Turks & Caicos
Southern most Bahamas? If your looking at a map without clear labels, you’ll miss Turks and Caicos as is appears to be part of the Bahama island chain but it actually is a separate island nation.
The fishing here can be amazing as this is more commonly known as a couples destination and only a secondary fishing destination. That’s not because of the lack of fish. There is great fishing and those who have fished can attest that it is a robust fishery and is somewhat of a secret.
From DIY Bonefishing – thank you Rod Hamilton
The Turks and Caicos consist of 40 different islands and cays, only 8 of which are inhabited. The islands of the Turks and Caicos are almost as diverse as its people. From the main tourist center of Providenciales to the quiet and tranquil islands of North and Middle Caicos to the historic Capital Island of Grand Turk; each one offers a different experience and a unique character but all offer year round great climate, beaches and underwater activities. Providenciales is the most well known of the Turks and Caicos Islands and is the center of the tourism industry with a wide range of hotels, restaurants, attractions and facilities. The bonefishing is spectacular with most of the guides leaving from the Leeward Marina on Provo and traveling 20 – 40 minutes to fish the south shores of North and Middle Caicos. There are numerous DIY opportunities on Provo as well as North and Middle Caicos
Lay Of The Land The Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) are a British Overseas Territory, under the jurisdiction of the United Kingdom, consisting of the larger Caicos Islands and smaller Turks Islands. Located 50 miles southeast to the closest Bahamian Island, Mayaguana, it is approximately 550 miles from Miami. Eight of the 30 islands are inhabited, combining to make a total land area over 200 square miles consisting of low, flat limestone with extensive marshes and mangrove swamps, surrounded by a continuous coral reef. For almost 700 years, the Taino and Lucayan Indians were the sole residents, settling mainly in Middle Caicos and Grand Turk. Shortly after Columbus arrived in 1492, the Lucayan civilization disappeared leaving the islands sparsely populated for 30 years. Modern day residents known as “Belongers” are descendants of slaves brought from Bermuda, Dominican Republic, Cuba and Loyalists after the American Revolution to rake salt ponds, giving birth to an important industry. Sovereignty was passed around for many years starting in 1706 when the French and the Spanish briefly captured TCI, four years later the British reclaimed the islands for Bermuda, with Britain ultimately retaining them, placing them under the Bahamian government umbrella by the end of the century. Attempts to integrate these two communities failed, and after “The Great Bahamas Hurricane” in 1874, the Turks and Caicos Islands became dependencies of British Colony, Jamaica! When Jamaica won independence in 1962, TCI became a British Colony on its own, which it is today. Tourism, commercial fishing and benefits realized as a zero tax jurisdiction are the primary means to boost a fairly steady economy. Cockburn Town, the capital since 1766 is found on Grand Turk. Turks Island Passage also known as the Columbus Passage is a 22 mile wide, 7,000 foot deep channel that separates the Turk Islands and the Caicos, where our focus will be; specifically Providenciales or Provo, North and Middle Caicos. This country of Island’s motto, “Beautiful by Nature,” has a total population of about 40,000 with half residing in Provo, the hub of TCI tourism. Developed in the 1980’s, upscale Provo offers all the modern conveniences, including luxury hotels and villas, a wide variety of restaurants, well supplied grocery stores, shopping and golf. Named the worlds leading beach four years running is the stunning 12-mile long Grace Bay Beach found on the north shore. The US dollar is the official currency; most hotels, restaurants and taxis accept credit cards, the country code is 649, Banks, ATMs, Internet and cell phone coverage are widely available. Provo is also home to a modern medical facility, medical and dental clinics and an international airport. Highways serving Providenciales are generally in good shape, but exploring that dirt road you just have to see can get a little rough with major potholes that never seem to get filled in! Collectively called “The Family Islands,” the farmer in the family is North Caicos 41 square miles of lush beauty, known for tall trees and small farms of corn, cassava, beans and okra. Located 12 miles northeast of Provo and home to 1,400, a 20-minute ferry ride from Provo will get you to the Sandy Point dock where most residents live. Whitby and Bottle Creek are the other two main settlements, with all three towns offering taxi service, car and bike rentals. Middle Caicos is the most ecologically oriented of the brood and the largest of the Islands, at 48 square miles. The three settlements, Conch Bar, Bambarra and Lorimers boast a total population of 300. Limestone cliffs with long sandy beaches are found in the north contrasted by swampland and tidal flats in the south. Green and ideal for agriculture, Middle Caicos is home to the largest cave network in the Bahamian Archipelago. Both islands have small grocery stores; nurse staffed medical clinics, gas stations, a few casual restaurants, car rentals and accommodation from basic to luxury. Count on using cash for most transactions outside of Provo.
