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Escape To The Bahamas For Florida boaters, the islands of The Bahamas offer an accessible angling paradise like no other. With an official port of entry only 50 to 70-miles from a number of South Florida inlets, a two hour boat ride literally puts you in a hypnotic state of mind. [ C A P T A I N

M I K E

G E N O U N ]


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For those of you who regularly cross there probably isn’t very much I can tell you as you’ve likely seen and done it all. However if you are new to The Bahamas or happy with a refresher course, this is it. In order to capitalize on the diverse fisheries these rich waters offer, first you have to get there. While planning a trip, never lose sight of the fact that the Gulf Stream can be a very inhospitable place. Just because you rarely hear of incidents occurring to boaters traversing this ex-

FLORIDA SPORT FISHING SEPT.OCT.2012

Rather than anchoring we opted to drift with the gentle southerly breeze, which resulted in a steady pick of decent mutton snapper... panse of rushing water—the only  Trophy sea conditions. Many embark on fish the journey with a buddy boat or way for us to reach The Bahamas— bottom are always don’t think that unexpected issues armada, but in no way a prerequiwelcomed, locally never arise. Perhaps the hairiest both site to an awesome angling advenand abroad. challenge to contend with is the ture. While the Gulf Stream can get prevailing sea condition. With so much sketchy don’t get deterred. When pleaswater raging northward at upwards of five ant conditions prevail a properly rigged miles per hour, it doesn’t take much wind 21 foot deep-V center console could easily for waves to build to cresting heights. get you there and back. This is especially true when northerly Once you’ve scheduled a departure breezes collide with the opposing river date, it’s time for final preparations. So of water. Additional forces rushing out of what do you bring for a multiple day Bathe Northwest Providence Channel may hamas excursion—everything! But before also impact your path of travel. If you get we get into tackle lets discuss the boat. caught in rapidly deteriorating condi- If you plan on doing any serious reef tions, prepare for a serious ass kicking. fishing an extra grappling type anchor is With unstable weather prominent dur- a must. Mechanically speaking, extra ening the coming months boaters intend- gine oil, steering fluid, fuel filters, spare ing on crossing the ‘Stream should lean prop, plugs, basic tool kit, etc. are just a few of the mandatory items you may on the side of caution and must always be conscious of existing and forecasted need when least expected.

PHOTOGRAPHY: FSF MAG

What awaits you on the other side is a tropical Mecca where angling dreams really come true. If it’s blue marlin you’re after, West End is the place. If it’s world‑class yellowfin tuna and wahoo fishing you dream of, West End is the place. If it’s reef fishing and deep dropping you fancy, you guessed it; West End is the place. Few destinations offer such diversity across so many venues.


PHOTOGRAPHY: FSF MAG

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FLORIDASPORTFISHING.COM


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Personally, I lean on the side of caution and I’m not afraid to say so. When crossing a wide expanse of open ocean safety equipment is priority number one with ditch bag, handheld VHF and personal locator beacon or EPIRB essential items. Life saving equipment is stored neatly and is easily accessible with the entire crew instructed on where to access life jackets and how to operate all of the signaling devices. Finally, a detailed float plan left onshore with a loved one who knows what to do and when isn’t a sissy move; it’s responsible boating. Long overdue, we recently escaped to West End for a three day film shoot with the hopes of investigating the local reefs, exploring a few ultra deep water peaks, and of course trying our hand at the region’s number one attraction—the hot tuna bite. This meant that along with a ton of video and audio equipment, we needed an arsenal of fishing gear and a variety of bait to ensure we’d be ready for anything that swims. If you have your sights set on the hot wintertime wahoo bite or you’d rather spend every minute reef fishing, then cer-

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...we needed an arsenal of fishing gear and a variety of bait to ensure we’d be ready for anything that swims. tainly bring what you need but don’t kick yourself in the butt too hard when Plan A doesn’t come together as expected and you’re left holding the wrong rod. Fortunately, during our recent visit we were greeted with blue skies and calm seas and after an uneventful crossing, I eased the the throttles back and slid the SeaVee into the cut at Old Bahama Bay, the closest official port of entry to our final destination a few miles down the beach. It was 9:00 a.m. sharp and because we completed our paperwork in advance, check-in was a breeze. In mere minutes we were off and running with Bahamian flag flying high. No more than a few minutes later as we idled into the cut at Blue Marlin Cove

I was happy to see a well-  We were happy to put maintained marina with all Joe Reiger Blue of the amenities of home, of Marlin Cove including 24-hour security, on his first yellowfin of commercial icehouse, and the season. well-equipped fish cleaning station. Slips included dock lines, freshwater and power, and a courteous dockhand was always on point to lend a helping hand. With boat secured and formal introductions out of the way, we jumped off, stretched our legs and casually made our way to our home away from home for the next few days, which again exceeded our expectations. Accommodations included a very reasonable poolside suite overlooking the marina with four bedrooms, even more bathrooms and everything a visiting group could ask for. Blue Marlin Cove is under new ownership with improved management, and it was clear throughout the trip that the attentive, uniformed staff was prepared to make our visit a memorable one. Now I might not be the smartest fish in the sea but I’m certainly no guppy, and I know that when visiting a foreign des-

