2015, April 10-14th, North Riding Point, Bahamas Trip Summary: Sharks, Sharks, Sharks. I’ve never been saltwater fishing anywhere in the world with as many sharks as we saw in the Bahamas. I have to admit, I was amused being a witness to the circle of life when I’d reel in half a bonefish eaten by a hungry shark. Our Trip to the Bahamas started off a little sketchy by flying in on Silver Airways from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. If you ever have a chance to choose a different airline, I would recommend it because I’ve never been on a commercial airline where the flight crew jokes about how dysfunctional their airline is and they delay the plane 30 minutes to allow a passenger to go back into the airport to try and find a lost cell phone. This delay caused our already delayed flight (by several hours) to almost experience a mutiny that would have upstaged the hostile takeover of the ship HMS Bounty on Pitcairn Island before it was burned and scuttled into the sea. The next surprise was when we landed in the Bahamas close to midnight; our booking agent and the Lodge mixed up our arrival day resulting in us being marooned all alone with no cell service or way to contact either party. Imagine being at an airport after everyone leaves and you are standing on the curb all by yourself in the dark in an unfamiliar place with all your luggage and your wife and they are locking up the airport behind you with chains and padlocks because you’re the last flight of the day. That was us. Fortunately, the people of the Bahamas have a worldwide reputation for being super friendly and literally the last car at the airport came up to us and asked if we needed a ride. After sharing our predicament with the driver, he contacted the lodge on our behalf and the lodge offered to pay him to transport us there. We thankfully loaded our belongings into a wreck of a car with no seatbelts and held on for dear life as we were whisked off through the streets of Freeport to North Riding Point. With the travel day from hell behind us, and having been delivered with all our arms and legs safely attached, we settled in at the lodge where the manager apologized profusely for the mix up and we prepared for four days of bone fishing Bahamas style. Having arrived from Florida where a cold front was actively stirring up the Everglades, we were dismayed to learn that the Bahamas were also forecast to get hit by a cold front punctuated by high winds and cloud cover for the next four days. It’s just unbelievable how many times this seems to happen on saltwater trips. The next four days saw our fishing performance drop like a bad tech stock. I don’t remember the exact numbers, but it went something roughly like this. Day one 16 landed, Day two, 12 landed, Day three, 8 landed and Day four, 4 landed. Of course this was coming off a week of high pressure and stable weather defined by 30 fish days per boat before we arrived and the cold front blew in. What makes cold front fishing a challenge is the wind churns up the flats reducing visibility and the clouds that shadow the flats make it nearly impossible to spot fish until you are on top of them and they spook. Ironically, as our trip went on, the wind ended up being our friend as it would blow the line of clouds back into the interior of the island illuminating little pockets on the flats where we could spot bonefish and get a shot at them. To be honest, I’ve caught lots of bonefish before and sometimes having to work a little harder for them makes me appreciate them a little better, so even though the fishing was tough compared to Bahamas standards, Diane and I greatly enjoyed the technical nature of sight fishing the fewer numbers of fish and having to make our casts and presentation count. I can conclusively state, I have more respect when I am catching 5 a day compared to 30. To mix things up and make it interesting, the flats also have some giant Bonefish. These are pelagic bones averaging 8-12 pounds. You can tell when our guide spots one of these bruisers because he becomes animated and crazy like a sailfish captain when a blue marlin crashes the teasers. We didn’t end up hooking any of the monsters, but did get some quality shots at them. The flats are teeming with life in the Bahamas and sharks are everywhere. We also saw great numbers of sea turtles poking their inquisitive little smiling faces out of the water looking at us and large bat rays that shook their wings off before skating off in a trail of mud. Sharks were everywhere - black tipped sharks, spinner sharks, lemon sharks, bonnet head sharks, bull sharks, reef sharks, big sharks, small sharks, medium sharks – sharks of every size and color. Even though it is a little sad to see the frown on a bonefish’s face when they get cut in two by a shark, it is very exciting when a shark hones in on a bonefish and chases them down on the end of your fly rod. They zip all around erratically trying to throw the shark off their trail. If the shark is lucky, it will get a chance to bite the tail off the bonefish which signals that it is now game over. With no tail, the shark can take its time to come back to enjoy an easy meal. The guides try their best to hit the sharks with their push poles and play the role of “spoiler” by bringing the tailless bodies into the boat so the sharks can’t enjoy their prize. They don’t want the sharks conditioned to stealing an easy meal, but I think it’s too late for that. They seem pretty educated about the process. Once its “man down” and the poor little bonefish bleeds out, it pulls sharks towards the site of the crime from miles around. We sat on anchor after one such attack. Although the bonefish had been removed from the water, and the tail eaten by the lucky recipient, within 5 minutes a half dozen little sharks appeared on the scene. After smelling blood in the water, within 30 minutes large super tanker sharks came cruising in to investigate the scene mixing with the smaller ones. 45 minutes later Sharks in excess of 9 feet had found their way to the site of the massacre and were searching, searching, searching. It is absolutely amazing to contemplate the sense of smell these sharks must have to be drawn in from such a long distance based on a few parts per million of blood in the water. Excitedly, I rigged up a 10 weight with a big streamer trying to hook one of the monsters, but it just wasn’t the same as a silver wriggly bonefish and they wouldn’t fall for my trick. My understanding from our guide is the shark attack victims don’t go to waste and make great fish patties for the family. North Riding Point is a first class operation located right on the ocean. It offers private beach bungalows that open to sweeping views of the Caribbean and a nice sand beach. Cuisine is first class, and the guiding operation is solid. You have to trailer your boat 30-45 minutes each day to get to certain flats and there are no boats moored at the lodge due to the reef and lack of protection from sea conditions. Diane and I did do some fishing right off the beach in front of our bungalow and discovered triggerfish tailing in the waves and schools of cruising bonefish hugging the beach and the reef line. The first couple of days we were interested in wading out to fish the surf line on the outside reef. While the water was clear beyond the reef, the waves crashing over the reef would create a broth of pulverized sea shells, and sandy murky water caused by the constant churning of the waves. Diane mentioned that in the silty water, she thought she felt something rub up against her leg which I casually dismissed. Not thinking much of it after that, we were walking back to the lodge for dinner when we both witnessed a 5-6 foot lemon shark swimming along the beach and up onto the sand chasing baitfish. This coupled with seeing some giant 8-9 foot sharks cruising the outer reef area from the safety of our bungalow somewhat tempered our enthusiasm for wading and we didn’t wade in the ocean again.

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