It’s easy to sit back and say that “fishing is fishing”, but there’s a lot to be said about the differences between freshwater fishing and saltwater fishing. A couple weeks ago I experienced saltwater fishing for the first time in the Bahamas. The primary focus of the trip was a vacation, but I am determined to make every vacation a fishing trip, at least in some manner. Due to a limited knowledge of saltwater fish as well as a limited amount of time I chose a spinning rod as my weapon of choice. I settled on taking a 7 ft medium heavy Bass Pro Shops Carbonlite spinning rod paired with a Penn Battle II 4000 reel. It ended up being a good choice because the island of New Providence is geographically challenged in terms of having flats to fish on. The Bahamas are known for fly fishing flats for bonefish, but my experience around Nassau was very different.
It’s hard to prepare for a trip with a very limited knowledge of what to expect, but from my past experiences I find that also makes it very exciting. I had no idea what type of fish would be readily available in the water that I would have access to. Without really knowing what fish you’re trying to catch, it makes it very difficult to know how to catch them. Having never fished in salt water before, anything caught was going to be new and exciting.
The first thing that I caught was definitely considered new and exciting, especially considering it was not a fish. I was in the middle of retrieving a white jig head when I felt my first hit. Out of excitement I was very eager to set the hook, you might even be able to say that I set the hook a bit too hard. A silhouette broke the surface of the water that took me completely by surprise. It took me several seconds to process that it was a squid squirting jet black ink through the air. I wasn’t even aware that it was possible to catch a squid, until I caught one. Not exactly what I dreamt of catching in the Bahamas, but an experience that I will never forget to say the least.
What I did envision catching in the Bahamas were barracuda, which I did have the opportunity of doing. Around the areas we fished, it seemed that I saw more barracuda than any other type of fish. Unfortunately, as we are all aware, seeing a fish and catching a fish are two different stories. I had several barracuda follow a variety of lures throughout the trip. My chance at catching one came at a time I did not expect, as usual. I was throwing soft plastic shrimp on a 15 lb fluorocarbon leader when I saw what appeared to be two different fish chasing bait fish. Without thinking about what type of fish they could be, I casted toward them. Within seconds I felt the vibrations of a fish obliterate my shrimp, literally. I was instantly bit off, lesson learned. Having known it was most likely a barracuda I should have had a steel wire leader on. However, I was not able to get them to commit to eating while the steel leader was on. Oh well, sounds a lot like life to me. The type of fish that I was able to successfully catch was grouper. To me grouper seem a lot like bass, which is a friendly face that I am quite fond of. A face that I was not as fond of was a broom tail fish. I won’t say that the broom tail fish is ugly, but it’s certainly not easy on the eyes. To say the least, fishing in the Bahamas was an adventure unlike a majority of the angling that I have experienced thus far. I would certainly go back in a heartbeat, although next time I would like to be on a flat with a fly rod casting to bonefish.
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