Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Bonefishing at Grand Cayman
GEORGE TOWN, Grand Cayman -- When my wife, Kathy, gave me a bonefishing trip for my birthday, the choice of destinations was tough. I wouldn't go without her, so that eliminated any hardcore fishing camp.
We wanted a place where I could target bonefish and where we could enjoy the scenery, attactions and nightlife. That's why we selected this island nation located 480 miles southwest of Miami in the Caribbean Ocean.
We were not disappointed.
We flew out of Tampa at 2:05 p.m. on Christmas Eve and landed in George Town about an hour and a half later. The flight was smooth and uneventful. We checked two pieces of luggage. I opted to carry on my gear bag and fly rods. I could always buy clothing if the luggage was lost, but I didn't want to take the chance of losing my tackle.
I took a 6-weight TFO TICRX, 8-weight TFO TICRX and 9-weight TFO TICRX. The reel for the 6 weight had a sinktip line. The other two had full floating lines. I took the 6 weight just in case I couldn't find any bonefish and had to settle for bar jacks or whatever else might be interested in eating a fly.
We rented a compact Suzuki for our stay. That way I could drive to various fishing spots every day. Driving took some getting used to because they drive on the left side of the road in the Caymans. The steering wheel was on the right side of the car. Additonally, roundabouts there took some time to figure out.
We stayed at the Comfort Suites on Seven Mile Beach. Good choice. The place was clean, quiet and comfortable. The free continental breakfast wasn't worth a darn, but that was OK.
After breakfast on Christmas morning, we set out to explore the island and find some bonefish. I didn't even take a rod. I just want to get my bearings and find a few fish.
We stopped at South Sound, a place where I'd been told there were bones. We didn't see any and I really didn't like the look of the water. Most was too deep.
We headed toward East End and stopped at a stretch of beach near Morritt's Tortuga Club. No one had suggested the spot. It just looked good. While walking along the beach, we spotted a bonefish coming off the thick turtle grass into a sandy area. We saw a pair of bones a little later.
We drove north toward Rum Point and saw a spot near Grape Tree Point. We stood at the side of the road and saw a pretty nice bonefish in a sand hole. We watched as a bigger one (a real monster) tailed in some thick turtle grass.
We then drove to Rum Point, had a soft drink and snack. We took a few photos, then headed back to Georgetown. We wanted to explore one more area near Barkers.
We walked the beach there, but didn't see any bonefish. We did see a pair of small snook swimming along the beach. Even though we didn't see any bones, the area just looked fishy.
Kathy and I were tired, so we headed back to the hotel. That night, we ate dinner at Papagallo Restaurant at Barkers. It was magnificent. I had an 18-ounce ribeye that was cooked to perfection. Kathy had a large salad and a pasta dish. She said her food was fabulous.
Later, headed back to the hotel, parked the car and walked around. We stopped at Coconut Joe's across the street from the hotel and had a few Christmas drinks.
The next morning, I headed off the fish. Kathy slept in, then laid out in the sun at the pool.
I arrived at the spot near Morritt's Tortuga Club. I figured the fish had been easy to spot there and didn't seem spooky. But I only saw one tailing bone in three hours, so I left and headed for Grape Tree Point. The sun was behind clouds, so it was difficult to see. But I did spot a couple of bones in a sand hole near the beach. They swam off before I could grab the rod.
I watched for an hour and didn't see any more fish. That's when I waded out and just stood in the turtle grass near a sand hole. I watched as two bonefish swam into the hole. They were so close that the entire leader wasn't even out of the rod tip. I was using a 12-foot leader and the fish weren't 10 feet away. I really didn't think they'd hit, but I was wrong. I flicked the fly in front of them and the smaller of the two quickly ate. I set the hook and the race was on. Even though it was a small bone, it still took me into the backing. I was using a fly that I named "Gibby's Bonefish Fly." I tied it on a No. 4 hook. It featured rabbit hair, dubbing, small lead eyes and rubber legs.
I landed the fish and tried to take a few photos. That's pretty tough when you're by yourself.
I released the bone, then began look for more. I moved 10 feet and saw another fish, a bigger bone. I dropped the fly about three feet in front of it and waited for the fish to swim closer. When it did, I moved the fly. That's all it took. I was fast into another bone.
This fish was heavier, stronger and faster. It made a really long first run. I even managed to take a few photos while I was fighting the fish.
It took about five minutes to land. I released it and looked for more fish. I saw about 20 others, but no takers. I even saw a couple of small schools.
Those were the only two bonefish I caught during the trip.
I fished Barkers the next day and saw more fish. But I didn't connect. I even saw several schools of tailing fish. I made what I thought were very good casts, but obviously not good enough.
One neat thing I found were some mosquito ditches near Barkers. They had baby tarpon and snapper in them. I spent about five minutes casting and had one 15-inch tarpon follow. I thought the fish was going to eat, but it turned away at the last second.
I planned on flying to Little Cayman for my final outing, but plane was full. So, I had a decision to make: Where to fish? I debated all night and wasn't sure when I got into the car. As I pulled out of the parking lot, I turned right. That meant I was going to do a repeat of the first day. I stopped at the beach near Morritt's and spent a couple of hours there. No fish.
I then drove to Grape Tree Point and fished there for three hours. No fish.
On the drive back to George Town, I stopped at Prospect Point on Sound Sound and waded for 90 minutes. The area looked very good, but I didn't see any fish.
After I returned and cleaned up, we drove downtown and walked around. I was looking for a souvenir cap and T-shirt. It was a holiday (Boxing Day), so most of the shops were closed.
We ate dinner at Coconut Joe's the last night. I had jerk chicken and it was great.
We played tourist the last morning. We drove up to the Turtle Farm and looked around. We then went to Hell. It's a real place that was named because of unruly terrain.
We returned the rental car and headed for the airport. Because of increased security, I had to check my gear bag (because of the flies and my Leatherman multi-tool). They did allow me to carry on the fly rods.
The flight to Miami was very quick. We flew over Cuba and I saw some gorgeous water. I hope to fish those waters some day.
We had a layover in Miami for a couple of hours. We caught our connecting flight to Tampa at 7:`15 and arrived about 8 p.m. We got our luggage, found our car and arrived home at about 10.
The trip was wonderful and I'm sure we'd do it again.
People in Grand Cayman were very hospitable and friendly. The weather was magnificent, with daytime temperatures in the high 80s and 70s at night.
The island is a little pricey. The Cayman dollar is worth about $1.25 to a U.S. dollaer. Dinners for two averaged about $80. Our Christmas dinner was $150, but we planned for that and didn't mind.
If I return, I think I'll book a flight to Little Cayman in advance to assure a seat. I've been told Little Cayman has a very good bonefish population.
Also, I think it would be a good idea to book a guide. Davin Ebanks come highly recommended (http://www.fish-bones.com/).
Lefty Kreh, the grand old sage of fly fishing, reportedly said that if you find a bonefish destination that your wife likes, the fishing probably isn't very good. I'd give Grand Cayman another try before I'd agree.