I have had the opportunity to fish with the guides from Andros South Lodge for the past three years and I cannot wait to keep going back. One thing that keeps me dreaming of returning is the world class fly fishing opportunities. I would argue that the flats around South Andros are the crown jewel of Bahamian bonefishing. This is the perfect place for all different types of anglers from rookies to salty vets due to all the different situations and types of fishing one may experience with the Deneki guides.
You can expect to see all sorts of fish throughout the fishing grounds near the lodge. From shots at single and pairs of bonefish to schools of ten to twenty or even hundreds at certain places one thing is for sure: You are bound to get casts at happy bonefish. If the bonefishing ever gets boring (which it won’t), make sure you have a 10 weight or spinning rod on hand in order to throw to some rather angry barracuda or Jacks. No matter how you slice it the fishing on the island is spectacular. Don’t fret over missed shots… You will get plenty.
I hold this place with such reverence because this is where I tasted my first success as a saltwater fly fisherman. The staff and guides will do all they can in order to make your stay and angling the ultimate adventure. However don’t just take my word for it. Pack up an 8 weight, some mantis shrimp and gotchas and check it out for yourself.
We want to invite you to experience this amazing place with us in Spring 2016!
There is a reason that we (Fishwest) go back to Andros South Lodge every year…everything about it is incredible. As a fly shop trying to provide a superior international destination fly fishing travel trip to our guests at a reasonable price, this place cannot be beat. At Andros South Lodge, you don’t need to remember that your salad fork is on the left, but never worry that the accommodations are sub par. Your every need is taken care of and you will never be hungry or thirsty. If you ever need anything, just ask.
Not to mention the guides; they are outstanding. There is an eight man guide rotation and there IS NOT a bad draw. From Freddie the singer to Josie the hunter to Torrie the entertainer (I could go on and on), every guide is unique, but the one thing they all have in common is that they KNOW bonefish. South Andros Island is home to some of the biggest bonefish in the world and these guys will give you the best chance to catch one.
Andros South Lodge is a special place and I hope to return there many, many more times. We want to invite you to experience this amazing place with us in Spring 2016.
We recently had a customer come into the shop asking about clothing to wear on a trip to Andros South Lodge he booked with us. So we here at Fishwest thought this would be a great time to write about sun protection clothing for warm weather situations.
When I’m planning on being on a boat or hiking a stretch of river without much shade all day the first item I think about is the shirt I’m going to wear. I look for breathability and coverage when it comes to features in a shirt. My usual go-to is the Solarflex crew neck shirt; it’s the most comfortable all-around shirt I have found on the market. Super lightweight, quick drying and the COR3 anti-microbial features of the Solarflex allow you to fish all day long without a worry, while the flat-seam construction gives you a next to skin comfort. These shirts are available in a number of different colors and prints to best fit your personal style and fishing environment.
The next item I grab for a trip would be my Simms’ Sungaiter, this isn’t just another sun sleeve tube thingy, it’s a step up from those. Featuring laser cut breathing holes for better comfort and to reduce sunglass fog from breathing, the fit is more true to one’s facial features cutting down on excessive material around the eyes. I can take it off when needed; dunk it on those extremely hot days, and packs easily into a waist pack.
Lastly I always try to remember my Solarflex Sun gloves; these gloves are made out of the same lightweight material as the Solarflex Shirts and Sungaiter giving the same performance and feel. My favorite features of the gloves are the open palm and extended coverage on the middle ad index fingers. The open palm allows you to have optimum feeling of the cork grip while fishing, this is a main reason why I dislike fishing with gloves but have become a fan of gloves since trying these out. The extended coverage on the stripping fingers gives you protection when throwing steamers or saltwater flies all day. I have tried using stripping sleeves before but they always move or twist on me, when I moved over to the gloves I noticed they held their position much better than stripping sleeves, allowing me to pay more attention to the action that was happening in the water.
There are a few other items I usually grab before a trip, lightweight quick-dry pants or shorts are a great choice on hot days, the pants will give you the maximum protection from the sun but shorts are more comfortable in my opinion. Also make sure you grab your lucky fishing hat and socks come in handy if you are fishing off a boat all day.
