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Old 06-21-2012, 10:59 PM   #1
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Default mangrove cay and long island, bahamas (epic long)

I grew up lucky enough to be able to go to the Bahamas four times before I went to college. My dad did some work for a guy who married a girl whose dad had a cabin on Mangrove Cay. Mangrove is a small piece of Andros Island, between the Middle and South bights. Even today, there is nothing really there, save a few bonefishing lodges and less than 1000 inhabitants, but that is far more than I originally found on the island. Our first family trip there, when I was about seven years old, my dad had to siphon diesel for the generator so we could have electricity. We used well water for toilet flushing, and only 5-gallon jugs of water for drinking/cooking. It was all a child could want, like camping indoors. We fished, snorkeled, crabbed, spear-fished and just generally explored all the island we could on foot and on rusty bicycles. We ate what we caught; including grouper, snapper, hogfish, crabs and lobster. Although primitive by modern standards, it is a place I hold dear to my heart for the family memories I have there, like this picture from my first trip that I posted here shortly after my dad passed:

When I went in back in 1997 I was amazed to find cars on the island. We also bumped into a guy with an unmistakably alien accent for a Caribbean island. A man named Mickey McGowan from New York City. He and his wife Joan were sick of the number of “assholes per acre” that one encountered in the city. They sold everything they had, packed a few necessities and moved to Mangrove where they build a house, five small cabanas and (most importantly) a bar. Mickey guided SCUBA and snorkeling tours and took us spear fishing on the patch reefs that dot the inshore areas before the barrier reef and then the tongue of the ocean, which plunges to around 6,000ft.
On our honeymoon in 2007, Laura and I stayed for five nights at the Seascape Inn with Mickey and Joan. Their place close to the center of the Mangrove, with a smaller cay just north and about 100 yards out. It is not as fancy as the bonefishing lodges on the island, but for company, flavor and food they are top-notch. It is a bed and breakfast style accommodation, where by the time you leave you truly are friends with Mickey and Joan. They know the island and can set you up with whatever kind of guide you need.
While perfect for me, and I know Laura loves the charm and Mickey and Joan, Mangrove in general is not her type of place. So, on this trip we decided to try something familiar and something new. We opted for four days on Mangrove, a one day/night layover in Nassau, and then six days at the Cape Santa Maria Resort on Long Island, Bahamas. Neither of us had been to Long Island before, or even known anyone who had gone. The CSM resort also apparently is known for having great amenities and perhaps the finest sand beach in the Caribbean.
On May 25 we flew from Montgomery to Atlanta and then the flight-plan went as below:

Another reason the trip for Mangrove is not exactly up Laura’s alley is the size of plane you take to get there. Notice the sagging interior like an old Pontiac:

In this pic of the plane after we landed you can see one of our fellow passengers, the COO of Healthsouth, on his way to the Mangrove Cay Club for a bonefishing trip. Also, the guy unloading the plane is a local named Joe Green, who I actually still remember playing with when we were both kids on the island:

A shot of “downtown” Little Harbor, a/k/a Moxeytown (the largest settlement on the island:

As I said, the food at Seascape is top notch. Mickey cooks great food and Joan is an amazing baker. Fresh cut fruit and homemade from-scratch goodies are ready for you every morning. This particular morning was bread, apple crumb cakes and irish coffee muffins. Yes irish coffee, and they were awesome:

Now we’re getting somewhere…the view of the flat out front from Seascape Inn’s bar our first full day there:

For the first day we just kind of decompressed. Not to say I didn’t fish though. I woke up before Laura and waded out in front of the cabana to catch this guy and three more just like him, along with a little snapper:

The 27th we had a trip scheduled with a local guide, Marvin Miller. From Mangrove originally, he now lives on South Andros and guides through the middle bight. Our destination was the west side of Andros, which is where the big bones and tarpon are known to hang out, with the occasional, but rare, permit for good measure. We rode out just before 8:00AM in a 17ft Action Craft with a 115 supplying plenty of power.
The morning started off beautiful, and in no time we had chewed up the 12+ mile run with the 115 and were within sight of the west side, just a couple mangroves away. This is when the learning started. I had my 9wt, which would have been fine, had I not had an untested line on it. The clear intermediate wulff btt line was just too heavy and I scared several good loner fish off that Marvin said would have pushed 6+lbs. Laura, however, did her job perfectly on barracuda watch:

After we boated that cuda we were cruising to the real fishing grounds when the storms started to pop, earlier than expected of course :? We had two choices, stick around and cross our fingers it didn’t get bigger or start heading back east and see what happens. No real choice there, so we turned east, with not a single cast on the famous west side

The storm of course grew, and this was the average view for about 270 degrees around the boat:

I hid my frustration, and we kept on east. At least there is still plenty of water to fish. Then the other bit of rain in front of us transformed into a full-blown storm complete with cloud-to-ground lightning. We had to idle for the next hour or so and just try to move east, between the two storms, and hope they didn’t merge on top of us. Credit to Marvin, he kept us safe, which is a guide’s number one priority. Dead clients don’t give good reviews.
We stopped when we thought we had the chance and I again line a few fish, but I eventually got it down and got the lead and the strips right, thanks to Marvin. All my best casts were when I didn’t even see the fish, and just put it where he told me I should. With classic ARF/Eubank luck, I had a good one spit it on the first one I hooked, and then ten minutes later had what Marvin said (and I agree) was a 7+lb fish snap my leader in the middle of it, not the tippet. No wind knot: I know b/c I had just tied on a new fly. Fuck orvis leaders. :evil:
Rain caught back up, and we were off again. This time we stop at a high tide flat near a familiar spot: the place where we got on the boat. It was about noon by that time. On that flat…finally…success:

