Newsletter Area Specialist Fishing Reports

Fishing Information

Lay of the Land

Abacos, is some 130 miles long from end to end. It’s flanked by a number of substantial islands on its northeastern end, which form a protective ring against the open ocean and create the Sea of Abaco. Several of these northerly islands have substantial tourist infrastructure, and there is good wadefishing around some of them. The best-known fishing area in The Abacos is the Marls, a vast area of shallow water, marsh and small islands on the western side of Great Abaco. This area is almost impossible to wade, but parts of it can be reached by kayak. A number of guides fish this area. Over on the eastern coast, directly across from the Marls is Cherokee Sound, which provides miles of wade-able flats.

Moving south along that coast to Sandy Point, there are additional small and large flats that can be waded on a day basis. Importantly, The Abacos they are one of the most northerly groups of Bahamian Islands, which means they are exposed to cold fronts from November to March. That’s particularly true of the northern end of Great Abaco which juts even farther north than its nearest neighbor, Grand Bahama Island. The third most populous of the islands of The Bahamas, The Abacos boast a population of 10,000. The atmosphere is relaxed and friendly. Rich in tourist infrastructure and lodging options, Abaco is a great place for the angler who wants to bring spend time with his family while also enjoying variety of guided and unguided fishing opportunities.

Target Species

The principal target species around Abaco Island is bonefish. A lucky angler can occasionally get a shot at a permit, but bonefish are the overwhelming favorite here. In size, Abaco bonefish range from moderate (in The Marls) to very large (in Cherokee Island and around some of the northeaster offshore islands). In terms of numbers of fish, The Marls is one of the top places in The Bahamas. The degree of spookiness of the fish will depend on how far you get off the beaten path. Enjoy!

Where to Fish

Though Abaco
isn’t known as a Do It Yourself location, it has become one of my favorite places in the world, with dozens of locations that can be reached either on foot or by kayak. The most famous Abaco area is The Marls, a vast sprawl of flats, creeks, and mangrove cays that run almost the entire length of the western shore of Abaco, from north of Sandy Point on the south end of Great Abaco all the way to Crown Haven.

The Marls is difficult to fishing on your own, but it holds a remarkable number of bonefish and should be fished at least once in your life with one of the island’s experienced local guides. This is not to suggest that the eastern shore with its many outlying cays should be ignored, as this area hold some of the largest fish I have seen in the Bahamas.

Everywhere you fish in salt water, tides are critical, and it is no different on Abaco. Unfortunately, I have been unable to find a tide table for the western shore of Abaco. Generally speaking, the tides there are approximately two hours later than they are on the eastern shore, where tide tables are available. But fair warning: there are variations of that general rule as you move north to south. There is very little DIY fishing on the eastern shore until you get south of Marsh Harbour, and, other than Green Turtle, the outlying cays are best explored by renting a boat.

Marsh Harbour to Sandy Point – Use the Marsh Harbour Airport roundabout as marker “0” when measuring distances south from Marsh Harbour. This is the start of the Great Abaco Highway, which ends in the town of Sandy Point. Eastern Shores – Located in Marsh Harbour, this housing area has to be mentioned since we caught some nice fish right out the front door of the home we rented. This should not be considered a fishing location in the typical sense, but it’s sure nice to be having a beer on the porch, your rod within spitting distance, and see three six-pound bones lazily feeding out front.

Broad Creek – The road to Broad Creek is 0.7 miles south of the airport roundabout. This is a smaller creek system on the eastern shore that has undergone some rehabilitation over the last few years. From the main highway follow the Broad Creek road 2.3 miles to the various parking spots from which you can walk and wade.

Snake Cay – The road to the garbage dump is 3.8 miles south of the airport roundabout. From the main highway, it’s 2.6 miles to a boat launch and parking area. Snake Cay is one of the better walk-and-wade fishing spots on Abaco and is located very close to Marsh Harbour. This is an excellent choice for a quick fish on an incoming tide or to hit tailing fish in the evening. The fishing can be a little technical but worth the effort if you hit the tides correctly. Don’t fish the outside channels and lagoons; stay on the western shore, concentrating on the northerly half of the creek. You can walk and wade directly from the road where it first touches Snake Cay, kayak from the boat launch, or use the dirt road running parallel to Snake Cay.

