25 Feb Fly Fishing Eleuthera – Freedom Flats by James Tollefson
Spidering in on a 20 seater from Ft Lauderdale, Eleuthera at last appeared. The water was simply dazzling as we approached over a platinum bonefish flat. I was juiced! The island turns out to be more remote than I would have imagined. I actually thought that perhaps it may be too remote as we drove towards Governors Harbor. The road, though serviceable, was washed out on both edges. The scenery was scrub brush with an endless line of leaning telephone poles. How can it be this primitive so close to the shores of the USA? The view however improved markedly as we entered the capital of Governors Harbor. The view that greeted us was of the obligatory turquoise water and quaint architecture, but with an undertone of dust and antiquity. My girlfriend and I rented a home on Ten Bay about 12 miles south. We picked up provisions in Governors at a market that makes Sigs look like Shaws, and headed south. The house we rented was a two bed bungalow right on the water. For $1500 for 8 nights, you simply cannot go wrong. We fished for snapper right off the deck at night using the umbrella holder as a rod holder. We found mostly yellowtails and mangrove snapper. During the day nurse sharks and rays as well as small grouper would slide by. It was like having a private aquarium.
Noteworthy so far were the prices on this island, so far they were very reasonable for booze and food. Entertainment while lacking, is highlighted by the Friday night event; “Da Fish Fry”. A cauldron of oil is heated and they dump fresh yellowtail snapper in and crisp them up. The fish is served with various sides and also a potent rum bubba. Music blares and the locals and visitors take to the streets laughing and dancing the night away. Anyway to get to the fishing… the method of operation in Eleuthera is to go down Queen’s Highway, which stretches for the full 120 mile length of the island, and take any left or right off the road and see what’s at the end. Well I’ll tell you what’s at the end; usually an empty mind blowing beach, flat or tidal basin … absolutely unreal. We ran into bones and massive ‘cuda everywhere. The bones were very receptive and I had many afternoons of line melting off my eight weight Nautilus… should have brought tougher hooks for the cudas, as they tended to straighten mine out. I’m talking 4 -5 foot monsters in shallow water.
A memorable excursion was to the southern tip called Lighthouse Point. The last 3 miles was a very sketchy road that only could be described as rock climbing. You slowly and carefully crawled from side to side to keep at least 2 tires touching something. We finally got there and it was breathtaking. Rock formations stretched out into the azure sea providing welcome escape from the tropical sun in caves and under ledges. I kicked it around with my spinning rod tossing to cuda, then looking down, I realized I was being inundated with bonefish! They quickly spooked and I ran to the shade cave and suited up for bone! I set out down the never ending beach shaded by my safari hat and scanned the flat. A hundred yards off lay squadrons of cuda lying in wait, looking very much like floating logs. Then, after a few minutes, the bones began to show. There were 10-15 bones hugging the shoreline feeding in the wash. I quickly let out some scope and tossed a #4 bonecrusher into the wash. Immediately 2-3 bones fought over the fly. Fish On! 10’s of yards of fly line were ripped off the spool in a heart beat… I landed a nice 5 lb bone and was quickly into another. After a while though, the bones kind of balled up on the beach and would not touch the crusher. I switched to a crab pattern, waded into the water and tossed to the back side of the small school. Obviously they wanted crab, as they were on it in a second. Fish On again!
Upon being sated with bones I headed back to the cave. I collapsed in the sand, quaffed down some water, cracked a kalik, lit up a cuban and pondered how lucky I was! Overall, great fishing, food, people and over the top beauty. Eleuthera is the Greek word for “freedom”, believe me that is what you’ll find when you get here. I have already booked for June 2011. I highly recommend Eleuthera.