Andros Island in The Bahamas is an angling nirvana which offers both offshore fishing delights and what many consider to be the finest shallow-water fishing for bonefish and permit to be found anywhere in the world. The islands’ unique location, with its eastern shoreline bordering a massive submarine canyon known as the Tongue of the Ocean, 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 silver ghosts of the flats the next.
Andros Island is an archipelago comprised of three major islands: North Andros, Mangrove Cay and South Andros; it is also the largest landmass in The Bahamas, more than all the other islands combined. Some of the best offshore fishing occurs off North Andros where the Tongue of the Ocean makes a hard turn to the south in an area simply called the Pocket. According to Capt. Skipper Gentry, owner of the charter boat Carolina Gentleman and Gentry Lodge in Morgan’s Bluff, the hunt for pelagic gamefish starts within minutes of leaving the dock. There are areas along the eastern shoreline where the water depth drops to over 2,000 feet just a mile off the beach, and lying between the beach and the drop is the famous Andros Barrier Reef, the sixth-largest coral reef in the world, stretching over 140 miles from north to south. It is prime habitat for diving, snorkeling 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. “The wahoo fishing is spectacular with great numbers arriving in January and staying through April. Blue and white marlin, dolphin and yellowfin tuna action is at its best 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.”
Throughout the seasons, one constant on Andros is the flats fishing—bonefish are plentiful throughout the year. The central and western regions of Andros are made up of hundreds of square miles of mangroves, salt ponds, cuts, bights, flats and tiny cays that provide the habitat for the vast schools of bonefish for which Andros is most famous. With such extensive habitat, bonefish maintain a larger average size than those found in other highly regarded fishing destinations, with an average Andros bone weighing four to six pounds, with many running considerably larger. In fact, there is a greater chance of landing a trophy bonefish in excess of 10 pounds in Andros than any other destination in the world. They can be found prowling the flats year-round and they are joined by a seasonal migration of permit from April through July.
Like so many of the guides, Hermon Bain of Hermon’s Bonefish Lodge learned the ways of bonefish from his father and was poling boats even as a child. He has over 20 years of experience and whether he takes you wading somewhere along the immense hard sand flats or if he’s poling his flats skiff through the miles of mangroves found here, he knows all Andros has to offer and how to put his clients in the right place at the right time. He is indicative of the brotherhood of professional flats fishing guides found on the island.
While fishing is what Andros is most famous for, the sightseeing and points of interest found here are yet another reason to extend your stay. The island is home to numerous blue holes including several found inland like Capt. Bill’s, Cousteau’s and Uncle Charlies, 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 have labyrinthian cave complexes that spiral out from the mouth. Red Bays is the oldest settlement on Andros and its people are thought to be direct descendants of the Florida Black Seminoles who landed here seeking refuge in 1821. The present-day community is a thriving center for all things cultural with sponge farmers, basket weavers and wood carvers at work and selling their wares. The crystal-clear waters and Andros Barrier Reef offer the finest diving experience in the Caribbean.
If you plan on coming by private boat the run to North Andros from south Florida is about 130 miles, starting with a quick landfall at Bimini to clear customs and then southeast across the Great Bahama Bank, arriving at the Pocket and then Andros proper. A modern sport-fisher can make the run in a few hours with yacht services available at Lighthouse Yacht Club and Marina in Andros Town and Kamalame Cay Resort and Marina, which offers the best in luxury accommodations.
From blue marlin offshore to bonefish on the flats, Andros Island is one of those world-class destinations that offers outstanding action no matter where you turn.