WHERE TO FISH
Of the 30 islands that make up TCI, I’ve fished and explored Providenciales, North and Middle Caicos. Take note that at the time of this writing it was illegal to sport fish within the boundaries of any National Park or Nature Reserve in TCI. Which means that well-known locations like Bonefish Point and Silly Creek on Providenciales are closed to fishing. Virtually the entire south shore of North & Middle Caicos falls within the boundaries of the North Middle and East Caicos Nature Reserve and are closed to fishing. Bottle Creek itself is open to fishing but the cays of Bottle Creek are in the East Bay Islands National Park. The boundaries can be found on the Department of Environment and Coastal Resources website at: http://www.environment.tc/Protected-Areas-Division.html
NORTH AND MIDDLE CAICOS
Sandy Point Ocean Side flat – The ferry lands at Sandy Point and as you enter the cove, you can’t help but wonder if there are bonefish around. The answer is yes. Just north of the ferry landing is the community of Sandy Point, surrounded by a beautiful beach, with great walking flats sprinkled throughout. At times the entire area can be good, just depends on the wind direction. When calm, fish at low tide starting at the point and make your way northeast, walking the entire shore. This is an ideal spot to bring the family for a day of water sports. Parrot Cay Channel – Some caution and understanding of the Nature Reserve is required before fishing this area. The mangrove system south of the ferry dock is called Dick Hill Creek and is within the boundaries of the Dick Hill Creek and Bellefield Landing Pond Nature Reserve. The channel and flats on the outside are in Parrot Cay Channel and are outside the reserve. Fishing the flats here is excellent as the fish stage outside in the channel in preparation to enter the creek on the flood tide. To get there from Sandy Point take the right hand turn at the “T” and head toward the settlement of Kew, turn right at the small sign to Wade’s Green Plantation and right again at next stop sign. Then pass Wade’s Plantation on your way to Bellefield Landing. Park at the dock and walk the shoreline to the north. At the mouth of Dick Hill Creek, the channel is fairly deep but can be crossed at low tide. This is a low tide fishery since the fish will enter the creek as the tide rises. Bottle Creek – Without a doubt, this is one of the most beautiful flats and creek systems I have ever fished. It’s so large a group of guys could fish it for a week. A channel follows the western shore of Bottle Creek for its entire length making it necessary to have kayaks to reach the flats. Fortunately there are many places to put-in from Major Hill Road south through the settlement of Bottle Creek. It’s an easy paddle from shore, due east for one mile, where you can anchor the kayak and walk for the rest of the day. Be advised that the northern mouth of Bottle Creek and the eastern cays lie within the boundaries of East Bay Island National Park. Bottle Creek, south – Once past the settlement of Bottle Creek and before the sharp right hand turn heading to the causeway, you will find an excellent lagoon and shoreline to fish. Park the car at the top of the hill and find the rough road/trail to the water. Pass through the mangroves and out into a small lagoon. The best fishing is in the larger lagoon to the right. Bottom of Hill Bay – After the sharp right hand turn south of Bottle Creek settlement, the road heads down hill toward the causeway. As it flattens out there is a large mangrove creek on the left and a view of open water. This is a small but excellent bay that connects to Bottle Creek. To get there continue to drive toward the causeway and just as the road straightens you will see a small canal on the north. Park here and walk up the left (west) side until you reach the bay. Once you reach the point, fish to the west, toward the mangroves. Causeway – If you have fishing in your blood, it’s impossible to cross the causeway to Middle Caicos without scanning the water for fish. There are flats both north and south of the causeway where you can often see fish tailing and feeding. If you park on either the west or east ends of the causeway there is a full days fishing to the south. Be aware of the Nature Reserve boundary located approximately one mile south. On the northeast corner of the causeway is a dirt road ending at a boat launch. This is an excellent place to put in kayaks to paddle north and fish toward the large ocean opening known as Crossing Place Channel. Lorimers, Middle Caicos – There is a massive creek system on Middle Caicos that can be effectively fished by launching a kayak at Lorimers. It is five miles long, has great tidal flow in its southern section and could be as good as Bottle Creek. It can also be reached by turning left on the dirt road just before the “Welcome To Lorimers” sign then follow it until you reach the small roundabout. Take the road to the right and follow it through the deserted real estate development, parking at the end. Continue walking for .5 mile until reaching the canal, connecting the ocean and creek system. From here either walk or kayak up the creek or fish the ocean flats out front.
