Bahamas Bones

As we outdoorsmen tick off the years and the outdoor experiences that go along with them, the term "bucket list" seems to take on more and more prominence. As for myself, it's not so much that I am results-driven, however, catching a 10-pound bass or walleye, shooting a B&C whitetail or simply taking a game animal with a crossbow have long been on my bucket list of outdoor achievements. Bonefishing, too, made my list long ago simply because I've wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Although I count myself among those guys who appreciate most anything that pulls hard, I never really understood the overall fascination with bonefish. And then I was invited to join Plano Tackle's Jesse Simpkins on a trip to Freeport on Grand Bahama.
North Riding Point Club is located on 6 acres of pristine, beach-front property on the southern shore of Grand Bahama. The Bahamas have a well-deserved reputation for the best bonefishing in the world, and Grand Bahama is one of the best in the Bahamas. The north shore of Grand Bahama holds several hundred square miles of flats, inlets and mangroves which comprise a huge area of fishing grounds.
North Riding Point sits on a spectacular three-mile beach. The main lodge and the guest cottages are spaced along the shoreline, each with its own access to the beach. The beach…With much of the U.S. locked into one of the harshest winters on record, this Bahamas beach was a most welcome sight.
After a hearty breakfast in the main dining area, guides with their trailered boats pick you up for a quick ride to one of several public boat launches which provide access to seemingly endless miles of Bahamian fishing flats. Launches, and fishing areas, are chosen according to the wind direction.
Ready...set...prepped to go
Lee Roy has guided at North Riding Point for 32 years--32 years of spotting bonefish is a skill that few guides anywhere in the world can boast of.
Of all of the qualifications a guide might have, Lee Roy's patience--even with the worst of bonefish anglers (that would be me)--ranks at the top.
Although I began fly fishing as a youngster, I'd never attempted to catch a fish that was warier than the biggest brown trout and had a lack of appetite to match. I opted for spinning gear and shrimp while trying for my first bones of the trip.
Plano tackle bags made for simple packing...
...whether it be for an assortment of flies or jigs.
Though bonefish flies might not seem as ornate as trout offerings, simple additions of rubber legs can mean the difference between a follow and a strike.
Lee Roy poles across a flat--ever-vigilant eyes on the lookout for cruising bonefish.
"Twelve o'clock, 40 feet"...Guides continually bark fish directions. Your job is to try and land your bait in front of the fish without spooking them.
Try as I might, pinpoint sightcasting was not in my repertoire.
Finally, after numerous shots, I was able to hook my very first bonefish.
The smallish bone sucked up a dead shrimp and instantly screamed into nearby mangroves.
The smallish bone sucked up a dead shrimp and instantly screamed into nearby mangroves.
Fellow angler and veteran bonefisherman Jeff Weakly, editor of Florida Sportsman magazine, almost instantly jumped overboard and into the fray beckoning me to follow him. The fish seemed hopelessly tangled in a morass of mangrove roots. "We can get this fish," he said. "C'mon...we'll get him out of the mangroves."
Thinking that the fish would break off, largemouth-bass-style, I was prepared to bust him off. I had much to learn.
Truth be known, Weakly's persistence is the only reason we managed to land the fish. He expertly untangled the bone from the mangrove tangle, taking me along for the ride. My first bonefish was an incredibly memorable one.
All of the North Riding Point Club guides are expert fish spotters and polers. Despite unmercifully brisk winds on our second day of angling, Steve never let up for a second.
After a long day of fishing in the sun, deluxe beach-front accommodations made unwinding a breeze.
Fresh fruit, cheese platter and cold drinks await returning anglers.
Salt Water Sportsman editor John Brownlee is raring to go on the last day of fishing.
Winds, which blew a gale the previous day, subsided markedly. Poling, not to mention spotting fish, became far easier.
Brownlee proved to be an old hand at casting to and hooking up with bones. This fish came on one of his first shots.
A bone's first run is lightning quick and powerful. Controlling the fish is a critical task. Despite John's veteran savvy, his bone busted off shortly after this frame was taken. There were, however, many more shots.
And to prove that even a blind pig can find an acorn once in a while, I managed to hook up as well.
After a couple of quick photos, this guy goes back to fight again.

To heck with winter! There's no better place to shake off the cold than to match wits with bonefish in the Bahamas.