Day three was dedicated to lying around on the beach…fine by me:

Just before lunch, when the tide was about half way in, they started showing up on the flat. Laura spotted a school of three cruising in while I was busy with my Kalik, and the twenty foot cast from the tide line was all it took:

Shortly thereafter I noticed a cloud in the water and immediately knew what it was: the mud kicked up by a feeding school on the move. The school yielded five or six cookie-cutter snit bones…fine by me. We got pics of a couple:

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Old 06-21-2012, 10:59 PM   #2
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The next day we had one more great breakfast and solid burger, a hug from Joan and a handshake from Mickey, and it was off to Nassau and then Long Island. CSM resort was a totally different atmosphere. Extensive staff, full dining room, hobie cats and charter boats. Bugs were the same though: everywhere.
This is a pic of the gazebo in front of our cabana:

A great way to start a night…duty free glenlivet and a Cuban Romeo y Julieta:

First day there did some paddling in the kayaks and some snorkeling:
Clear water, this is in about 10ft

Local wildlife:

Friendly neighborhood cuda:

The one complaint I have about the CSM resort had to do with the reef fishing trip we took. Our guide and his mate, Bert and Noel, were kind an knowledgeable and the boat was fine, but the equipment hamstrung us on bigger fish. Penn reels and uglystick rods are fine, but the reels were half-filled with line, and they used no leader, just the weight and hook tied on the end of what appeared to be 20lb test. What that meant was that anything over 15-20lbs wasn’t coming up :? We were able to boat some fish though:
Laura fighting one of the beasts that eventually got away:

Cooler full of fish:

We caught pogies (big ones), triggers, strawberry grouper and lots of one of my favorites: yellowtail snapper. For dinner that night the kitchen blackened 1/3, fried 1/3 and grilled 1/3 of the fish. They also made me a yellowtail ceviche on request…mmmmmmmm:

On June 3rd we rented a car to explore the island a bit. The long island regatta is one of the biggest in the Bahamas so we checked it out and also visited Dean’s Blue Hole, which is the deepest saltwater blue hole in the world. The pics of the blue hole don’t do it justice, it was beautiful.

The regatta was a blast. I know, a sailboat race isn’t exactly thrilling to most, but the locals, the atmosphere, the local food and crafts, and the people made it a great experience. I had a plate of mutton, slaw and peas and rice that was probably the best meal I had on the trip, which is saying a lot. Here’s a couple pics of the regatta:

The next day, after Laura had a scare coming face to face with a 5ft or so cuda while we were snorkeling, we took a kayak over to the lagoon next to the resort which had some expansive flats and mangrove channels. After looking for a while, we came upon a good flat and found some fish. Laura caught her first bonefish, but the camera was a ways away back in the kayak, so no pic. I caught a few, and we got a pic of the best one:

So that’s the trip in a very large nutshell. One of the best things about it was the food. I actually gained nine pounds over the eleven day trip :shock: Here are some pics of highlights for the foodies we have around:
Crabcakes the first night at Seascape Inn that were so good Laura had them again the next night:

Flatiron steak that Mickey cooked perfectly at the Seascape Inn:

Lamb at the CSM resort that was phenomenal. Had to order it again, since we had already gotten a meal plan and all:

They also had a Bahamian seasoned boiled grouper for a breakfast dish that was out of this world.
Last, but certainly not least, chicken souse from the ……..(drumroll please)……. domestic boarding area of the Nassau airport. This stuff was unreal:

I would recommend any person or place I dealt with on this trip, but it depends on what you’re looking for and who you’re travelling with. Mickey and Joan’s place is great, but Mangrove is not for high-maintenance types. Neither place is for people who like a big nightlife. If I want to get away, de-stress, and possibly do some fishing, I will always think of the Bahamas “family islands” first. If you made it this far without skipping through and just looking at the pics pat yourself on the back :wink:
ps - took some vids with the gopro. once i figure out how to put them on vimeo or something i'll add a link
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Old 06-21-2012, 11:12 PM   #3
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That sounds like an awesome trip.
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Old 06-21-2012, 11:16 PM   #4
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Cool trip report, thanks for sharing it!
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Old 06-21-2012, 11:23 PM   #5
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GOMFMC: They listen! (this joke would be funny, if it were a joke)

"....during the public comment period that followed, comments were overwhelmingly opposed to the proposal. As a result, NOAA fisheries reopened the public comment period for and additional 15 days, but there was no change to the results. The regional administrator of NOAA Fisheries announced that the recreational greater amberjack season will close for June and July as scheduled..."
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Old 06-22-2012, 12:09 AM   #6
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mangrove cay and long island, bahamas (epic long)-34563_404688454351_700344351_4505795_3097271_n-jpg

mangrove cay and long island, bahamas (epic long)-34563_404628329351_700344351_4504949_1671315_n-jpgmangrove cay and long island, bahamas (epic long)-58700_428944439351_700344351_5124778_7295971_n-jpg
Long island is a great place was there a few summers ago. We stayed at Flying fish marina. Hope you went to Rowdy boys for some great food. Deans hole is pretty cool and your right pictures dont do it justice at all.
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