General Info: Located some 550 miles southeast of Miami and just south of the Bahamas chain, the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) consist of 40 islands and cays, eight of which are inhabited. The Islands are composed of two groups of islands, the Turks islands (Grand Turk and Salt Cay) and the Caicos islands (Providenciales, North Caicos, Middle Caicos, East Caicos, South Caicos, West Caicos).Providenciales or “Provo” is the center of the TCI tourism industry and is surrounded by bonefish flats. Most DIY bonefisherman will concentrate their efforts on the south shore flats of Provo. “Providenciales, covers an area of 38 miles and is the most developed island in the Turks and Caicos. It is here where most international flights arrive at the Providenciales International Airport (PLS). Surrounded by beautiful white sand beaches, Provo has been ranked “Best Beach” by Conde’ Nast magazine and by the World Travel Awards for several years running. Found on the western end of the island chain, Provo offers all modern conveniences, including luxurious hotels, villas and condos, numerous restaurants, spas and shopping facilities, a championship caliber golf course, and full service grocery store. Although Provo is the most developed of the islands, it is still a destination for those who want to escape their busy schedules and relax.” Turks and Caicos official tourism web site Other sites with extensive information on TCI are Provo.net and TCIway.tc TCI can be expensive but there are some good values to be found if you hunt around the internet. Overall TCI provides the best opportunity for a combination DIY bonefish trip and fun for the spouse/family. Fishing Areas: The majority of DIY bonefishing on TCI is located on the south shore of Provo. A convenient place to stay is at the Harbour Club Villa’s where you can fish for bonefish right out your back door in Flamingo Lake and close by in Turtle Lake.Other places that can be easily reached by DIY fisherman are, Jim Hill Bight, Long Bay, Bonefish Point, Taylor Bay, Silly Creek, Osprey Rock, Southwest Bluff, south side of Turtle Tail, south of Five Cays and West Harbour Bay. If you rent a skiff there are miles of flats to explore from the Leeward Marina all the way to Parrot Cay. Try Windsurfing Provo and talk with the owner Mike Rosati about renting a boat and where to go. If you are comfortable navigating a boat on your own, renting a boat at or around Leeward Marina is the way to go. There are an amazing number of flats, creeks and mangrove shores to fish between the marina to North Caicos. Fishing Information: The fish are good sized in the TCI and average four to six pounds. There is a good chance of casting to fish that are more than eight pounds when fishing flats next to drop offs and deep water. The spring tides provide a little better chance of seeing the larger fish on the flats though the neap tides provide for longer quality fishing time.The easy to get to DIY flats on the south shore receive pressure and the fish can be spooky so start with 12-14 foot leaders with flourocarbon tippets and smaller sized flies. You will find in those areas you access with a rental boat or kayak that the fish are far less spooky and you don’t have to be as cautious. A word on kayaks. We always travel with our inflatable kayaks and they often get us to flats not fished by the casual DIY fisherman. You normally do not need to go far to reach areas that cannot be targeted by the casual DIY fisherman. Often the kayak gets you across a deep cut or channel to the next flat or by paddling 1/2 from the end of the road you can access flats that are only fished by those with boats. We don’t buy cheap kayaks, our lessons have been learned. Buy a kayak that will travel well, hold up under extensive use in the sun, inflates easily and can be patched. You will be using it around rocks, shells, coral and mangroves. No secret flies here, for the in close spooky fish, light flies that don’t “plop” when they hit with some rubber legs to add a little movement. Remember with the spooky fish no long or fast strips, a little strip to get their attention then let it sit until they pick it up. Fast or unexpected movements and they are gone………..Traditional bonefish flies like Gotcha’s and Charlie’s work well, color to match the bottom and weight to match the depth. I usually tie half of my Gotcha’s with rubber legs to add movement. As for everywhere we travel I would recommend you hire a