All of these pieces are available in UPF50 giving you the most protection in today’s market and making sure you have a few of these items packed for your next trip will make your fishing more enjoyable, allowing you to focus on your fishing techniques instead of worrying about your skin burning. Give us a shout at 801-617-1225 if you have any questions about the product or the South Andros Lodge trip.
Well it’s here, the time of the year when you dust off the ugliest sweater you own, spend more than you would like to admit on gifts, and to take long trips to see the family. Although it is the time of year for family, that shouldn’t stop you from getting out there and hooking into some fish.
This is a great opportunity to share your passion with others in your family, take a short trip to your local community pond or stream and toss around some flies. Show the youngsters how to catch fish with a rod and not a PlayStation controller. Show that in-law why you spend hours upon hours on the river every year, the tranquil state it puts much of us in while out exploring the water. Show them secret, or special spots, to allow them a little glimpse into “Your World”. They might then understand why you dedicate so much of your time to this sport.
This isn’t just a great time to share your passion for fly fishing but can also be a good time to explore old or new fishing spots. If you are heading back to your hometown, take time to see how the river has changed and where the fish have moved to. For me this is a trip back down memory lane. I spend time reflecting on the reasons I picked up a fly rod in the first place, those feelings or experiences I had while learning the sport, and an opportunity to hook into those large ones that got away from me last time.
This can also be a great opportunity to head out to water that you have never explored before, whether its in your hometown or in a relatives community, this time a year offers a great chance to have the water mostly to yourself. It doesn’t have to be a technical trip with tons of gear, just the rod, reel, few flies, and a cheap pair of waders (if necessary) from your local sporting goods retailer.
Whether you do make it out this week or not, we here at Fishwest wish you and yours a safe and joyful holiday season. Fill your bellies and get your yearly fix of The Christmas Story, we will be here getting ready for 2015 while you work your way out of that holiday fog.
The 2015 F3T is right around the corner, and we at Fishwest can’t be more excited. The trailers are out and by the looks of them it will be another great event, here’s the trailer for Those Moments; a film by Kokkaffe Media’s Peter Christensen, supported by Orvis and Deneki Outdoors. The tour will be swinging through Salt Lake City February 19, 2015 at the Depot, tickets will be sold here at Fishwest starting January 2, 2015. If you have never made it to F3T before I highly suggest you do your best to make it to this years. It will be an all ages show, so bring the family!
I’ve been to a fair number of baby tarpon spots but I finally got a chance to spend three July days chasing them in Campeche, Mexico. Here’s a sample…
5:35 AM: The hotel van driver drops me off at the pier in total darkness. I’m a little worried ‘cause the parking lot is completely empty. Where is the guide’s vehicle?
5:43 AM: Ah-ha! The drone of an outboard answers my question and the guide pulls up in his panga.
5:55 AM: We’re driving through complete blackness at what seems like full throttle. The only immediate illumination is the guide’s flashlight. It is my second day fishing and the guide is taking me to the very edge of the usual fishing grounds.
6:09 AM: The sun begins to peek over the horizon. With a bit of light, the boat speeds up. I’m quite relieved that we weren’t going as fast as possible through the dark.
6:50 AM: The guide pulls up to where a creek pours into the mangrove shoreline. The channel is about five feet wide. With the first day jitters behind me, I get a fly tied on and my first cast off reasonably quickly.
6:54 AM: Fish on! A tarpon cartwheels to the left into the mangroves. And it’s gone…
6:57 AM: Fish on! A tarpon cartwheels to the right into the mangroves. And it’s gone…
7:01 AM: Fish on! This one remains cooperatively in the middle of the creek and I land about a 3 pound snook. I’m pumped! It’s only the second snook I’ve ever caught.
8:21 AM: I haven’t seen anything since the snook. But my casting is dialed in. I’m actually feeling rather smug. I haven’t snagged a mangrove in at least half an hour. I’m dropping my fly in every juicy little pocket that presents itself as we pole down the shoreline.
8:22 AM: The guide calls out, “Tarpon! By mangroves! 11 o’clock!” I see a couple dark shapes in the clear water. Naturally, my casting ability instantly implodes and the fly ends up in the mangroves about 4 feet above the tarpon. The tarpon simply melt away.
