The largest and least-explored island in the Bahamas, Andros offers a wide variety of reel screaming action! Andros is by far the largest island in the Bahamian archipelago. The Island measures over 40 miles from east to west and more than 100 miles from north to south.
Glancing at a chart, you will notice that Andros Island is really a collection of many smaller islands. The larger north and south sections are split by three shallow bights that completely bisect the landmass. These bights carve the islands mid section into a jumbled maze of smaller mangrove cays. These cays create one of the best and most extensive shallow water habitats found anywhere in the world. The Islands east side fronts the 6,000-foot depths of the tongue of the ocean and along with the three shallow bights, contains some of the most productive flats found anywhere.
All of the villages, roads, ports and, not surprisingly, resorts lie on the east shore of Andros. No place in the Bahamas rivals Andros Island regarding its exciting and unique geographic fish-producing characteristics. The Island's sheer size, shape and extremely intricate configurations create numerous and diverse ecosystems which produce excellent feeding grounds for some of the world's top game fish: seemingly endless backcountry creeks with hordes of silvery bonefish and permit out to the deep blue seas where tuna and marlin reign supreme, Andros is simply a paradise for all fishermen.
If that's not enough to get you excited, much of the Island's perimeter is a maze of serpentine creeks, cuts, channels and small mangrove cays that create one of the most extensive skinny water habitats on planet earth.
Flats Fishing in Andros
Andros Island is often considered the epicenter of Bahamas bonefishing and for good reason. Its monumental size yields countless flats that seem to melt into the horizon.
There are many seasoned flats fishermen who believe that Andros still has many areas that have yet to see an angler. The outside flats of Andros which feature sand, reef or crunchy bottom, create habitats that attract swarms of hungry bonefish. Then there are the shoreline mangrove forests that are endless feeding fields for the large number of bones which graze in the roots at high tide searching for snails, crabs and other tasty crustaceans.
Consistently successful anglers will work the mangrove edges on the ebb tide as countless gray ghosts leave the bush on their way to deeper water. The three huge bights which slice through the center of the Island are in actuality quite complex. Not only do they traverse Andros in a northeast to southwest direction, but they do it in a meandering fashion right in the midst of countless keys, islands and creeks. This intricate habitat creates the well-known inside flats of Andros. These inside flats often have softer bottoms than the outside flats and anglers may need to fish from poled boats, versus wading. Though, the bonefish action here can be just as exciting.
It's nice to remember that you can always find refuge from harsh, windy weather on the inside. Most of Andros' fishing lodges lie on the Islands east side, and run from north to south along the constructed roads on the Island's major segments. This geographic position no longer stops the more aggressive and adventurous guides from making the comparatively longer run to the fabled west side of the Island. It's definitely true that the west side of the Island is less-pressured and often, more productive.
Due to the cost of fuel and guide disinclination, most anglers never get to fish the west side. It is there that tarpon are more commonly seen prowling the flats, giving shallow water anglers an additional thrilling bonus on this breathtaking atoll. All of these features make Andros an incredible year round flats fishing destination. Couple that with some of the best guides found anywhere in the Bahamas and you are in for an experience you will soon not forget. As a note, it's on Andros the famed Crazy Charlie Fly was originally constructed of nothing more than chicken feathers and line!
Reef Fishing in Andros
The eastern side of Andros Island offers long expanses of deep water flats which give way to a marvelous series of patch reefs. These very patch reefs lead to a barrier reef which is overwhelmingly abundant in sea life.
The multiple species inhabiting these jagged areas can keep an anglers interest for a lifetime and a day. Surface, mid-water and bottom-dwelling gamesters will constantly provide bent rods and smiling faces. If you concentrate on working the upper layer of the water column over the reefs, you will lose your mind for hours with non stop action from mackerel, barracuda and a variety of jacks. Imagine tossing bucktail or swimming plug over a patch reef knowing for certain that on every single cast one of many different species is going to explode on your presentation. This is the embodiment of excitement for saltwater anglers who enjoy casting with artificials.
The most popular bottom dwellers that will surely grab your attention and your baits are snapper and grouper. At times, the number of large grouper and snapper inhabiting the waters just east of Andros can be staggering!
During the months of February and March, these fish stack up and often finding large influxes of grouper is an easy task. Natives believe these fish move inshore to spawn and know exactly where they are. Speak with the local fishermen, inquire respectfully and I am sure they will be happy to point you in the right direction.
I remember a particular Bahamian skiff that pulled up to our fishing lodge one evening. The skiff was literally filled with big groupers from gunwale to gunwale. It was incredible. Thirty-pound conventional tackle will conquer plenty grouper for your consumption although you can expect to hook some bruisers that prove to be unstoppable.
I have started experimenting with short graphite-glass stand-up rods matched with reels spooled with PowerPro braided super line. I am finding that I can exert a greater amount of pressure against the powerful shoulders of hefty grouper as they head back toward their holes. The added pressure has definitely helped me land a greater number of larger fish.
Later in the year, around May, large numbers of muttons also move inshore to spawn. These fish range in size from 5 to 18 pounds and can provide outstanding action. The springtime muttons of Andros quickly gobble up ballyhoo, mullet, crabs and most other baits that are commonly used here in South Florida. The sandy runs and potholes between reefs often produce large numbers of muttons and should always be investigated. On occasion, juvenile mutton snapper may make their way inshore to the flats and channels but for consistency with bruisers, head to the reefs! The same thirty lb. class grouper tackle can be used for muttons as well, with the slight modification of a longer, lighter, 10' forty lb. leader.
Andros' Blue Water Bonanza
The bountiful reef paralleling the east coast of Andros forms a steep wall with a rapid drop off into a nutrient rich deep blue sea called the tongue of the ocean. This body of water drops to more than a mile in depth. It's a huge deepwater cul-de-sac with powerful upwellings that trap huge concentrations of bait and large numbers of pelagics, the most notable of which are mahi, mackerel, tuna and big blue marlin.
The good news when fishing the cobalt blue water off the east side of Andros Island is that tactics and tackle are generally universal and what is effective here is also good there. It is important to remember that if you plan on trolling natural baits, you should bring a few frozen packs with you or plan on catching the bait there.
I have had some great success slow-trolling just about any small member of the jack family. I have also witnessed a huge kingfish caught on a big yellowtail snapper, so don't be afraid to be creative and experiment. Trolling artificials works like a dream, just remember to "match the hatch", and present what you think the big guys off Andros are feeding on.
Skirted lures, cedar plugs and deep diving plugs will all do the trick. The addition of a single 50- to 80-pound class outfit prepares you for an encounter with the giant of the tongue, the blue marlin. It has been proven over and over that trolling natural or artificial baits in the tongue can be equally effective on mid-size blues in the 2- to 600-pound range.
For both productivity and comfort, successful blue water fishing off Andros points toward the days of late spring and summer, although this is also a year-round fishery. Be aware that the local sport fishing community on Andros does not really place emphasis on offshore fishing like Bimini, Chub Cay or Walkers Cay.