Bight of Robinson – Accessed from Little Harbour, this beautiful bay with extensive creeks has enough fishing to keep a couple of folks happy for a week. There are plenty of flats to walk at low tide in the bight itself, and the creeks are enormous. To find Little Harbour drive 9.8 miles south of the airport roundabout and take the turn to Pete’s Pub. It’s another 8.7 miles to the turnoff to Little Harbour and then 1.5 miles to the left-hand turn to the Bight of Robinson.

Cherokee Sound – A few miles down the road from Little Harbour is Cherokee Sound, one of the better-known flats on Abaco. This is one of the most beautiful flats you will ever see and is in a picture-perfect setting. The people of the settlement are welcoming, love bonefish, and understand fishermen. There are numerous places to stay, a small grocery store, and some well-known guides. Take a walk on the long dock jutting out from the shoreline and keep your eyes out for cruising bonefish. I love fishing Cherokee Sound in October because over the summer the fish have forgotten that a “Charlie” is a bad thing. But by December they can be some of the toughest fish to catch in the Bahamas. You will find plenty of fish, but they definitely have an “attitude.” The difficulty factor ranks right up there with the Town Flats on Green Turtle Cay and Savannah Sound on Eleuthera. We are talking long, light leaders; small, lightly weighted flies; and sophisticated presentations. When they get picky, I have had more success with weedless Pop’s Bitters in the turtle grass than conventional bonefish patterns on the sand flats. If what I’ve described discourages you, don’t let it. This area is worth a day or two simply for its beauty, and you could very well see the largest bonefish of your life.

Cherokee Sound Creek – Adjacent to and north of the flats is the Cherokee Sound creek system. You can walk and wade this creek right off the road during low tide if you get discouraged by the “educated” fish on the flat. There are a number of places to ambush fish entering the creek. It will increase your chances here to rent a kayak. This creek system is massive, so print off a Google map before planning your attack.

Casuarina Point – Back on the main road, continue south from the Little Harbour exit for another 4.3 miles until you reach the exit to Casuarina Point. This community of two dozen homes is situated on one of the most beautiful beaches and flats imaginable. It is a personal favorite of mine, not just for its fishing but for the beach, atmosphere, and housing options. The fishing starts directly in front of the rental homes and continues south along the deserted beach for a couple of miles. With a kayak or a small boat (many of the rental houses come with boats) it is a quick trip over to Duck Cay. Adjacent to the now-defunct Different of Abaco Resort there is a small creek system that is totally tide dependent. The fish enter the creek through the small entrance on the incoming tide and leave as the tide turns.

Boat Canal – Drive 6.3 miles south of the Casuarina Point exit to a dirt road heading west to the Marls and ending at a boat launch and manmade boat canal. If you reach Lelas Road you have gone too far south. This boat launch is used extensively by the local guides, so park out of the way and leave them plenty of room to turn around, launch their boats, and park their vehicles and trailers. This is one of the primary access points for flats boats to access the middle section of the Marls. It is well worth it to hire one of the local guides to fish this section of the Marls. For the DIY fisherman, there is some very good fishing both north and south from the boat canal’s mouth. The creek system one mile south of the boat canal can be reached on foot or kayak, and the wading within the creek is fine. The fishing is good here, but the bottom is filled with sharp rocks, making it difficult to land the fish. The fish are not spooky, so go with 16-pound fluorocarbon, as they seem to know where every rock is. The creek system north of the boat canal can also be reached by foot or kayak, but the interior portions of the creek are soft and really tough wading. I prefer to fish the outside shoreline where the wading is excellent and ambush the fish at the creek mouths on the incoming and outgoing tides.

Southern Boat Launch – A boat ramp and parking area can be found on the western shore 200 yards south of the Schooner Cove turnoff. This is an area the guides and others use to access the southern section of the Marls. I have parked my car on the roadside and cast to bones cruising the shoreline. The creek system can be explored either on foot or by kayak.

Crossing Harbour – This area has numerous creeks and flats but can be difficult to access. Traveling 35 miles south of the airport roundabout you will come to a bend in the road just after passing the sign announcing the start of Abaco National Park. At the Y in the road, take either the first or second road into the park toward Crossing Harbour. These are rough roads and not rental-car-company-approved.

