Frequently Asked Questions to Mars Bay Bonefish

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. Another gent loved everything BUT….the accommodations were not up to his standards. I guess he expected a gold plated toilet or a canopy over his bed. Some people are hard to please. Here are a few reasons to come….

Captain 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.

We are the most southern located lodge on all of Andros. There are some popular lodges well north of us. IF the winds are light enough they’ll take the ocean side route to get to the southern tip, the most desirable fishing grounds on Andros. I have timers to track total run time on all my motors. In other words, I know exactly how long it takes to make that run. Stay at a lodge north of here and you are guaranteed, no less than a five hour boat ride. Did you come to fish or spend most of your day on a long boat ride? Even worse, the winds can blow 10-15 mph for weeks. This creates a natural barrier to the southern tip for lodges north of Mars Bay. It’s just too 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 an even longer boat ride. We fish the southern tip daily all the way to the Water Keys and all the inland waters between.

In the other lodges defense, they don’t always run south. And they do fish the west side. We could fish the west side but we don’t…….the boat ride is too long.

Our guides don’t punch a clock. We are out early and home late. There’s another extra hour fishing. You can set your watch to some lodge guides arriving at the dock at 4PM sharp.

Our proximity means no less than one to three hours a day of extra fishing. You’re still wading a flat when the other lodge guests are on plane at full throttle or back sitting the lodge. You do the math. On a six day trip that’s like getting AT THE LEAST an extra day fishing.

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 2018 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.

Click Here for More About Flies

When is the best time of the year to come?

The fishing is always good anytime of the year. March, April, and May is peak season and are the most popular months. 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 the fall. Hurricane season is over, the days and water are cooler, there is no risk of a winter cold front, and the fish have not seen a boat or fisherman since the previous May. The fall 2017 season has so far proven to best one yet since we opened in 2002.

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 one or two 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 how well you can cast. On the same day an experienced caster might catch twenty 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?

Our staff is Pap, Dingy, Bruce, Locksley, and LJ. Three with twelve years experience, one with eight, and one with a couple years under his belt.  All our guides are licensed boat captains and bone fishing guides who were born, raised, and live in Mars Bay. They grew up here fishing these waters. They 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.

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 excellent guides throughout the Bahamas. Frankly, in the very end, it is a congeniality contest. Everyone has their favorites. I employed one guide for ten years who all the guests wanted to fish with and was considered the best guide on the staff. He was a very good guide, not a very good employee. What nobody know was another guide on my staff had consistently been putting more fish in the boat than he for years. The later guide didn’t waste words. He is smart and very intelligent. He doesn’t tell you what a bad-ass guide he is, he shows you. To prove my point further, I trained a new guide many years ago, still on staff. Within a month of just starting some guests were telling me he is the best guide on my staff. He is very congenial. Point is…..most wouldn’t know a good guide if he bit them in the ass. Are you coming for a song and dance to CATCH FISH?

I’ll say this, you’ll not find any better guides anywhere in the Bahamas than the guides at Mars Bay. I get nothing but compliments about how good the guides are, all of them. I don’t get complaints. I’ve had a few guests that live in land-locked states who read a few coffee table books about bonefishing and claim to know more about moons, tides, and bones than myself and the guides. Those are the ones who point out to what the guide did wrong. The ones that think you’re supposed to be on bonefish all day everyday. Goes in one ear and out the other, I disregard.

I’m sure you have heard the stories of rude guides who are abusive jerks that run hot? Maybe you’ve experienced one or two. Not here, never!

Do we pole or wade?

All boats are equipped with push poles, platforms, and 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 a couple bones for the day or ten. Waiting until you get here will result missed opportunities.

What is the best moon and tides?

This used to read about 1000 words. I’ve reduced it to one paragraph. After 16 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. Full moons, new moons, quarter moons, rising tides, falling tides, it doesn’t matter. The guides know where the fish are on any tide. Myself and the most experienced fishermen I know have one thing to say – Forget about the moons and tides.

Is there anything for my spouse to do?

If he/she likes to fish…absolutely. If he/she doesn’t fish….absolutely not! Your spouse will make us both miserable. Mars Bay is a fisherman’s paradise but it is also undeveloped. There is nothing to do but fish and watch the world turn. There is no staff at the lodge during the day, nobody around to make you lunch. There’s no tanning on the beach, the bugs will chew you up. The are no waves crashing on the shoreline, the water is too shallow. 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…..conch fritters, calamari, cracked lobster, shrimp, lobster or conch salad, chicken wings, etc.

The dinner menu is Bahamian some 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.

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…’s not working.

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.

Do you have any fishing gear available?

No, bring everything you need. I will tie some flies up for you if you run short. Gear gets torn up quicker than I can replace it. Besides, if you’re a fishermen you ought to have a little skin in the game. No gear usually means no experience. This isn’t the place to learn how to cast.