As the SOFLA sun celebrates the time of its highest radiance, there was no better time to celebrate fishing at what is sure to be the Bahama's largest ownership/rental/hotel resort destination: Bimini Bay Resort and Marina. The setting could not be more ideal where such a "small" Bahamian island could have such a huge impact on angling history: Van Campen Heilner, Hemingway, Lerner, Farrington — the list goes on and on. It became clear to me that more angling history will occur as this island enjoys such exciting reinvigoration as Bimini Bay's expansive marinas beckon the shining sportfishing boats back with snug harbors and amenities just minutes from the Gulf Stream's eastern edge.
My mind seized on the merry-go-round of images that awaited me. The gin-clear waters, historic hotels, reefs, the Bimini Roads, bonefish, jacks, grouper and snapper went up and down like wooden horses in the carnival of pre-trip excitements.
The day arrived in a stretch of sunny, calm, cloudless weather that bore that Gulfstream plane gently across cobalt seas and eased us onto the landing strip in South Bimini. A quick ferry to north Bimini and I was whisked away by the Grand Damme of the island, Antoinette Rolle. I quickly recognized her pedigreed Bahamian name that shared the lofty perchs in the sun with the Saunders, Pinders, Sawyers, and so many other families of deep island roots.
The rooms and decor at the resort were beautifully tropical and Floribbean and kept me in the mood in the land of beaches, swaying palms, pine forests, and sunken tresure from who-knows-where. I was picked up for dinner and dined on a lobster bisque, spinach salad, and grilled yellowfin tuna over a vegetable puree. The meal was served with a Red Diamond cabernet. The resort's restaurant is called Casa Lyon — I preferred to call it Casa Prima!
After walking back to my room under a star-filled salt-scented night, I glanced at the itinerary that Allison Robbins of Bimini Bay had in store for me. It included two days of flats fishing with two different guides and a third offshore day with gentleman Captain Jerome of the Miss Bonita charter vessel.
The Fishing Experience
On our first fishing day, photographer Captain Jon Cooper and I were picked up at the Bimini Bay resort docks by Captain Tommy Sewell. We made it an early start because of the summer's heat. Captain Tommy's Maverick snaked us through the shallow creeks all the way out to the east flats of Bimini in no time at all. We immediately saw that our flat was loaded with schools of "waking" bonefish as well as lots of large sharks in the area looking for a "gray ghost" meal. When the dust settled, I released 6 bonefish to 5 pounds, and 2 lemon sharks to 30 pounds- all of them on 8-pound spinning.
The next day we fished the flats with a young guide out of Bonefish Ebbies named Corrie. As the downtown flats he headed towards turned out to be quite slow, I decided to try the Bimini Inlet for jigging action- this turned out to be one of the highlights of this trip! The boat traffic had no effect whatsoever on the fishy action. The incoming tide was perfect for my 1/2 ounce Spro Prime bucktail jig, which I favor in white. At times, I tippped the jig with shrimp- other times, I fished it "pure." Here's what we caught on these great lures:
- Horseye jacks to 8 pounds
- Bar jack to 4 pounds
- Mangrove snappers to 3 pounds
- Margates to 3 pounds
- Schoolmaster snapper to 2 pounds
- Silk snapper to 3 pounds
- Triggerfish to 3 pounds
We had some huge mutton snapper grab our Spros at the surface, then blast for the bottom in seconds — some of these fish topped 15 pounds. We also lost countless large barracuda, since I refused to go to wire and reduce the numerous strikes.
On our final day, we fished offshore with Captain Jerome on the Miss Bonita. As we wanted lots of action, Jerome put us on loads on yellowtails, bar jacks, and countless trophy barracuda. We caught fish until we cried, "uncle" and we asked the captain to head in so we could steal away to a Bimini grillfish stand to gobble some fried conch, lobster, and ice-cold Kalik beer! It was a trip to remember and an experience that you would find memory making as well!