Sandy Point Runway – North of the Sandy Point Airport runway is a short dirt road heading west. Drive a half mile, park the car, then walk the 250 yards to the flats, bay, and creeks that lie north of Sandy Point. This is an area that is not often fished even though it is close to Sandy Point. Sandy Point

Shoreline – Where the main highway hits the Sandy Point shoreline you will see a small gazebo, table, and resting area. Park the car here and you will be surprised at the quality of fishing a scant 50 yards away. I prefer to walk the shoreline to the south, but either way you will see fish. If you are there during lobster season, the fishermen will be diving directly in front of you. Wave one of them over to buy some live lobsters that have just been caught. Sandy Point Town Flat – Drive through Sandy Point and just before reaching Rickmon’s Bonefish Lodge is a short road to the right that takes you to a parking area overlooking the Sandy Point Town Flat. Between your car and the flat is a deep boat channel that requires a kayak to cross. But once across, the walking is easy and well worth the effort.

Marsh Harbour to Treasure Cay – To fish the middle section of Abaco, set your mileage marker to 0 where the side road to Murphy Town (just north of Marsh Harbour) intersects the main highway. The S. C. Bootle Highway, as it is called, is the main paved road heading northwest from Marsh Harbour and ending in Crown

Haven. Boat Ramp – At mile marker 0 there is a dirt road heading west toward the Marls, ending at a boat launch and parking area. Guides and boaters use this ramp to reach the central section of the Marls. I have not had much success fishing either north or south along this shoreline, but it is close to Marsh Harbour if you only have a couple of hours.

Water Cay – There is a dirt road 4.9 miles northeast of mile marker 0 that ends at the shoreline and creek known as Water Cay. This shoreline and creek system has some decent fishing at low tide but gets a little deep for a walk-and-wade angler during high tide.

Marls Road – There is a dirt road 9.5 miles north from mile marker 0 that heads in a southerly direction into the Marls. Drive the three miles to the end of the road and then walk 250 yards to the water. Once you hit the shoreline, you can walk either left or right to fish a number of bays, flats, and creeks. Be sure to fish the shoreline as you make your way either north or south, especially on a low tide when the fish have left the mangroves.

Leisure Lee – Back on the highway and 11 miles north of mile marker 0 you will come to the Leisure Lee development. Exit the highway into the development and follow the road heading left. There, you will find access to a couple of smaller flats. You may need a kayak to cross the boat channel.

Hills Creek – Known locally as Turtle Cove, Hill Creek is located two miles northwest of Leisure Lee and has a boat ramp, dock, and canal. It has some excellent wading flats completely accessible at low tide, but once the tide rises a kayak is necessary. These fish see their share of flies and are not pushovers, but they are always there. It’s an excellent place for a quick fish on the incoming tide if you are staying at Treasure Cay. Treasure Cay to Little

Abaco – Heading north from Treasure Cay, set your mileage marker to 0 at the junction of the S. C. Bootle Highway and the road to Treasure Cay. From Treasure Cay the road heads in a northwesterly direction through Coopers Town but then turns west to Fox Town after crossing the causeway to Little Abaco. At one time there was a small bridge connecting Abaco and Little Abaco, but it’s now just a continuation of the main highway and you will barely know you have crossed it.

Gunpowder Road – Before heading toward Coopers Town there are a couple of spots within Treasure Cay to fish. At the very end of Gunpowder Road is an excellent small flat best fished during the incoming and outgoing tides. The fish don’t hang around here but pass over the flat on their way in and out of Gunpowder Creek.

Gunpowder Creek – This is the creek system readily seen from the road within Treasure Cay. There are a few places, including Gunpowder Road, where you can access the creek. It’s a beautiful creek system to kayak for an afternoon, but I have never done particularly well fishing it.

