The Bahamas is a special place, and for the fly angler, bonefish are special creatures. One could argue that the confluence of these two very special things creates the ultimate fishing destination. Among the 700 islands of the Bahamas and countless tiny cays, rocks and patches of sand, there is likely a perfect spot that you could find…and if only in your mind or for a moment…you could lay claim to as your own. Almost twenty years ago I caught my first bonefish. Ever since, I have dreamed of laying claim to a little piece of this paradise. Nineteen years later, and less than a hundred yards from where that first bonefish was caught, we were on the eve of making that dream a reality. As I returned to Green Turtle Cay for the final inspection of the house we were going to buy, there were whispers of a storm named Dorian brewing in the Atlantic.
One week later, thousands of Bahamians’ lives were forever changed or lost as Green Turtle Cay and the surrounding Abaco area sustained a direct hit by this monster of a storm, which then took aim at Grand Bahama. Miraculously, no lives were lost on Green Turtle Cay, but every structure and soul was damaged to some extent. Nearly half the homes were gone. A couple of weeks after the skies cleared and the winds subsided, we found images showing that our little house was still standing. From that point, we restarted the journey towards our dream. After more than a hundred and fifty days of construction and more bonefish then I can recall, we have claimed our little corner of paradise. We call it Bonefish Bluff. (Bonefishbluff.com)
On any given day when the tide is low, you can watch the bonefish tail along the edges of the highest sandy spots, and then push back up against the mangroves right under the porch as the tide rolls back in.
The bonefish here can get big. Fish well over 10 pounds are seen almost everyday, but they are smart and will often leave you scratching your head and trying to figure out what was wrong with that perfect presentation. Over the years of chasing this dream, I have spent many mornings on this flat, switching back and forth between camera and fly-rod as the light and aggressiveness of the tailing changed. Ultimately, the times I watched the fish with or without the camera and didn’t cast were more educational than any time I cast whether I fed the fish or not. For me, standing ankle deep in warm, crystal clear water in the presence of the perfect game fish is what this place is all about. – Jason Stemple
Jason Stemple is a freelance photographer working primarily in the fishing industry for the last 15 years. After guiding on the Gunnison River in Colorado, Jason moved east, where he and his family now live near the salt marshes of South Carolina. His fishing and photography work keep him on the road, between fishy locations across the country and beyond. The bonefish from this essay are mostly from his new “front yard” on Green Turtle Cay, Abaco, Bahamas. He and his wife recently purchased and renovated “Bonefish Bluff”, which is now available for weekly vacation rentals.