9:15 AM: A small barracuda grabs my fly. Luckily he doesn’t bite me off and I unceremoniously strip him in. When he is ten feet from the boat a gang of three tarpon show up. They are large for babies – about 20 pounds each – and look like they have mayhem on their minds. At least as far as the barracuda is concerned…
9:20 AM: The barracuda is unhooked and back in the water. Somehow, the tarpon don’t notice as it darts away. They are circling about 30 feet from the boat and they still look like a bunch of thugs.
9:30 AM: Evidently, the tarpon are shrewd thugs. They ignore two or three different flies and drift into the mangroves.
10:45 AM: The guide poles us by a large tree that has toppled into the water, extending well beyond the mangrove shoreline. I crawl a Seaducer along the length of the tree. Blow up! A tarpon clears the water three or four times. He is still hooked; I’m hopeful that this could be my first tarpon to the boat.
10:50 AM: Yes! It makes it to the boat for a picture and a release.
11:45 AM: After eating lunch further down the shoreline, we return to the fallen tree. It’s a good call on the guide’s part because another tarpon inhales the Seaducer and comes to the boat. But not quietly, of course – thrashing and churning all the way.
1:05 PM: We’re on a large flat covered in turtle grass. Every few minutes or so a tarpon comes within range. It’s like this for about an hour and a half. These tarpon are pretty cagey and I get mostly refusals. Nevertheless, three or four end up leaping skward with my fly in their mouth. But – sigh – all but one fall back down to the water with the fly indignantly tossed aside. I have to admit I’m used to that.
2:35 PM: We start the run back to Campeche.
4:00 PM: I’m in the neighbourhood bar, enjoying a superb Margarita. Life doesn’t get any better ‘cause I’ve got one more day of fishing left….
* * * * * * * * * *
Here’s a few notes about Campeche and the fishing…
Campeche is a great place to take a partner who doesn’t want to spend everyday in the boat. It is an amazing city with stunning and historical architecture. There are lots of comfortable hotels and good restaurants.
An 8 weight rod with a floating 9 weight line was perfect for Campeche’s baby tarpon. I found a leader that was 11 or 12 feet long led to more grabs than the standard 9 footer. Puglisi patterns, Seaducers, and Mayan Warriors a little better than 3 inches long worked well. There was a lot of blind casting but a fair bit of sight fishing to both rolling and cruising tarpon.
The tarpon were generally between 5 and 10 pounds. They were plentiful and grabby. I never seemed to have to wait very long for my next shot. Most baby tarpon locations seem to suffer a definite slow down during the heat of the day but the action in Campeche stayed reasonably consistent. On an average day, I would get at least 10 or 15 strikes. For the sake of brevity, I left out a few grabs in my diary above.
The diary also left out a couple noteworthy spots that were fished on another day… Quite close to Campeche, there are some beautiful mangrove islands that seemed to hold rolling tarpon all day. There are also hidden lagoons tucked into the mangrove shoreline where I literally watched schools of baby tarpon swim laps. Although my partner never caught a fish, she fished those spots with me and had a great time just soaking up the scenery.
Although he didn’t speak much English, the guide was great. As well, he had a good panga with a casting platform. My outfitter for the trip was Yucatan Fly Fishing Adventures; they also have operations at Isla del Sabalo and Tarpon Cay Lodge.
**Editors Note: Fishwest hosts a yearly trip down to Campeche Mexico with Yucatan Fly Fishing Adventures. Spots on our 2015 trip are still available however they are going fast. For further details please contact us at email@example.com or visit the “Destination Travel” page of Fishwest HERE** -JC
I have been lucky enough to find this wonderful sport of fly fishing and I have had the chance to check out some really neat destinations both locally, regionally, and abroad in pursuit of the ultimate fly fishing adventure. Today I want to take a moment and talk about one of my favorite places I have had a chance to go, The Andros South Lodge run by the great folks Deneki Outdoors.
Getting to the Island:
The Andros South Lodge is located on the eastern side of the Island of South Andros in the Bahamas. Getting to South Andros is a relatively easy endeavor and can be accomplished one of two ways that I have experienced.