Coopers Town Boat Ramp – After driving northwest through Coopers Town, you will see Coopers Drive on your left. This road is 19 miles north of Treasure Cay and has a large cell tower at its entrance. This short road heads to the Marls, ending at a nice boat ramp and parking area. The walk-and-wade angler can fish the shoreline here both right and left, but the best fishing is directly in front where you see the first series of cays. To get to the cays you need a kayak and then a paddle of just under a mile. You want to hit these cays as the tide is dropping and fish through the low tide and well into the incoming tide. The boat ramp is used by guides and other boaters for access to the northern Marls.

The Bluff – Continuing up the road, 2.4 miles past Coopers Drive, is a short road on the left that leads to what I call “the Bluff.” Once you park the car, look over the Bluff to a beautiful bay with miles of flats and creeks surrounding it. It takes some “bush bashing” to get to the bay, but it’s a great place for the DIY angler and buddies to spend a day.

Conch Rock Creek – Directly opposite the road to the Bluff is a short drivable path to the water. Park the car and take a short hike to the beach. In front of you is a great-looking series of small cays and bays, ideal habitat for large cruising “ocean” bones. Unfortunately, we also call it “Seaweed Bay,” describing the long strands of seaweed rising from the bottom. You have an excellent chance of hooking the largest bonefish of your the trip, but landing him is a different story.

Little Abaco to Fox Town – In order to fish Little Abaco, reset your odometer to 0 once on the causeway separating Great Abaco from Little Abaco. You will know you are on the causeway when, heading west, the road becomes very narrow, with water close to the road on both sides.

Mangrove Cay Bay – After passing the Wood Cay sign, 9 miles west of the Little Abaco causeway, you will see a short dirt road on your left (south). Park just over the hill and make the short walk to the bay. This is a beautiful flat that contains some nice fish, including a couple of large schools. I find the fish a little smaller here, more typical of Marls-sized fish. At low tide you can fish virtually to Mangrove Cay located directly south of you. This area gets pressured, so don’t be surprised to have a few refusals.

Unnamed Bay – I’m sure this bay and creek have a name, but I have not been able to find it on any map. The bay is reached by driving 10 miles from the causeway, then taking the dirt road on the left heading directly south for 0.75 miles. Once you park your car, the walk is about 200 yards to the water’s edge.

Green Turtle and Outer Cays – Green Turtle Cay is reached by catching a ferry north of Treasure Cay and landing in the quaint settlement of New Plymouth. Transportation on Green Turtle Cay is by golf cart, which just seems right for this small community. There is something perfect about loading your fly rod, lunch, and gear into your golf cart and heading to the flat. Golf-cart-accessible flats include the Town Flats and Gilliam Bay south of New Plymouth and Coco Bay on the northern end of the cay. There are a couple of good guides on Green Turtle Cay, including Ricky Sawyer, who has been fishing the area for 40 years. On Google Earth, you can find an untold number of small flats, bays, and creek systems throughout the outer cays bordering Abaco. The northerly cays offer an extensive array of fishing locations but are mostly out of reach to the self-guided angler. If you want to see the other cays of Abaco, my advice is to rent a boat from Donnie’s on Green Turtle Cay, ask for suggestions, and spend the day playing “Columbus” and exploring some of the most beautiful waters I have ever seen. Though the majority of these tiny islands are uninhabited, the larger cays including Green Turtle, Great Guana, Man-O-War and Elbow, are worth a visit using the regular scheduled ferry service.

What to Bring

Fly fishing outfits for Abaco bonefish should include a nine foot, #8 or #9 weight rod with saltwater taper floating lines. A reel with a strong drag that holds at least 150 yards of backing is a must. Leaders of nine feet tapered to 15lb test fluorocarbon will perform well. A stripping basket may also help to manage your fly line as you wade. In the less accessible areas of Abaco, the fish are eager to eat and aren’t particularly leader shy or fussy about fly selection. But there are spots like Cherokee Sound where you have to be on your game to catch fish. In areas with picky fish take a normal supply of Charlies, Gotchas, Greg’s Flats Flies, Sliders Clousers, Pop’s Bitters and crab patterns. For the really spooky fish, bring some small weightless flies and few a with weed guards. See also the Equipment tab on this web site for information on sunglasses, fanny packs and other items that will come in handy on Abaco.

