made a specialty of taking anglers as far north as the Joulter Cays. But, up to now, there has not been a lodge-based fishing program in this area.

There are reasons this area has remained undeveloped and I’ll have more to say about them in a moment. First, though, suffice it to say, this area now has a world-class bonefishing operation. In fact, the new Kamalame Cay Resort that is opening early this year near Staniard Creek promises to be up there in amenities, quality and cost with the very best the Bahamas has to offer.

The resort is the brainchild of a jovial former Jamaican citizen by the name of Brian Hew, who had a hugely successful tropical plant business in South Florida, which he got out of after experiencing huge losses during Hurricane Andrew. He then turned his attention to developing the neglected northern part of Andros Island, which has only recently emerged from the shadows of a sinister reputation for drug dealing and other criminal activity. The area was perfect for such things in the past because it is remote and very lightly populated. In fact, the entire island of Andros is about as large in land area as the rest of the Bahamas combined and yet has only about 8,000 inhabitants.

The would-be visitor to north Andros can forget the bad history of this area. It’s just that – history. The upside is, the area has received very little fishing pressure. Moreover, except for agriculture, there is very little other development than that underway by Hew, including a stunning 100-acre cay (or island) where his new bonefishing lodge is going up.

The lodge consists of three outer buildings where anglers stay, plus a communal dining/meeting area, all just a stone’s throw from a white sand beach. Two of the outer buildings are set up to house six anglers each on a double occupancy basis, while the third is set up to house two on a double occupancy basis for a maximum of 14 anglers. The lodge was still being landscaped and, in fact, was still under construction during my visit there just before Christmas, but the bones of a truly elegant place were already poking through. Clearly, Kamalame Cay Resort is going to be in the same class with Deep Water Cay and North Riding Point resorts on Grand Bahama in terms of infrastructure and, indeed, will probably outstrip them in amenities and in the provision of non-angling activities.

Significantly, Hew has been renting another nearby place he owns on Andros, Kamalame Cove Villa, mostly to general tourism visitors interested in such things as diving, sail boarding and nature walks. He has all the equipment and staff he needs to offer these activities to non-fishing spouses at the lodge, making it one of the most family oriented bonefishing lodges in the entire Bahamas.

As for amenities, Hew makes no bones about his lack of interest in cut-rate tourism. He plans to hire and train his own private guides and provide uniforms for them. While I was there, he ordered seven of the new $6,500 Maverick Lodge Skiffs, which will give him one of the best fleets of bonefish skiffs in the entire Caribbean. He plans to power them with 40 to 50-horsepower outboards. He has a world-class chef on the payroll and a wine collection that will suit any palate.

All of this is a work in progress, mind you, and early visitors are likely to have their pleasure at being first in leavened by a few hiccups. For one thing, Hew is necessarily going to rely on independent guides early on and their equipment and knowledge of the area may be limited. The guide I was assigned for a day of fishing at Joulter Cays, for example, was not familiar with the "back route" and, instead, barreled straight out into open water in a 15-foot Dolphin. It was a wet, back-breaking experience, tinged with genuine concern at the size of our craft in relation to the waves we were breasting.

Hew says this kind of thing will quickly be a thing of the past, and I believe him. I just wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t voice my concern about hiccups during a start-up period at least into February. After that, I predict the upscale angler is going to love this place.

As for Joulter Cays, the area has absolutely huge flats that roll away as far as the eye can see, broken by islands with vegetation and deep, blue-water channels. Some of the sand is as white and fine as that at Christmas Island. The day I fished it was on the chilly side and a dense cloud cover, coupled with a stiff breeze, made sighting fish very difficult. I nonetheless managed to land close to a dozen fish, including one upwards of 8 to 8 1/2 pounds. Another fish that would have weighed ten pounds tore loose when a knot formed in my line and caught in my rod-tip guide.

A vastly exaggerated report of permit at the Joulter Cays just published in Florida Sportsman led me to hope for a crack at one or more, but that was not to be. The area certainly has permit, but most of them, I predict, will be caught during the "shoulder seasons" of September/October and April/May. Anglers who come here in the summer may well find excitement galore.

Actually, Joulter Cays is only one part of a three-pronged fishing program Hew plans to create around the lodge. On a typical seven-day visit he envisions anglers fishing south of the lodge in Fresh Creek for two days, followed by two or three days each in Joulter Cays and in the Red Bays area on the western part of the island. The latter area is remote and undeveloped indeed. I was not able to fish the area on my trip and can provide no details on what it offers.

I should note, in closing, that Hew has his sights set on creating a wingshooting opportunity for doves in the general area of the lodge; plus, he is looking into the feasibility of offering hunts for feral pigs that are so numerous on Andros as to be an agricultural pest. He also envisions being able to offer duck shooting on special request at a remote west coast camp reachable only by sea plane.

How soon all this will come to fruition is anyone’s guess. Just make no mistake, Brian Hew is for real. He is making some very exciting things happen on the remote northern end of Andros Island. Go take a look and see for yourself! – Don Causey.

(Editor Note: A seven-night/six-day stay at Kamalame Cay Resort, double occupancy, costs $3,160. A five-night/four-day stay, double occupancy, costs $2,450. The general agent for the resort is Frontiers (*).)

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