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Water Cay: Bahamas 02-05-2003


It was pitch dark and dead calm. A silver sliver of a moon couldn't penetrate the thin clouds. I could just make out the stocky silhouette of Iram who was poling us across a shallow spot as the motor continued to idle quietly. We could not see the other boat, but we could hear their voices and occasionally, see a quick flash as their flashlight's beam briefly pierced the inky Bahamian night. How I came to be perched on this mound of luggage, rod cases and four flat screen TV's is a classic story of Bahamian bureaucracy and island time. We had waited all afternoon for the flats boats we were now riding to clear customs in Freeport. Because the port authority officials in charge of processing our boats had an interest in another bonefish lodge on the island, our departure had been delayed until early in the evening. We had gotten to the ramp on the north end of the island well after dark. We launched towards Water Cay by feel and by flashlight. Determined now, we were only temporarily delayed when we discovered one of the boats had had its drain plugs removed by the bureaucrat and his cronies.

Fish the Bahamas long enough and explore enough of its remote areas and you are bound to find yourself in some unusual, if not always comfortable, situations. It should probably have come as no surprise then that here I was sitting on a TV while an ex-Olympic sprinter poled my skiff in the pitch dark... or that I was sharing home-made Bahamian bread and stories with the Outdoor Editor of the Miami Herald... or that the Executive Director of Bonefish and Tarpon Unlimited, the flats species research society, was cheerfully chatting away with his girlfriend on the other skiff... somewhere out there in the dark.

In the past, if you wanted to fish the complex, extensive and prolific north shore of Grand Bahama Island, it was not only an expensive proposition, but involved lots of travel time both by car and boat to get to the flats. Deep Water Cay Club, North Riding Point Club and even the bonefish guides in Lucayan Village often travel over 45 minutes by car just to reach the dock. From there, a skiff ride is required to reach the extensive area of shallow bays and mangrove flats that border Water Cay located just east of the horn on the north end of the island.

But now, Zefferick Lewis and his father, the Reverend Iram Lewis, have built a six room lodge on the south side of Water Cay smack-dab in the middle of the island's best fishing. Reverend Lewis' son, Iram Jr., was a Bahamas Olympic team captain (he is now working with the lodge) and Iram Jr.'s wife Eldece, was a gold medalist at the Sydney Olympic Games. These are quality people with a tremendous work ethic. With their American agent Frank Stabile consulting on the proper "American touch", the Lewis family runs the facility. This family puts a great amount of effort into managing their lodge. The same committment and energy that Iram and Eldece put into achieving the lofty status of world-class athletes is also put into lodge operations by Zefferick, his father and other family members. Iram and Eldece are both national heroes and the entire Lewis Family is a collection of very dynamic, accomplished individuals. The family calls their lodge the Water Cay Bonefish Club.

The club's rooms are clean with tile floors, air-conditioning and of course, flat screen TV's! The bar/dining room serves great meals and a cold drink of your choice. A large verandah adjoins the rooms and the centrally located bar/dining room. The flats are just minutes away. In fact, you can wade right out of the lodge to access good flats for after hours fishing. Head guide Ishmael McIntosh was trained and worked nine years at North Riding Point Club obviously, he knows his stuff! The club's flat skiffs are adequate, but we would like to see them upgrade to more beamy and stable boats that generate less hull slap. But at $2,250.00 per week, this operation allows you to fish areas that have in the past cost over $1,000 more per week. Some anglers will put up with a bit of hull slap for that savings!

There are both good numbers of fish and fish of good size on the flats accessible by Water Cay. Although this area has long been known for its big fish, there are also many school fish found here making this area appropriate for both beginners and experts alike. While much of the fishing in this area has traditionally been done by poled skiff, some good wading flats are available and easily accessible.

With quick access from the U.S. and almost hourly flights into Freeport from Nassau, the new Water Cay Bonefish Club will be a great choice for anglers looking for a weekend of fishing from the states or even a day trip out of Nassau. Anglers will be met at the airport and quickly shuttled to a waiting skiff and guide, thereby wasting little fishing time. Late arrivals into Freeport can overnight in a comfortable condominium in Freeport thus avoiding the trip to Water Cay. This is probably the best choice for anglers looking for one day fishing out of Nassau, although it is possible to arrive early and depart after dark on a flight back to Nassau. This convenient multi-flight situation exists on no other island in the Bahamas.

Motivated owners, great habitat, comfortable lodging and good access by air... everything is in place for a wonderful bonefishing experience all at a very reasonable price. At $2,250.00 per week, double occupancy, Water Cay Bonefish Club qualifies as one of our best budget bonefish bets, but make no mistake, you'll be fishing top-notch waters that have achieved, like the owners, a world-class reputation.


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