Who is the most knowledgeable guide for Eleuthera bonefishing in the Bahamas? I found out that friendly Paul Petty is the man to talk to. And so I met him. Paul is a nice guy; friendly, knowledgeable and helpful.
Here he is in action...
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Just in case you know nothing about bonefishing...
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... Bonefishing in the Bahamas is not dissimilar to bullfighting in Spain. How come?
Bonefish are greatly prized by sport fishermen for their wily nature and tenacious spirit. So the angler enjoys fighting with the bonefish until he can hold him just a little above the water.
And here's the difference to bull fighting... the fish is released instead of being killed. Who wants to eat bonefish anyway? Some islanders do but not many like it.
The body of the bonefish is silver and slender with a bluish or greenish back. Bonefish can often be seen with their tail out of the water.
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Interviewer: Paul, you know all about Eleuthera bonefishing in the Bahamas. You have been a fishing guide for many years and your father has over 40 years of experience in this.
On July, 18, 2012, the local newspaper Eleutheran published an article about you and two happy American customers of yours.
Tell me, why would an angler want to bonefish in Eleuthera rather than in Andros or the Exumas? All three destinations are famous for excellent bonefishing in the Bahamas.
Paul: I think Eleuthera is more accessible for bonefishing than Andros or the Exumas. Because here on Eleuthera you just have to take a rental car and get some information from one of the local guides who will point you in the right direction.
Better yet... by clicking on the links below you'll see the exact location of each flat in...
Click the above map to get a much more detailed version. It may take a while to download.
Paul: Many of my customers who have fished in Andros or the Exumas told me that they had to travel long distances by boat to get to the bonefish flats.
Interviewer: Is there an off-season for bonefishing in the Bahamas or one that is not so good?
Paul: Off season for bonefishing is August and September. But during these months you can fish during early mornings. You have to be at the flats at 7 a.m. though. Because later in the day the water is too hot. But as you know, the highest probability of hurricanes is in August and September which are our two hottest months.
From November to mid-July bonefishing in the Bahamas is generally much better. During those months we are usually fishing full days.
Interviewer: What are your general recommendations to bone fishermen new to Eleuthera?
Paul: I always check on the tide. Is it coming in or going out early in the morning? Depending on that I'll choose the right flats.
Important note: The Caribbean tides - West side - run two hours behind the Atlantic/East side doubling your chances at the prime tides for bonefish.
Bonefish feed at night during full moon and the next day they are not hungry. So they won't bite.
I'd also recommend to get up real early and be on the flat before someone else is there. Bone fishermen like to be left alone.
Another useful information... Before coming to Eleuthera call one of the local bonefishing guides. Make an appointment and find out what type of gear to bring. This is important because you cannot buy much fishing gear in Central Eleuthera.
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Paul's contact information is at the bottom of this page.
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Interviewer: Please tell me what the absolute must-have items are for bonefishing in the Bahamas.
Paul: Number one: A travel rod in 4 or 6 sections - 7, 8 and 9 weight standard - to go into the suitcase. Then a floating line, 12 foot leaders and preferably 12 pound tippets.
You also want to bring a reel of fluorocarbon tippet along so you can just tie it on. Also an assortment of flies like Crazy Charlies and Gotchas, number 4s, number 6es.
I like to fish with bead eyes because it does not make the loud splash like a lead eye which will spook the fish. Then you'd also need a pair of forceps and a pair of pliers so you can debarb the hooks.
Protect yourself from the sun wearing a special 'flats cap' with a long peak at the front and a flap at the back.
Be sure to have one extra pair of polarized sunglasses. Copper color is best.
You must apply a high factor sunscreen to all exposed areas before starting to fish and re-apply it while you fish.
And to protect yourself from insects as well as from the sun, it is best to wear buzz-off clothing which is made of fabric impregnated with an insect repellent that will withstand over 20 washings. Take a look at www.buzzoff.com. You want long sleeve shirts and long trousers for total insect and sun protection.
Drinking water is important. Bring a large bottle because it can get very hot out in the flats and ... don't forget your lunch. Smiles.
Interviewer: How does fly fishing compare with bait fishing?
Paul: Well, I used to bait fish but I got into fly fishing some years back and I really enjoy it. The advantage is that the fly is a lot lighter than the bait so... when you cast the bait on a spinning rod you have to wait for the fish to settle back down again while with the fly rod you can just about put the fly right on the fishes nose and it doesn't spook. And you can maneuver the fly a lot quicker than with a spinning rod. That's why I have abandoned bait fishing.
Interviewer: There are the do-it-yourself bone fishermen and those who want the help of a guide. What is the main help you can offer?
Paul: Well, if you are coming to Eleuthera for a week you don't want to spend your whole vacation trying to spot the almost translucent bonefish. I would recommend using a guide on your first day and letting him teach you how to spot the fish and also how to hook up on the fish because there's different ways. Some people try to set hook by lifting the rod but the right way is to set the hook by a strip strike.
Bonefish are referred to as Grey Ghosts because they look like shadows in the sand. And remember... even the smallest of these fish is strong enough to pull you and your boat out to sea.
Once you as an angler have had a few successes the guide will let you know where you should go to bonefish on your own.
Interviewer: Is there a place in Central Eleuthera where a bonefish angler can meet up with other fishermen to discuss their fishing adventures?
Paul: Not really in Central Eleuthera but I recommend you go to the Rainbow Inn, 9 miles north of Governor's Harbour airport (GHB) which is the one in the center of the island.
Or you could go to the Hotel Cove Eleuthera, 1.5 miles north of Gregory Town. This hotel is 20 minutes south of North Eleuthera airport (EHL) by taxi.
Take the sort of fishing gear with you that Paul described above. Put the rod into your bag to conform to airline regulations. This is important.
Here's the rest of your packing list:
For an interesting article about DIY bonefishing in Eleuthera, click here.
Call Paul a few days before arriving on Eleuthera to make an appointment with him. Should he be fully booked, he will recommend his father who is a highly experienced bone fisherman or a friend of his who is a reliable bonefishing guide from Savannah Sound.
Paul & Jenny Petty's home phone is:
Call 6:30 to 7 a.m. or 9 p.m. to mid-night. Before that time Paul might be at church.
Here are his rates (2011):
Half day, 4 hours: U.S.$ 300
Full day, 8 hours: U.S.$ 500
Prices include the boat ride for 2-3 persons and Paul's instructions of how to bonefish. And all the many tips and tricks to make your bonefishing experience on Eleuthera's flats a memorable one.
Meeting point: Governor's Harbour in front of Haynes Library. Click here to see a detailed map of the location.
Bring a map of Eleuthera which you can get at Eleuthera Supply the grocery store at the Shell station near the Haynes library. There you'll meet Paul for a lesson in Eleuthera bone fishing in the Bahamas.
You could also print out an Eleuthera map that you'll find by clicking here. But do take a look at the 4 bone fishing flat links above the first map on this page. They're showing the locations in great detail.
Paul will mark bonefish flats on your map so that you'll be able to find good fishing spots when you're on your own from day two.
Here he is again, together with one of his two sons...