Welcome to Abaco Lodge!
Abaco Lodge has instant access to the famed Marls, a vast labyrinth of flats, mangroves… and Bonefish; bonefish in numbers like nowhere else in the Bahamas. 20-30 fish a day is not uncommon, with 200 square miles of this prime Bonefish habitat awaiting anglers. The islands most knowledgeable guides and Hell’s Bay flats boats ensure a productive fishing experience, while private rooms, fine dining and attentive service promise ultimate comfort. A number of direct flights from South Florida make Abaco lodge among the easiest bonefishing destinations.
Reasons to choose Abaco Lodge
- The only lodge directly on the famed Marls.
- Short runs from the lodge, usually less than half an hour and as fast as five minutes. Tailing fish, and lots of them. The marls is shallow water for as far as you can see.
- A surprising number of juvenile tarpon are around– providing almost weekly excitement.
- One of the most under-pressured fisheries of this caliber in the Caribbean.
- Guests have individual private rooms with ensuite bathrooms
- The most knowledgeable guides in the Bahamas, they know the Marls and the ocean intimately and they possess an uncanny ability to find fish.
- The latest Hells Bay skiffs, widely recognized as the ultimate flats boat, allow us to access the shallowest flats in maximum comfort.
- Island culture and activities make Abaco a great place for the non-angling spouse or children.
- Incredible logistics make this the easiest fishing lodge in the Bahamas to reach.
Abaco Lodge is located on the western side of Great Abaco Island, Bahamas.
The Abacos are a string of islands located about 175 miles east of Palm Beach, Florida. The “mainland” is Great Abaco, third largest island in the Bahamas, and one of the commercial centers of the island nation.
The western side of the island is home to the ‘Marls’, once considered a boating hazard and a wasteland, until anglers explored it and found a vast and unique environment that provides the perfect habitat for bonefish. For over twenty miles along the coastline the average depth is four feet. The lodge has unrivalled access to all of the most productive flats. While It would take a lifetime to fish the entire Marls, Abaco also offers some incredible fishing on the eastern ocean side of the island as well.
Marsh Harbour is the principal town and is only a 10 minute drive from the lodge. It has the largest protected deep water harbour in Abaco and an international airport serviced by major US and Bahamian carriers. Naturally, it has many shops, restaurants and marinas.
Historically different from other areas in the Bahamas, the population of the Abacos descended from Loyalists during the War of Independence from the United States. These blonde-haired, blue-eyed Abaconians still work at traditional occupations — farming, fishing, and boat building. Guests can embrace the relaxed culture and will feel like “locals“ almost immediately.
The typical trip does not fish on arrival or departure, but we can arrange this if your flights allow and upon special request. Breakfast is served at seven and we leave the dock at eight. We will plan to return around four. This schedule can be tailored to your needs with advance notice. Picnic lunches and cold drinks are taken to the flats in a cooler, by your guide.
The Marls encompass a huge area of flats on the west side of Abaco. For twenty miles the average depth is four feet. The lodge is centrally located directly on the Marls side of the island with access to them all directly from the lodge dock. This location gives our guests easy access to the flats, while providing many sheltered locations irrespective of wind direction.
The majority of the fishing is done from the boat but wading opportunities exist. Runs to the flats vary from 10 to 45 minutes. Cherokee Sound, the Bight of Robinson and Snake Cay are minutes from the lodge and offer opportunities at incredible, challenging Bonefish.
The flats on the ocean side require only a short drive. All of the skiffs are equipped with padded seats with backrests and a lean bar in the front.
The bonefish on the Marls average 2-4 lb., with the occasional shot at bigger fish. The ocean side flats offer opportunities at some of the largest bonefish in the Bahamas, but they are incredibly wary creatures. The Bahamas is primarily composed of bone-fisheries, and Abaco is no different. There are the occasional shots at Permit, Tarpon, ‘Cudas, Jacks, and sharks. We recommend you bring the appropriate tackle just in case. There is nothing quite as frustrating as seeing a 20 lb Permit tailing, or the juvenile Tarpon cruising the flat while not having the right gear set up.
In addition to the wonderful flats, Abaco has incredible blue water fishing. We are happy to coordinate a day, or two, with the best captains available. On these outings we are in search of Marlin, Sailfish, Dorado, Wahoo, and Tuna, depending on the season. Arrangements can be made at the lodge, but the best captains book early and we recommend you do as well. There will be an additional charge for this type of fishing.
One of the biggest mistakes a bone fisherman can make is not to adjust his fly to changing water depth. Your fly should be weighted such that it sinks quickly to the bottom and then stays near the bottom within view of the fish, after you begin stripping. However fishing too heavy a fly (Lead Eyes), in shallow water will undoubtedly spook many fish. Often Bonefish are spooked by seeing flies that do not match the environment in which they are swimming. A fly that matches the background color of the flat you are fishing can pay dividends. The watchword, in general, is flexibility. Listen to your guide, no-one in the boat has a better idea of technique or choice of fly.
