In the beginning of December 2016 I was fortunate enough to stay at the Crooked Island Trophy Lodge for five days and fish the beautiful flats, creeks and channels of Crooked & Acklins islands. I was together with a group of fly anglers from Canada and France, and once again I was amazed of how easy it is to get along with fly fishermen under the same roof; no matter of language, age, religion or other things.
I have been fishing the shallow flats of the Caribbean quite a lot of times now, but it is still a new experience every time I step into the water. I learn new thing all the time, most of the times the hard way…. And to be honest; sightfishing for bonefish on a shallow flat with a fly rod has gotten into my blood, and there is no single day I do not think about it!
A DAY ON THE FLATS
Every morning you get up at about 6:30 and stroll down to the restaurant for a cup of coffee and to watch the sun rise. This is such a great moment of the day as you have only one thing in mind; a full day of fly fishing in one of the best places in the world. After a delicious cooked breakfast the camp breaks out in full activity as everything needs to be packed and ready for the take-off to the dock. Fishing gear and coolers with todays lunch are all packed in the camp´s van and after a short drive on bumpy roads you reach the small harbor where the guides wait.
Every guide has his own skiff, equipped with 90- to 150-horsepower engines that will help you cover ground and fish numerous areas during your stay. The guides are all natives of the atoll and know the flats of this incredible lagoon that knows only a very little amount of fishing like the back of their hand.
Crooked Island and Acklin´s have a nice shallow-water biotope, home to bonefish but also to permit. These two species roam the huge sand flats and mangroves that can be waded all day. The average size of the bonefish is about 4 pounds, yet there are many big ones, too. Permit are also present on the flats, along the channels or following mudding rays. Triggerfish are also numerous, mainly on coral flats and will readily eat a well presented fly, barracuda will hold closer to the deeper water of the tide channels, some of them are really big, 45 lbs and better. Sharks, snapper, snook and jacks complete the smorgasbord of fish species present all year long. Tarpon are mainly found in spring and summer, even though there is a population of resident fish. Offshore, wahoo, tuna and dolphinfish are also present and can be fished for.
With nearly 20,000 acres of flats, the Bahamas is the largest fishing area for bonefish in the world. At Crooked Island Trophy Lodge the fish are larger than the average size as they enjoy the abundance of food that comes from one of the richest natural environments on the planet; the mangrove flats, irrigated and seeded every day by the rich waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. In the extreme southeast of the archipelago, less than a hundred kilometres from the Haitian and Cuban coasts, Crooked & Acklins form an atoll over of 230 square miles. It´s huge and shallow lagoon consisting of the islands of Crooked Island, Acklins Island and Long Cay and makes a perfect wading area for bonefish and permit. It is particularly unspoiled and beautiful and with its 350 inhabitants it appears to be lost in time.
The lodge is simple and comfortable. Its nice location makes it the only lodge that allows you to fish the best area of Crooked Island and Acklins in the same week. It is run by a very friendly couple and consists of 5 large double bedrooms, all equipped with air conditioning, bathroom, sitting area, refrigerator and TV. Another building serves as restaurant and bar where cold beer will be waiting your return from the flats. The food is made of fresh products and local specialties such as the famous conch salad. In all, you will find Crooked Island and Acklin´s to be the ideal atoll fishing that is well preserved and shielded from mass tourism.
The average size of bonefish is about 4 lbs but much larger fish can be found on the flats. The island record is 17.6 lbs. Permit have hardly ever seen a fly here and are present in great numbers both on the flats and along the channels. Often they can be found hovering around large stingrays. Nice Caribbean trigger fish are also common on the coral flats and are not reluctant to take a little crab or shrimp imitation. Resident baby tarpon can be found throughout the year in some lagoons but most of the bigger fish arrive mainly during spring and summer. Barracuda up to 45 lbs, sharks, snappers, jacks and snook are some of the other species that are worth a cast as well as pelagic wahoo, tuna and dorado. The guides are all natives of the atoll. They have a wealth of knowledge and experience of this huge fishing area which is still unaffected by fishing pressure.
Given the potential headaches traveling these days, there’s merit in the saying, “Vacation starts when you get to the airport!” In that same vein, unless you are chartering your own flight, you should expect that part of your trip down to Crooked Island will include a night in Nassau.There are two scheduled flights from Nassau to Crooked & Acklins per week. One on Saturdays and the other on Wednesdays. Both flights leave Nassau in the morning at 8:30am and due to the early take-off there are no connecting flight the same morning.On the return the flights arrive Nassau just before lunch so you should have no trouble reaching your final destination on the same day.
Below I have collected a bunch of images from the area. Click one of the images and you can scroll through them in full screen size.
Crooked & Acklins Trophy Lodge
Major’s Bay – Crooked Island