Mars Bay Bonefish Lodge





Frequently Asked Questions to the Manager



Why should I come to Mars Bay bonefish Lodge?



 We have had complaints. One guest thought we served too much food....we did. One guests said he could have used more closet space and another thought his pillow was too hard. One gentleman said he had a great week but could have done without watching a couple dogs fornicating on the beach. He didn't have to watch. Some people are hard to please. Here are a few reasons to come....


CLICK HERE TO READ A FEW REVIEWS

Bill is the American manager and owner. 
 And like most owners who operate their own business; he works a little harder. He has been running the lodge since 2002. He's easy going, polite, and very friendly. He's up in the morning well before you carrying coolers and mixing gas. At the end of the day he sits down and has dinner with you. Whatever you need the answer is "Yes".


We are the most southern located lodge on Andros. The winds can blow a steady 15 mph for weeks. This creates a natural barrier to the southern tip for lodges north of Mars Bay. It's just to dangerous to cross the big water coming around High Point. In other words, they can't get south by taking the ocean side route. They must take the inland creeks making for a very long boat ride. We fish the southern tip daily all the way to the Water Keys and all the inland waters between. Our proximity means no less than an hour a day of extra fishing. You're wading a flat while the other lodge boats are on plane at full throttle. 

Our guides don't punch a clock. We are out early and home late. When the other lodge guests back at the club you're still casting to tailing fish. 


So....let's add that up.....Less run time to and from your fishing destination is at least and extra hour a day. On a six day trip add at least another six hours because our guides aren't punching a clock. You'll get no less than an extra TWELVE hours of fishing time!!

There is flat big enough for a dozen fishermen right in front of the lodge. Obviously if the tide is high you won't be able to fish until the water drops a bit. For three years in a row the largest fish of the year were caught in front of the lodge. If the tide is right your guide can drop you off on the way home and you can fish your way to the lodge. Or you can walk 100 feet when you get to the lodge and be fishing until dark.

The lodge purchased new motors for the 2013 season. Bill maintains all the boats and motors personally.  They are over-maintained. We have towed boats home from every lodge at one time or another. Since 2002 Mars Bay Bonefish Lodge has never had a breakdown.

Ever feel like a number? We are a small lodge. We book singles, pairs, and sets of fishermen to fill the lodge. But some groups want to reserve the entire lodge for themselves. It might be for a corporate outing or just a group of friends. If there is at least eight in your group we'll reserve the entire lodge for you. We have five rooms with capacity to sleep ten guests but we limit it to eight guests. We keep an extra room available for the guy who snores. There's one in every group.

We're not always fully booked. Even though you may have booked a double occupancy trip with you and your buddy it is possible that you'll get your own room.  If there is a vacant room, grab it.

We only run four boats but keep five in top shape. If one is not running properly we can have a back up boat ready to go in five minutes.

And finally, the dock is less than a minute away. No long rides to and from the dock.



What is a day the lodge like?


4:30 AM – Morning Staff arrives to prepare the coffee, breakfast, and lunches.


5:00 AM – Coffee is brewed and ready.


6:30 AM – If you are not already up Bill will wake you up.


7:00 AM – Breakfast is served


7:30 AM – Load up in the truck and drive one minute to the Mars Bay Dock to meet your guide, stow your rods, and put on a raincoat.


7:45 AM – Throttle up and go fishing!!


4 – 6 PM – Return to dock after a day fishing.

           

5ish PM – Hors d’oeuvres are served in the dining room.


7 PM – Dinner is served. 



What’s the best fly?



See our flies and tackle page for suggested flies. Fishermen make this much more complicated than it really is. There are numerous flies that work well. I once told a fishermen that the bones will hit anything but green/chartreuse. Just to prove me wrong he tied up a bunch of green-headed gotchas and killed them all week long. Another group threw nothing but a Gotcha style fly tied with nothing but gold tinsel, gold flash, and gold diamond braid. They called it the Phyllis Diller because it was so ugly.  Another group throws only a Lefty's craft fur shrimp. I had a dog named Batman with long blonde hair. One group cut all the hair off the dogs ass and tied gotchas with it...called it the Batman....deadly. Unfortunately Batman is no longer with us. Gotchas, mantis shrimp patterns, the Peterson shrimp, pink puffs, etc.....they all work. The point is, generally these fish are rarely selective.


