The 9th edition of the Fishwest Hosted trip to the Andros South Lodge started like any other year. We arrived into the Congo Town Airport on Sunday Feb 23rd where we were welcomed by Kermit and the Lodge Bus. After a cold Kalik we arrived to our home for the week and were greeted by the lodge managers Liz Fincher and Max Pushak and their staff of lodge dogs. More to come on that in a minute…
We at Fishwest have always chosen to come during this time of the year because of the more mild and stable weather conditions and cooler temperatures. We have also noticed in our times at the lodge that this “early season” produces larger fish as more bigger singles and doubles are seen on the flats. Typically the water is a little “cooler” which causes the smaller fish to search for deeper, warmer, water. Just for context, when I say “cooler air temps” I am talking about air temps in the upper 70’s and water temps in the same range as well.
Our group had an extremely mixed bag of weather during the trip which limited the areas that we could fish during our days on the water. The first three days of the trip provided some great light but really harsh winds that made for difficult casting conditions. During these days the fish counts at the end of the day were on the lower end. However, spirits remained high! After that, the weather shifted and a cold front blew in off the coast of Florida which brought the temps down into the mid to high 60’s but laid the wind down. Even though the temps were much lower we were still able to find alot of cruising singles and doubles as well as smaller schools. The schools we came across weren’t just made up of small fish. Most of the “schoolie” fish we saw were in the 4-5lb range. These 4-5lb fish were plentiful, and for those who have never had a chance to cross a bonefish, they pull hard! I can confidently say that I saw my backing every day of the trip.
The fishing highlight of the trip for me had to be my thursday morning wade with great friend Torrie Bevans. Anyone who knows Torrie, knows of his extremely vibrant personality. However, for those who don’t let me tell you he is one extremely fishy guy. He and I had a chance to walk one of the flats just south of the ramp where we were fortunate enough to encounter the largest permit I have ever had a chance to lay my eyes on. This fish had to weigh in somewhere between 25 – 30 lbs. Since we were on foot, we had a chance to create a great shot at this fish. We waited in the mangroves close to shore till the fish was in range till I presented the fly. As soon as the fly landed the fish zoomed up to the fly and looked at it. I bumped it once and the fish turned around and looked at it again… From there the fish decided he didn’t want what i was offering and he went on his way. Even though I didn’t get an eat I am thankful I got a good look from a fish that size.
All and all, the trip was a great success. Guests and guides alike reported many fish in the upper single digits caught and landed. However, despite all the efforts by both parties no fish in the double digit class were landed during our 2020 visit.
In years past, the best performing flies are your typical bonefish patterns like the Pearl Gotcha, Crazy Charlie, or Mantis Shrimp in larger sizes (2-4) range. However, this year that was not the case. The best performing fly of the trip had to go to the Umpqua Bonefish Junk. That profile and color combo proved to be extremely productive in the cloudier conditions that we were faced with during the week.
The best part about the Andros South Lodge (aside from the fishing because that is a given) is the fact that the guides, lodge staff, cooks, and even lodge dogs treat you like you are part of the “Andros South Family”. Like I have stated in previous articles, the Andros South Lodge is not a fancy over the top operation with silk sheets and white tablecloths instead the lodge is setup as a down home “fishing camp” with comfortable, single occupancy, family style accommodations. This “Family Vibe” is the main reason that we at Fishwest return year after year and look forward to doing so for many years to come.