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Bonefish Camp

Here's the spot if you are looking for that salty piece of land. Fly lists, trip reports and tidbits of good travel information can be found here in Bonefish Camp.

Mars Bay-South Andros Island-Hosted Trip

Joel La Follette - Tuesday, November 11, 2014

I try to break up the year by planning a Bonefishing trip in the spring, just before things get cranking on the Deschutes with the Salmonfly hatch. This year I'm revisiting South Andros Island in the Bahamas. My last trip to South Andros was fantastic, but the boat ride to the southern tip of the island was a bit brutal when the wind blew. I broke a rib when the boat driver launched us off a big wave. That's why I've settled on Mars Bay Lodge right at the end of the road. No open water runs and just minutes from the flats. In fact, there's a flat right in front of the lodge if you don't get enough fishing during the day. 

I'm taking seven anglers on this adventure. Maybe you'd care to join me. Here's more information on the trip...


Mars Bay Lodge
Mars Bay is situated on the southeastern tip of Andros and affords anglers a short and easy skiff ride to pristine flats teeming with unpressured bonefish. The lodge itself is located on a flat large enough for a dozen fishermen. Mars Bay is the end of the road. To go any further south you will have to hop in a boat. That puts you ten miles closer to the best fishing grounds on the south end of Andros than the nearest lodge. What does that mean to you? No less than a ten mile shorter run over rough open water and an extra hour fishing each day. By the end of the week you've fished an entire extra day.

Location
Mars Bay Lodge is located on the southeast side of South Andros Island in the Bahamas. The time in the Bahamas is the same as Eastern Standard Time. Google Earth coordinates: 23°51'54.78"N, 77°30'52.48"W.
Accommodations and Meals
There is absolutely nothing pretentious about Mars Bay. The lodge is not a high-end fancy resort. The napkins are paper. They will not crack the pepper for you, you'll not find a mint on your pillow, and you will not be greeted at the dock with a hot steaming towel to wipe your brow. You can grab your own beer and mix your own drink the way you like it. Mars Bay is a fly fishing lodge for sportsmen. Think of it as the difference between a stuffy dinner party and a casual gathering with good friends. The lodge has a laid back vibe to but don't let that fool you. Everything goes off on time and as scheduled. One review said the lodge runs like a Swiss watch.

Bill Howard is your host and attends to the details. He is an American owner/operator and has been managing the lodge since it opened in 2002. He catches the fish and lobster for dinner. He maintains all the boats and equipment. He makes all the repairs around the lodge. He orders the supplies, fuels the boat, and carries the coolers. He is hands on and has the reputation as being the hardest working lodge manager in the Bahamas. None of it would be possible without having an excellent staff of cooks, maids, and guides doing their jobs.
Fishing Program
Mars Bay fishes primarily for bonefish with occasional tarpon and permit. Other species encountered include barracuda, jacks and several types of snapper. Ideally located to access the Southern Cays and flats of Andros, the lodge enjoys easy access some of the least pressured flats on the island.


Hosted Trip Itinerary: May 2nd – 9th, 2015
Saturday / May 2nd:
Sunday – Friday:
Arrive Congo Town, Bahamas:
Once you arrive in Congo Town, you will be met by a representative of the lodge who will transfer you (60 minutes) to the lodge by taxi.
Get settled in and prepare gear for the following days of fishing. Six full days of guided fishing on the waters of South Andros Island
Typical Daily Schedule:
5:00AM: Coffee is on
6:30AM: Wake up (if not awake already) 7:00AM: Breakfast is served
7:30AM: Load up and head out to the boats 7:45AM: Fishing
5:00PM: Return to the lodge
6:00PM: Hors d’oeuvres are served 
7:00PM: Dinner
Depart Mars Bay Lodge to return home.
Saturday / May 9th:
7 night / 6 day package
Angler Rate: $3,950.00 per person based on double occupancy
Included: Accommodations and meals at the lodge, beer & alcohol, transfers between Congo Town airport and the lodge, all ground transportation on South Andros, wireless Internet, guided fishing.
Not Included: Airfare to/from Congo Town (South Andros Airport), staff and guide gratuities.
Confirming your space:
A 50% deposit is required to confirm the trip and the final 50% is due 60 days prior to the trip start date. The trip is limited to 8 anglers and will be booked on a first come first serve basis. To confirm your space please contact:
Dylan Rose – Fly Water Travel  800-552-2729
Joel La Follette – Royal Treatment  503-850-4397
Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns at any time!

