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May 07, 2009

Fishing's Grand in the Northern Bahamas

Walker's Cay may have closed, but the Northern Bahamas still rock

Weather can be unpredictable in November, with fronts and strong winds beginning to push through the region. Detailed preparation and proper gear aboard well-built boats becomes key. Our group of 10 anglers ran two center consoles: a 39-foot Venture, the Bull Run, with triple 275 hp Mercury outboards, owned by company investor Tom Smith, and a new 34 Open with triple 300 Mercs.

We departed Palm Beach Inlet on a deceptively beautiful Thursday morning. The bluebird skies signaled the backside of a recent front that brought howling winds. The two- to four-foot seas became punctuated by six- to eight-footers. Those of us aboard the 39 lined up three beanbag chairs on the leeward side of the vessel and settled in for the ride.

Smith, at the helm of the Bull Run, eased the vessel into stride and aimed for Memory Rock, 57 miles away. At times we hit speeds of 25 mph, but rougher patches kept us pushing about 17 to 20. Once we reached the Bahama Bank, the seas leveled and we sped the remaining 50 miles to Walker's.

Always Alluring
The main attractions at Walker's have always been the fishing and diving. While Edelweiss features a beautiful swimming pool and Big Grand comes with lovely beaches, we're not talking thrill rides and putt-putt. The blue water and reefs call. Soon after we checked in at Customs and disgorged our gear at the house, we turned to head north and east.

With just a few hours before dinner, we decided to run the ledge just east of Walker's and work between 200 and 700 feet. Smith picked his way through the coral heads, emerging into deeper water moments later. For future reference, he also saved the track from his plotter, so he'd have easier regress through the shallows once darkness began descending.