Lay of the Land
Andros, considered a single island geo-politically, is comprised of hundreds of small islets and cays connected by mangrove estuaries and tidal swamplands. “Bights” or bays separate its three major islands; North Andros, Mangrove Cay and South Andros. Nicknamed “The Sleeping Giant,” the entire land mass is 100 miles long and 45 miles wide, located 30 miles west of Nassau and 138 miles from Ft. Lauderdale.
Our attention will focus on The “Big Island” of the Bahamas, North Andros, which is the sixth largest island in the Caribbean, yet one of the least explored. The Spanish named it La Isla del Espirtu Santo, the Island of the Holy Spirit when they arrived in the mid 1500’s looking for slave labor. Pine and hard wood are found in the north, most residents’ concentrate in the east, with the west coast largely undeveloped.
The legends of Andros are as rich and important to the residents as any fact one can look up in a book. Many of the locals still believe in the Chickcharnies, a mythical half man half bird-like elf with red eyes, three fingers and three toes said to cause mischief to those that look at them and grimace, but cast lifelong good luck to those showing respect. Buried treasure at Morgan’s Bluff and Lusca, the half shark half octopus guardian of the inland blue holes are just two more myths for you to ponder!
As the most important farming region and supplier of fresh water in the Bahamas, Andros is a great provider. The area also has a long tradition of boat builders, straw work and woodcarving.
The world famous Joulter Cays are 8 miles north as the crow flies from the tip of Andros. Back on the mainland is Morgan’s Bluff, Lowes Sound, and Nicholl’s Town, three northern villages supplying fresh food and water, with some restaurants, a bank, government medical clinic and various lodging options between them. Gas stations can be found in each town. Continuing southwest is San Andros, home to one of two airports in the north.
Travelling south 15 miles on the Queen’s Highway you will find Stafford Creek, then Andros Town, also known as Fresh Creek where the second of the airports in the north is located. Centrally located Fresh Creek is the commercial hub of North Andros where you will find a small grocery store, a few restaurants and the Atlantic Undersea Testing and Evaluation Center, AUTEC operated by the U.S. Navy. The United States and the United Kingdom conduct special operations training, sonar and submarine research in the Tongue of the Ocean. A 30-minute drive will get you to the bottom of North Andros at Cargill Creek and Behring Point. Cell phones and Internet are found everywhere in a mostly cash economy.
Where to Fish
North Andros is known for its many fishing lodges, famous guides and large fish. But what isn’t well publicized is the number of world-class flats and creeks that are easy to reach and can be waded by the self-guided angler.
Many of the roads are difficult to find so I’ve used the odometer where possible to pinpoint locations.
When leaving the Andros Town Airport (also known as Fresh Creek) set the odometer to “0” and drive south toward Behring Point.
Somerset Beach – three kilometers south of the airport is a short sand road leading to a beautiful beach. Fish cruise the shoreline but the best opportunities are south toward the mouth of Somerset Bight.
Somerset Bight – one of the better spots to ambush fish as they move in and out with the tide. Located 3.5 kilometers from the airport, take the short road to the left and then a right at the “T”. Follow the right spur for approximately one kilometer and park at the widened area. Walk through the mangroves to the water where the mouth of the creek is to the left and extends to the right for a couple of kilometers. A well-defined channel down the middle of the creek into the Bight serves as the bonefish highway on changing tides.
Davis Bight Creek- at the 6.5 kilometer mark turn left toward the water and follow the road to a pull off, located where the chain blocks the road. Immediately to the north is the bottom end of the creek formed by Somerset Bight. Walk north, staying as dry as possible for 0.5 kilometer and then cut through the mangroves to the open water in front of you. The mouth is further north, so on the falling tide the fish will head out to sea and then reverse on the incoming tide. The creek is surrounded by mangroves and at high tide the fish are out of reach. The bottom is soft and can be difficult to wade but improves as you reach the opening.
Davis Bight – leaving your car parked at the same spot as above, don’t walk north, instead head east toward the large body of water off in the distance. This is a beautiful series of flats and creeks that three or four guys can fish for a week. It has everything you could ask for, ocean side flats to the north, large channels carrying fish in and out on each tide, mangrove edges to work and a good solid bottom for wading. The entire area holds fish, but I prefer crossing to the far eastern side to fish the channel and flats to the south.
Bowen Sound – at kilometer 13.6 you enter the small settlement of Bowen Sound. Take the road to the left and wind your way down to the boat ramp. Then walk south along the rock bank for one kilometer until you come to an opening into a creek and a couple of small cays surrounded by flats. This is a neat place to fish, but not easy to reach.
