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Liveaboard Exploration, Long Island, Bahamas 03-16-1997

As we walked across the runway's tarmac at Deadman's Cay, I could see the head of our boat captain, Hugh, smiling above the locals. Hugh helped with our luggage and after a short taxi ride we reached the dock. A tethered dingy, almost marooned by the sinking tide, ferried us to our catamaran. We all disappeared below deck and, in short order, reappeared festooned in our flats attire and raring to fish. We hopped in the skiffs and along with our local guides navigated the maze of salt pans on the inside of Turtle Sound. We immediately found that the flats did indeed hold sizeable numbers of school fish and a few singles and doubles. But we also found that the further we went back into the sound (and back towards Deadman's Cay) the fewer bonefish we saw. Those we did see were very skitterish. We were told that the locals still haul (their term for netting) bonefish. Because of this, we decided to reposition the catamaran and focus our efforts further away from civilization.

On the second day, after moving the catamaran, we fished some flats that were much more productive. As everywhere else in the Bahamas, the further one gets away from civilization, the better the fishing. On this day, I caught two 8 + pound bonefish and numerous smaller school fish. Both larger fish were tailing on shallow, white sand bars. They energetically charged my fly and rocketed off the flats once hooked.

On our final day, we moved even further outside Turtle Sound into the rarely fished little cays that dot the passage towards the Exuma Islands. We had spectacular fishing among the beautiful, white sand, tidal flats that were interlaced with shallow turquoise creeks and deeper azure bights.

At low tide, large fish held their ground only feet away from the dazzling expanses of shimmering white sand. A slow stalk, combined with determined concentration, revealed numerous hefty fish that aggressively took flies only inches from shore. On the rising tide, they began to slink onto the flats sometimes pausing in incredibly shallow potholes.

I actually managed to catch, by hand, one 5 pound bonefish that was trying to skitter up a very shallow, tidal creek. He looked like a spawning salmon in an Alaskan creek. I dashed wildly back and forth blocking his exit until he beached himself and I was able to grab him. I turned him around, gave him a stern lecture on tides and water levels, and sent him on his way while I caught my breath. As the water became deep enough in the little bays for the bones to forage, our fishing turned spectacular. I'm sure I ended the day with 20 plus fish - most caught classically, either tailing or in very shallow water.

These outside flats are not easily reached and the benefits of a mobile mothership were once again demonstrated to me. The 50 foot catamaran that we used to explore this area is very comfortable and spacious. The sleeping cabins are very comfortable and roomy. Excellent meals are taken in a spacious pilot house at deck level. The chef runs a famous restaurant on Martha's Vineyard in the summer.

We intend to begin our trips at Georgetown in the Exumas - fish the southern Exuma Cays for a couple of days in areas that are not easily or often reached from Georgetown, then sail / motor to the outside cays of Turtle Sound for the remainder of the trip. Guests will depart from Deadman's Cay on Long Island.

Once again, it has been demonstrated to me that liveaboards offer a tremendous advantage and we are committed to using motherships as a way of exploring less pressured fishing grounds.

Written by Scott Heywood



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