Newsletter Area Specialist Fishing Reports

Fishing Information

Lay of the Land

Grand Bahama is the northernmost island of the Bahamas and just 55 miles east of Florida. It is the fourth-largest island in the Bahamian chain at 90 miles long and 12 miles across at its widest point. Tourism, the mainstay of the economy, is boosted by activity generated through the Grand Bahama Port Authority. A majority of the 52,000 Grand Bahama residents live in Freeport, the second-most-populous city in the Bahamas. Settled for centuries (and definitely upscale), it feels more casual than Nassau. The sparsely populated outlying areas provide rustic stays with peaceful, deserted beaches on the eastern edges of the island and old-world charm in the West End settlement, formerly a hideout for rumrunners during Prohibition.

Freeport is the “downtown” of Grand Bahama, attracting visitors with its commerce, industry, and resorts. Lucaya, called the Garden City, is a tourist destination centered around beaches and hotels. West End is the oldest, westernmost settlement and the capital, but it has little economic importance to Grand Bahama. McLean’s Town is the easternmost settlement. Freeport is home to the international airport as well as modern grocery stores, hospitals, clinics, and all the services one could hope to find. Cell phone coverage and Internet are found all over the island.

Target Species

For the DIY angler who is on his on, the principle species will be bonefish with the occasional snapper and other reef fish that will take your traditional flats fly or minnow pattern, like a Clouser. There are a number Blue Holes that can be reached by wading that are full of different species. When you come across one of these, switch to a deep sinking minnow pattern to fish the edges. It is very common to see tarpon in these holes as well.For those with a guide, Grand Bahama is a terrific permit destination. So make sure you pack your nine weight and plenty of permit crab patterns.

Where to Fish

Grand Bahama is not my top choice for a DIY trip, but it is an excellent destination if you want a quick tropical getaway with your family where you can get in a few days of fishing. Without a boat, you won’t find those classic white flats the Bahamas are known for, but there are enough beaches to walk and creeks to investigate to keep anyone happy for a week. Freeport and Port Lucaya are considered the central section of the island, and either is a good place to stay, but the fishing opportunities are poor. If you want to be closer to the fishing, pick a location either east or west of Freeport.

Freeport and Port Lucaya

This is the tourist section of Grand Bahama with the usual resorts and beach activities engaged in by the sun seekers. The fishing is spotty in this area but can be OK in the mornings and evenings when the swimmers and sunbathers are not around.

Fortune Beach — Located on Fortune Bay Drive east of Freeport, this beautiful beach almost always holds bonefish at low tide. It’s a perfect place to take your spouse for the afternoon, fish for a couple of hours, and end the day with lunch at the Banana Bay Restaurant and Bar. When sitting on the restaurant’s deck, make sure your rod is strung up and leaning against the railing. Take it from me, you wouldn’t be the first person to be digging into your burger when a tail pops up out on the flat.

Xanadu Beach — This beach is close to Freeport and easy to reach off Mall South Road and Dundee Bay Drive. It holds bones but is actively used by swimmers and sunbathers. Early morning and late afternoon are the times to fish Xanadu Beach.

Taino Beach — Taino, Lucayan, and Silver Point Beaches all have fish from time to time but get very busy during the day. If you are staying at one of the resorts in Port Lucaya, get up early when you’ll have the place to yourself.

Grand Lucayan Waterway Jetty — East of Fortune Bay is the entrance to the Grand Lucayan Waterway. There is a long jetty protruding from shore where you will always find locals fishing for snapper and bucket fish, a term that comes from the aphorism “whatever’s in the bucket is dinner.” In the western corner of the jetty next to the beach is a small cove that holds bonefish.

Airport Flat — This is a nice flat and creek system that can be reached just west of the airport by following the Grand Bahama Highway west from the airport then traveling north on Queen’s Cove Road.

East of Freeport, South Shore

The south shore is made up of magnificent beaches and the occasional flat. The beaches are easy to get to, with lots of access points and good fishing during the low and incoming tides. The flats are few and far between, but there are miles of shoreline to walk to look for cruising bones.

Barbary Beach — There is a wonderful beach east of the Grand Lucayan Waterway, as well as a series of bays that all contain bonefish from time to time. This area is generally deserted and a beautiful spot to spend the day. I prefer the bays closer to the Grand Lucayan Waterway, but there are miles of beach to explore. As you approach the beach, you will see a series of small rock outcroppings protecting the bays. Concentrate your fishing around those areas. Fortune Bay Drive stops at the waterway, so you have to circle north and find your way over the canal using Casuarina Road and then going back down to Barbary Beach.