Bonefish Travel Tips

Joel La Follette - Friday, July 04, 2014

1. When traveling, always wear clothes you can fish in. You never know when the rest of you gear will show up.

2. Always carry your rods, reels with lines, leaders and tippets, wading boots, hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, medicine, camera, rain jacket and an extra change of clothes on the airplane. You should try to carry on anything that you can’t live without that is allowed by the airlines.

3. Since some flies and tools cannot be carried on the plane they must be checked. If checking two pieces of luggage put a box of flies in each or have a companion check one in theirs.

4. Carry along some favorite snack foods like beef jerky, trail mix, dried fruit or granola bars. Stash more in your checked bags. When leaving the country make sure the packages are unopened. Customs is funny about that sort of thing.

5. Drinking plenty of water is the best way to stay healthy when traveling. If bottled water is not available, bring along a backpacking type filter and use it! Water bottles with built in filters work too.

6. A small portable cooler is a great place to keep your snacks, drinks, camera, extra flies and sunscreen while out on the water. Make sure your camera is in a zip lock bag in case the cooler gets wet. Take plenty of zip locks!

7. Your cash, passport and wallet should be locked up at the lodge or, if that is not an option, on your person. I keep mine in a zip lock bag in my hip pack. Carry plenty of $5.00 and $10.00 for tipping your guides. Also plan on leaving shirts, tackle and other goodies for your guides after trip is over. A new pair of sunglasses make a great gift at the beginning of the week and might help your guide spot that big fish!

8 . Handi-wipes. The best things to carry for cleaning the sunscreen, sweat, and salt off your face. Great for cleaning up before lunch on the flats or on an airplane. Can also be used for…. well, you’ll figure it out. Get the soft packs and carry them in all of your bags. I use three or four packages on a weeklong trip.

9. Make up a small “fix anything kit” to make repairs to glasses, rods, reels, lines, etc. (see my list posted elsewhere on the web site)

10. Chill. Remember you’re on island time and things don’t always go as planned. A good attitude will make even the largest set-back seem like part of the adventure. Don’t be an “Ugly American”, respect the people, their country and culture. Ask questions, share stories, have fun. Leave a little bit of yourself and take home a little of the adventure in your heart. 

                                           

A Return to Los Roques

Joel La Follette - Sunday, May 24, 2009

I have been blessed enough to have been able to sample some of the best bonefishing destinations in the world and have come to this conclusion. Los Roques is my favorite. Like I’ve said here before Los Roques offers a sampling of every bonefish location I’ve been to. You see Mexico without the swine flu, the Bahamas without flying through Miami and Christmas Island without the peanut butter sandwiches. Now I do like peanut butter sandwiches, just not everyday.

Los Roques has something that makes you want to return the minute to step on the plane headed home. Perhaps it is a sense of having spent the week at the home of a good friend. You feel a part of the island and very much at home. The island’s quaint shops and Posadas line the sandy streets, painted to reflect the owner’s personality. Each is a canvas that comes to life under the Caribbean sun. A walk through town is like a stroll in an art gallery.

The flavors of Los Roques are has varied as the nations represented by its inhabitants. Europeans make up most of the guests on the island and many of the Posadas are owned by foreigners. Our home for the week was the Posada Acuarela which is owned by an Italian who fancies himself an artist. His bright and cheery work hangs throughout the inn decorating the rooms and common areas. It adds to the feeling of staying in a friend’s home.