The first (and my preferred method) is to take a plane into Fort Lauderdale FL and then take a charter plane from a company called Watermaker Air direct to the Congo Town International Airport on South Andros.The second (and more difficult) option entails a flight to the Capitol city of the Bahamas, Nassau. From Nassau it is a short flight to Andros via a Western Air flight. The thing that makes this difficult especially for anglers like us coming from the west is that this results in having to spend a night in Nassau. Accommodations in Nassau can range from staying at the luxurious Atlantis Casino to the beach front Orange Hill Inn for the evening. This is not bad however I would not recommend a Bahamian taxi ride. That was an eye opening experience for sure.
I for one would much rather take the more direct route via Fort Lauderdale and the charter flight. Customs in Congo Town are much easier than the counterparts in Nassau. Traveling, Airports, and Security checkpoints are not my favorite things in the world therefore I would opt for the path of least resistance.
Upon arrival at the Congotown you are greeted by the Deneki bus and Kermit the lodge bus driver. After handing you a cold Kalik (National Beer of the Bahamas) or a bottle of water, Kermit proceeds to take you on the short journey down the one road on the island to Kemps Bay. Within 15 minutes you have arrived at the lodge.
I would describe the accommodations at the Andros South Lodge to be “Rustically Comfortable”. Each angler or anglers is assigned a room aptly named something fishy (Bonefish, Permit, Cuda ect). The rooms are quite comfortable, clean and simple. The rooms consist of an extremely comfortable double bed, a dresser and a small bathroom.
One of the nicest parts of the lodge grounds has to be the “Slack Tide Bar”. This small palapa of beachfront paradise is located just steps from both the dining room and “hotel” rooms at the lodge. Each night after fishing appetizers are served and tales of the days fishing conquests are shared before dinner. The “Slack Tide” is also stocked head to toe with just about any beverage somebody could want ranging from a great selection of beer to liquors and everything in between. Everyone seems to convene at the bar after dinner to continue the party.
Meals are served twice a day (In the dining room that is). Breakfast is served starting at 6am. Breakfast usually consists of some variation of the following. Eggs served with some type of breakfast meat with Toast, Grits, or pancakes. Lunch is served on the boat while fishing and it consists of filling out a deli style menu which involves sandwiches, chips, fruit, and beverages. Dinners at the lodge are served family style and highlight local cuisine. Meals are exceptional and may include dishes like cracked (fried) conch, grouper served with cassava root boiled in coconut milk or my personal favorite… Wait for it Lobster tails. These meals are arguably the greatest part of the stay at the Andros Lodge apart from the fishing of course.
One more thing about the accommodations of the lodge, this is not a five star resort by any means. If you are looking for white tablecloths and something of that nature please look elsewhere. If you want somewhere to consider home while experiencing the ultimate bonefishing adventure please look no further.
The lodge staff at Andros South is some of nicest people you will ever meet in your entire life. All of the folks are extremely friendly and treat you like you are part of the Deneki family. From Gloria and the kitchen staff, to the self proclaimed “director of security”, Mr. Gerrard and everybody that I forgot will do everything that they can in order to make your stay awesome.
The Guides & Fishing:
Let’s just say I saved the best for last. Any saltwater fly fisherman knows that the Bahamas is considered the arguable Mecca of Bonefishing. I would argue that the flats around South Andros are the crown jewel of Bahamian bonefishing. The network of flats and number of bonefish alone found within a 15 minute boat ride of the dock at deep creek is simply astronomical. This is the perfect place for all different types of anglers from rookies to salty vets due to all the different situations and types of fishing one may experience with the Deneki guides.
All the guides at the Andros South lodge are top notch. Bottom line is that these guys know their stuff. These guys are some of the best guides and teachers I have ever had the opportunity to fish with hands down. They will both challenge you as an angler but give you all the tools and instruction in order to be successful and also leave the Bahamas as a better angler. I have had a chance to fish with all of the guides except for two over the last couple of years and I have to say each one of them has there own distinct personalities. Take Freddie for example, He will sing all day from the poling platform while pointing out fish. Or Josie, who is all business, who expects the best from his anglers but will put you in prime spots to catch what he calls “bonezilla” or better yet “wife of bonezilla”.
