We have all heard the stories of what it used to be like in the Bahamas. Everywhere one went there were huge deserted white sand flats, lots of big bonefish and no other anglers. It was beautiful and pristine... fishing just the way it was meant to be.
In the ensuing years, as saltwater fly fishing grew in popularity, it became increasingly difficult to find these remote and relatively untouched areas of the Bahamas. But we all continue to daydream of flats that have seen only a few other intrepid anglers. Places where bonefish still charge your fly and the only holes on the flats are made by feeding fish and not push poles. In an era of over-marketed and over-hyped lodges where clever ads, glossy brochures and glitzy websites confuse even the most experienced of anglers, we all wonder whether these unpressured spots still exist... and like all dedicated anglers we are determined to find them if they still survive.
Crooked Island is one such place. This island dozes happily under a warm tropical sun, largely unaffected by the developers hand. These island are too remote and too unpopulated... a logistical nightmare for those interested in building mainstream resorts. Only 700 people inhabit this area the size of Exuma or Eleuthera. These locals focus their attention on the northeast side and its abundance of snappers and lobster, leaving the southwest side of Crooked - a wide and empty system of flats, sandbars and turquoise bights (nearly sixty miles of continuous bonefish habitat) - unexplored and virtually untouched.
The attractive lodge at Pittstown Point serves as our base of operation for anglers visiting Crooked Island. Pittstown Point sits on the northernmost tip of the island surrounded by sugary white sand beaches and within sight of the majestic Bird Rock Lighthouse that was built in 1878. Between Pittstown Point and the lighthouse lies a quarter mile of excellent snorkeling water and beyond the lighthouse, the 600 fathom Crooked Island Passage stares invitingly at the offshore angler.
Pittstown Point can accomodate 24 guests, but only 8 anglers. Oceanview rooms come complete with private baths and ceiling fans. Pittstown Point has a reputation for excellent meals featuring fresh local seafood, homemade bread and superb renditions of Bahamian favorites like conch fritters, grouper fingers and key lime pie. Meals are served in a building that served as the first post office in the Western Hemisphere and is adjoined by a comfortable full-service bar. Just the spot to sip a cold Kalik beer while the sun sets over scenic Bird Rock Lighthouse. For private pilots, an excellent 3500 foot airstrip is within walking distance of your oceanfront room.
The island's extensive flats hold abundant school bonefish averaging 3 pounds. Larger 6-10 pound singles and doubles prowl the edges and, compared to other mainstream destinations, readily take well-placed flies. In addition to the prolific bonefishery, the in-shore fishing is excellent for jacks, snapper, mackerel, barracuda and the occasional permit and tarpon. The blue water fishery on Crooked can be equally spectacular making this island one of the best possible choices to combine both flats and offshore fishing opportunities. One day fish for bones on the flats, the next pursue three species of tuna plus wahoo, dolphin and even marlin.
Many of the best guides on the island work at Pittstown Point and this includes Elton "Shakey" McKinney. They are an experienced, well-trained group with great attitudes and good flyfishing skills. Elton "Shakey" McKinney is a superb bonefisherman. In fact, he took third place in the 2002 Bahamas Bonefish Tournament in stiff competition against the best guides from all the other islands. The Pittstown guides use a variety of "high end" Florida Keys style flats boats. The reef and offshore program is run by Captain Robbie Gibson. Robbie uses a 32' Contender that offers plenty of shade and runs twin outboards with the range to fully explore this untapped bluewater fishery. In addition, a single engine, 26' center console Contender is more than well-suited for the job of close-in bluewater and reef fishing.
Along with the spectacular fishing opportunities, there are many other activities available for non-anglers making Crooked Island an excellent choice for adventuresome couples. In addition to birding, shelling and beachcombing, special note should be made of the incredible snorkeling and scuba diving opportunities available on Crooked Island. Children can learn to snorkel right off the white sand beaches. Here, healthy coral reefs slope gently from 2 to 40 feet all the way to the Bird Rock Lighthouse. For divers, the currentless face of the reef provides a spectacular, yet safe arena for scuba exploration.
When planning a trip, anglers should be aware of the important role seasonality can play in angling success. With that in mind, Crooked Island is far enough south that it is generally not affected by the cold fronts that sometimes bring bad weather to the more northern regions of the Bahamas. This makes Crooked Island a good bet for the winter months of December to March when it is riskier to plan a trip to more well-known areas.
Warm genuine hospitality, great food, a beautiful setting, and remote, unexplored flats all await you at Crooked Island. This winter, let us introduce you to this hidden hideaway in the Bahamas.