Though generally considered a single island, Andros actually comprises three land masses separated by bights: North Andros, Mangrove Cay and South Andros. At 2,300 square miles, Andros ranks as the largest island in The Bahamas with acreage greater than all other cays combined. This angler’s paradise offers excellent, nearby offshore fishing and what many consider to be the finest shallow-water fishing for bonefish and permit anywhere in the world.
The island’s unique location, with its eastern shoreline bordering a massive submarine canyon and its western boundaries abutting the limitless shallows of the Great Bahama Bank, provides the perfect habitat for chasing pelagic speedsters like marlin and wahoo one day and stalking the ghosts of the flats the next.
Some of the best fishing for pelagic species takes place off North Andros, where the Tongue of the Ocean—a canyon with depths surpassing a mile in places—makes a hard turn to the south in an area called “The Pocket.” According to Skipper Gentry, owner of the charter boat Carolina Gentleman and Gentry Lodge in Morgan’s Bluff, the hunt for gamefish starts within minutes of leaving the dock.
Within a mile of the eastern Andros shoreline, the water depth drops to more than 2,000 feet. Between the beach and the drop lies the famous Andros Barrier Reef, the sixth largest coral reef in the world, stretching more than 140 miles from north to south and popular for diving, snorkeling, sling fishing and bottom fishing for grouper and snapper.
“It’s the flow of deep-blue water pushing through the Northwest Providence Channel that is responsible for the superb offshore fishing we enjoy here,” Gentry says. “We experience seasonal abundance of the various gamefish. The wahoo fishing is spectacular, with great numbers arriving in January and staying through April. They prowl the edges of the reef and are caught within sight of shore.”
Blue and white marlin, dolphin and yellowfin tuna action rallies from March through June, and the summer months bring the best bottom fishing for grouper, snapper and amberjack, with a bonus run of blackfin tuna arriving in July and August, he adds.
Regardless of season, flats fishing stays hot. Bonefish can be found throughout the year. The central and western regions of Andros contain hundreds of square miles of mangroves, salt ponds, cuts, bights, flats and tiny cays that provide the habitat for vast schools of bones.
With such extensive habitat as well as protection from the local guides, who encourage catch and release, bonefish maintain a larger average size than those found in other highly regarded fishing destinations like the Florida Keys or Belize. The average size bonefish on Andros weighs 4 to 6 pounds with many running considerably larger. Many say Andros offers a greater chance of catching a true trophy-size bonefish over 10 pounds compared with anywhere else on the planet. A seasonal migration of permit from April through July provides an additional flats target.
For visiting fly fishermen, Andros represents an ultimate challenge. The many bonefish lodges located throughout the island in addition to independent guides offer a variety of services from pickup at your resort lodging to cottage rentals. Some of the best known lodges include Kamalame Cay, Eva’s Bonefish Lodge, Small Hope Bay Lodge, Andros Island Bonefish Club, Bair’s Lodge, Bonefish Bonanza, Mount Pleasant Lodge, Buccaneers and Bones, and Swains Cay Lodge.
Hermon Bain of Hermon’s Bonefish Lodge typifies an Andros bonefish guide. Calling on more than 20 years of experience, he might take you wading somewhere along the immense hard sand flats or pole his skiff through miles of mangroves. He knows all Andros has to offer and how to put his clients in the right place at the right time. Like so many of the brotherhood of guides here, he learned the ways of bonefish from his father and started poling boats even as a child.
Middle and South Bights, famed bonefish grounds, separate sparsely populated South Andros from the more populated and developed northern part of the island. Much of the island falls under protected park land overseen by The Bahamas National Trust. The West Side National Park alone encompasses 1 1/2 million acres of mangroves and flats, where no development is allowed, but fishing is encouraged.
While fishing helps keep Andros on the tourist map, the sightseeing and points of interest found here soon become a prime reason to extend your stay. The island features numerous blue holes, including several found inland like Capt. Bill’s, Cousteau’s and Uncle Charlie’s, all accessible from various points on the island.
King Kong’s Cavern is a huge ocean blue hole near Small Hope Bay, and the Conch Sound blue hole can be reached from the beach. Both consist of labyrinthine cave complexes that spiral out from the mouth.
The people of Red Bays, considered the oldest settlement on Andros, are thought to be direct descendants of the Florida Black Seminoles, who landed here seeking refuge in 1821. Today, the community thrives as a center for all things cultural—with sponge farmers, basket weavers and wood carvers at work and selling their wares.
Private boat owners can make the 130-mile run from South Florida to North Andros with a quick landfall at Bimini to clear Bahamian Customs. However yacht services on Andros remain sparse with the Lighthouse Yacht Club and Marina in Andros Town and Kamalame Cay Resort Marina among the few available.
For fly-in travelers, four airports serve Andros, bringing passengers on either scheduled or chartered flights with specialty airlines. A ferry service also brings visitors from Nassau.
With so much cultural history and natural beauty, in addition to great offshore and inshore fishing, Andros Island ranks as a true angler’s paradise.