After a frontal day during the cooler months they can get a bit picky. Switching to a smaller #6 buggy, natural toned brown/tan fly seems to work better. If you do get a couple refusals and you're sure you made a good cast and your strip is correct, switch the fly.


There are basically two color groups you should have in your box; the sparkly pinks and pearls and the natural browns and tans with copper or gold flash. And tied on any fly, you can't go wrong with a few rubber legs hanging off it.


And finally, if you brought nothing but #2 or #4 tan winged Gotchas with bead chain eyes you would do just fine. A good cast and proper strip is more important than the fly. If you can drill a tight loop in a 10-15 mph wind your going to catch more fish. 


Click Here for More About Flies


When is the best time of the year to come?



This is easily the most often asked question. Last season the winter months of January, February, and March were beautiful.....spring like. May is known for light winds and clear skies. Last May was the wettest in recent history with several unfishable days. You never know.


The fishing is always good anytime of the year. It really doesn't matter. March, April, and May is peak season and are the most popular. October, November, December, and January are my favorite months for trophy bones. If I didn't live here and wanted to book a trip I would come in November.


Oddly enough not many fishermen come in January or June which are excellent months. January is a great month for large trophy sized bones and a chance to get away from some of the most miserably cold weather of the year. 


June provides excellent opportunities for sheer numbers of fish caught. Double digit days are common and the winds are light. Oddly enough, I had a group of eight who came in early July one year. Fishermen were catching 30-50 fish a day. So much for the "It's too hot" theory.



How many fish will I catch?



That is a tough question and not a fair one. If the Atlantic salmon is referred to as "The fish of a thousand casts" then bonefish can be referred to as "the fish of a couple three casts". 
South Andros is arguably the best bone fishery on the planet. But every fisherman knows some days are diamonds and some days are dust. All things being equal, in the end it depends on well you can cast. On the same day an experienced caster might catch ten fish when his less experienced partner hooks two or three.


Generally five to ten fish a day is common. A Fifteen fish day is not unusual and would be consider a very good day. A twenty fish day is definitely a great day fishing. A thirty fish day doesn't happen often and you were probably jerking schoolies.

On Jackfish flat you might find yourself casting into a school of 200 two to three pound bones that keeps circling back to you. Don’t mistake a big school for cloud shadow. In other areas you’ll see sets of four to twenty larger fish swimming to you in waves. If you find just one bone or a couple swimming together odds are good they’re larger fish. Make that cast count!


Many times fishermen have returned to the lodge after a day of fishing and say they saw a bonefish so big it was mistaken for a shark or cuda and they didn't make the cast.  Sharks swim in a slinking "S" motion. Cuda will sit straight and motionless. Bonefish are always moving and swim straight without much bending of their bodies. When in doubt...make the cast.


How are the guides?



All our guides have no less than five years experience. Our current guide staff is Chris, Pap, Dingy, and Locksley. 


I've never met a Bahamian guide who didn't claim to be the best in the business. Every lodge claims they have the best guides in the business and so do I. The fact is, there are great guides throughout the Bahamas. Sometimes it comes down to a popularity contest. Everyone has their favorites. All our guides are licensed bone fishing guides who were born, raised, and live in Mars Bay. They grew up here fishing these waters. The guides understand the fish and they know the fishery. They are as comfortable in a boat as they are on land and they’ll put you on fish!


Have you heard the stories of rude guides who were abusive jerks? Maybe you've experienced one or two. Not here, no way! 


Do we pole or wade?



All boats are equipped with poles and platforms. Two boats are equipped with leaning bars. 


Some fishermen like to wade some like to pole. Both are dependent on the tides and the fishermen. We've had 75 year old men who insist on wading and 40 year olds who won't get out of the boat. If it's a flood tide you might pole the mangrove edges. Or you might walk way up into a creek on that same tide.  If the tide is down you might pole a deeper edge or wade a flat that stretches for miles.


Andros is a wade fishery. Some of the best fishing areas you can't get a boat into. If you insist on being poled you're handcuffing your guide. We'll do our best to accommodate you but expect to do a little of both. 


Will it be windy?



