Walker's Cay, the northernmost island in the Bahamas chain, is a speck of a place, measuring only 4,000 feet long and comprising 69 acres. It built a world-class reputation on unparalleled fishing for wahoo, billfish, dolphin, grouper and snapper.
Until 2004 its marina always seemed filled, its hotel and two restaurants always abuzz and its weigh-in gantry always a fixture at the center of its angling heart. Then back-to-back hurricanes took Walker's out. Its docks lie splintered and rotting, and that thick, fragrant foliage now rambles over the sidewalks.
But what hurricanes destroy on land, they replenish underwater. The reefs and ocean waters surrounding Walker's teem as they always did. And while the hotel and marina remain condemned - for now - anglers can still cross to Walker's, check in at Bahamian Customs there and stay in style just seven miles away at Big Grand Cay.
Once the exclusive, private residence for Walker's owner Bob Abplanalp and his family and the occasional Bahamian getaway for President Richard Nixon, Big Grand's two-story home - nicknamed Edelweiss - may now be rented for a three-night, four-day minimum stay; it sleeps 14 people. Across the bay at Little Grand Cay, Rosie's Place offers accommodations in brand-new rental cottages. Where there's a will to fish Walker's, there are ways.
I crossed the Gulf Stream from West Palm Beach to Big Grand in November with a crew from Venture Marine, several of whom have decades of Walker's Cay experience. We planned to high-speed troll for wahoo, a fall and winter staple along the blue-water drop-off at Matanilla Shoal, north of the island.