Travel Log: Andros (Pt. I)
Living Vicariously Through the Past
April 26, 2005
Yesterday we flew out of Miami, the old D concourse where American Eagle buses passengers to miniature aircraft bound for points south and east—the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, Key West and more, places a fly rod is pretty much required. We were treated to our first view of north Andros as we descended to Nassau, standard port of entry to the Bahamas. To get to Andros we’d have to clear Customs and Immigration in Nassau, collect our bags, and check in for the puddle-jumper over to Andros, back the way we came. The domestic terminal is in a whole different building, so you have to walk, dragging your gear through the Bahamian sun and the throngs of porters and taxi-drivers to find the poorly marked, poorly ventilated domestic flight terminal. Estimated connection time: 2 hours… about 3 hours too long.
Flight time to from Nassau to Fresh Creek, Andros: 5 minutes. Perfect.
What wasn’t perfect was the weather. Andros was under the same weather system as the Florida Keys we’d just left. Upon arrival we rigged rods and checked leaders while Charlie mixed drinks and regaled us with stories of monster bones, massive schools, and, well, everything we’d dreamed of for months. We went to bed early dreaming of giant bonefish and worrying about the weather, both with good cause.
Day II. Dawn is clear, but windy: 10-12 knots already. Breakfast is a hurried, tasteless affair and then we’re on the dock handing our rods down to Charlie in the damp skiff, a incongruous figure in his camo fleece and socked feet that make dry foot-shaped marks on the dew-beaded deck. I step aboard, cast off the bow-line, and fight back that feeling of unreality I always get in a new place as we pole slowly across the low tide bay.
Despite the less-than-perfect conditions with Charlie on the platform we start catching fish—at first we cast at anything, and nothing was what you’d call small: all over 4 pounds except 1 dink I catch casting into a school of much bigger fish. Then Dad gets a 7 pounder and all of a sudden Charlie’s serious—or as serious as he gets. We began poling deeper edges along nameless keys, searching the blue water for ghostly shapes, big shapes.
And then it happens. Charlie spots a few smaller fish at about 12 o’clock off the bow; they’re deep and I can’t see them so I hold my cast. Good thing. Suddenly a school of bigger fish rise out of the deep channel on our right. I don’t know how I got the fly out there but I drop it when Charlie says and start stripping. Immediately I feel the line come tight, but I set too violently and pull the hook. The fish grabs it again and again I pull the hook. I’m practically frantic by this time, but still the fish isn’t done. Suddenly I’m cold, I can feel my heartbeat slowing, peripheral sounds drop away and I hear my own thoughts: “Davin, slow down.” The fish grabs again and at this third time of asking I strip looong and slooow, just faster than the fish. The subtle feel of the bite shifts by surprising degrees to an immense weight and suddenly fly line is jumping everywhere. I remember nothing about that fight, but I end my day with a legitimate 10 pound monster. Not bad for day one.
Back at the lodge we dine on fresh hog snapper while I tie a half-dozen more big Clousers on the strongest hooks I can find.