[dropcap]O[/dropcap]n Long Island you can actually have it all: tennis, golf, diving, boat anchorage, flats fishing and offshore fishing, white sand beaches, blue holes, spectacular vistas at every turn in the road and TOTAL kick-back. The food is very good to gourmet, even at little roadside stands – it goes to gourmet at the up-sacle resorts, big or boutique. But if you are a martinet about what and how much you ingest, you’re better off getting those Europe Travel Discounts and holing up in Europe, because people there pay attention to food and hygiene. The things that will stick with you the most are the Long Island Bahamians are quick to befriend you. The whole scene is kick-back to the max and nothing is crowded. Only 5,000 people dot the 79 mile long and 3.5 mile wide island that has nary a stoplight.
It is a must to rent a car and tour Long Island. A huge mistake not to do that
The island is divided by the Tropic of Cancer and bordered on each side by contrasting coasts – one with a soft white beach, and the other with rocky headlands that descend into the sea. The topography of the island varies as well – from sloping hills in the north east to low hillsides in the south, and from stark white flat-lands, to swampland, to pristine beaches.
Not too many years ago, Long Island, Bahamas had nothing written or generally known about the island’s fishery – except what could be learned by word-of-mouth and that mostly from offshore fishermen and captains. It was then, and is now, a fly fisherman’s Valhalla. Today, it has been written about and has a few real upscale resorts, which the travel magazines have played-up as a gem of a destination – plenty of copy and idyllic images to swoon over. However, it’s still a far cry from more written about, more populated and visited out-islands to the north.
The frequent winter cold fronts that hit the more northern islands stall north of Long Island. The result is that the fishing is good all year-round
In addition to the great fishing for bones (3- to 6-pounds with 12-pounds possible during a week stay), there’s permit, tarpon, barracuda and sharks on the flats, blue holes and in the narrow channels of the mangrove tangles. That said, only a few guides know much about permit or tarpon habits, hang-outs and feeding patterns. Not being knowledgeable about the wary permit and fussy tarpon doesn’t make for upping the chances of a hook-up. Guide Docky Smith seems to be the current Ph.D. on fishing for permit and tarpon – he’s on North Long Island at Stella Maris Resort. Docky has a nicely stocked fly shop.
Long Island probably has some of the best DIY wading flats anywhere in the world, many within a few minutes drive from the island’s main resorts, Stella Maris and Cape Santa Maria, and large areas around Deadman’s Cay and the Sandy Cays. Lots of hard packed sand. The soft-muck sand areas are near mangroves and swampy-land, but do show in other areas as well. The best flats fishing would be advantaged by using a guide with a legitimate flats boat. Some folks get a guide for day fishing the North Island and then a guide for a day on South Island with in-between days DIY. If you’re into offshore fly fishing, it would be worth it to add days for offshore fishing while you’re there. There’s plenty of wahoo, which you’ll catch on conventional tackle while trolling. Dolphin are easily caught on a fly using the tried and true method, catch one and leave it in the water – the brethren will hangout and attack a fly.
Sail fishing can be great also, but a friend of ours, Mitch Davis, returning from Long Island said his sail fishing experience was not that good. Mitch said: “. . . the mate couldn’t quite get the hang of yanking the teaser at about 35- to 40-feet from the transom (more like 70-feet) and the Captain wouldn’t take the boat out of gear. Nonetheless, we did manage two hookup’s in a dozen shots, but we lost them all on our own.”
The coordinates make the fishery
The offshore fishing can be phenomenal with all kinds species making seasonal show-ups – attracted by the island’s fish-favorable coordinates. Long Island straddles the North Equatorial Current which has its origin in the Canary Islands and sweeps the “weather” coast (windward) and the Bahamas Bank is to the east. Access to blue water is just a short distance from shore so getting to fishy water is almost a now thing. Seasonally there’s sailfish (May through June), blue and white marlin (May though July), blue runners (March through the end of May), wahoo (can show up in October and run as late as February / prime is December and January), dorado (April through June) and a few species of tuna (blackfin – July to mid December / yellowfin – March through May).