You can expect to see all sorts of fish throughout the fishing grounds near the lodge. From shots at single and pairs of bonefish to schools of ten to twenty or even hundreds at certain places one thing is for sure. You are bound to get casts at happy bonefish. The bonefish generally range anywhere from 2 to 10 pounds with the average fish tipping the scale around 3 or 4. These fish will be seen either on flats throughout the island or while exploring an extensive network of mangrove creeks. These fish usually are found feeding or cruising in 1 to 2 feet of water and can be stalked either via poling the boat or on foot. If the bonefishing ever gets boring (which it wont) make sure you have a 10 weight or spinning rod on hand in order to throw to some rather angry barracuda or Jacks. No matter how you slice it the fishing on the island is spectacular. Don’t fret over missed shots… You will get plenty.
I hold this place with such reverence because this is where I tasted my first success as a saltwater fly fisherman. Everything that is aforementioned makes this place amazing. The staff and guides will do all they can in order to make your stay and angling the ultimate adventure. However don’t take my word for it. Pack up an 8 weight, some mantis shrimp and gotchas and check it out for yourself.
Fishwest runs a yearly trip(s) to the Andros South Lodge. For all those who are interested you can check out the details HERE. Spots are still available for our March 2015 trips.
If you don’t know already own a pair of polarized glasses is worth it’s weight in gold when fishing. I would argue a nice pair of sunnies is probably the most important fishing accessory. Since the days of Action Optics the staff over at Smith has been committed to bringing some of the best technical eye wear to the fly fishing industry. Smith glasses are a favorite of the shop staff here at Fishwest. From Jake with his Frontman’s to Richard with the Backdrops they can be seen time and time again. If you haven’t had a chance to checkout the offerings from Smith Optics I would urge you to do so.
Without further adieu, check out this awesome video put together by Smith highlighting the excellent Florida Keys fisheries.
From the title, you can probably guess that this article is about fly fishing in Cuba. Cuba is an amazing place and its fly fishing is definitely one of the reasons why.
To be honest I only fished two days in Cuba. And one of those days wasn’t even a good one. Nevertheless, from what I saw, I would recommend fishing in Cuba to anyone…
A quick web search will reveal that most Cuban flats fishing are controlled by an Italian outfit named Avalon. Any monopoly has drawbacks but in this case I think it has been very healthy in preserving the fishery and the environment.
Avalon has fishing operations throughout Cuba, including Cayo Largo, a beautiful island south of the mainland with a handful of all–inclusive resorts. So when my girlfriend Deb and I booked into one of these resorts, it took about 5 minutes for me to send an email off to Avalon. I was hoping to book a day trip and chase some bonefish.
Here’s one of the drawbacks to a monopoly… “Not possible,” they replied. “We only do full weeks. Contact us closer to the date of your trip and we’ll see what we can do.”
I had previously devoured the Avalon website and really wanted to experience their fishery so it was an agonizing wait. Finally, a few weeks before we departed, I begged and pleaded with the Avalon representative and managed to book two day trips. I won’t mention the price – that’s another drawback of a monopoly!
Our very first night in Cuba was in Havana. It was actually New Year’s Eve and we saw a grand Cuban tradition – hurling a bucket of water into the street from the front door. Luckily, we saw it from a distance…
The flight from Havana to Cayo Largo was on board a big dual-prop plane that looked like it dated from the 1960’s. It was terribly noisy but it still gave us a good view of the immense flats that spread out from Cayo Largo. The landing – on a modern airstrip – was surprisingly smooth.
Cayo Largo is an idyllic Carribbean island with only a handful of resorts. A white sand beach? Scenic, rocky coastline? Palm trees? Scub pines? Starfish in pristine water? You can take your pick and with a little effort, you won’t have to share with anyone.
On our first day of fishing, we taxied to the Avalon fishing center and were met by the fishing director and three guides. Yup, our guide and two others. It was a bit like a NASCAR pit stop; we had five outfits with us, and they had them all completely rigged in about 2 minutes. Another minute passed and we were in a state-of-the art skiff, planing towards the flats. I had in my hands a fly box that the fishing director gave me; it held a dozen proven local patterns.
I have to admit, however, our first day fishing was not too remarkable. Deb is not a fan of long boat rides so we fished the closest spots to the dock – a few large flats that were fairly deep and often held permit. However, a cold front had blown through a couple days before. Unlucky for us, the temperatures were still down and the winds were still up.
I think I spotted three fish that day; most of the time the guide was directing my casts across wave-rippled water. Regardless, he was excellent, with eagle eyes and a very patient manner. By the time we pulled up to the dock, both Deb and I had landed a couple bonefish.