Probably....come expecting and be prepared for a 15 mph wind. Before making my first bonefish trip I dreamed of being poled across windless flats on crystal clear days. It can be that way but very rarely. More often you'll find yourself wading in a 15 mph wind. 


When fishing no wind conditions the fish are jittery and easily spooked.  And they can see you as well as you can see them. Stretch out your leader and put on a light fly that will land softly.


Wind is a good thing and come planning on it. The ripples and waves caused by the wind reduce the fish’s ability to see you and allow the fly to penetrate the water without spooking the fish.


You'll need to be able to cast in 10-15 mph winds. Please practice double hauling and throwing a tight loop before you come. It's the difference between catching one or two bones for the day or ten. Waiting until you get here will result missed opportunities.


What is the best moon and tides?



There seems to be some confusion about the moons and tides. Just read this first paragraph and move on. First, after 14 years of managing this lodge and counting fish I know one thing....day in and day out the fish counts are the same regardless of the moon and tides. Forget about the moons and tides, just book the trip. 


Weather patterns and barometric changes have a very strong effect on feeding. A frontal day will shut the bones down. They feed heavily before and after a front moves through.


Some fishermen believe that bonefish feed at night with the full moon and don't bite during the day. They're stomachs are full and their mouths are sore from digging in the sand and feeding all night, who knows. Bahamians and some lodge owners say if you want to catch a monster big bone you should come during the full moons. The largest bonefish I ever caught was on  a full moon. And the bonefish pictures you see on the front page of this website were caught on a full moon phase.


Others say you should come on the new moon. The new moon is actually a dark or black moon. I do a lot of bottom fishing for grouper and silk snapper to put on the table. When fishing on the days before and after the new moon when the sky is dark at night the bite is on! I theorize that on a dark night the fish can't see their prey therefore they can't feed heavily at night. When the sun comes up they're hungry. 


To counter that point I have also fished the creeks at night. I take a little scoop net to catch shrimp for bait. On a moonlit night there is not a shrimp to be found and the fishing is slow. I suppose the shrimp have evolved to instinctively avoid the light. On a dark night the shrimp are crawling on the bottom and floating on the surface out to sea with the outgoing tide. It's like a giant chum trail. I can catch all the bait I need. This brings in all kinds of predatory fish to feed on them. The jacks are on top picking off the floaters the snappers are on the bottom feeding on the crawlers.

 

I have seen epic days on all the moon cycles. There are four moons a month, the first quarter, new, second quarter, and full. On the new and full moons there is a spring tide or a "big tide". The low tides are lower and the high tides are higher than usual. On South Andros, during the spring tide, the variance between high and low tide is three feet. Neap tides or "little tides" occur on the quarter moons the variance between high and low tide can be as little as a foot and a half.


The local Bahamians will tell you that the tides "switch" on the weekends. This is generally true for most months. In other words, the week will begin with either a low or high tide about the time you reach the dock in the morning. The reason for the weekly "switch" is that peak low or high tide lags a little less than one hour each day. After six or seven days what was high tide on a particular day is now low tide. The reason I say "generally true" is because some weeks begin with peak low and high occurring at 3-4 AM. By the time you get to dock in the morning it is midway between high or low.


To complicate things further, between Mars Bay and the inland creeks of the Water Cays there is a four to five hour difference between low and high tide due to bottom drag and creek restrictions. Throw in a strong easterly wind and a high tide might hang up when one would think it should be dropping. If you shoot into Grassy Creek where the tide collides from the east, west, and south they can be even less predictable.  If the tide is high at Mars Bay in the morning you might run to the Water Keys to fish the incoming tide. Once it floods you might run east to Cistern Point or Beach Key and catch the bones as they move out of the mangroves and onto the ocean side flats.


It's another myth that bonefish only feed on the rising tide and when the tide begins to drop the fish head out to the deep blue sea. That is garbage, garbage, garbage! Naturally, they need enough water to cover their backs. One of my favorite set-ups is fishing a dropping tide. As the high tide starts to drop the fish begin moving out of the mangroves and into deeper water. When I say "deeper water" I mean enough to cover their backs. You can stand on one spot as the fish swim to you, wave after wave. My highest fish count days were on the dropping tides.