PHOTOGRAPHY: FSF MAG

Escape To The Bahamas


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tination one thing you can’t beat is local knowledge, so I couldn’t help snooping around for the inside scoop. In addition to the intel I gathered prior to the trip, I felt confident that our first action packed afternoon wasn’t too far off. Little did I know we were about to get schooled! Let me save you some effort. When fishing Bahamian waters during the blazing mid-day heat, it is challenging to find open ocean predators feeding near the surface. Light sensitive tuna and wahoo typically remain deeper in the water column in the darker, cooler conditions. You may pick off stray dolphin, but not much else. However, as day transitions into evening, the rich, cobalt blue waters along the southern shores of Grand Bahama Island where you’ll be fishing literally erupt in a kaleidoscope of life. There are vast, ultra-deep canyons here culminating 10 miles due south of West End that are literally stacked with bait. I counted

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no less than seven different spe-  Anglers As the day progressed we eventraveling to cies of forage in the bellies of the tually pushed north and ultimateThe Bahamas can expect tuna I filleted. What makes this ly picked a few more decent fish a colorful fishery so special is that it is total- mixed bag. while anchored along a fertile reef ly visual. Zero in on working birds off Sandy Cay. It’s amazing how with radar and binoculars, and you’ll find crystal clear the water is here. This is The fish. The only trick is catching them. Bahamas and because you never know The following day it was time to re- when a slob something or another is gogroup and put some fish in the box. Be- ing to inhale your fresh ballyhoo plug, we cause our goal was to capture the essence fished 7 foot conventional outfits loaded of various Bahamian angling venues, tar- with fresh 30 lb. Hi-Catch. Eight feet of 40 geting mutton snapper was a welcomed lb. fluorocarbon with a typical fish-finder change of pace. As luck would have it, we rig was all that was needed to fool the found a consistent bottom bite just out- resident bottom dwellers. side the cut on a steep ledge that paral- After an ample dose of bottom fishing lels the coast. With my NavNet revealing and determined to conquer the tuna that promising readings, I couldn’t help but slapped us in the face the night before, investigate the ledge. Rather than an- we hurried back to Blue Marlin Cove to rechoring we opted to drift with the gentle energize and formulate a game plan. Since southerly breeze, which resulted in a trolling the perimeter of the blitzing fish steady pick of decent mutton snapper and didn’t pay off, our new strategy was to run colorful strawberry grouper, not to men- up to the swooping birds, determine their tion the ever-present barracuda. path of travel, set up in front of the moving

PHOTOGRAPHY: fsf mag

After an ample dose of bottom fishing and determined to conquer the tuna that slapped us in the face the night before, we hurried back to Blue Marlin Cove to re-energize and formulate a game plan.


Escape To The Bahamas

Right At Home Without firsthand knowledge I’m generally hesitant when it comes to making recommendations. However after our recent visit, I can tell you from personal experience that Blue Marlin Cove is a straight up, topnotch facility that is only getting better. The quaint resort and marina currently features a perfect set up for visiting boaters with secure harbor, spotless accommodations overlooking the pool, hot tub and inviting hammocks, on site restaurant and game room, and perhaps what is most important—world-class fishing for a variety of species just minutes from the dock. Marlin Cove 866.697.6539 bluemarlincove.com

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fish and hit them hard. And as we slid into position in front of the first pack of working birds, it didn’t take long to realize that we were dialed in. Our plan worked like a charm as vertical jigs cast into the melee on 30 lb. spinning outfits repeatedly got slammed by frenzied blackfin and football yellowfin. With fish flipping on deck and multiple reels screaming simultaneously, this was exciting jig fishing! As twilight approached, we shifted gears in the fading light with a steady flowing chunk slick and whole squid fished deeper in the water column on 50 lb. stand-up outfits now enticing larger, prized yellowfin. I won’t say that the tuna fishery off West End is a sure thing, but if you’re well prepared and you locate working birds, it’s game time!

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With skipjack in the mix as well,  Tasty blackfin much for the locals to ignore as and yellowfin the tuna were hot on the tails of we hauled up a respectable mystic tuna are readily in the fleeing baitfish and moving super available grouper followed by one glamorsummer and fall. fast. I had to jockey up the line ous queen snapper after another. multiple times to get it just right but when Not extraordinary fishing, but certainly we were in the right place at the right time productive enough for our first attempt with birds screaming overhead, the sound- at dropping these waters. Our escape to West End was a slamming er lit up like a Christmas tree as hordes of hungry tuna demolished everything we success with tropical weather and decent put in the water. Sweet revenge. fishing. Some guys swear by Freeport and Of course, we still had to conquer West Lucaya further east where the summertime End’s rich deep drop grounds, so late the tuna bite is reportedly more reliable, howfollowing morning as we reveled in our ever we found plenty of life across a wide previous evening’s success, we ran north array of venues and had no complaints. We toward Memory Rock to explore a few didn’t sink the gaff into dozens of yellowfin ledges and drop offs in 1,200 feet of water. tuna or box a truckload of monster grouThe first drop proved to be unsuccessful per, but because we were prepared and put with nothing more than a few pesky taps. in the time we were able to piece together We repositioned and re-baited and again a colorful mixed bag. Early the following deployed our multiple hook rig into the morning it was mission accomplished and depths. This time, the combination of high-fives all the way around as I pinned squid and fresh barracuda chunks was too the throttles for the 66 mile run home. FSF

PHOTOGRAPHY: fsf mag (2)

 Blue


Blue Marlin Cove in Florida Sport Fishing