The average flat depth, whether you’re wading or poling, ranges from 12″-30″. In this depth, a Gotcha or Shrimp pattern with medium sized bead chain eyes should provide close to the perfect sink rate, without overweighing the fly (and potentially spooking the fish). A good rule of thumb is your fly should reach the bottom in about 3 seconds. If you find your fly is not getting to the bottom, you should switch to a fly with lead eyes, or add a few wraps of lead wire to the eye of the fly.
The angler who is willing to fish deeper flats will often be rewarded with the largest Bonefish. Big Bonefish prefer the protection of deeper flats, or shallow flats close to deep water. When you’re fishing water 3-4 ft. deep, you’ll need a fly with lead eyes to get to the bottom quickly. A proven deep water fly is the Clouser minnow. The two best color combinations for bonefish are tan and white, and chartreuse and white. Another killer deep water fly is the Simram, which is a fuzzy (rabbit fur) version of the Gotcha fly, with lead eyes. Lead eyes come in a variety of weights. You’ll want to carry flies with the smaller lead eyes, as well as the heavier lead eyes that cause many of us to duck when forward casting!
Shallow Flats & Tailing Fish
The last thing a bone-fisherman wants to do is scare an actively feeding fish by casting too heavy a fly, too close to the fish. Therefore, you must go light in skinny water. By light, we mean no weight other than the weight of the hook. For this we recommend mono (or plastic) eyes and a body that lands softly. A perfectly designed fly for this situation is a pattern called the bunny bone. The bunny bone is made with rabbit fur, rug yarn, and mono eyes. Good color combinations would be the same as the other productive flies we’ve already described; tan and white, brown and white and the Gotcha colors, pink and white. Tie this fly in sizes 4, 6, and 8. Its entry into the water is almost imperceptible. You can throw this un-weighted fly right on the nose of a tailing fish. The rabbit fur makes it look alive, even before it’s stripped. If it’s within view of a hungry Bonefish, all you need to do is give it the tiniest of strips.
We recommend 9ft., 7-8 wt. rods. Under normal or windy conditions, you can still make a delicate presentation with a 7 wt. rod and a long leader with an un-weighted fly. Also recommended is a quality fly reel, preferably with adjustable brake, cork disc drag, and a capacity of at least 150yds. of 20lb. test backing. A weight forward floating line should be paired off with clear fluorocarbon leader.
A general rule of thumb is 10’ 10 lbs. Bring extra leaders and a few spools of tippet in the 8-15lb. range. Fly wise, stick to tan patterns with rubber legs and you will be fine. The list of options is endless, but will depend on the kind of flat you are fishing, and its background color and depth. A few we wouldn’t want you to go without include: Puglasi’s spawning shrimp, Miehieve’s Flats Fly, Kwabbit, mink shrimp, and of course the Gotcha.
Most of our Tarpon are small juveniles and an 8 or 9 wt. rod such as; Sage’s: Xi3 with an Abel 7/8 and a Rio line. These smaller tarpon don’t require elaborate leader systems; a section of 30-40 bite tippet is perfect. Flies we recommend are the Toad, Black Death, or any smaller baitfish tarpon imitation.
For Barracuda and sharks you will need wire bite tippet with about 12″ of wire. We prefer single strand in the 40lb range but the knot able wire will work as well. For sharks we like a large popper in bright colors; think red, orange and yellow. For Barracuda a classic needle fish fly, or Lety’s shark and ‘Cuda fly are great choices if you can move it fast enough
About the Bonefish
The bonefish, is probably pound for pound the strongest and fastest running salt-water fish, and it is one of the coolest to have your photo taken with. The bonefish is of the species of the Albulidae, or bonefishes. Its scientific name can be translated as “white fox.”
Bonefish are amphidromous, living in inshore tropical waters, moving onto shallow tidal flats to feed with the incoming tide, and retreating to deeper water as the tide ebbs. Its weight may reach 5lbs, though a more representative size would be about a third of that. A big bonefish, a lifetime fish would be any fish in excess of ten pounds or more. Silvery in color with dusky fins—the bases of the pectoral fins are yellow. Heavily schooling fish, with some of the larger individuals traveling singly or in schools.
Bonefish are considered to be among the world’s premier game fish, but they are virtually inedible, and they are eaten only in some locations by native populations.
As prolific as bonefish are, relatively little is known about them. The Bonefish Tarpon Trust is doing a great deal of scientific research on bonefish currently, and if you desire further information, they are an excellent and angler friendly source. Visit www.tarbone.org.
Bonefishing is a shallow-water pursuit done in depths ranging from 8 inches to several feet. Flats sporting currents; dropoffs along the edge and clean, healthy seagrass beds produce abundant small crabs and shrimps that bonefish prey upon. Bonefish are known to follow stingrays, looking for small prey items disturbed by the rooting stingrays.