Another of the benefits of European ownership is the food. We dined on Italian dishes with a Caribbean flavor the entire week. Four course meals of traditional dishes served with tuna, Cuda and other local pescado tempted our taste buds each evening. Topped off with a “to die for” desert of flan, lemon pie or moose. The only thing that kept me from adding ten pounds to my frame was the fishing.

Fishing is all done by wading and Los Roques has miles of wadable flats. Whether small pancake flats are your favorite or flats that stretch for miles, you’ll find them here. The bottom for the most part is hard sand and coral but there are those softer flats that remind you of the Yucatan and will suck your boots right off your feet. Great way to burn off an extra helping of pasta but should be avoided in the heat of the day.

I found the fishing this trip to be technically challenging and most enjoyable. Two flats come to mind as some of the most fun I’ve had chasing bonefish. They went on for miles and the bonefish came in singles and doubles all morning. Big fish in the 5-8 pound range that were cautious but hungry. It required stealth and accurate casting to fool this silver ghosts and I had my “A game” going for once. Fishing alone on the last day I covered over a mile of flat landing 18 nice big Los Roques bonefish and burning off at least one helping of flan. I plan to return soon for seconds.

Los Roques

Joel La Follette - Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The second stop on the Brotherhood of the Bonefish World Tour in 2007 was the archipelago of Los Roques. Located about 90 miles off the coast of Venezuela, Los Roques is a sleepy little tourist hangout with sandy streets and colorful Posadas (hotels). Far removed from all that is Caracas, Los Roques is safe, clean and very friendly to Americans. The pace is slow and very comfortable. And the Bonefishing is superb.

Your trip starts with an overnight stay on the mainland near the airport. Most flights from the US arrive in the evening so flying directly to Los Roques is not an option as there are no lights on the runway. If you’re on the east coast you may be able to get an afternoon flight to the island and avoid the stay in Caracas, although that is an interesting part of the trip. Your safety is always taken care of by SightCast and you are met at the airport by Tony, a very friendly and helpful tour operator. Tony will exchange money and make sure you get to the hotel safely. He will also point out places to dine if you are so inclined.

Sunday morning Tony gets everyone to the airport and through security before leaving you on your own to fly to Los Roques. Upon your arrival you are met by Chris or one of his staff and escorted through the sandy streets to your bonefishing headquarters, the Posada Vistalmar. A quick breakfast and grab your gear, you’re off to the flats.

All bonefishing is done by wading. Local panga style boats are used only to excess the fishing locations. The boats are comfortable and very seaworthy. Most have bimini tops for sun protection while moving from flat to flat or when stopping for lunch. Each pair of anglers fishes with a guide and a boatman. You are let off on the upwind side of a flat and fish downwind. The boatman meets you at the far end of the flat and it’s off to the next one. A very efficient way to fish!

The flats of Los Roques vary from white sand flats that go for miles, to small pancake flats popping up from deep blue waters. You’ll see a little of everything in a week of fishing here. It’s like fishing all the world’s bonefishing destinations in one week. You’ll see places that remind you of Mexico, Christmas Island, the Bahamas, Belize and some that are uniquely Los Roques. Another thing you’ll see are big bonefish.

The week I chose to host a trip this year gave us good tides to fish the pancakes. We spent most of the week hopping from one flat to another casting to schools of very large fish. Bonefish average 4-5 pounds and many larger fish were landed during the week. Anglers are also treated to tarpon, jacks, Cuda and the occasional permit. This trip I cast to several groups of permit that lived up to their reputation and refused all my offerings. In two days I counted over 27 permit in the 15-30 pound class, and never got one to eat a fly…guess that’s why I keep trying.

We had a great week of weather and fishing with several in our group landing their very first bonefish. Everyone enjoyed the fishing, but some of the other interesting sites of Los Roques also got their attention. There was plenty of things to see both on the water and on the beach. I’ll leave my guests to describe their favorites.

With near perfect weather for most of the year due to it’s location near the equator, Los Roques offers an extended bonefishing season. One can do well and be very comfortable right into July and August without worrying about hurricanes. Winter months can also be productive and a great break from the cold wet winters. Peak months are like most of the Caribbean and run from April through June. The rainy season starts in June, but rain showers are brief on the islands and normally lead to hungry fish.