White Bight – At the Man-O-War sign turn toward the water at kilometer 20.1. This overgrown road ends at an old manmade stone dike. It’s a bit treacherous, but walk the stone dike through the mangroves until you hit open water. From the end of the dike, you can walk either north or south. The north section is a good ocean side flat that holds some big bones. If you go two kilometers, you will find a small creek and opening to the ocean with a small flat out front. Walking south from the stone dike is a mixture of ocean flats for the first 1.5 kilometers, before reaching the sand flats of White Bight. The end of the Bight is almost exactly three kilometers south of the dyke, so it makes for a good days fishing.
Mt Pleasant – at kilometer 25.6 you will arrive at the road to the Mt Pleasant Lodge. This is a great place for the self-guided angler to stay and provides direct access from the cottages to the coves, beaches, cays and bays of White Bight.
Behring Point – situated at the very southern end of North Andros is Behring Point. Once you cross over the bridge from Cargill Creek there is a small flat on the left and then a number of spots to pull over and wade between the bridge and end of the road. The bottom can be very soft and difficult to wade.
Back at the Andros Town Airport let’s head north. The destinations north are not all delineated by mileage markers but the distances are shown where required.
Fresh Creek, south shore – Fresh Creek itself is a massive system with a large outlet to the ocean north of the airport. For the self-guided angler there are a couple of areas that can be reached by car and more of the creek opens up if you have a kayak. Two kilometers north of the airport is a dirt road heading inland that follows the south shore of Fresh Creek for a short distance. Drive to the end of the road and park in the widened area. From here walk the 100 meters to the creek to find a nice hard bottomed flat both west and south. As you continue up the creek the water becomes deeper forcing you close to the mangroves. There is a large blue hole approximately 1.2 kilometers from the car. This is a surprisingly good flat that the fish use as they move in and out with the tide.
Small Hope Bay – two kilometers north of the Small Hope Bay Resort’s driveway is a dirt road leading to the water. Once you park the car at the waters edge, walk the 100 meters to the right until you reach a small creek opening. There is a small flat at the creek mouth that can be good on low tide.
Fresh Creek, north shore – three kilometers from Small Hope Bay’s driveway you reach the settlement of Love Hill and Rev. Leroy Hanna Drive. Follow the road inland for three kilometers until you come to the Central Andros National Park sign. Turn right and continue to follow the signs to the Blue Hole tourist attraction, or continue straight to reach the north shore of Fresh Creek. This road cuts off miles of paddling to reach the most westerly flats of Fresh Creek.
Staniard Creek Beach – The beach is located 22 kilometers north of the airport on the Queens Highway. There are a few places to stay in Staniard and it serves as a good “home base” for fishing the north. Once you have entered Staniard Creek, cross the bridge and take the right road paralleling the beach. If you stop your car and look over both sides you will be able to see the bonefish that hang around the bridge. Both the north and south ends of the beach both hold bonefish, but the north end flat is much larger and holds more fish. To reach the southern corner of the beach, follow the road south to the parking lot where guests take the shuttle boat over to Kamalame Cay Resort. This is a small flat but always holds fish on the low tide. From this point you can also cross the road and try the flats at low tide on the south shore of the Staniard Creek outlet.
Staniard Creek – when entering the settlement of Staniard Creek, take the left at the “T” and drive to the end of the road. This puts you on the west side flats two hundred yards from the mouth of Staniard Creek. It’s not a large flat but the fish travel across the white, hard-bottomed sand as they leave and enter the creek. It’s easy to get to and makes an excellent ambush spot if you only have an hour or two. This is an ideal place to launch a kayak to fish the creek and mangrove islands behind Kamalame Cay.
Queens Highway – there are several places to pull the car off the highway between Staniard Creek and South Blanket Sound for walking access to the waters behind Kamalame Cay. It’s about a 300-yard trek, but once there it opens up miles of fishable area.
South Blanket Sound Entrance– follow the road off the highway into the settlement of South Blanket Sound and turn left at the ball field. Park your car on the waters edge and from here you can see the mouth of South Blanket Sound on your right and the flats, channels and islands that appear at low tide in front. At low tide the channels can be waded, opening up a large series of sandy ocean side flats. Fish for cruising bones in the shallow water and blind cast with clousers into the channels where the fish are holding. The channels get deep as the water floods, forcing the wading fishermen back to the beach. It’s best fished with a kayak so you don’t have to worry about wading back across the channels.
South Blanket Sound Creek – driving past the ball field continue to the end of the overgrown road. Park the car and walk 200 feet through the bush to the creek. The ocean opening is on the left and in front of you and to the right is a vast walk and wade area, tucked in behind Kamalame Cay. Many of the areas can be reached on foot, but it is best to use a kayak to get across the channels. In a boat it’s possible to cover more ground between the small cays and inlets, scattered throughout the area. This is a great fishing destination with ample room for a number of anglers and enough nooks and crannies to spend an entire week exploring.
