Long-Range Bahamas Run


Visit "George Poveromo's World of Saltwater Fishing" to learn more about the show and watch video clips. His show airs January through March, each Sunday at 7:30 a.m. on ESPN2. For more on George Poveromo, visit his Web site.

The Bahamas is a 100,000 square-mile archipelago boasting some of the clearest, fish-rich waters in the world. Add in the uninhabited keys and large rocks, and there are over 700 islands in the entire Bahamas Chain.

For many South Florida anglers, that means plenty of water to explore — and quality fish to catch. And I'm no exception.

The MARC VI is Bahamas-bound at least several times each spring and summer. This past June, friend Harry Vernon III and I set forth on a 500-mile round-trip adventure that would take us to two prominent fishing hot spots: The Chub Cay Club in the Berry Islands, and the Treasure Cay Resort and Marina in the Abacos.

Vernon and I left Key Biscayne, Fla., and cruised 50 miles to Bimini, where we opted to clear Bahamas Customs. Once we were legal to fish, we cruised another 68 miles across the shallow Bahama Bank to Northwest Light, which marks the edge of The Pocket, a funnel-like canyon with depths exceeding 6,000 feet at some points. It is here the offshore fishing can be outstanding, if a strong southeast wind blows bluewater and bait into this zone.

From The Pocket, we cruised another 15-miles to the Chub Cay Club in the Berry Islands. This famous, family-oriented Bahamian fishing resort was recently purchased by a group of investors, and major renovations have been underway. The virtually all-new facility will eventually feature a two-story clubhouse, pool, bar, restaurant, colonial-style villas and a 200-slip marina, complete with fuel and ice.

(Chub Cay is on the doorstep of the deep Tongue of the Ocean, and offers a very short run to some fast fishing.)

When it came time to fish, Harry and I deployed an elaborate teaser system to create a fish-attracting commotion behind my MARC VI. I deployed a MoldCraft squid spreader bar from my portside teaser reel, positioning it about 20 feet behind the boat. Next, and cleated off to my port transom cleat, I dropped back a 69-fish StripTeaser dredge. This dredge, which mimics a huge bait school, swimming some 5 to 10 feet beneath the surface, was positioned just behind and to the inside of the squid spreader bar. Off the starboard teaser reel, I ran a large, hookless marlin teaser, some 20 feet back. Between these three teasers, we certainly built an attractive illusion which resembled baitfish scattering for their lives!

Our bait spread consisted of a mix of rigged ballyhoo tipped with Ilander skirts, and lures. The baits and lures were mostly small and medium in size, to attract a variety of game fish. Harry and I trolled between 5 and 8 knots in a flat ocean, looking for weeds, diving birds, slicks and other signs that might lead us to fish.

We certainly found targets to fish, and the dolphin bite was soon to come.

The first hook-up was a double header of 20-pound dolphin. After a spirited battle, I reeled in my fish, removed the hook and elected to release it. A few minutes later Harry led his fish alongside the boat. We hoisted the fish up into our arms, admired it, removed the hook, and set it free. We just scored two big dolphin, and had plenty of fishing time left on the clock.

Chub Cay is know for its excellent springtime dolphin fishing, when large schools of fish averaging 20-pounds (or better) own the waters. Although we were here in mid-June — a little late for big numbers of dolphin, there were certainly enough of them around to keep us busy, which became evident about 20-minutes later, when I reeled in yet another sizeable one.

Harry was next to score. Yet, his fish was no dolphin. One long run later, a sailfish took to the air!

I cleared the teasers and remaining lines and gave Harry a clear field in which to play his fish. The sailfish gave a spectacular account of itself before tiring against the heavy tackle. I billed the fish, admired it with Harry, removed the hook, and set it free.

After a few more dolphin encounters, our next surprise turned out to be a wahoo. We noticed an area with a lot of bird activity, cruised over and made several passes on the troll, without a strike.

We decided to put a weighted trolling lure out, hoping it would attract a wahoo. The lure wasn't in the water long before a wahoo devoured it. The wahoo ran long and hard initially, then did a lot of head-shaking as it neared the boat. Knowing how we both love eating fresh wahoo steaks, Harry wasted no time in gaffing the fish and depositing it into the ice cooler.

Harry and I went on to catch several more big dolphin, wrapping up an exciting, enjoyable and productive visit to Chub Cay. We pulled into the marina, well worn from catching fish, and fueled the MARC VI. We docked the boat, took to our respective rooms for a quick shower, and then headed to the restaurant at Chub to dine on our fresh wahoo and dolphin.

We turned in early that evening, for in the morning we were set to depart for the Treasure Cay Resort and Marina in the Abacos. We had a 150 mile run to make, and the weather forecast was in our favor.

Would our big run in the morning yield any fish along the way? Would our weather hold? Would the fishing be just as good or even better off Treasure Cay?

These were questions that would be answered over the next couple days. One thing was for certain: Harry and I could not have been more prepared or excited to find out!

Visit "George Poveromo's World of Saltwater Fishing" to learn more about the show and watch video clips. His show airs January through March, each Sunday at 7:30 a.m. on ESPN2. For more on George Poveromo, visit his Web site.