Of all the places I’ve chased after bonefish, Los Roques, Venezuela is my favorite. Friendly people, comfortable lodging, 100 percent wade fishing, different types of flats and big bonefish add up to a great angling experience. OK, their president is a little wacko, but he doesn’t fish! I’ll be going back, hopefully very soon.

Casa Blanca

Joel La Follette - Thursday, November 16, 2006

It’s always nice to back up a northern steelheading adventure with a trip to a warmer location. I find that tropical weather helps get my joints working again. Upon returning from BC I had a very short time to tye a few flies, pack my bonefishing gear, switch a few fly lines and fly off to Mexico for a visit to the world famous Casa Blanca Bonefish Lodge. Sometimes it’s tough being me.

Casa Blanca is located on a small island just inside the barrier reef on the southern end on Ascension Bay on Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula. When you see what the owners have created on this secluded patch of sand you’ll understand why Casa Blanca is one of the premier bonefishing lodges in world. I also heard the food is good.

Traveling with me on this adventure was a mix of first time bonefishers, some fairly new to the game of saltwater angling and a few non-fishing spousal units. Under normal conditions Ascension Bay gives up her secrets easily making it a perfect destination for anglers of varying skill levels. Schools of happy Bonefish, an abundant Permit population, plenty of cruising Tarpon and sneaky Snook make for a regular saltwater smorgasbord of fishing fun. I said under normal conditions. We didn’t have normal conditions. The freaky weather that brought early snow storms to the east coast brought dark clouds and stormy skies to this otherwise tropical paradise. Good thing the food was good.

Although fishing conditions were not the best, they were challenging. Bonefish were nervous and headed for cover even if you thought about making a cast. Tarpon and Snook hung close to cover and used it to their advantage. All in all it was a test of angler against the elements and the fish. It made better anglers of us all. Tough fishing does that. You have to bring your A game.

Fortunately Casa Blanca is one of the most comfortable places to wait out bad weather that there is. I’ve been to a few bonefish lodges that would have been unbearable under the same conditions. We all had comfortable rooms to nap or read before dinner after a hard day on the flats. The staff made sure we also had plenty of food and drink at all times. The service was second to none, and the food was great. Did I mention that?

OK so it wasn’t the most successful fishing trip I’ve ever had. I had a great time and made a few new friends. I caught some nice fish and fought many more. I made some great casts under difficult conditions that many anglers couldn’t have made. I brought my A game. Well, most of the time. I also hit a lot of fish right on the old bean when the wind grabbed my cast. That didn’t work. Pedro my guide never complained when I launched a cast into the mangroves and he had to pole over so I could retrieve my fly while Mr. Tarpon and Snook snickered. Oh well, at least the food was good. Now if the pilot can just figure out how to land on the runway...

Back to Abaco Island Bahamas

Joel La Follette - Monday, May 09, 2005

So I saddled up my seahorse, with a fly rod in my hand. I was not looking for salvation, just a salty piece of land....

Sandy Point, Abaco was that salty piece of land this past week for my group of angling adventurers. We landed at the end of the road and Rickmon Lodge on Saturday and felt the worries of the world disappear as we readied our gear for the week ahead. We all came from the northwest but hailed from many walks of life. Builders and businessmen, chefs and plumbers, retired welders and unemployed trout bums, we came to the flats to chase after bonefish and adventure. Both were found. No one went home without at least one quest fulfilled, some a quest not even imagined.

Weather is always the great unknown when heading to the tropics and this week was no different. If you didn't like it you just had to wait a few minutes and things changed. We had wind and calm, sun and cloud, fantastic thunderstorms and perfect tropical days. The storms for the most part provided entertainment in the evening into the night. The lightning would light up the night sky showing the silhouette of Gorda Cay or Cast-a-way Cay with Micky's cruise ship at anchor. The show would last most of the night and one night moved closer to our home a way from home and provided an up-close view of the power of nature.