Stafford Creek Sand Flat – continuing 1.3 kilometers north of the South Blanket Sound turnoff is the road to the Stafford Creek Sand Flat. This is a beautiful firm sand flat to fish on the incoming and high tide. At low tide it’s dry, which is the time to shift to the ocean flats and follow the fish in with the tide. At low tide the south corner of the bay often holds fish as they wait for the tide to turn.
Stafford Creek Cemetery – after crossing the bridge over Stafford Creek, take the first right when you see the Love at First Sight Hotel, take a right at the main access road and then left at the water. This is the road to the Stafford Creek Cemetery and parallels the ocean heading north. Park at the end of the road, string up your rod and get ready to fish for the rest of the day. You are looking at a huge area including multiple ocean entrances into the creek, an enormous ocean side flat, mangrove islands and cays in addition to an intricate creek system that travels for miles. There is so much to fish it is hard to know where to start, but you can walk north on the ocean flat for two kilometers to get into some very interesting places.
Conch Sound – south of Nichols Town is Conch Sound Settlement. It is located on a beautiful white sandy beach where there are a series of flats that can be waded at low tide
North Andros is one of my favorite places to fish with a group of guys. The variety of habitats, ranging from massive creeks to miles of ocean flats will keep any angler wishing they could extend their stay. Certain locations like the waters off the Stafford Creek Cemetery and Blanket Sound are so large that a group can concentrate on them for a week. A kayak comes in handy and it’s worth the effort to bring your own.
By and large the fish don’t receive much pressure and readily take properly presented flies. All the local guides like larger patterns in size #2 – #4 and that is what I use on the ocean side flats. For the creeks I tend to go a little smaller. Since you are not generally fishing water as deep as the guides do, I use slightly lighter weights than they recommend but stick to the bigger flies for those large ocean fish.
There are so many guides on Andros it is hard to pick out a couple, but below are some of the tried and true.
Frankie Neymour: Two Boys Inn http://www.twoboysinn.com
Benry Smith: Eva’s Bonefish Lodge http://evasbonefishinglodge.com
Where to Stay
Love At First Sight Hotel (Stafford Creek) is good for a couple, family or large group. They have 9 affordable double rooms with private baths, Wi-Fi and serve authentic Bahamian meals.
Phone: (242) 368-6082
Small Hope Bay (Fresh Creek) is an all-inclusive hotel that provides 21 rooms in beachfront cottages, meals, beverages, bar drinks and more! Ask about the wind surfer, 4 ocean kayaks and other watercraft available for guests to use.
Phone: 1-800-223-6961 Toll Free U.S. and Canada
Two Boys Inn (Behring Point) can take up to 8 anglers in 4 rooms with A/C, two queen beds and private bath. Meals are served family style, starting with made to order breakfasts and ending with happy hour appies and authentic Bahamian home cooking.
Phone: (242) 368-4068 Cell: (242) 464-3485
Mount Pleasant Fishing Lodge, built in 2001, is framed by six miles of uninhabited coastline. Family owned and operated, this property has been in the Farrington family for 100 years. If you haven’t satisfied your desire to fish after a whole day on the water, simply walk the 50 feet from one of the 4 private cottages to hard-bottomed flats and fish until dark.
Phone: (242) 368-5171
Airline schedules are in constant flux in the Bahamas so speak with your accommodation provider for their suggestions. There are two airports that service North Andros; San Andros Airport near Nicholls Town and Andros International Airport located in Andros Town.
Sun Air offers a direct flight from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida to Andros Town several days a week.
Western Air: www.westernairbahamas.com
Sun Air: www.sunairexpress.com
Taxi service can be found at both airports.
As on many of the Out Islands, car rentals are an informal arrangement. It is advisable to check on price and availability before you arrive.
Tropical Car Rentals (Nicholl’s Town): (242) 329-2515
Executive Car Rentals (Conch Sound): (242) 329-2081
Jerome Scott (Andros Town): (242) 368-2255
Shores Car Rental (Blanket Sound): (242) 368-6140
Spousal Rating – 3
Andros is not known for its beaches although there are some beautiful ones. There aren’t many tourist activities other than bonefishing and exploring the remarkable natural environment, so I would make it a boy’s trip.
North Andros is a remarkable natural environment with the soft tropical sandy beaches of the north sweeping back to surprising sweet smelling pine forests. Divers come here to experience the Tongue of the Ocean, a 6,000 ft abyss, just past the world’s third largest barrier reef. It’s enticing to explore the caves of Morgan’s Bluff, a wide system of subterranean limestone caves, Uncle Charlie’s Blue Hole or see how many of the 200 species of birds you can spot.
Red Bay, located off the northwestern coast of North Andros, is a remote village originally settled by Seminole Indians from Florida fleeing a life restricted to reservations. The people remained hidden until approximately 50 years ago and remain a small self-sufficient tribe where basket weaving crafts continue and are considered masterful. Visit Androsia, a batik fabric and garment manufacturer producing a complete line of clothing, accessories and fabric sold by the yard. Check out their website: www.androsia.com