Fishing the Islands of Turtles & Crocodiles - Part 2/2
It normally takes most sportfishermen about five hours to run to a favorite area near Little Cayman, some 82 miles north of Grand Cayman. As a result, those productive waters at Pickle Banks are seldom fished. Boats leave the Grand Cayman docks around midnight to get to Little Cayman for the daylight fishing. After lunch, they return to their berth at the Million Dollar Marina.
"Usually the fishing is so great that you have to leave at midday anyway," says one captain, "because there's not enough room to take more fish. The spot has yielded 14 Yellowfin in one day with the smallest fish weighing 65 pounds. On another day out there, we had 13 Wahoo and 4 Yellowfin."
Bonefish has become one of the popular quarries recently. The most successful fishing in Little Cayman is by a captain who uses little "fry", or minnows, and that has proved to be very successful. Guide Sam McCoy has seen large bonefish, up to 12 3/4 pounds. It was taken at in the Kingston Bight in the South Hole Sound (also called Blossom Village).
Typically, people can catch 7 or 8 fish per day, and up to 20 bonefish on a good day. On some days, however, fishing is very tough and bonefish are hard to come by. You can fish all around the Little Cayman island.
The best areas are around Owens Island in the sound. There, the water depth ranges between 4 and 5 feet, but the bonefish can be found as shallow as two feet. The sound is a wide flat.
"We used to allow water skiing in the sound," says McCoy, "but we found that was scattering the bonefish so we stopped it."
"We use grass shrimp about 1 1/2 inches long and we pull off their pincers," he continues. "Sometimes we use bigger ones, but medium size works best. They're real soft, so we double hook them through the tail so that they can move around. We use a #2 hook, with no weight. We look for the muds and then we start casting to the muds."
There are two full-time bonefish guides in Little Cayman: Sam and his son Chip. Southern Cross and McCoy's Lodge are the only ones who offer guides. Trips can be arranged for bonefishing, offshore fishing and diving. For offshore charters, the McCoy's use their 33' Hatteras and charge $500 for a full day and $300 for half day, including all equipment.
Guide Sam McCoy can
usually find big bonefish on the flats of Cayman Blanc.
PHOTO: LARRY LARSEN
Nobody knows how tarpon got into Little Cayman's Tarpon Lake, according to Sam McCoy.
"The lake was found by Logan Robertson, the same guy who established Southern Cross," he says. "He flew over the island, saw the fish flipping in the lake and went to the Brac because there was no landing strip here at the time. He hired a boat to return to Little Cayman and cut a path to the lake."
"What he found was great tarpon fishing," McCoy adds. "The year-round fishery is what generated his idea to start building his resort. So far, the biggest tarpon has weighed 40 pounds, but generally they average 8 to 10 pounds."
According to guide Shelby Scott, most of the bonefish on Cayman Brac are found off the south coast on the grassy flats. There, you can wade large areas in depths of 3 to 5 feet. The schools of bones encountered usually run from 6 to 10 fish.
The local anglers use minnows or hermit crab as bait. The most productive artificials are usually brown or white jigs. Most bonefish in Cayman Brac average about 2 pounds, and unfortunately, the largest are seldom more than that, according to the guide.
Guide Shelby Scott* with a typical crab used to catch bonefish. PHOTO: LARRY LARSEN
Scott has been fishing for 14 years, mostly deep sea fishing for Wahoo or tuna, or bottom fishing about half a mile offshore. Scott charges $200 a day for bonefishing, $450 per day to fish the blue waters offshore.
The bonefishing is easily accessible from the islands' accommodations, which include extended stay condominiums and the Divi Tiara Beach Resort (809)948-1553.
Editor's Note: For more information on the fishing & diving opportunities in the Caymans, check out the author's book, "Fish & Dive the Caribbean". It is available by sending $11.95 (postpaid in the U.S.) to 2640 Elizabeth Place, Dept. "FF-12", Lakeland, FL 33813. Write for info on foreign orders.
Flying to the Cayman Islands is easy and quick. Cayman Airways (809/949-2311) schedules flights to the islands from many major cities, including Orlando, Houston, Miami and Tampa. U.S. visitors need proof of citizenship, as well as a return ticket. Flying to Little Cayman or Cayman Brac can be scheduled on Island Air (809/949-5252).
Although ground transportation on Grand Cayman in taxis and air-conditioned buses is dependable, comfortable and convenient, rental cars may be more practical. Cico-Avis and other rental car companies have offices in George Town, the capital. Mopeds and motorcycles are also available for rent. A temporary Cayman drivers license, effective for six months, is required. Driving the 85-square-mile island is easy, as the roads are in good condition. Just remember to drive on the left! Island attractions include the Turtle Farm in West Bay, where sea turtles undergo controlled breeding experiments, and 'Hell,' named after unique rocks formations resembling the charred remains of a hell fire. It's actually weathered ironshore rock.
Boddentown Road parallels the 40-mile
scenic coast towards Grand Cayman's East End and the
"blowholes" area is an interesting natural phenomena.
The strong current forces gusts of air and spray through small
holes in the rock, giving off a fascinating sound similar to a
Many of the luxury oceanfront hotels and condominiums are on popular Seven-Mile Beach or within easy walking distance. Plantation Village and Lime Tree Bay are modern condos convenient to harbor charters and downtown. The Hyatt Regency Grand Cayman, Treasure Island Resort and Indies Suites are popular retreats, while beach cottages at the Villa Caribe and Tortuga Club offer a more secluded side of the island.
Cruise ships stop at George Town, an international finance center, and shopping opportunities are plentiful. Since one C.I. Dollar is valued at $1.20 U.S., that makes for a somewhat more expensive destination. Visitors generally get their money's worth, though. Off season rates for accommodations and charters may be lower between May and November, and the activities are just as enjoyable.
Dining out can be expensive, but the food is excellent. Island delicacies include turtle steaks, conch chowder and lobster. Visitors in a condominium will find that stocking the kitchen may help maintain a reasonable budget. And, when the fast-food urge strikes, there are several choices downtown.
Known as a premier diving destination, the islands demand an underwater sightseeing expedition to explore some of the most beautiful coral formations in the world. Stay away from the cattle-herd approach of several diving outfits, however. are also Short dive courses and snorkeling trips popular activities enjoyed by many.
For more information and brochures,
Cayman Islands Dept. of Tourism, Dept.2L, The Pavilion, P.O. Box 67, Grand Cayman, BWI.
Sam McCoy's Lodge, P.O. Box 1725, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands, BWI; Phone 800-626-0496.
*Shelby Scott, Watering Place, Cayman Brac; (809)948-0535.