Lost Girls Field Trip: Andros Island-Part 7

Adventure Travel, Andros Island, Bahamas, Cruise, Dispatches from the Road, Hotels & Resorts, Wildlife & Animals — By on February 25, 2009 at 2:56 pm

Jen: While I wouldn’t trade my position as 1/3 of The Lost Girls writing team for anything in…well…the world, I recently spread my journalist wings and accepted my first solo assignment: a 9-part web series on Andros Island for the pop culture travel site, Jaunted.com. But even though I temporarily flew away from the nest, I felt compelled to bring my stories home to you, my favorite TLG readers. I’ll admit that this, my 7th post, is a bit on the random side (sorry all you bonefishers out there), but quirky enough to justify reading! So enjoy The Great Bonefish Debate and stay tuned next week for Cage-Free Swimmng with Sharks!
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“The Great Bonefish Debate”: With a little time to kill in the Nassau airport before we hopped a puddle jumper to Andros Island, my travel buddy Mark and I had decided a little “Welcome to the Bahamas” drink was in order. So we pulled up a few bar stools at Marshall’s–it’s in the domestic terminal–and ordered our first of many island rums. It was Marshall, the delightfully friendly owner, himself who poured our drinks before asking us to fill out his NFL fantasy football card. Since I’m pretty much a college-ball only gal (Go Seminoles!), I can only hope I didn’t lose too much money for poor Marshall that day. But I digress!

It was there in that little tiki hut that the Great Bonefish Debate was sparked. That may sound random, but with a vast expanse of mangroves and flats, Andros has earned the title of “Bonefishing Capital of the World” from the international community of avid anglers. So it’s only natural that it came up in conversation. Well, in this case I specifically asked Marshall about bonefishing, but same difference. It’s not that I don’t know my fishing: After all, I’d gone on numerous catfish expeditions with my dad in Mississippi when I was a kid. And later, I’d dutifully watched Brad Pitt cast his reel in the film “A River Runs Through It.” But admittedly I was kind of a bone head when it came to the specific art of bonefishing. Luckily I had Marshall to clear things up…

In the brief time we had before dashing off to catch our flight, Marshall explained that many people don’t even keep the prey they catch, but he says bonefish are one of the absolute sweetest tasting swimmers in the sea, so they make for an excellent meal if prepared properly. Since there are an extraordinary amount of bones in bonefish–yeah, that I kinda figured–you have to know a very specific “snap and break” process, which Marshall described as squeezing the body just so in order to then rip all the bones out in one whack. While even he doesn’t know how exactly it’s done, he has Bahamian friends who do, he insisted.

Once the fish is clean, Marshall continued, he likes to fillet it, top it with onions, lime juice, salt, pepper and spices and cook it to perfection. Well that all sounded pretty straight forward to me. In fact, I was genuinely excited to sample this supposedly delightful cuisine.

But the second I arrived at the Small Hope Bay Lodge and began speaking with the knowledgeable staff and actual fishermen, I realized pretty quickly I’d probably never get a taste. My tale horrified some and delighted others, but everyone agreed that bonefish was probably one of the last sea creatures you’d want to consume. Not that it isn’t possible, but it’s not worth the hassle–and it would be in strict violation of the bonefishing code of conduct, which generally deems the sport catch and release only.

From what I’ve been told, actually catching a bonefish is a pretty rigorous process that requires immense physical endurance and strict concentration. I won’t even attempt to get into the technicality of it all, but for those who are interested, you basically balance on the edge of a boat or stand knee-deep in water, watching, waiting and stalking the fish for hours in the hot sun. That didn’t sound particularly appealing to me either, but some friends I met at the lodge are wildly passionate about it.

In the end, I never did resolve the Great Bonefish Debate of “too eat or not to eat.” But maybe that’s the point: There’s no one answer to the question!

For more info on Fishing Vacations at Small Hope Bay Lodge, visit http://www.smallhope.com/Fishing.html

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Dying to view my entire Andros blog series to date?…Of course you are! Click here to re-visit Part 1-7!

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