More on the bonefish…
The Bonefish prefers shallows, estuaries, bays, grass flats, and other brackish areas at a depth from 0 to 84 meters. It is found worldwide in subtropical warm seas. In the Eastern Pacific, its range includes waters off California to Peru; the Western Atlantic range stretches from North Carolina to Florida, the Bahamas, the Antilles and the rest of the Caribbean almost to Brazil.
A pelagic fish, the Bonefish feeds on benthic creatures such as worms, crustaceans, and mollusks, rooting them out from the sandy bottom. Granular teeth, forming specialized dental plates, cover the bonefish’s tongue and upper jaw, and similar grinders are also present in the throat, helping the fish to grind up its prey. Small to medium-size bones often feed in schools. Sharks and barracuda frequently prey on bonefish, which may explain why the fish evolved such a sleek body for a fast getaway over the ages.
Abaco Lodge sits on the rocky shoreline of the Marls on the west side of Abaco, just north of Marsh Harbour on the way to Treasure Cay.
The lodge consists of eight air conditioned private rooms with private bath, a fully stocked bar, pool, sitting room, an outside fire pit, and patio space.
You can fish all day and not miss a beat of what is going on at home; a computer with high speed internet is available for the clients as well as a wireless connection, phone service is available and the lodge has a new flat screen television for all the games.
Bar and fly-tying room: The lodge has a main bar fully stocked with spirits, cold beers, (in a convenient mini fridge) soft drinks, plenty of ice, a blender and mixers for cocktails.
Our shop is stocked with the following: Sage rods – Abel reels – Rio lines, backing and tippets – a good selection of flies – sunscreen and lip protectors – Mangrove sungloves – dry bags – Action optics polarized sunglasses – Bair’s Lodge Fishing shirts, caps and t-shirts.
We pride ourselves with serving delicious food of fresh local produce, specializing on fresh fish (mahi, tuna, grouper, and snapper) conch and lobster.
We carefully stock our larder with fine quality foods from the US and Nassau.Align Right
Our chef bakes bread, pastries and cookies daily. Our coffee is made from freshly ground beans and will be waiting for our guests in the buffet. Alternatively, we will bring a cup of coffee to your room!
A full breakfast will always feature a variety of cereals, coffee and a selection of teas, as well as fresh fruits. Eggs will be cooked to your preference, with bacon, sausages and grits or hash brown potatoes. Hot cereals are also available.
A lunch menu card allows you to choose next day’s lunch and the content of the boat coolers. We have an open bar policy at the lodge. On your return from fishing you will find cold beers, spirits, and a blender for cocktails, as well as stacks of soft drinks.
Delicious appetizers are served in the verandah, so you can sample local specialties such as cracked conch, grouper Fingers and conch salad.
If you have a preferred brand of liquor, please be sure to let us know in advance so the lodge can have it ready for you upon arrival (payable upon arrival to the lodge). Otherwise, you can bring your own bottle. Please note that local spirits will be available free of charge at the lodge.
Our emphasis is on mixing local dishes with light fresh recipes such as snapper with mango salsa, and some barbequed beef, fish and chicken.
Desserts will vary from chocolate decadence to key lime parfaits and rum cake with coconut ice cream.
House wines such as Chilean Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon will be served with dinner. After dinner coffee and tea and liquors will be served in the sitting room.
We can cater to special dietary needs. Fill in our questionnaire any requirements or food allergies you might have, so we can inform the chef. Salads are offered in our cooler lunches for those on low-carbohydrate diets.
The lodge has a good supply of drinking water from our reverse Osmosis system. You will find water in your bedroom and your boat, and you can drink the tap water. In our arid climate, conservation is always appreciated.
|High Season: Oct 2012 to Mar 2013|
|7 nights / 6 days fishing||$ 4,995|
|6 nights / 5 days fishing||$ 4,395|
|5 nights / 4 days fishing||$ 3,825|
|4 nights / 3 days fishing||$ 3,095|
|3 nights / 2 days fishing||$ 2,250|
|Peak Season: Apr to Jul 2013|
|7 Nights / 6 Days Fishing||$ 5,150|
|6 Nights / 5 Days Fishing||$ 4,595|
|5 Nights / 4 Days Fishing||$ 3,995|
|4 Nights / 3 Days Fishing||$ 3,225|
|3 Nights / 2 Days Fishing||$ 2,350|
Single Boat: 60% Surcharge
Non Fisher: $ 375 per person p/night
Transfer from Marsh Harbour = Included in price
Transfer from Treasure Cay: $50 p/person one way
Full Day Fishing on Arr/Dep date: $ 750 p/boat
Half Day Fishing on Arr/Dep date: $ 550 p/boat
Abaco Lodge: proud hosts of Pirates of the Flats, ESPN series.
Please take a moment to download and read through the following information well in advance of your departure. It will help answer most questions concerning your stay.
NOTE TO GROUP LEADERS: Please make sure to share this information with the rest of your group. It is vital that everyone in your group is fully prepared, understands the trip cancellation policy on refunds, and have the opportunity to purchase travel protection insurance, (especially anyone with a health issue).