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Copied from Predecessor Site DIY Bonefishing

Lay Of The Land

Situated two hundred miles east of Palm Beach, Florida, the Abacos are the most northerly group of Bahamian Islands, exposing the 10,000 residents to cold fronts from November to March. Boasting the third highest population of the Bahamian Islands, the atmosphere is relaxed and friendly.

The island of Abaco is 130 miles long stretching from Crown Haven in the north to Sandy Point in the south.  The “mainland” is Great Abaco with a curve of cays a few miles offshore creating the protected Sea of Abaco. Though the majority of these tiny islands are uninhabited, the larger cays including Green Turtle, Great Guana, Man-O-War and Elbow are worth a visit using the regular scheduled ferry service.

In the north are the small settlements of Crown Haven (catch the ferry to Grand Bahama from here) and Fox Town. South of the Little Abaco causeway is Coopers Town, originally settled in the 1870’s by the Coopers from Grand Bahama, with the 900 residents working primarily in the fishing industry.  South of Coopers Town on the S.C. Bootle Highway is the Treasure Cay Airport, the Green Turtle Cay Ferry and the resort area of Treasure Cay.  Named for the fleet of more than 15 Spanish treasure galleons that sank off its shores in the late 1500’s, Treasure Cay is Abaco’s second largest settlement. With a large marina, an 18-hole golf course and some of the best beaches in the Bahamas, Treasure Cay is an ideal vacation spot for just about any traveler.

Thirty-five minutes south of Treasure Cay is the commercial center of Abaco, Marsh Harbour.   Home to the islands only stop light, Marsh Harbour is the Bahamas third largest settlement with about 6,000 residents.  Marsh Harbour offers a wide selection of comfortable and reasonably priced accommodation, the largest airport on the island, shopping, dining, banking, medical clinic and supplies for just about anything you might need, including an Internet café!

As you head south from Marsh Harbour, the population thins and settlements become smaller.  Little Harbour, quiet even by Abaco standards is worth the forty-five minute drive south from Marsh Harbour. This picturesque settlement is known as the home of the acclaimed bronze and wood sculptor Randolf Johnston and Pete’s Pub.  Just a few miles from Little Harbour lies the charming settlement of Cherokee Sound, well known for its extensive bonefishing flats. At the southernmost tip of Abaco is Sandy Point, a quiet commercial fishing village that has fuel and a grocery store.

Where to Stay

There is so much to choose from on Abaco your best bet is to first determine the type of holiday you are looking for and then which part of Abaco is going to offer the activities and amenities you want.

To narrow the search, determine if you want to be on one of the outlying cays where you get around by golf cart, a smaller settlement in southern Abaco or be a little closer to the action in Treasure Cay or Marsh Harbour.

Green Turtle Cay is a beautiful destination with the ferry leaving regularly just north of Treasure Cay.  There is a wide range of accommodation offered but no matter where you are bonefishing is just a golf cart ride away.

Treasure Cay offers a true tropical vacation experience with a world famous beach, restuarants, stores, golf and tennis as you buzz around in your golf cart.  There are a variety of homes, townhouses and condos to choose from.  If you want to fish the northern end of Abaco, Treasure Cay is an ideal location.

Leisure Lee is another nice location, locted just south of Treasure harbour with some beautifuyl homes for rent. Bonefishing is literally minutes from your doorstep.

The largest town on Abaco, Marsh Harbour, serves as the hub for the island with all the services and amenities you would expect.  There are a wide variety of rentals available from economy bungalows to the grandest of water front homes. We stayed at the Wheelhouse on Eastern Shores, which is perfect for two couples.

Twenty miles south of Marsh Harbour are the settlements of Little Harbour and Cherokee Sound. Small and remote, both places offer a few homes and cottages to rent.

Marsh Harbour is the heart of activity n Great Abaco with a number of resorts, homes and condos to select from.  If renting on the Eastern Shore you are walking distance from the ferries to the quaint cays of Man O War and Elbow and only another ten minute walk to downtown Marsh Harbour.

Little Harbour is a beautiful portectd bay with a number of homes to rent and quality fishing

South of Cherokee Sound is the tiny enclave of Casuarina Point where you will find a cluster of charming homes to rent in the midst of seaside tranquility.

Sandy Point on the southern end has a few places to rent and is in the heart of bonefish country.

