The Marls encompass more than 400 square miles of flats on the west side of Abaco. For twenty miles the average depth is four feet.
Abaco Lodge is located on the Marls side of Great Abaco Island, in the Bahamas. Google earth coordinates: 26°33’32.56″N 77°08’07.76″W.
The Abacos are a string of Bahamian islands located approximately 175 miles east of Palm Beach, Florida. The “mainland” is Great Abaco, third largest island in the Bahamas. Historically different from other areas in the Bahamas, the population of the Abacos descended from Loyalists during the War of Independence from the United States. These blonde-haired, blue-eyed Abaconians still work at traditional occupations– farming, fishing, and boat building. Tourists can embrace the relaxed culture and feel like locals.
Marsh Harbour is the principal city, the third largest in the Bahamas. It has the largest protected deep water harbour in Abaco, and an international airport serviced by major US and Bahamian carriers. Naturally, it has many shops, restaurants and marinas.
The lodge is centrally located directly on the Marl side of the island with access to them all. It would take a lifetime to fish the entire Marls alone but Abaco also offers some incredible fishing on the eastern ocean side of the island as well.
Reservations & Rates
March 1 - June 30, 2019:
• 7 nights/6 day package is $6,150 per person (double occupancy)
• 6 nights/5 day package is $5,775 per person (double occupancy)
• 5 nights/4 day package is $5,200 per person (double occupancy)
• 4 nights/3 day package is $4,305 per person (double occupancy)
• 3 nights/2 day package is $2,995 per person (double occupancy)
Oct – February 28, 2019:
• 7 nights/6 day package is $5,950 per person (double occupancy)
• 6 nights/5 day package is $5,560 per person (double occupancy)
• 5 nights/4 day package is $4,990 per person (double occupancy)
• 4 nights/3 day package is $4,100 per person (double occupancy)
• 3 nights/2 day package is $2,795 per person (double occupancy)
• Single boat - 60% surcharge
• Non- fisher: $ 450.00 per person per/night + VAT
• Full day fishing on arrival or departure date - $ 750 p/boat + VAT
• Half day fishing on arrival or departure date - $ 550 p/boat + VAT
*** Please call for additional pricing and options ***
Your angling package at Abaco Lodge includes lodging, meals, open bar, guided fishing, fishing license, transportation between Abaco Lodge and Marsh Harbour Airport, and loaner fishing equipment (rods, reels, and lines).
Not included in your Abaco Lodge package are transportation to Abaco Island, transfers from Treasure Cay to the lodge ($50.00 per person one way), flies, gratuities, and government VAT taxes.
The Fly Shop® is not in the insurance business, but we recommend Travel Guard coverage as a service with a desire to see your best interests protected. It is impossible to know when an unfortunate situation (loss of luggage, fly rods, illness in the family, or an accident) may occur. However, such things can and do happen, and this insurance can provide a means of recourse against non-refundable financial losses.
• Travel Insurance Information
Seasons at Abaco Lodge
Abaco Lodge has scheduled its season according to best fishing; mid-October through July.
This calendar avoids the summer doldrums that can sometimes affect the flats with water that warms up too much during the late morning and afternoon and pushes the bonefish into deeper (cooler water). It also avoids the height of the hurricane season (July through September).
October through the mid-winter months lures the big ocean bones out of the deeper water to the now-cooler flats and is a time to expect the biggest bones of the season.
Mid winter through early Spring is a great time to "get out of Dodge" and get a break from the winter deep-freeze. Weather plays an important part of any saltwater flyfishing trip and this time of year is no exception. With half-way decent to good weather the fishing will be outstanding on the flats. The occasional cold front will blow through, but they rarely last very long and the flats will warm back up as fast as they cooled off. Fish returning back to the flats after a cold front are ravenous and present very exciting fishing.
Spring through July is probably the "safest" time to fish the flats of the Bahamas. This time frame is beyond most, if not all, of the cold fronts that will affect the flats fishing and is before the heat of summer and possible threat of hurricanes. Best of all, the fish are happy and feeding regularly.
Getting to Abaco Lodge
United Airlines now has a direct flight from Ft. Lauderdale to Marsh Harbour, which will be the quickest and most convenient way for most anglers to reach Abaco Lodge.
