The roar of the big block Chevy 454 was near deafening as Garner, a.k.a. “G”, throttled down the un-baffled beast of a V-8, sending the airboat skidding into white sugar sand covered by a skinny five inches of water. Hordes of bonefish were still scattering like cockroaches suddenly exposed to light as fly rods were grabbed and five of my fishing pals poured over the gunnels like Marines storming off a landing craft on the beach of Iwo Jima in different directions onto a hard-bottomed flat so perfectly bleached that it burnt the backs of my eyes. This was to be our first day of bonefishing South Caicos Island and I was dumbfounded by the 360° vista of nothing but shin-high water covering dazzling white sand as far as my eyes could see.
“Holy $#@t!” I said to myself, “this is absolutely amazing!” I was quickly shaken back to reality by “G” prodding me with the tip of my fly rod and saying, “…Pat, what-da-hell man, you need to go after them bones…”, so, jumping off the deck, I headed the opposite direction of the rest, scanning the seemingly endless flats around me. I was feeling a little guilty heading my own direction, but something told me to go this way and when you get that feeling, especially when fishing or hunting, you don’t argue. I had waded along for four or five minutes, when off to my right something caught my eye… a translucent fin! A closer look confirmed it to be a very nice-sized bonefish lazily swimming my flank, oblivious to my presence, happily feeding as he went.
I maneuvered myself into position, legs shaking like a leaf (I was pumped! ). I made my play when the fish was about fifty feet out, launching a cast in its general direction. “Damn”, I muttered, at least 12 feet off target. But to my astonishment, the big-headed bone immediately switched direction, swam over to my fly, as if he owned the flat I was on, and on my first long strip postured, dorsal fin erect, and inhaled my #4 Squimp. I had enough composure to strip set, and the fish, feeling the hook… did nothing. What the hell, I thought, this is crazy! The bone swam around me once (quite apparently unaware of the hook fixed in its mouth, and the 17-pound fluorocarbon leader tethering it to my reel), then lazily motored along his originally intended route. As the line came tight, I again put the bone to the bone – still nothing! Finally, out of exasperation, I began banging the rod with my free hand, which immediately got the reaction I was looking for and it was off to the races – the fly line and half my backing was pulled through the guides at an astonishing rate. I survived the first run and then three more, each consecutively shorter though all into my backing, and had the fish at my feet, cradled in my hand, when the fly popped out. I estimated the fish (ironically, my biggest of the trip) between 7 and 8 pounds. “G” shouted out, “Nice bone, mon!” Wow, if this is how the rest of our trip was going to play out, we were in for one hell of a bonefishing adventure…
The rest of our day on the mega-flats of South Caicos was not much different than the morning assault. We would tool around, circumnavigating the flats in the airboat until we intercepted consistent schools of bonefish, then bail out in hot pursuit to hound the fish until they either disappeared, or we got bored and wanted to exercise some new water.
Welcome to South Caicos!
Reservations & Rates
The 7 nights/6 day package at Turks & Caicos is $5,165.00 USD per person (double occupancy)
• 6 nights/5 day package is $4,390.00 per person
• 5 nights/4 day package is $3,625.00 per person
• 4 nights/3 day package is $2,850.00 per person
Additional options as well as Single Occupancy are available. Please call for more information.
Your angling package at Turks & Caicos includes round trip transportation from the South Caicos airport to your accommodations, three meals daily, non-alcohol beverages, accommodations, fishing license, guide and boat.
Not included in your Turks & Caicos package are International flights to and from Providenciales, domestic flights from Providenciales to South Caicos, alcoholic beverages, gratuities and items of personal nature.
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 Guard Insurance
Seasons at Turks & Caicos
The typical season on South Caicos is November through June. Normal trade winds are manageable at 10 – 15 knots and from the south east and most of the flats have the added advantage of being in the lee of the wind on the west side of the island. During fall and winter months South can get some cold fronts coming down from the Bahamas, but they push through real hard and don't linger long and are mostly dissipated by the time they hit. After a cold front you might get a west wind for a day, then
turning to the normal south east. Interesting too, and very significant is that even in severe winds, in excess of 35 plus knots, during a strong storm or tropical depression, the flats remain clear – no milking-up and the flats and the fish are on. This phenomenon is extremely rare in the saltwater fly fishing world; a real bonus and could save a trip during an inclement weather period.
Getting to Turks & Caicos
Getting to Turks & Caicos is relatively painless, especially from the Midwest or Eastern seaboard.
American Airlines offers three daily flights from Miami, and once a day service from JFK as well as direct flights from Boston. Delta offers six-times a week service from Atlanta and US Airways offers daily flights
from Charlotte, Boston and Philadelphia. Air Canada offers direct flights from Toronto, Montreal, and Ottawa. Coming from the west coast, I caught a non-stop Delta red-eye flight from Sacramento to Atlanta arriving in the morning with enough time for breakfast, connecting on another Delta flight to Provo, a short 2 hour jaunt. A valid Passport is mandatory for entry into Turks and Caicos and return into the States. All flights arrive and depart from the nation's only international Airport Providenciales, airport code PLS. Immigrations and Customs is simple, quick and a pleasant experience, with friendly government officials.