Lucayan National Park — From the beaches of Lucayan National Park east to High Rock there are approximately four miles of shoreline to walk and wade. This 40-acre national park is worth seeing and includes a spring creek, a massive cave system (Ben’s Cave), and one of Grand Bahama’s most spectacular beaches, Gold Rock Beach.

Bevan Town — This small community is located 55 minutes east of Freeport and three miles east of the Lucayan National Park entrance. It consists of not much more than a gas station (Smitty’s) but is home to Hideaway Bahamas where we stayed for a week and which we can highly recommend. Staying here puts you right on the beach and halfway between the Lucayan National Park and High Rock. There are a couple of access roads to the beach in Bevan Town. This section of the beach fishes well both east and west on all tides except the very highest. Don’t be afraid to blind cast into those sections where the sand meets the turtle grass; for a change of pace, hit the blue holes with a heavily weighted Clouser to catch dinner.

High Rock — Once you enter High Rock, take the first road to the beach. When the road hits the sand, follow it to the right and park near Bishops Bonefish Lodge. Fish from here west, toward Hideaway Bahama, a total of two miles.

Statoil Storage Facility — East of the Statoil storage facility is a nice beach that can be walked for almost five miles. There are several deserted access roads; pick one to drive down and park your car. You are likely to be the only one on the beach looking for the bonefish that frequently cruise the shoreline.

West of Pelican Point — Where the road meets the water and the creek empties into the bay is a wonderful small flat that fishes well at low tide.

Pelican Point — Just past the settlement is access to the beach. From the parking spot there are flats and coastline that can be fished in either direction. The area around Pelican Point is a good bet when the winds make the north shore impossible to fish.

Crabbing Bay — Well before reaching McLean’s Town you will see a clearly marked road heading south to the cemetery at Crabbing Bay. This is one of the better bonefishing flats on the southern shore. There are plenty of fish here and it’s a nice spot to target tails in the evening. This area receives some pressure, so the fish tend to be a little more difficult to catch here than other places on Grand Bahama.

East of Freeport, North Shore

The north shore of Grand Bahama east of Freeport is famous for bonefishing. All you have to do is look on Google Earth to see the miles and miles of perfect habitat. Numerous guides trailer their boats to one of the launching areas that service the north shore. Depending on the wind direction, the north shore can be either protected or buffeted, a major factor in deciding if this is where you want to fish for the day. The north shore is best fished using a skiff, but there are a few spots the self-guided angler can fish. If you have a kayak, it opens up many more miles of shoreline and creeks. Bring along your Google Earth printouts, since the roads can be a little tricky to navigate.

Dover Sound Boat Ramp — Used frequently as a put-in by the guides, this road is located just east of the airport. On Google Earth it can be identified as the area crisscrossed with a massive manmade canal system, waiting for homes that have never been built. The fishing here is very good and a kayak allows access to the creeks and shoreline within the first couple of miles in either direction. To fish the shoreline and creeks to the east, put in at the boat ramp; to fish the shoreline and creeks to the west (toward the airport), drive down the little dirt road from the boat ramp to the closest canal and put your kayak in there. When I last fished Dover Sound (October 2012), the Grand Bahama Highway stopped at the Grand Lucayan Waterway due to construction. To get to Dover Sound from Freeport, use East Sunrise Highway to Casuarina Drive, go over the Grand Lucayan Waterway, and then turn left on the Grand Bahama Highway. Take the last road to the north on Grand Bahama Highway (east side of the waterway) to reach Dover Sound.

Water Cay Boat Ramp — Another area used extensively by the guides is Water Cay. To reach this boat ramp, take the dirt road north, when you reach the highway curve approximately seven miles west of the Lucayan National Park parking area. Once you park your car at the boat ramp, there are some areas to walk, but the bottom gets soft. The best bet is to launch a kayak and paddle for a mile in either direction.

Boat Launch Opposite Statoil — The entrance to the Statoil storage facility is 3.8 miles east of High Rock. Across the street from the entrance heading north is a dirt road taking you to a boat launch. The road heads north for two miles, then takes a short right and then left and continues for another three miles to the water. To the west of the boat launch is good water that can be reached by kayak. The paddle to the east is a little less than a mile but opens up some nice flats and creek systems. There is plenty of good water, so the trick is to find those places where the bottom is firm enough to wade.

North Riding Point Pier — Heading east on the Grand Bahama Highway for five miles past the Statoil entrance is a dirt road heading to the North Riding Point Pier. The dirt road is a little more than five miles long but leads to nice wadeable flats on both the west and east sides of the road. There is a good creek system close to the road that can be reached by a short kayak trip and another farther east that requires a paddle of over one mile.

West of Freeport, North Shore

As you take the Queen’s Highway to the West End, you will note that the road heads in a northwesterly direction, but the coasts are still referred to as the south and north shores. There are only a couple of smaller flats to fish, but there are some nice beaches on the south shore.

