The glories of spring
June 12th: “Science has never drummed up quite as effective a tranquilizing agent as a sunny spring day” (W. Earl Hall). Well, it’s been a delightful spring on Abaco. Although the weather has been a little mixed, it’s been warm, breezy and largely storm-free. Fishing has been lively, the gardens have been ablaze with colour, the lodge mostly full, and the birders have had a wonderful time chasing passing migrants around the island.
Early April witnessed a few encounters with big tarpon and several large permit along the outer edges of the Marls. Alan Boyd from Northern Ireland perhaps came closest to boating one of these brutes when he “jumped” a five-foot tarpon. Holbrook Dorn from Texas had the chance of a grand slam of tarpon, permit and bonefish in one morning session, getting follows from all three but ultimately only boating the bone.
Some big bonefish have been taken, notably UK debutante Donald Ogilvy-Watson’s 8-pounder and Austrian Klaus Vander’s 7-pounder, with several others in the 5lb to 6.5lb range. Gordon Roberts from Texas took a monster mutton snapper off the Club beach, estimated at around 18lbs (he nobly returned it, to the chef’s horror). Marion Rainford from England maintained her reputation as the queen of mahi-mahi fishing, with four fish weighing 100lbs in total from an offshore session (these we did eat). Barracudas up to 25lbs and an occasional shark on the fly provided further diversity, but bonefish remain the backbone of the Abaco fishery.
Although there have been few massive bags of fish, many boats have had double-figure catches, including Texans Marshall McLean & Tucker Dorn, Marshall again with John Dorn, Dermod O’Brien from London, George & Linda Tucker (twice), Jim Pigott & Terry Ring (three times, with one day of 26 bones), Austin & Meg Buck, Kirk Phares & Dick Gady (twice, with one day of 21 bones), Jim Whaley & Brian Shaw, Molly Fleming & Kate Burke, Brower & Beau Moffatt, Nina Patterson & Mona Brewer, Toby Thacher & Timothy Grand, Mark Price & Eric Volp, Mark again with Timothy Grand, Dave Samuel & Gerry Duerr and Klaus & Christine Vander (twice) – all of these anglers being American except the Vanders and Club member Brian Shaw. There were very few blank sessions.
The litany of names who took their first ever bonefish included Donald Ogilvy-Watson, Charlie Dodson, Jim Whaley, Heather Post, Alicia Spenlinhauer, Sue Patterson, Gordon Grand, Charlie Steele, Tom Marino, Evan Karas, Tom Cohn, Alan Wolfe, Mike & Linda Parkowski, Courtney Dampf and West Bromwich Albion soccer manager Steve Clarke.
In recent days the Club has been crawling with avian paparazzi as part of a last push to gather photographic material for the Club’s forthcoming book on the birds of Abaco. With some lenses a big as bazookas, the team at times resembled a unit of special forces on jungle maneuvers. The results have ranged from, in my case, blurred and awful to, in the case of Tom Sheley, Lionel Levine and Keith Salvesen, absolutely spectacular. We are massively looking forward to seeing the final proofs of the book.
With just a couple more weeks before the season ends, attention is turning to October and beyond. Bookings are brisk and would-be returners are encouraged to get their requests in early. PM.