Autumn at Andros South


It’s been two action-packed weeks since I landed at Congotown International Airport on South Andros Island, Bahamas. And I might as well have landed on another planet. Instead of fall foliage, cold rain, wild mushrooms, and salmon, I’m dodging equatorial sunshine, wading aquamarine flats, and marveling at tropical wonders like golden coconut palms, black land crabs, translucent bonefish, great barracuda, black tipped sharks, sprawling mangroves, and delectable conch salad. I know–poor me!


The first week was spent outfitting Deneki’s Andros South Bonefish Lodge for the seven month flyfishing season. The Bahamian crew was amazing, and by the time our first guests arrived, the grounds were sparkling. We all felt a deep sense of pride when Captain Bruce Chard, the host for our first week of fishing, thanked us all for making the lodge look “better than ever.” And it did look great.


Then it was time to fish, and our world-famous flyfishing guides delivered. We ran four flats boats for eight anglers, rotating the roster so that every guest had a chance to fish with every guide. As assistant manager and lodge host, it was my job to debrief each guest at the end of their fishing day, and the stories these guys told were enough to drive any fisherman mad. These dudes were having serious fun–a brand of fun I had never experienced. So, finally, after a few days of jaw-dropping reports, I carved out a little time to explore a nearby flat on a perfect afternoon tide.


I’ll never forget that stunning afternoon. I drove the van to Pleasant Bay, parked alongside an idyllic grove of coconut palms, and pulled on my flats boots. I slowly approached the water’s edge, scanning the shoreline for movement, with rod and fly at the ready. No signs of life. But as I stepped into the water, a small school of bones exploded just a few feet away, shooting off at what seemed an impossible speed. My heart pounded in my throat. A few steps later, my eyes caught movement to the right, where a nice bonefish tailed its way through a patch of grass. I flipped my fly into the path of the fish, but by the time the fly landed, the fish had spooked. “Shit!” I turned back to the left, made a few slow steps, and saw a pack of three fish moving toward me. Again, just the movement of my rod spooked them, and they tore off into the shimmering distance.


Every few steps I encountered another fish, sometimes close, sometimes approaching from a distance, and every time I blew the shot. Even when I was sure my presentation was on the mark, the fish spooked, so I decided to change my fly to a simple tan mantis shrimp. But after the fly change, I didn’t see any fish. I walked on for ten or fifteen minutes, and started to wonder if I had burned up my chances for the
day. Even so, I was elated. Just watching the fish was hugely exciting. There was no doubt I had found a new addiction.


I stood still for a couple of minutes, carefully scanning the water in all directions. and as I turned around behind me, I spotted a nice fish feeding actively. I made a short cast, and was stunned when the fish charged the fly and ate it! I stripped and stripped some more, and the fish came right at me, making a good hook set nearly impossible. But Bruce’s excellent training paid off, and when the fish finally whirled around, the line came tight. The fish made a strong, blistering run. Impressive, to say the least. All the stories, all the videos–nothing prepared me for the intensity of that run. The fish slowed down about 75 yards away, then turned and came back toward me.

But a moment later, it took off on another hot run! It was incredible. Words can’t really do it justice. Suffice to say that the fish blew my mind. After some frantic reeling, I had it at my feet, and I snapped a quick shot before releasing it. Thankfully there were no sharks in the immediate vicinity, and the fish swam off safely. I looked at my watch, and it was time to meet the other anglers at the landing.


Two days later, I was offered an open seat–my first shot at fishing from a flats boat, with none other than the legendary guide Joseph Sands. “Josie,” as he’s known in the bonefishing world, has a reputation for being a drill sergeant, and he didn’t hold back with me. He put me on dozens of bonefish, and I blew all but one of them.

Moreover, he scolded me every time I yelled or made noise in the boat. “You spook the fish, mon! Be quiet!” Thankfully, I saved face around lunchtime by making a good cast to a chunky barracuda. Josie wanted the fish for dinner, and he was pleased when we got it in the boat.

Whew! After lunch I watched as Josie cleaned the cuda, curious to see what it had in its bulging stomach. Sure enough, the toothy beast had a whole, intact bonefish of two or three pounds packed in its gut. Gross, but impressive! And, as one can imagine, the whole experience was a wild spectacle for me.


Looking back on those incredible hours of fishing, I feel a deep gratitude to Josie, Bruce, and all the guests who encouraged and coached me across the threshold. I couldn’t have had a better set of teachers and friends for my first shot at saltwater flyfishing. And I couldn’t imagine a better place to learn than South Andros Island.


One can only wonder what will happen next…


If you would like to visit Rob at South Andros Lodge give us a call (541 342 7005) or email ( there are still a few fishing spots available for the 2013 Season

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2 Responses to Autumn at Andros South

  1. Rick Allen says:


  2. Guy says:

    Tough duty for sure…we didn’t know bonefish ate intruders !

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