Paradise Cove — Approximately 20 minutes west from the airport and past the settlement of Homes Rock is Paradise Cove. This is a nice beach and flat with an unusual bottom, pockmarked with indents providing places for fish to eat and hide. The bottom is firm and easy to walk and well worth fishing on a low and incoming tide. There is a good dirt road to the beach just beyond the Paradise Cove sign.

Bahama Beach — Located northwest of Paradise Cove, on the south shore, this scenic beach is normally deserted and at times has some good fishing. Several roads provide access to Bahama Beach.

Bootle Bay — Northwest of Bahama Beach and prior to the highway crossing to the north side is Bootle Bay. Take one of the roads south to the water and park your car beachside. There are miles of coast to the north to fish.

Old Bahama Beach Club — This upscale, boutique hotel and marina is located on an ideal beach and bay in the West End. This beautiful bay holds bonefish along the shore and can be waded at low tide.

What to Bring

There are some big fish on Grand Bahama, so don’t be afraid to have flies that are size #2 or larger. I like the spawning shrimp–style flies in size #4 such as Peterson’s Spawning Shrimp or Bonefish Junk, along with some large tan Clousers, Pop’s Bitters, and Greg’s Flats Flies. If you fish Crabbing Bay, I’d suggest dumbing down the fly by reducing flash, weight, and size. For these spookier fish I like a size #8 to #10 unweighted Pop’s Hill Special, Pink Puff, or Lefty Kreh’s Shallow H2O Fly. Tie a few with weed guards.

____________________

Copied from Predecessor Site DIY Bonefishing

LAY OF THE LAND

Grand Bahama is the northern most island of the Bahamas, and just 55 miles east of Florida.  It is the 4th largest island in the Bahamian chain at 90 miles long and 12 miles across at the widest point.  Tourism, the mainstay of the economy is boosted by activity generated through the Grand Bahama Port Authority and the quarry. A majority of the 52,000 Grand Bahama residents live in Freeport, the 2nd most populous city in the Bahamas.  Settled for centuries, and definitely upscale, it feels more casual than Nassau.

The sparsely populated outlying areas provide rustic stays with peaceful, deserted beaches on the eastern edges of the island and old world charm in The West End settlement, formerly a hideout for rumrunners during prohibition.  The Spanish named the Island Gran Bajamar, meaning “Great Shallows,” for the treacherous coral reefs surrounding it, but the Lucayans called it Bahama.  Pirates took advantage of Spain’s lack of attention, setting up shop to lure passing ships onto the reefs only to run aground and be plundered.  Claimed by the British in 1670, piracy continued to thrive for another 50 years.

Freeport is the “downtown” of Grand Bahama, attracting visitors with its commerce, industry and resorts. Lucaya, called the Garden City, is a tourist destination centered around beaches and hotels. West End is the oldest, westernmost settlement and the capital, but has little economic importance to Grand Bahama.  McLean’s Town is the easternmost settlement and a 30-minute ferry ride from Abaco.  Freeport is home to the International airport, in addition to modern grocery stores, hospitals/clinics and all the services one would hope to find.  Cell phone coverage and Internet are found all over the Island.

WHERE TO FISH

Grand Bahama is not my top choice for a DIY trip but is an excellent destination if you want a quick tropical get away with your family and get in a few days of fishing.  Without a boat, you won’t find those classic white flats the Bahamas are known for but there are enough beaches to walk and creeks to investigate to keep anyone happy for a week.

Freeport and Port Lucaya are considered the central section of the island and either is a good place to stay, but the fishing opportunities are poor.  If you want to be closer to the fishing pick a location either east or west of Freeport.

Freeport and Port Lucaya

This is the tourist section of Grand Bahama with the usual resorts and beach activities engaged in by the sun seekers.  The fishing is spotty in this area but can be okay in the mornings and evenings when the swimmers and sunbathers are not around.

East of Freeport, south shore

The south shore is made up of magnificent beaches and the occasional flat.  The beaches are easy to get to, with lots of access points and good fishing during the low and incoming tides.  The flats are few and far between but there are miles of shoreline to walk looking for cruising bones.

East of Freeport, north shore

The north shore of Grand Bahama, east of Freeport is famous for bonefishing.  All you have to do is look on Google Earth to see the miles and miles of perfect habitat.  Numerous guides trailer their boats to one of the launching areas that service the north shore.   Depending on the wind’s direction, the north shore can be either protected or buffeted, a major factor in deciding if this is where you want to fish for the day.  The north shore is best fished using a skiff, but there are a few spots the self-guided angler can fish.  If you have a kayak it opens up many more miles of shoreline and creeks.  Bring along your Google Earth printouts, since the roads can be a little tricky to navigate. 