Mornings dawned peacefully with a breeze coming from a different direction most days. This provided the opportunity to fish different flats, looking for protection from the breeze. Personally I never fished the same place twice during the week and still never saw all the places to fish. Sandy Point offers a vast of territory to chase Bonefish. Guess I'll just have to return.

The fishing itself ran from fair to great with plenty of big Bonefish to play with. Many fish in the 5-7 pound range found our flies and many more eluded them. Anglers traveling to the flats for the first time were in awe of these powerful silver bullets and many converts to the Brotherhood (and Sisterhood) of the Bonefish were made. All received official Brotherhood names with certificates (suitable for framing mon!) on the last night of our stay with one in particular being a very appropriate name. Darrell "One Cast" Webb earned his name by hooking and landing the first Permit he ever saw in his life on the first cast!  The battle lasted 50 minutes and when the dust had settled a 30 pound Permit posed for photos before being released to look for another lucky angler. Ya wanted to hate him but he's such a nice guy!

We fished with different guides each day, a rotation based on a first day drawing. Each guide was scored by the anglers with points awarded each day on the bases of ten different criteria. On the last day the scores were added and entries into a drawing were made based on the score. The prize for the week was a new Winston fly rod donated by the R.L. Winston Company and  a Bauer MZ 4 fly reel donated by the kind folks at Bauer Reels. Rods and reels are not easy to come by for most of these young men and the guides all worked hard for a chance to win this prize. In the end the outfit went to "Foots" a very deserving young man and one of the nicest guys you'd ever want to fish with. He's probably out on the flats right now chasing Bonefish with his new rod! All the guides were a real pleasure and I look forward to fishing with them again very soon.

The only bad part about any trip is that it does come to an end. We have to return to our everyday lives and the duties we have made for ourselves. It's comforting to think that while we make our way through our normal everyday lives there's a bit of adventurer that we keep in our heart knowing that there's always a Bonefish (or Permit) out there with our name on it and a salty piece of land.

Rickmon Lodge Abaco

Joel La Follette - Monday, May 10, 2004

“Reel in Dale, we’ll go somewhere else” Ricardo said as he bounded off the poling platform. Dad started to retrieve his fly line and step off the bow of Ricardo’s flats skiff. “Permit!”  Ricardo’s words had barely left his mouth; my permit rod was pulled from the rack and I had 30 feet of line laying on the deck. “Where?” I asked. “Nine o’clock”. 

My fly line was air-born with one false cast and I shot the little yarn crab fly towards the fish. The fly landed and the fish didn’t spook. Well, that’s a first. I thought to myself. The fish moved to the fly then turned away. That was more like the Permit I’ve met, very picky. I fired another cast. Again the fished looked over the fly but didn’t pick it up. Cast again, same result. The fish was moving closer, he would soon see the boat. Last shot. The fish moved to the fly. I stripped a little line then stopped. The fish tipped up and suck up the fly. “You got’em mon!” Ricardo shouted. And I did. My first Permit hooked and landed. Not a big fish, but I’ll take him.

 This all happened in a matter of ten minutes on the forth day of a wonderful stay at Rickmon Bonefish Lodge at Sandy Point on Abaco Island in the Bahamas. Ricardo Burrows is the head guide and owner of this little piece of paradise on the SE tip of Abaco. His lodge is very comfortable and the staff most welcoming. I had the opportunity to fish with Ricardo two days during our stay and you seldom meet anyone who loves what he does as much as this guy. His smile is contagious and his laugh will make you forget the wind, clouds and bad casts.

 Although the weather was not perfect, we did have a little wind most of the week. Everyone had a great time. Raingear came out only briefly one day. Fishing was fair. Bonefish were one day easy and close lipped the next. Most likely due to the changes in wind direction and cooler water that moved in with it. Everyone caught fish and saw many hundreds more. I was impressed with the number and size of the fish I saw and caught. Although no double digit fish where landed we all saw some. It will be easy to return to Rickmon, we all have a few fish, we’d like another shot at. 


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