With the winter blues weighing us down and no spring weather in sight, we decided a trip off the ol’ bucket list was in order. This was no plush lodge vacation but a DIY trip that would be an adventure without a doubt.
After a few hundred texts and calls the plan was set. We would pile into one truck and tow a 21ft SeaCraft from Charleston, SC to Key Biscayne, FL. Here we would wait for a weather opening to make the 46 mile run across the Gulfstream to South Bimini, Bahamas in search of bonefish and good times.
12 hours, 3 tire blowouts, and a few Redbulls later, we arrived in Key Biscayne at 11pm in the pouring rain. We then had to haul all of our gear and rods into our hotel rooms, filling up all the bellman carts the hotel had to offer.
After two nights in Homestead and three meals at our go-to spot called Mario’s (10/10 would recommend the Filetillo Churrasco) we decided it was now or never. The conditions were less than desirable with the wind blowing around 14 kts but we decided it was doable. In the end, a two hour run turned into a six hour run with seas at 5ft at 4 seconds. The Eclipse rain jackets were put to the test to say the least. Lesson learned, any wind coming from the North is a pass!
Land Ahoy! After a grueling soaking wet run that we thought would never end, there was no better sight than touching the dock at Customs. There were high-fives all around, the yellow quarantined flag was raised, and we were welcomed to the Bahamas!
With no prior knowledge of the area, a few beers were shared around a map, and a game plan was in place for a bonefish wade mission. Miles were walked over grassy flats and hours of nothing, but finally near the day’s end.. Bingo! Schools of Bonefish started cruising over the flat coming right at us. Low tide is key with these fish!
With only two restaurants open on the South Island, both of which were dealing with limited menus due to lack of supplies, we were ready for some good eats! We loaded up the Hawaiian slings and took matters into our own hands. Hard to beat fresh lobster on the grill anchored up next to a bonefish flat.
THIRSTY TURTLE RESTAURANT RECOMMENDATIONS:
Best breakfast deal in town! Great hash browns and omelets. For dinner, the pizza is surprisingly good when you are looking for a seafood break. Be prepared for strobe lights and blaring rap for breakfast, lunch, and dinner! Lobster season: Lobsters can be harvested most of the year other than the annual closed season which is April 1 to July 31.
After finding a few nice schools of fish on day one, we made the hard call to explore onward and make a run to the opposite side of the island that paid off. Crystal clear waters and sandy bottoms in complete isolation. The great thing about Bimini is there is always a protected flat on the leeward side.
With the wind kicking up on our final day, we decided to head over to North Bimini to soak in some local culture. This is an easy boat ride or a $3 dollar ferry from South Bimini.
Life lessons and fresh conch from our man Racey at Joe’s Conch Shack was a hit… Also, got a schooling on the delicacies of the conch pistol, known as the “Bahamian Viagra.” The conch salad and fritters are all time at Joe’s and a must try.
With the extended forecast calling for winds over 20kts and the rough ride over still lingering in our minds, we had to make the call to pull the boat and fly home. This is a risk to consider when taking a small one engine boat. Two problems when dealing with this. The Boat and the excessive amount of gear we brought over! Some negotiations and a few $20’s later, we were getting the help of some locals with a super fly Denali with no suspension, 20 inch rims, and a way oversized trailer. A trip to the local hardware store and $50 worth of PVC piping, we fashioned some makeshift rod holders and were loaded up. We said our goodbyes to our trusty SeaCraft and promised we would be back soon! The plan is to fly back early summer to bring the boat back when the weather is more stable. Just another excuse for another great bonefish trip!
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