April 24, 2014
Disney’s Castaway Key Bonefishing Excursion
Thought this might be of interest to those of you trying to combine a family friendly vacation with the chance to connect with a bonefish. I mean there isn’t anything wrong with throwing your eight weight in while packing ……….. is there??
Dr. Eric English was kind enough to tell me about his bonefishing experience while on a Disney Cruise.
“Sometimes you have to grab any chance to bonefish! This was a spouse friendly venue. Rod thought it might to be worth it to write a guest blog.
My wife and I took a Western Caribbean 7 day cruise this April on the Disney Cruise Line ship “Fantasy!” The kids were in college and we had Disney vacation club points to use. We visited Grand Cayman and the Yucatan making our last day ashore on Castaway Key, Abaco, the Bahamas.
Formerly Gorda Key, Castaway Key has a reputation for excellent bone fishing and drug smuggling on the now defunct airstrip. Online, prior to the trip I found a back country fishing excursion for $150 for three hours which offered fishing for bones, tarpon, permit, barracuda, etc.
I wrote the cruise lines with questions about fly fishing but the lubbers told me not to bring any fishing tackle on the cruise ship and told me to talk with the excursion office once afloat. Once aboard the shore excursion desk staff assured me I could fly fish if the captain allowed it. I brought my Mickey Mouse wading kit: boots, rods, flies, chest pack, etc.
The captain and crew were guides from South Abaco and had made the 8 nm run from Sandy Point in moderate chop that morning. They were able to accommodate my desire to wade and fly fish, and the mate was happy to wade with me. The weather was perfect: sunny and breezy about 10-15 kt from the SE. We left the dock around 10 AM for a 15 minute run around the SW point we found some flats along the south shore.
The mate and I waded while the others (fathers and sons) spin fished with conch meat. We saw about a dozen bones and I had one poorly executed shot but couldn’t get a bite: I passed left while the bone jogged right! We had two adverse conditions, primarily high tide and the guide was “depth-charging” the circling sharks with conch about every fifteen minutes!
What bones we saw were above average size, half in singles. Wading conditions varied from extremely slippery coral slabs, nice hard yellow and white sand, medium soft moguls and some mangrove shoot areas. Some birds were also resting on the mangroves and we had to get away from them because their flight was right over the flat! I had about 2 hours of wading and the captain picked me up; they had some snappers but no bones. I had an excellent time even though I didn’t get a hookup. It’s all about the flats and the encounters with the magnificent creatures that inhabit them!
Google Earth shows some great flats on the north side but it could be reserved for visiting guests or the captain was warned off but I did see some jet skiers in that area. As to spousal enjoyment, my wife rented a bike and explored the island and had a great time. I was able to join up with her for some beach lounging and nice lunch. I can’t wait to try to fish the entire West Caribbean on a real fishing trip!
I have one lined up next February. I suppose one can arrange to fish any location the ship stopped at: Grand Cayman and Cozumel harbors didn’t have wadable beaches but you can hire a guide “off the reservation.” Porta Maya in the southern Yucatan, Mexico has excellent wadable beaches: Rod sent me a picture of a huge permit caught near the cruise line dock! In Porta Maya my wife and I went on an ATV excursion and it was the highlight of her whole trip! What can I say?”