George Poveromo, who resides in Parkland, Fla., is a nationally-recognized sportfishing authority who serves as Editor-At Large for Salt Water Sportsman magazine, and the producer and host of his own television series on ESPN2: George Poveromo's World of Saltwater Fishing.
Whoever coined that old saying, "Nothing is guaranteed in life" must not have been a fisherman, at least a decent one.
Because if they had been, and fished the waters surrounding Cat Island in the Bahamas, such a false yarn would have never been spoken. When it comes to a sure thing in fishing between April and June, this place is "it."
As the crow flies, Cat Island is some 290 miles by air from Fort Lauderdale, Fla. By boat, add an additional 40 miles.
Cat is way out there, situated in the far southeastern Bahamas. But with a friend like Trey Rhyne and his Over-Under Charters business (1-866-OUA-TUNA), getting here is simple. We flew with Trey aboard his company's prop plane and then fished aboard his 55-foot sportfish Low Profile, which is stationed in the Bahamas from November through June.
The jewel on Cat Island is the Hawks Nest Resort & Marina (1-800-688-4752), which is adjacent to a 5,000-foot private airstrip that is within walking distance of the facility.
Here, both vacationers and anglers can stay in beach-front rooms, dine in a restaurant which specializes in fresh (caught that day) seafood, lounge around the pool, and of course either fish, or partake in one of many other water sports offered here. This was my second visit to the resort, and I was anxious to go fishing!
Days of the dolphin
The dolphin migrating through these waters each spring are numerous and big. In fact, "numerous" is an understatement; sometimes the schools are so large, you can't get away from them. And I'm not talking about school fish of less than five pounds, but rather 15 to 20-pound fish, with numerous 30- to 40-pounders in the mix.
Over here, given the large wahoo, marlin, tuna and sharks which also migrate past Cat, small dolphin just won't survive. Period. And given the size of some of the larger predators in these waters, I'm certain many of the big dolphin become forage as well.
We hit the dolphin when they were thick. So much so, that after we got our belly full of catching them on both conventional trolling outfits and light spin tackle, we couldn't get away from them!
Capt. Joe Trainor would steer the Low Profile out deeper and away from the dolphin, in search of a blue marlin or yellowfin tuna, only to encounter them again when he'd steer toward working birds. From the bridge, some of these schools looked to be an acre in size!
For the dolphin, Trey Rhyne and I used 12- and 20-pound class Penn spinning reels paired with matching Penn rods. We pitched both plain ballyhoo and Williamson bucktails at the fish.
The reels were filled with Sufix Superior monofilament line. We tied a short (24-inches) Bimini twist in the line, and then used a Bristol knot to join the line to a 50-pound test Sufix Invisiline Fluorocarbon leader. Our bucktails and hooks were joined to the leader with a loop knot.
Heartbreak at sea
We spent most of our time trolling assorted lures and large natural baits in pursuit of a blue marlin. Our trolling tackle was Penn International 50 and 70 class reels, with matching Penn big-game rods.
To maximize line capacity, most of the reels were filled primarily with 80- (50 Internationals) and 100-pound test (70 Internationals) Sufix Performance Braid, with a top shot (150 feet) of 50-pound test and 80-pound test Sufix Superior monofilament. Our leaders were primarily 300-pound test monofilament.
Our shot at a blue marlin came soon enough, as a beauty of a fish ate a lure that was being pulled on a 50-International. I grabbed the rod, and basically held on and watched the fish strip off line.
Just about the time we were going to give chase, the line went slack! Something had gone terribly wrong.
Upon close inspection, the knot joining the braid to the monofilament top shot gave way, blowing our chance at catching this marlin. I must admit, it was pretty quiet in the cockpit for the next couple hours, peoplewise!
We came upon the yellowfins, which typically show in April. We hooked a couple large ones right off the bat, only to lose them to sharks.
A marine biologist once told me that you can judge the health of a marine ecosystem based on the number of sharks that abound; the more abundant the sharks, the healthier the ecosystem, because of the amount of fish it produces to satisfy the numbers and appetites of the sharks.
Well, based on that fact, Cat Island has amazingly healthy waters, because of the numbers of large sharks bird-dogging the yellowfins. We snuck a few yellowfins past the sharks, but they were small, and quickly released.
But just as soon as we hooked a beauty, the sharks were all over it. The tuna were showing a preference for natural baits at times, such as ballyhoo, and then lures; our most productive on this trip was the cedar plug daisy chain.
Action a plenty
Given the masses of dolphin, the yellowfin encounters, the huge sharks chasing fish right up to our transom and the heartbreak loss of a nice blue marlin, we stayed busy aboard the Low Profile.
Over-Under Charters specializes in all-inclusive trips to not only Cat Island, but also San Salvador and Rum Cay, which are all down this way. Early in the season (winter) the boat is based in the Abacos, at the Treasure Cay Resort & Marina, where the target is the winter wahoo run.
Getting to the far southeastern reaches of the Bahamas to fish is challenging, especially if you're contemplating bringing your own boat here. If you don't plan on bringing your boat, there are the challenges of finding a good charter boat and crew, and also an airline that won't take all day getting here.
And then there are the major headaches of trying to bring your own rods and reels on the airlines. Fortunately, Over-Under Charters has simplified the deal. They'll fly you right in, and take you fishing aboard a top-notch sportfishing boat outfitted with the best tackle and operated by a crew that is well-honed at catching fish down here.
You can't go wrong! Trust me!
For more on "George Poveromo's World of Saltwater Fishing," visit www.georgepoveromo.com.