local guide for a day or two. Be prepared for the price as it is more expensive than the Bahamas but you will be glad you did. Getting Around: On American Airlines for the winter season there are 3 daily flights from Miami, and one a day from New York’s JFK. Direct flights are also available from Boston on Saturdays.Delta offers 6-times a week service from Atlanta (no Tuesday flight), plus a second flight on Saturdays. US Airways offers daily flights from Charlotte, and will add a second daily flight from that city in February. Direct flights are also available from Boston and Philadelphia on Saturdays and Sundays. Air Canada has direct flights from Toronto on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays, from Montreal on Thursdays and Ottawa on Mondays. The Turks and Caicos Islands currently have 2 full service international airports, Providenciales and Grand Turk, and limited entry facilities in North and South Caicos. All other islands have domestic airports except for East and West Caicos, which are uninhabited (an airstrip is currently under construction on West Caicos to serve the Ritz Carlton resort being developed there). Most visitors fly into Providenciales upon entry to the islands and then can easily take a commuter flight to the other islands. Visitors from the US are reminded that effective January 8, 2007 all US citizens visiting the Caribbean must be in possession of a valid US passport. All visitors arriving via international flights and connecting to any of our other islands through Providenciales must first clear immigration and customs and claim baggage at PLS before making the connection through the domestic departure area at the Provo Airport. You will need to rent a car to get around to the various flats and there are plenty of options at and around the airport. Driving in the TCI is easy and a great way to explore Provo. Some DIY bonefishing with a tropical holiday with your spouse/family, then Provo is what you are looking for.
|Species & Tactics|
Albula vulpes is one of about 15 different species of bonefish found in the world, but is the most prolific in the Caribbean and surrounding Atlantic. The information here can be applied to nearly every species.
The members of the Albulidae family of fishes, or Bonfish, as they are more commonly known, are one of, if not the most sought after species on the flats with a fly rod. The silver torpedo shaped fish with variably colored vertical stripes ranges in size from 2-19 pounds, with the average fish caught being between 3 and 16 pounds (depending on location).
Migrating Tarpon...This is what we dream about. A school of Tarpon 20-30 strong each weighing about 130 lbs. swimming across the flats. It's a fly anglers dream! These are the large adults that have been in deeper waters reproducing and are traveling in search of warmer waters and a new source of food. They're hungry, aggressive and will destroy your rod and reel in no time if you let them
SEARCH TARPON FLIES IN OUR SHOP
There are many other words often associated with fly fishing for Permit but they will be excluded to keep profanities off the site. To quote a professional fly fisherman in the Miami area who's name and expletives are intentionally left out "after all these years, I'm done with that fish". He literally quit fishing for Permit after over 7 years of frustration but he really didn't. He caught his first Permit on a fly in July 2012.
Quitters never win and winners never quit. One of the flyfishbonehead staff members fished for 3 years and spent over $10,000 before landing his first Permit on a fly. Many ask how this can be if there are so many photos and instruction on how to fly fish for Permit. Actually many Permit are caught on live crabs with a spin rod and a much of the published information is just speculation, propagated rumor and scuttlebutt. There is some good information out there and fisherman that have significant success, but much information is hear-say and rumor.
Mahi-Mahi (Coryphaena hippurus) (aka Dorado, Dolphin, Lampuga, Lampuki, Lapuki, Maveriko) If you're interested in catching super-strong, beautiful, not-too-choosy, leaping fish, here ya go. These are the saltwater equivalents of bluegills, except they jump, and they get big. Like as big as your aging retriever. The common English name "dolphin" causes much confusion and lots of hand-wringing. Let's be clear: this fish is not related to the marine mammal also known as dolphin (family Delphinidae).
