Bimini Bonefishing

Bimini Bonefishing
Bimini Bonefishing
In February 2011, we were invited to Guy Harvey's Bimini Big Game Club Outpost in the Bahamas to participate in their inaugural Bonefish Challenge. The one-day flats shootout pitted top fishing writers and photographers against each other with some of Bimini's best guides. We also had a chance to meet a local legend and celebrate a big catch. Photo: Pat Ford
Bimini Bonefishing
Bimini Bonefishing
Loading up for the 17-minute flight from Ft. Lauderdale to Bimini _All photos by Ben Holtzclaw unless otherwise noted
Bimini Bonefishing
Bimini Bonefishing
Miles of bonefish flats await us as we land
Bimini Bonefishing
Bimini Bonefishing
Bimini International Airport
Bimini Bonefishing
Bimini Bonefishing
On the way to the Big Game Club, we took a detour at the "Sharklab" - officially the Bimini Biological Field Station - which is owned and operated by Dr. Samuel H. Gruber of the University of Miami.
Bimini Bonefishing
Bimini Bonefishing
Ph.D. student Kristine Stump explains the shark tracking procedures she uses in her research at the lab.
Bimini Bonefishing
Bimini Bonefishing
Sharks are kept in pens just offshore.
Bimini Bonefishing
Bimini Bonefishing
Stump shows us a juvenile lemon shark.
Bimini Bonefishing
Bimini Bonefishing
Bimini is divided by a narrow channel, and a ferry is required to get from the south end to the north and the main settlement of Alice Town.
Bimini Bonefishing
Bimini Bonefishing
We arrive at the Big Game Club. Founded in 1936, the Club had fallen on hard times until a recent multi-million dollar renovation by Guy Harvey Outpost Resorts returned it to prominence as a base for Bimini's great offshore and inshore fishing.
Bimini Bonefishing
Bimini Bonefishing
The welcoming pool area at the Club. We found all the renovations to be top-notch.
Bimini Bonefishing
Bimini Bonefishing
Replica mounts of Guy Harvey's twin granders on display
Bimini Bonefishing
Bimini Bonefishing
We paid a visit to boatbuilder and bonefish guide Ansil Saunders, here with his latest work. Ansil guided angler Jerry Lavenstein to a 16-pound 3-ounce world-record bonefish in Bimini exactly 40 years ago and would be honored later in the weekend.
Bimini Bonefishing
Bimini Bonefishing
Ansil builds all of his specialized 16-foot bonefishing skiffs by hand in a small shop right on the water.
Bimini Bonefishing
Bimini Bonefishing
Workmanship like this comes at a price - one of Ansil's boats will set you back about $40,000.
Bimini Bonefishing
Bimini Bonefishing
Length of time to construct: approximately 10 weeks.
Bimini Bonefishing
Bimini Bonefishing
The view from Ansil's shop
Bimini Bonefishing
Bimini Bonefishing
Closeup of a boat currently under construction.
Bimini Bonefishing
Bimini Bonefishing
Ansil shows off a sample of the lumber that goes into a Bimini Bonefisher. He uses both native horseflesh and imported woods.
Bimini Bonefishing
Bimini Bonefishing
Ansil and fly-fishing guru and Bonefish Bimini founder Vaughn Cochran.
Bimini Bonefishing
Bimini Bonefishing
Back at the Club, anglers unwind at the bar after a day on the water
Bimini Bonefishing
Bimini Bonefishing
Ansil Saunders is honored for his role in the record catch of a 16-pound 3-ounce monster bonefish in 1971. Left-to-Right: Randy Rolle, Ministry of Tourism/Sports Tourism Department; Bonefish Tommy Sewell; Mark Ellert, President of Guy Harvey Outposts; Ansil Saunders; Ned Stone, Program Director Bimini Big Game Club; Fred Mitchell Bahamas M.P.; Bonefish Ebbie David and Eagle Eyes Fred Rolle.Photo: Pat Ford
Bimini Bonefishing
Bimini Bonefishing
An angler's arsenal - ready for a day of fishing
Bimini Bonefishing
Bimini Bonefishing
The next day we beach the skiff and decided to pursue our first sighting of the day on foot.
Bimini Bonefishing
Bimini Bonefishing
Upstart Bimini guide Nick Wood hard at work
Bimini Bonefishing
Bimini Bonefishing
The bonefish flats can sometimes seem endless here.
Bimini Bonefishing
Bimini Bonefishing
Casting to a Bimini bone from the deck of a Hell's Bay Waterman
Bimini Bonefishing
Bimini Bonefishing
Hooked up with Eagle Eyes Fred Photo: Pat Ford
Bimini Bonefishing
Bimini Bonefishing
A nice Bimini bone pre-release Photo: Pat Ford
Bimini Bonefishing
Bimini Bonefishing
Fly Fishing in Salt Water's John Frazier and Field and Stream's Joe Cermele were lucky enough to fish with Ansil Saunders on the anniversary of his epic catch. They documented the experience in this video. Here, they climb out of one of Ansil's Bimini Bonefishers after a successful day.
Bimini Bonefishing
Bimini Bonefishing
After we got back to the docks, a parade was held in Ansil's honor.
Bimini Bonefishing
Bimini Bonefishing
The man himself bringing up the rear
Bimini Bonefishing
Bimini Bonefishing
Marching through the streets of Alice Town
Bimini Bonefishing
Bimini Bonefishing
It's a short walk to the beach and a picture-perfect Bahamas sunset.
Bimini Bonefishing
Bimini Bonefishing
The mystery of why we were set to depart Bimini in two small groups was settled when we got to the airport and saw the plane. The pilot asked who wanted to sit shotgun. Vaughn got the honors.
Bimini Bonefishing
Bimini Bonefishing
Our last shot of Bimini, looking south. Alice Town and the Big Game Club can be seen.
Bimini Bonefishing
Bimini Bonefishing
Ansil Saunders and Jerry Lavenstein with their 16-pound 3-ounce world-record bonefish in 1971.