We spent the next couple days exploring the island and sampling the excellent mojitos at the resort. When the cold front had thoroughly passed – and the winds lay down – I showed up for a second day of fishing. Deb had elected to spend the day at the resort.
I was paired with a different guide – although his patient, professional demeanor was very much the same as the first. Our plan, he said, would be to fish along a string of small cays that stretched outward from one end of Cayo Largo.
The first spot we pulled up to held an immense school of bonefish. They circled away from us and then towards us. I had absolutely no problem spotting them. It was about as easy as it gets in flats fishing – cast your fly about ten feet in front of the wriggling, cruising mass. Wait ‘til it gets close… A couple strips… Watch five or six fish peel after your fly… Fish on!
With my reel buzzing, the guide would pole like crazy away from the school. We’d land the fish. And then repeat. These were solid 4 pounders. Every one of them went well into the backing. I’d wish I could say that after five fish I was ready for more of a challenge but to be honest – it my personal bonefish paradise. Lots of good-sized, eager, easy-to-see fish!
Nevertheless, the guide didn’t want to educate too many fish and he suggested we push on. And so it went for the rest of the day – from one tiny little cay with a gorgeous flat to the next… It was perhaps the most perfect day of bonefishing I’ve ever experienced. There were no more huge schools, but plenty of singles and doubles and small groups. The water was gin clear, perfectly calm, and never more than knee deep. The bottom was a magical white sand that didn’t hide fish very well. I landed 10 or 11 bonefish that day with a couple going 5 or 6 pounds. I could have landed more but the guide talked me into so many other things…
Like checking out a tiny cut through some mangroves for tarpon. They were in there – four or five good-sized juveniles! They finned lazily, wickedly obvious in the clear water. And just kept on finning lazily as my fly swam past. After a few casts, they melted back into the mangroves.
I also chugged a popper across a couple deep channels for barracuda. One showed himself but turned away. In disdain? I really think that barracuda are way smarter than most anglers think.
The guide even had me tossing a jig on a spinning rod into a couple more channels. He wanted me to sample some of the snapper fishing. Success! A four or five pound mutton snapper grabbed the jig and pulled like only snapper can.
Actually, that mutton snapper was quite an inspiration. Because shortly thereafter, we were about a mile offshore, and my tarpon rod was rigged with a sinking line. I was working a Clouser down among the patch reefs. To no avail, unfortunately. But just the anticipation of a big snapper on a fly rod made it worthwhile.
Before we headed back in, we checked out a couple deeper flats for permit. Truth be known, Cayo Largo actually has quite a reputation for permit. Maybe it’s a good thing that none showed themselves that day; I was riding a bit of an adrenaline high after all the action and a permit might have pushed me over the edge.
Back at the dock, in the comfort of the Avalon fishing center’s couch, I had a couple beers and a slice of pizza and gradually came down. If you ever decide to come to Cuba, bring a lot of gear. It seems the possibilities are endless…
* * * * * * * *
Here are a few additional notes if you every make it to Cuba…
It might be a tad inflexible, but Avalon runs a first class operation. They rotate anglers through well-defined zones to spread out the pressure. Both guides and boats are top notch.
A day or two in Havana is mandatory! Catch a jazz club, stroll the Malecon, admire the architecture, get a cab ride from a ’55 Chevy (or maybe a bicycle) – it’s gritty and grand at the same time.
The countryside near Vinales – about an hour from Havana – is incredibly exotic. Lush green farms with red soil are butted up against huge domes of vegetation and limestone.
Did I mention the great fishing?
**Editors Note: Being that Dale hails from Canada, It is very easy for him to be able to travel to Cuba for excellent adventures like this one. On the other hand us Americans are not so lucky…
The Orvis Helios 2 is a new arrival to the shop here at Fishwest. The 905.4 is quickly becoming one of most sought after rods in the shop collection to fish for the day. The reasons are simple. These rods are super lightweight with a nice crisp fast action. Simply put the 905.4 is a fine tuned, high performance, trout catching machine. Don’t take my word for it stop in the shop and talk to Jake or Morgan about it and see what they have to say. While you are there give this rod a test cast or two. You will surely be impressed as well.