Via Nassau, Bahamas Air has 3 daily flights to Marsh Harbour. Also Abaco Air has 2 daily flights to Marsh Harbour as well. Private aircraft can also land at Marsh Harbour direct from the US, as the airport has international
port of entry custom clearance facilities.
Charter and commercial services from Ft. Lauderdale or West Palm Beach make regular trips to Marsh Harbour and for groups of 3 or more, charters provide convenient and comfortable direct flights to Marsh Harbour.
At the airport you will be met by your host and a driver. Once your bags are loaded into our air conditioned transport, you will be driven straight to the lodge about 8 minutes north. When you arrive at the lodge, Abaco Lodge staff will greet you and show you to your room, where you will find your bags. There is no organized fishing on arrival day, but you can wade in front of the lodge, walk the beach or relax in the pool with a cooling drink.
On your departure day, you will be taken back to Marsh Harbour with plenty of time to catch your flight. Abaco Lodge Manager will assist you with timing your departure from the lodge the night before. There is generally no fishing on departure day unless by special arrangement.
Lodging at Abaco Lodge
Abaco Lodge sits on the rocky shoreline of the Marls on the west side of Abaco.
Located just north of Marsh Harbour on the way to Treasure Cay. Enjoy a cold Kalik in the pool as you watch the sun set after a day of fishing and tell fishing stories by the oceanside fire pit in the evening. The lodge consist of eight air conditioned private rooms with private bath and will
take up to 8 anglers (private room/share guide) at a time, a fully stocked bar, pool, sitting room, an outside fire pit, and patio space. You can fish all day and not miss a beat of what is going on at home; a computer with high speed internet is available for the clients as well as a wireless connection, phone service is available and the lodge has a new flat screen television for all the games.
Bar & Fly-tying Room:
The lodge has a main bar fully stocked with spirits, cold beers, (in a convenient mini fridge) soft drinks, plenty of ice, a blender and mixers for cocktails.
Sage rods - Abel reels - Rio lines, backing and tippets - a good selection of flies – sunscreen and lip protectors – Mangrove sungloves - dry bags - Action optics polarized sunglasses – Bair's Lodge Fishing shirts, caps and t-shirts.
6:30 am: Coffee ready on the buffet table
7:00 am: Breakfast
8:00 am: Depart dock
4:00 to 4:30 pm: Return to lodge
4:30 to 5:30 pm: Cocktail hour
5:30 pm: Appetizers
7:00 pm: Dinner
Food and Drink:
Abaco Lodge imports a trained executive chef to oversee all of the meals. The nightly cuisine incorporates Bahamian specialties with an emphasis on locally caught seafood.
Breakfast is made to order, and the guides will bring a picnic lunch of your choosing in the boats daily. They pride themselves with serving delicious food of fresh local produce, specializing on fresh fish (ahi tuna, grouper, and hog snapper), conch and lobster. The chef bakes bread, pastries and cookies daily. The coffee is made from freshly ground beans and will be waiting for you in the buffet. Alternatively, they will bring a cup of coffee to your room! A full breakfast will always feature a variety of cereals, coffee and a selection of teas, as well as fresh fruits. Eggs will be cooked to your preference, with bacon, sausages and grits or hash brown potatoes. Hot cereals are also available.
A lunch menu card allows you to choose next day's lunch and the content of the boat coolers. They have an open bar policy at the lodge. On your return from fishing you will find cold beers, spirits, and a blender for cocktails, as well as stacks of soft drinks.
Delicious appetizers are served so you can sample local specialties such as cracked conch, grouper fingers, conch salad, and fresh tuna sashimi. If you have a preferred brand of liquor, please be sure to let us know in advance so the lodge can have it ready for you upon arrival (payable upon arrival to the lodge). Otherwise, you can bring your own bottle. Please note that local spirits will be available free of charge at the lodge.
Dinner starts with homemade soups or conch ceviche, and all entrees are served with fresh salads. Our emphasis is on mixing local dishes with light fresh recipes such as snapper with mango salsa, and some barbequed beef, fish and chicken.
Desserts will vary from chocolate decadence to key lime parfaits and rum cake with coconut ice cream. House wines such as Chilean Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon will be served with dinner.