West of Freeport

Taking the Queen’s Highway to The West End you will note that the road heads in a northwesterly direction, but the coasts are still referred to as the south and north shore.   There are only a couple of smaller flats to fish but there are some nice beaches on the south shore.

FISHING INFORMATION

Grand Bahama is well known for its bonefishing and it’s reputation is well deserved.  There are hundreds of miles of flats and bonefish habitat surrounding Grand Bahama but you need a boat to reach most of it. There are numerous independent guides scattered throughout the island and an endless array of places to rent.  When looking at maps of Grand Bahama you will note the island lies west to east, different than the typical north to south axis of Bahamian islands. As a result much of the fishing information refers to the “south” or “north” shore.

The tides vary substantially from end to end and between the north and south shores. There are tide tables available for Freeport and Settlement Point but nothing for the north shore which has at least a two-hour difference from the south shore.

The northern location of Grand Bahama means that it is susceptible to cold fronts from December through February but on the plus side the water is ideal for bonefish from May through September when water temperatures in the southern islands may be too warm.

There are some big fish on Grand Bahama so don’t be afraid to have flies that are size #2 or larger. I like the spawning shrimp style flies in size #4 like Peterson’s Spawning Shrimp or Bonefish Junk along with some large tan Clousers, Pop’s Bitters and Greg’s Flats fly.  If you fish Crabbing Bay, I dumb down the fly by reducing flash, weight and size.  For these spookier fish I like a size #8 – #10 unweighted Pop’s Hill Special, Pink Puff or Lefty Kreh’s Shallow H2O Fly.  Tie a few with weed guards.

I don’t know of any kayak rental stores on Grand Bahama so bring your own or rent a home that has kayaks on the property.  To fish the north shore properly you need a kayak.

Grand Bahama has a number of good quality independent guides located throughout the island.  Most of them can be found on the Internet but here are three I can recommend:

http://www.bonefishingbahamas.com

http://www.captainperry.com

http://www.angleradventures.com/GRANDBA

WHERE TO STAY

Want to be where the action is?  Looking for an exclusive resort experience?  Maybe you prefer a cottage on the beach or an intimate bed and breakfast?  Grand Bahama has something for everyone and every budget.  Freeport and Port Lucaya have all of the above from high-end resorts and private villas to one and 2 bedroom condos on the water.  The Internet is your best friend in this hunt, going to the usual suspects; VRBO.com and HomeAway.com for private rentals and GrandBahamasvacations.com for a list of hotels and resorts.

Below are a couple of alternatives we can recommend for outside the resort areas of Freeport and Port Lucaya.

Old Bahama Bay – located in the The West End, it combines Bahamian Resort charm and island luxury.  This is an all-suite beachfront resort with 67 junior suites and 6 spacious two-bedroom suites.

Web: www.oldbahamabay.com

Phone: 242-350-6500  (calls outside the U.S.)

888-983-6188 (for U.S. reservations)

Email: sales@oldbahamabay.com

Hideaway Bahamas – located in Bevan Town, east of Freeport, it offers a spacious 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom cottage, with a fully stocked kitchen, eating area and dining room, 50 feet from the water.  There are also six condos of different configurations and a luxury home for rent.

Web: www.hideawaybahamas.com

Phone: 242-374-4483

Email: sales@hideawaybahamas.com

GETTING AROUND

There are two airports on the Island, Grand Bahamas International Airport located in Freeport servicing the majority of travelers and a small cargo airport in the West End. Depending on your starting point, there are a number of scheduled commercial airlines providing service to Freeport.

American Airlines from Miami: www.aa.com

Silver Airways from Ft. Lauderdale: www.gosilver.com

Delta Airlines service from Atlanta, Georgia: www.delta.com

US Airways from Charlotte, North Carolina: www.usairways.com

West Jet non-stop from Toronto, Canada: www.westjet.com

Bahamas Air from Nassau: www.bahamasair.com

Cars are the way to go on this spread out island. Rental cars are available at the Freeport International Airport with rates ranging from $50 – $100 per day.  Motor scooters can be rented for about $35 per day and found in Port Lucaya and Freeport.  Public buses, or jitneys as the locals call them, operate between Port Lucaya Marketplace to the downtown area, and from downtown to the outlying areas of the West End and East End.

A free government owned ferry travels daily between Sweeting’s Cay and McLean’s Town or take Pinder’s Ferry Service for travel between Crown Haven, The Abacos and McLean’s Town daily.

SPOUSAL RATING – 7

Grand Bahama gets a Spousal Rating of 7 because it offers everything a spouse or family could want on a tropical vacation.  However, the DIY fishing is a little limited and you shouldn’t expect to have “killer” days.

Comments

Leave a Reply