Let me give you an example.....Last January I was fishing a flat just off Cistern Point on a dropping tide. The fish were feeding in 8-10 inches of water. They backed out as the tide dropped but the fish were still there in 8-10 inches of water. As the tide came in they moved in with it but still in 8-10 inches. They were feeding on that flat all day regardless of the tidal flow.


Yes...of course they move in search of better feeding grounds or whatever. When they do they're moving fast as if they're on a mission. Almost daily, right in front of the lodge, you can see schools of bonefish moving south fast, always south, never north.


There is one legitimate reason to book a quarter moon. The week begins with a low tide. It sets up better for those of you who like to wade.


And finally, regardless of moon and tide, when the tides change from incoming to outgoing or outgoing to incoming there is a brief slack period. The bite will to stop. Most saltwater fishermen already know this. It is typical of almost all saltwater species. Once it begins to flow in either direction the bite picks up.


If you're thoroughly confused then I've done my job. You and I could "Yeah BUT" each other until the cows come home on the subject. The point of all this is to say "Forget about the moon and just book the trip".



Is there anything for my spouse to do?



If he/she like to fish...absolutely. If he/she doesn't fish....absolutely not!  Your spouse will make us both miserable. South Andros is a fisherman’s paradise but it is also undeveloped. 
There is nothing to do but fish and watch the world turn. We do sit around and count satellites on moonless nights. Eighteen in one evening is the record. There is no night life, no places to shop, and no quaint villages to explore. Any convenience store in the states would qualify as a Super Wal-Mart on South Andros. All slots are reserved for fishing guests.



What kind of money is used?



The U.S. and Bahamian dollar trade one to one, both are readily accepted anywhere in the Bahamas. Bring small denominations because vendors sometimes have difficulty breaking large bills.


How’s the food?



If it requires a blow torch or flaming brandy we don't mess with it.  Having said that, everything is delicious and made from scratch. Ask anyone who's been here. Some guests say they'll return just for the food.


Breakfast is usually American; eggs and bacon or sausage, omelets, biscuits and gravy, corned beef and grits, pancakes, waffles, or French toast, etc. Cold cereal and oatmeal is also available. Some of the more adventurous guests like to try the traditional Bahamian breakfasts like boiled fish, tuna and grits, or stewed conch.


Lunch is a piece of fruit, yogurt, chips, candy bar, and a sandwich. We try to avoid processes lunch meats. Instead we grill or bake ham, beef, and pork roasts and run it through a meat slicer. With the tuna and chicken salad sandwiches we pack the salad and bread separately to avoid a soggy sandwich. If you would rather have peanut butter and jelly just ask, no problem. Also included in the cooler is plenty of water and a couple sodas.


When you arrive at the lodge after a day of fishing there will be an appetizer on the counter. It might be conch fritters, calamari, smoked salmon, shrimp,  lobster or conch salad, chicken wings, etc.


The dinner menu is Bahamian most nights and American others and is three course. We start dinner with a soup or salad. The main courses are conch, lobster, snapper, hogfish, or grouper,  rack of lamb, rib eye steak, pork loin, or chicken.  All the fish, lobster, conch, and stone crab are caught locally. The lamb is from New Zealand. The steaks are fresh, never frozen Nebraska beef. The lamb and beef is grilled to perfection over a blend of hickory and mesquite. The vegetables are fresh and shipped in weekly from Nassau. 


And then finally dessert, it might be a cheesecake, coconut pie, key lime pie, guava duff, etc.


Please let us know in advance if you have special dietary requirements like diabetes or shell fish allergies.



Do you have cell phone and internet service?


Yes.....usually. Outages are common. The internet flows like water in the states. It flows more like mud down here. If it's not working.....it's not working. There's nothing I can do.

The lodge does have wireless service. Phone calls to the states are complimentary through our VOIP line. Mars Bay does have cell service.  Most cell phones usually work. AT&T seems to work best on the Bahamian network. Check with your carrier prior to departure to be sure you have international coverage. If you're not sure please remember to turn your roam feature off. One guest returned home to find a $2000 phone bill.



Do you have any fishing gear available?


No, bring everything you need. Check the What to Bring page for a complete list. If you forgot something Bill will apprehensively lend you his gear. If you run short of flies we'll tie some up for you.