After dinner coffee and tea and liquors will be served in the sitting room. They can cater to special dietary needs. Be sure to let us know any requirements or food allergies you might have, so we can inform the chef. Salads are offered in our cooler lunches for those on low-carbohydrate diets. The lodge has a good supply of drinking water from our reverse Osmosis system. You will find water in your bedroom and your boat, and you can drink the tap water. In our arid climate, conservation is always appreciated.
Fishing at Abaco Lodge
The lodge is centrally located directly on the Marl side of the island with access to them all. It would take a lifetime to fish the entire Marls alone but Abaco also offers some incredible fishing on the eastern ocean side of the island as well. Cherokee Sound, the Bight of Robinson and Snake Cay are minutes from the lodge and offer opportunities at incredible but challenging bonefish.
This location gives lodge guests easy access to the flats, whilst providing many sheltered locations irrespective of wind direction, within the interior of the Marls. In addition, from Abaco Lodge, guests have the opportunity to try for occasional Permit, Tarpon and Snook, as well as offshore and reef species such as Wahoo, Tuna, Dorado,(Seasonal Billfish), Snapper, Barracuda and Grouper.
The guides are highly professional, hard working and personable, and more than meet the high standards of the lodge operation. They are also commercial fishermen for lobster and conch in the off season, and as such they know these waters inside out. They understand the effect of the tides and know where to go under different weather conditions. They also know the honey holes where a Permit, Snook or Tarpon can be found, and this can be a nice addition to bone-fishing. With their skills as boat handlers, and great eyes developed over years of spotting bonefish, they will put you on fish and give you as much or as little guidance and instruction as you want. Each day your guide will decide where to go, given the weather conditions and guest preference as discussed with the lodge manager. You should express any special preferences to the lodge manager, such as wading versus boat fishing. If you only want to target large individual bones, or if you prefer to fish to large shoals of fish, just let them know.
The lodge staff will work with your guide and try to tailor your day accordingly! Their policy of rotating guides, gives anglers the opportunity to fish with all 4 of these top notch guides. They would be hard-pushed to recommend one over the other! The Abaco Lodge boats are brand-new 16 foot Dolphin flats skiffs, that accommodate 2 anglers and the guide. They have elevated poling platforms and have a forward casting deck, cushioned seats and rod racks. All of the boats are equipped with a leaning rail and should you require this extra balancing aid please let the lodge managers know on your arrival. Our skiffs are powered by 50HP Mercury engines, which put the boat on plane well, are fast enough to get you to the Southern or Western flats in less than an hour and are light enough not to "bump" the bottom in shallow water. While the hull design on the boats eliminates backache on longer journeys, be sure you have reel covers on all your reels, as they will bounce with the ride out. The guides are equipped with satellite telephones, emergency flares, first aid kits, leatherman tools, IGFA rated 30 lbs Boga grips (for your record bonefish!), lifejackets, and a human de hooker!
Reef fishing for snapper, grouper or barracuda as well as ocean fishing for Tuna, Wahoo and dolphin can be arranged for your trip. This can provide a wonderful day off from the flats. Please let us know in advance if you would like us to arrange this.
The typical trip does not fish on arrival or departure but we can arrange for a half day fishing if your flights allow. Breakfast is served at seven; leave the dock at eight and return between four and five. This schedule can be tailored to your needs with advance notice. Picnic lunches and cold drinks are taken to the flats in a cooler by your guide.
The Marls are accessed directly from the lodge dock; the flats on the ocean side require a short drive. All of the skiffs are equipped with padded seats with a backrest and a lean bar in the front. The majority of the fishing is done from the boat but wading opportunities exist if you prefer. Runs to the flats vary from 10 to 45 minutes. The bonefish on the Marls average 2-4 pounds with the occasional shot at bigger fish.
The ocean side flats offer opportunities at some of the largest bonefish in the Bahamas but they are incredibly wary creatures.
The Bahamas are primarily a bonefishery and Abaco is no different. There are the occasional shots at permit, tarpon, 'cudas, jacks, and sharks and it is recommended that you bring the appropriate tackle just in case. There is nothing like seeing a 20 lb permit tailing or the juvenile tarpon cruising the flat and not having the right gear set up.
