Chub Cay differs from most Bahamas fishing destinations in several notable respects. For one, the extent and accessibility of its bonefish flats is hard to beat. For those who fly in, “When you land at the runway and clear customs, walk back behind the customs house for about 50 feet and you’ll be at the edge of 25 miles of bonefish flats,” says Capt. Rick Murphy.
Murphy, a Florida fishing guide, professional tournament angler and host of the popular Sportsman’s Adventures TV show, has a special and uniquely personal familiarity with Chub Cay fishing. He’s been spending time and fishing there every year since he was a youngster, in the 1960s, when his grandfather built a home on the east side of the island. The Murphy family still owns a renovated house there and keeps several boats on hand to fish flats, reefs and blue water.
Chub Cay, one of the Berry Island group northeast of Andros Island and northwest of Nassau, is also different from many popular Bahamas destinations since it remains private — the island is owned by wealthy Texan George Bishop — and in no way crowded with tourists. While there is a runway that serves several Florida- and Bahamas-based air charters, there are no regularly scheduled commercial flights. Other than via chartered or private aircraft, private boats are the only way to the island.
For sport fishermen, the most significant distinction Chub offers is location, location, location. Immediately around most of the island are flats inhabited by extraordinary schools of bonefish — and not all little guys, either. Just to the south of the island, a mere stone’s toss from the Chub Cay Marina, the bottom drops away in deep azure ocean waters.
“A lot of guys will pull out of the marina, and 500 yards off the beach will put out their lines,” Murphy says. The list of game fish includes pretty much everything the warm Atlantic has to offer, including yellowfin tuna, wahoo, mahi, white marlin, blue marlin and sailfish. From Chub, one can troll the 15 or so miles west to The Pocket, the magical spot where the abyssal Tongue of the Ocean abuts the coral shallows of Bahama Bank.
Baitfish naturally collect here along the wall that rises abruptly from hundreds of feet to a few fathoms, and predators naturally follow, making it one of the most productive trolling alleys in the Bahamas and Caribbean.
When to Go
While anglers can find some bluewater pelagics here most of the year, the very best time to on hand is February, March and into April, particularly when a southeast breeze pushes bait right against the bank, Murphy says. He recalls that his grandfather, who built here, “loved Chub so much because no matter what the direction of the wind, some place will always be fishable.”
For bonefish, Murphy says the best time starts in early October as temperatures cool and goes through mid-June. It’s not unusual for bonefish hotspots in the Caribbean to boast great numbers of small fish, but at Chub, flats anglers can have the best of worlds.
“That’s the thing that’s so cool here,” says Murphy. “Our average bonefish probably runs 5 pounds. I’ve caught ‘em to 13 on the fly.” He attributes the large size of Chub bones to so much fertile deeper water around the island.
Murphy also cites the reef action he calls “spectacular” here. “Any area where there are drop-offs, you can catch snapper — muttons, yellowtail, cubera, lanes and others — and several types of groupers, plus African pompano, almacos, amberjack and more.” And barracudas, he adds, love to clobber topwater lures. Murphy says drift-jigging is a great way to catch everything. He favors leadheads of ½ to 1½ ounces tipped with Fishbites soft tails.
Planning a Trip
Where to Go and How to Get There: Private boaters make the 150 or so miles to Chub from Miami or Ft. Lauderdale (or a little under 170 from West Palm Beach), but Murphy points out that only about 50 miles is open-water crossing (including the Gulf Stream). Otherwise, most of the run is over the relatively shallow water of the Great Bahama Bank. The full-service marina’s floating docks can accommodate boats from center consoles to 175-foot yachts.
Private aircraft and chartered flights find arrival at Chub’s 5,000-foot airstrip easy, thanks to a small, regular customs office open daily from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Several charter operations provide service to Chub, including Tropic Air Charters, Makers Air and Island Air Charters (all based in Ft. Lauderdale), plus Bahamas Air Tours.
However one arrives at Chub, he or she will find a variety of accommodations offered by Chub Cay Resort. The clubhouse serves as a boutique hotel with 11 rooms. The cabanas feature eight, single, stand-alone units on Sunset Beach. Villas range from two to five bedrooms with varying layouts and views. In addition, some privately owned homes are available to rent.
What to Expect: While fishing-charter services are limited, three well-known longtime bonefish guides — Razor, David and Joe — can put anglers into countless shots at bones. Bonefish are abundant enough that some anglers rent a golf cart to take them along the shore to points from which they can wade out into good action.
In addition to world-class fishing, Chub offers diving of the same caliber. Murphy cites the amazing wall diving in the clear waters, teeming with fish. But he points out that those who would take advantage of it can only get to it on a private boat with their own gear (rental gear is not available). Murphy says anyone wanting more information on fishing Chub is welcome to contact him via murphyslawsportfishing.com.