Sails are readily taken on a fly – if you know how the drill goes, and the captain and his mate know what they’re doing. Although lots of marlin are caught on a fly – special knowledge and equipment are needed. Females can weigh 400-pounds or more and males up to about 300-pounds so your 14-weight will snap like a twig, or worse, you’ll exhaust the animal to death. Offshore, best bets on a fly would be dorado (dolphinfish) and blue runners. Blue runners in this neighborhood can go into the 30-pound range.
Unfortunately, none of the current resident charter captains know anything, or at least not much, about fly fishing. However, that shouldn’t stop anyone for having a go. When the sails get lit up a good captain should get you some shots. To understand what needs to take place when fly fishing for sail fish go to here (short version) or here for (in-depth go to Part II).
NOTE: No matter where you book your accommodations the proprietors or service personnel will know who the guides are and how to contact them.
Flies bonefish: Pink, Pearl, and Tan Crazy Charlies size #4; Clouser Bonefish Flies in Pink, Tan, and Chartreuse size #4; Puff Flies in Pink and Tan size#4; Tan and Pink Gotchas size #2 or #4; Blind Charlies size #4; Blind Gotchas size #4; Silli-Legs Gotcha size #6; Raghead Crab Fly size #2 or #4.
Permit flies: A great fly tied by Capt. Paul Fisicaro of Marathon, Florida is called Fuzzy Merkin. Another is Capt. Lenny Moffo’s Merkin version. Tim Borski’s Chernobyl Crab is also a winner. All permit flies must be tied so that they mimic “perfectly” the ambulation of a live crab when in the water.
Tarpon flies: Smaller is the trend (1/0 and 2/0) – Apte 2, Toads in tan and any combo you like, Cockroach, Sand Devil, Mo’ Betta Toad Olive and Orange, and Black Death Feather Wing Tarpon fly 2/0.
Dolphin/dorado flies: Small fish – epoxy minnows / 2/0 hooks; medium size fish – poppers and tarpon flies, and for bulls – Capt. Lenny Moffos blue and white Big Boy 2 @ 4/0 hooks or large tarpon flies.
Accommodations: Cape Santa Maria Beach Resort & Fishing Club
Phone: 1 800 926-9704
Accommodations: Stella Maris Resort
Fax: (242) 338-2052
Fort Lauderdale Office:
Fax: (954) 359-8238
James Docky Smith contact information
Tel: (home) 1 242 338 2025
Tel: (Bonafide Tackle Shop) 1 242 338 2035
Cell: 1 242 357 1417
Fax: 1 242 338 2052
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Or Jill@stellamarisresort.com
For a listing of other accommodations to fit your pocketbook click here […]
Getting to Long Island, Bahamas
Convenient flights and mailboat services make Long Island a simply journey from Nassau, and internal transport options make it easy to get around the island during your stay:
Bahamasair flies daily from Nassau into Deadman’s Cay and four times a week into Stella Maris.
Southern Air flies daily from Nassau to Deadman’s Cay and twice weekly from George Town (Exuma).
The Stella Maris Resort offers its own charter flights from Nassau and George Town (Exuma) into Stella Maris during daylight hours.
Locair flies from Ft.Lauderdale to Stella Maris.
Find out more at Trivago for visitor and hotel reviews about Long Island.
Mia Dean service from Nassau to Long Island
Settlements: Clarence Town
Departs Nassau: Tuesday
Departure time: 8pm
Return day/time: Thursday 7pm
Frequency: Once a week
Sailing time: 12 hours
Cost per person: $45
Telephone: (242) 393-1064
Sherice M service from Nassau to North Long Island
Settlements: Salt Pond, Deadman’s Cay, Seymour’s
Departs Nassau: Monday
Departure time: 5pm
Return day/time: Thursday
Sailing time: 15 hours
Cost per person: $45
Telephone: (242) 393-1064
Taxis are situated at the airports and meet all incoming flights. You can also find taxis at major hotels and tourist locations
Several rental car companies also available – inquire.