From Provo you will want to arrange for a seat on one of Air Turks & Caicos' three daily scheduled flights to South Caicos, airport code XSC. Cost of the roundtrip flight is about $140 USD. The flight to South from Provo takes about 30 minutes and really gives you a bird's eye view of the island chain and expansive waterways. When you land in South, you will be met by Bubba, the taxi driver Bibo is hooked up with, and driven to the lodge, a short 10 minute drive. If you want beer or an adult beverage, Bubba will stop by Ms. Leah's house where you can purchase beer, rum, vodka or gin. Booze is expensive on South: a case of Coors Lite cost $45, same for Heineken. Bring cash, as Ms. Leah does not accept credit cards or checks. By the way, the official currency of the Turks is the U.S. Dollar - very handy.
Lodging at Turks & Caicos
The lodging for Beyond the Blue consists of three air-conditioned, two story townhouses nestled on a high limestone overlook facing the Atlantic Ocean to the south. The view is spectacular!
Each townhouse has two, double occupancy bedrooms, each with its own ensuite bathroom with shower/tub, toilet, sink and vanity with hot water.
The bedrooms are spacious featuring two full size beds, a ceiling fan, air conditioner, large closet, and outside veranda with terrific ocean views. All the linens are supplied and daily maid service by Ms. Magda is part of the package. Downstairs are a living room, kitchen and dining room. The townhouses are a short three minute walk from where you catch the airboat. The accommodations are nothing fancy, but quite nice, plenty comfortable, clean, well laid-out and spacious - just right for a fishing trip. After-fishing beers and before and after dinner cocktails are taken outside overlooking the ocean and reef beyond.
Meals at Beyond the Blue can only be described as absolutely delicious: a hybrid mix of Deep South comfort food and Creole fare, painstakingly prepared by two wonderful and colorful local ladies. Pearl is the morning cook and serves up a full-on southern breakfast, including her famous conch and cheese grits which are to die for! Olive is the evening cook and her evening hors d'œuvres, like the light and fluffy, conch fritters we gorged on and fresh seared tuna steaks are just a few of the dishes she specializes in. Plenty of fresh fish, conch, meats, fresh vegetables, fruit and accompanying starches are what to expect.
Fishing at Turks & Caicos
The staff and guides will do everything in their power to provide you with a fishing and lodge experience of a lifetime.
A typical day has fresh ground coffee brewing at 6:00 a.m. followed by a hearty breakfast buffet ready by 7:00 a.m. After breakfast you take a short walk downhill, to the airboat. Leaving the beach no later than 8:00
a.m. and most rides to the flats take no longer than 5 - 20 minutes.
Lunch is taken on the fly on the fishing grounds and consists of sandwiches (some of the best we've ever eaten at any fishing lodge), chips, cookies and fruit. Plenty of iced-down soft drinks and bottled water are stocked in the cooler each day. Usually back on the beach at approximately 4:30 p.m., although some days are or can be extended. You get a very full day of fishing.
You'll be back at the lodge in plenty of time to take a shower, enjoy an adult beverage and feast on some conch fritters, before a delicious dinner is served at 7:30 p.m. or so.
Eqiupment & Flies:
- Patrick Pendergast
One of the nicest aspects of a bonefishing trip – (and for that matter any saltwater fly fishing trip) – is the equipment you need to assemble and pack is relatively simple and compact. In my case I carried a seven and eight weight fly rod, Scott S4s saltwater models, 9 foot in length. One was rigged with a Nautilus NV 8/9 and the other an Abel Super 8, both lined with Scientific Anglers Mastery Sharkskin Saltwater floating line. These fish are NOT leader shy: 9 foot Seaguar Fluorocarbon leaders tapered between 15 – 17 pounds was what I had and used.
Flies were just as straightforward as the rest of my equipment. A #6 Squimp worked well in most cases, but a #2 standard Gotcha produced the best. Other flies I had luck on were a #4 Pink Puff, #4 white, Nasty Charlie, a #2 Magnum Mantis Shrimp and a #4 Enrico’s Spawning Shrimp (translucent). Light tan, white or off-white patterns are the colors to lean toward when assembling a fly selection for South. Very nice barracuda are prevalent on the flats of South and everyone we threw to ate! If you want to have some 'cuda fun, bring some wire tippet and a few Paulson's Ka-Cudda flies.
Expect to be on your feet in the water walking for better than 8 hours a day while hunting bones on South Caicos. Be sure to bring well fitted and broken in wading booties or boots with heavy duty soles. You'll also want to bring a couple pair of lightweight socks to wear under your wading boots to help keep sand out and prevent blisters. Gravel guards are not a bad idea either.
The flats of South Caicos are wide open with little if any shade within miles. Be sure to bring a good hat that offers plenty of face and neck coverage. I wore a Buff® as well sun gloves for added sun protection. And, of course, bring plenty of Sunscreen, waterproof, UVA, UVB, paba free with some physical block like zinc oxide SPF 30+. Apply the sunscreen in the morning before breakfast and reapply after lunch. Do not underestimate the sun's intensity; it will cook you if you let it!