If Treasure Cay or Marsh Harbour will be home, arranging for groceries and meals will not be problem.  Little Harbour, Cherokee Sound and Casuarina Point will require more of a plan!  Before heading south, do your shopping at the major grocery stores in Marsh Harbour.

Where To Fish

There are countless areas for the DIY fisherman to explore on Abaco but to date we have focused on the area around Little Harbor and Cherokee Sound.  From Little Harbor there is good fishing in Robinson Bight which is immediately adjacent and is an excellent area to explore with your kayak.  Farther to the south is Cherokee Sound providing miles of flats to wade, is easily reached by starting at the pier where the The Sand Bar Grill is located and wading south and Casurina Point.Green Turtle Cay is another excellent choice for DIY fisherman with several good flats within walking distance of New Plymouth.  The closest flats are the “Town Flats” three minutes from town offering approximately one mile of wadeable flats.  The next is Sand Dollar flat in Gilliam Bay which you can reach within 15 minutes of walking.  The third flat is at Coco Bay which can be reached by golf cart from New Plymouth.  There are a variety of other flats and shorelines to fish and well worth exploring.  One of the attractions of fishing the flats of Green Turtle Cay is the size of the fish……they can get very large here.For the DIY fisherman there is very little access to the leeward side flats called the Marl but it can be accessed if you have your kayak at the boat ramp at the Cross Road which is located at the very narrowest part of Abaco and at Freddie’s Cut which is located just north of the Neem farm on an old logging road.One of the greatest bonefishing area’s in the Bahamas are the “Marls” of Great Abaco.  Here you will find mile after mile of flats, mangroves and creeks providing the perfect habitat for bonefish.  However it is not easy to access and it is best to fish it with a guide who knows the area.  For DIY fisherman I would highly recommend that you budget one or two days with a guide to fish the Marls.  For at least one day hire Capt. Joe Pritchard out of JIC Boat Rentalsand have him take you out to the marls.Another option in Abaco is to rent a boat for a week which provides you access to an untold number of flats.  You can rent boats from JIC Boats Rentals,  Sea Horse Boat Rentals in Marsh Harbor, Rich’s Rentals and Island Marine in Elbow Cay.Cherokee Sound Bonefish Video

Fishing Information

Great Abaco is one of those places where you can bring your spouse and family, get in some good bonefishing and everyone has fun.  Marsh Harbor, Treasure Cay are great places to stay and offer all the services and activities you could want while places like Turtle Cay and Little Harbor are more laid back.  We choose to stay a little farther south in Little Harbor where access to the flats and bonefishing is a little better.Most of the fish you are chasing in Little Harbor and Cherokee Sound see their fair share of fisherman and flies, so they can be both spooky and picky.

You will see lots of fish to cast to on the incoming tides but they may frustrate you a little.  We typically cast flies sized #4 but you may have to go a little smaller with long leaders.  When the fish are spooky I have been tying more with rabbit and rubber legs, the rabbit helps the fly land very softly and moves in the water with only the slightest retrieve.These are great areas to explore with your kayak and to get farther away I would recommend renting a boat in Marsh Harbor for a week and use it to access those flats you can’t reach by foot or kayak.

Getting There

The airports at Treasure Cay and Marsh Harbour are a little more than an hour’s flight from South Florida and are serviced by several commercial airlines.

Subject to the carrier, flights can be found most days of the week between Ft. Lauderdale (United, Sky Bahamas) Miami (American Eagle) West Palm Beach (Bahamasair) Orlando (American, United, US Airways, Bahamasair) and Nassau (Bahamasair, Sky Bahamas).

Bahamas Fast Ferry will get you from Nassau to Sandy Point in about 3 ½ hours.

  • Phone: 242-323-2166
  • Website:  www.bahamasferries.com

Route and schedule information for the ferries from Abaco to the cays: www.go-abacos.com/travel

There are a number of car rental agencies to choose from and I can recommend Sea Star rentals, which has an office at the Marsh Harbour airport.

In the larger settlements like Treasure Cay and Marsh Harbour, bike and scooter rentals are also available.

Car Rental

Sea Star Car Rentals

Boat Rental 

JIC Boat Rentals

Spousal Rating: 7

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