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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

There's Always the Reef
By midday we had lost the optimal tide, so we headed toward the shoal to catch some bottomfish. Doyle and his crew opted to troll Yo-Zuri plugs for grouper, while we pulled out the electric reels for deep-dropping.

Kyle Smith had kept a barracuda to cut up for deep baits. He rigged the deep-drop hooks, placing a strobe light and chartreuse tubing above them so he could see the leader as it rocketed up from the depths - the better to stop the reel in time.

We motored out to deeper water while Doyle stayed inside. Smith had not been able to transfer all his deep-drop numbers to new electronics for the trip, so we fished by Braille, looking for bottom structure or some kind of relief on the fish-finder screen. Several drops to 700 feet produced nothing, though Doyle's crew caught assorted small bottomfish before they found our second course for dinner - a chunky black grouper.

Just because we could, we headed south late in the afternoon to snorkel some patch reefs within a stone's throw of Walker's. Doyle and Kyle Smith caught a limit of spiny lobster and speared two hogfish. The kitchen staff at Edelweiss served the bounty that night in a fried-food smorgasbord.

For the entire day, we had seen one boat, no other snorkelers, nothing but blue sky and clear water, and we brought home fresh seafood, wrought with our wits and our hands.

Wicked Weather
While we had planned to fish four days out of Big Grand, treacherous storms were headed our way, according to Weather Channel predictions on the flat-screen TV at Edelweiss. Our agenda had included stalking the Big Grand flats for bonefish and chumming the reefs for yellowtail snapper. But we amended that plan to troll for wahoo again the following morning at Matanilla, then cross the Gulf Stream before the winds picked up that evening.