In addition to the wonderful flats fishing Abaco has incredible blue water fishing. We are happy to coordinate a day or two with the best captains available in search of marlin, sailfish, dorado, wahoo, or tuna depending on the season. Arrangements can be made at the lodge but the best captains book early and we recommend you do as well. There will be an additional charge for this fishing.
One of the biggest mistakes a bone fisherman can make is not to adjust his fly to changing water depth. Your fly should be weighted such that it sinks quickly to the bottom and then stays near the bottom within view of the fish after you begin stripping. However fishing too heavy a fly, (Lead Eyes) in shallow water will undoubtedly spook many fish. Often bonefish are spooked by seeing flies that do not match the environment in which they are swimming. A fly that matches the background color of the flat you are fishing, can pay dividends. The watchword in general is flexibility; listen to your guide, no-one in the boat has a better idea of technique or choice of fly than him.
The average flat depth, whether you're wading or poling, ranges from 12"-30". In this depth, a Gotcha or Shrimp pattern with medium sized bead chain eyes should provide close to the perfect sink rate without overweighting the fly (and potentially spooking the fish). A good rule of thumb is your fly should reach the bottom in about 3 seconds. If you find your fly is not getting to the bottom, you should switch to a fly with lead eyes or add a few wraps of lead wire to the eye of the fly.
The angler who is willing to fish deeper flats will often be rewarded with the largest bonefish. Big bonefish prefer the protection of deeper flats or shallow flats close to deep water. When you're fishing water 3-4 feet deep, you'll need a fly with lead eyes to get to the bottom quickly. A proven deep water fly is the Clouser minnow and the two best color combinations for bonefish are tan and white and chartreuse and white. Another killer, deep water fly is the Simram, which is a fuzzy (rabbit fur) version of the Gotcha fly with lead eyes. Lead eyes come in a variety of weights but for ease of casting, you'll want to carry flies with the smaller lead eyes as well as the heavier lead eyes that cause many of us to duck when forward casting.
Shallow Flats & Tailing Fish:
The last thing a bone-fisherman wants to do is scare an actively feeding fish by casting too heavy a fly too close to the fish. Therefore, you must go light in skinny water. By light we mean no weight other than the weight of the hook. For this we recommend mono (or plastic) eyes and a body that lands softly in tan and white, brown and white and the Gotcha colors, pink and white.
What Makes This Destination Special and Unique?
• Direct flights from the USA to Marsh Harbor, Bahamas adds to your fishing time and makes this destination flats fishing lodge easy to get to, especially for anglers traveling from the Eastern Seaboard. – No hassle travel, No hassle fishing. Abaco Lodge is a perfect destination for a short weekend bonefishing trip, especially those anglers traveling from the east coast.
• At Abaco Lodge all anglers are accommodated in waterfront deluxe single and private rooms. No need to share a room with another guests and no need to bring ear plugs to insure a good night’s sleep. You’ll get a solid and good night’s rest and be fresh each morning for a full day of fishing.
• Abaco Lodge enjoys quick and easy boat access to the Marls Wilderness (200 square miles), a vast complex of flats, creeks and back bays, one of the largest and least impacted fisheries in the Bahamas. You’ll spend less time driving and more time fishing which adds to your angling experience.
• Abaco Lodge boasts a very solid fishing program with a huge variety of angling options. You won’t be locked into one dimensional flats fishing trip and experience a variety of different types of fishing waters that makes for a dynamic and entertaining fishing trip. It would take you a solid month of fishing to experience all the water Abaco has to offer, you won’t get bored here…
• Abaco Lodge is managed by a very experienced and savvy management team with years of know-how operating a remoted flats fishing destination. The staff will take care of every facet of your trip, all you have to do is relax and get into the island mode – no worries…
• The lodge utilizes state of the art equipment and the best flats skiffs in the Bahamas, providing a safe, comfortable ride to and from the fisheries. The flats fishing skiffs are designed to quietly access very shallow flats and put you within easy casting distance of bonefish each and every day. The guides at Abaco Lodge are seasoned and very solid with keen eyes. We will find the fish, all you need to do is make the shot and pose for a photo.