General Information If not already fishing for tuna on the fly, we'll just ask....Why not? This is a serious Saltwater fly fisherman's target. It's big, hits your fly at 40 mph (75 kph) and is found in just about every fishing destination you could possibly think of. Tuna are incredibly beautiful and powerful predators that come is many many different flavors too: Bluefin, Blackfin, Yellowfin, Bigeye, Longtail, Dogtooth
This is the fastest fish in the ocean!
Individual Sailfish have been clocked at speeds over 70 mph which is the highest speed reliably reported in any water creature. Sailfish are two species of billfish, the Atlantic Sailfish and the Pacific Sailfish and live in warmer sections of all the oceans of the world.
There is no fight like the fight of a Marlin. This is the prized fish of most saltwater anglers all over the world. They span almost all of the waters of the globe and can be caught by a variety of methods at various times of year in many diverse places. Marlin fishing is considered by some game fishermen to be the pinnacle of offshore game fish, due to their power, size and the relative rareness. It is an expensive hobby, requiring considerable money to pursue on a regular basis, single day of Marlin fishing can cost over $1000. They are possibly the most well-known fish in the entire world which probably accounts for millions of dollars in commerce spent hunting them. The novel by Ernest Hemingway, "The Old Man and the Sea" chronicles the struggle of a Marlin fisherman who after 85 days of failure, ventures out to sea to change his luck and catch a Marlin. Hemmingway frequently fished for Marlin, quite successfully with his family. The Marlin is the largest of the billfish and comes in many variations: Pacific Black Marlin Pacific Blue Marlin Atlantic Blue Marlin White Marlin Striped Marlin
Spinner Shark (& other shark species)
One of the best kept secrets in all of salt water fly fishing is the Spinner Shark migration in late winter through early spring in. It happens in a place where you least expect it...West Palm & Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Really, we aren't kidding. This is spring break for sharks. They migrate to the beaches off of Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach chasing fish (snook, blues and false albacore & other tuna species) that are breeding & feeding in the surf or just beyond the surf. You can sight fish for a 100+ lb. powerhouse in just 8 feet of water. Flyfishbonehead had so much fun that we went out twice in 2012, hooked 9 and landed 5 on our first trip and landed 5 of 6 on the second. Considering the fight and how hard it is to subdue this beast that was pretty darn good.
Barracuda may be the most underrated saltwater species to catch on a fly. After hooking one, imagine this scenario: the fish is on the end of the line thrashing and running, suddenly the line goes slack. You think the fish is off but he's not because you stand in amazement as you watch a 5 foot barracuda leap 15 feet into the air like a missile being launched from below the surface of the ocean.
|What To Bring|
Bonefish can be caught on a 6-8 weight. Most commonly used an 8 weight because they have one, many prefer a 6 weight because its more fun to use little tackle in general. Again as long as wind is not an issue this is certainly ok. Use a floating line with at least 200 yards of backing on your reel. Leaders should be 9-15 feet with at least a 10 lb tippet. (we use 12-15 lb) The reel should have a sealed drag and made for saltwater fishing. We use the term ‘bomb-proof” which simply means a tested & proven reel with the following features: 1. Very few or no moving parts 2. Smooth drag with smooth start-up 3. Sealed drag which will not corrode 4. It will not fail under any circumstance
Popular patterns include the Pink puff, pop’s bonefish bitters, simram – click to see all of the fly tying videos for bonefish
Permit Fishing for Permit requires a 9-10 weight rod. We almost always use a 10 weight, mainly because it is very rare that there is no wind. You don’t want to miss a fish because you couldn’t punch your fly through the wind. Why take a chance. The extra lifting power of a 10 weight will also give you an advantage when trying to keep a hooked fish from getting into coral or diving into a deep channel. Anglers need a floating line and at least 300 yards of backing on your reel. Leader should be 9-15 feet with at least 12 lb tippet (we use 16-20 lb). The reel should have a sealed drag and made for saltwater fishing. We use the term ‘bomb-proof” which simply means a tested & proven reel with the following features: 1. Very few or no moving parts 2. Smooth drag with smooth start-up 3. Sealed drag which will not corrode 4. It will not fail under any circumstance
Turneffe crab, simram and expoxy flies round out favorites. See all the permit flies & saltwater fly tying videos