Monthly Archives: June 2015

2 posts

Bahamas Fishing Regulations – Change For the Worse

So why am I posting something about fishing in the Bahamas on this blog about brook trout fishing? Because, like many fly fisherman, I am not restricted to a single type of fishing or a single species when I fish. One of the things I have enjoyed in recent years is going to the Bahamas to target bonefish. As many of you know, the Bahamian government has proposed new regulations aimed at fly fisherman who fish the flats (original document here). This could drastically change and likely end unguided fishing in the flats in that country.

My views on this are pretty simple. I have no problem with the idea of purchasing a fishing license to chase bonefish in the Bahamas. In fact, the first time I went there on a DIY trip, I asked the owner of the place we stayed where I needed to go to get a license. He laughed and said there is no need for a license to fly fish the flats in the Bahamas. I also discovered other aspects of these laid-back islands, such as no open container laws, and the rental car “agreement” was just handing over the cash and getting the keys to the car. This is part of the appeal of the out islands. Things are very informal. It’s nice. But as far as fishing licenses, again, I would gladly pay a reasonable amount.

So part of my problem with these draft fishing regulations is the proposed cost for unguided anglers to fish the flats. Aside from the one-time $10 application fee, it’s $20 per day. Several bloggers and commenters on their sites think that’s not unreasonable. I think it is. For a comparison, this past April I purchased an annual out-of-state saltwater license for Florida for a total of $49.97. That allows me to fish in Florida’s extensive saltwater fisheries for an entire year. In the Bahamas, that will pay for two days of fishing (including the application fee) under this proposal. Even Mexico charges about what Florida does for an annual license.

But it gets worse. Much worse…

See the regulations link above for yourself, but also read the following articles and you’ll see what is “between the lines” in this draft legislation:

Aside from restricting foreign ownership of lodges and participation in guiding, for the do-it-yourself angler, the process for obtaining a permit is vague and, based on what is written, troubling. In order to get a permit, the process appears to be controlled by fishing guides. In addition to the government possibly issuing permits (it’s unclear), the draft mentions that lodges and guides will issue permits (this is clear), and further, those lodges and guides can restrict access to areas where unguided anglers are allowed to fish.

So will one be able to go online and get a permit to fish anywhere in the Bahamas (which would be fine), or will fly fisherman have to get a permit for specific areas to fish on the island you’re visiting as allowed by a local guide who presumably oversees that area and has discretion to grant or deny it based on conditions he deems appropriate? Such as not letting you fish in or near an area he would like for his own operations?  See here:

Section 4 (6) (c). A permit may be granted subject to such conditions, restrictions or limitations as the grantor considers appropriate.

And what is the penalty for violation? “Summary conviction,” which can be up to three months in prison and a $3,000 fine. In other words, no trial. You can be arrested on-the-spot and, worst case, hauled off to jail for three months. Nice.

From what I’ve read, it sounds like a contingent of Bahamian lodge owners and guides have gotten together and lobbied the government for this, and the practical effect is going to be a ban on unguided fishing throughout the islands. Not a good thing, and hopefully this is a bad interpretation of what is being proposed and it does not come to pass. But the way it’s written and, more importantly, the way people who are familiar with the fishing industry in the Bahamas see it (links above), a ban on unguided fishing is exactly what is being proposed.

Send your comments by Friday, June 26th 2015 to and

GWNF Brook Trout

George Washington National Forest, Massanutten, Virginia

GWNF Brook Trout
GWNF Brook Trout

The George Washington National Forest is a fragmented collection of woodland areas in the western part of Virginia that stretch into West Virginia and Kentucky. There are lots of great trails and camping spots, and of course I am of the mind that those exist in order to access the freestone streams holding brook trout. So in mid-May I scoured Google Earth looking for some likely spots to fish not too far from home in the GWNF. This one in particular was not a stream I would go out of my way to fish again, but I’ve been here twice now and have seen and caught some decent brookies…

I hiked to the first pool and thought maybe I should try it. But it was right next to the trail, maybe a ten minute walk from where I parked. I figured there was just no way anyone had left a fish in there, and no way one had managed to elude even the few fly fisherman who pass by. And to have grown to a decent size, any fish that had managed to survive would have had to do it for a couple years, then either leap up a few small falls or bash its way down from the bigger rocky cliff just upstream in order to sit in this spot and survive. It didn’t seem likely. Thought I should just skip it.

Then… revelation. What the hell, why pass by any pool that looks like it may be good enough to hold a fish? I have passed by so many similarly marginal-looking spots before. Maybe I have been denied some record for the number of trout I’ve caught by skipping past these exposed pools. Probably missed some citation-sized leviathans, too. Right?

So I gave it a go. I do what I usually do in these small stream prospecting situations; tie on a size 14 Royal Wulff. Or was it a size 12? Doesn’t matter. Slathered it with some floatant, greased up the leader and sharpened the hook. Lowering the rod and myself, I crawled to the pool, trying to find shade and keeping my shadow far away from the water when I couldn’t. Even more likely that this spot had been fished out owed to the perfect lie of it. This stair-step run bent northeast just enough so that the midday sun couldn’t quite draw my silhouette on the water. Surely someone had depleted it.

First cast to the glassy tail of the small basin of water with just the leader out of the guides. The fly sat, then began its drift so slowly downstream, sitting upright like a newly hatched bug. Nothing. Second cast to the bubbling current in the middle, along the edge closest to me. Nothing. I kept working the fly a little further out and upstream each time I threw it, and raised the rod tip to keep the entire leader off the water and the fly drifting freely. About a half dozen casts in and I hooked him. Beautiful seven inch brook trout.

And that was it. Every other spot, especially the hard to reach little gorges and snaky looking banks… Nothing.

Go figure.