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.
Given all the Bahamas trips I've made aboard my Mako 284 — MARC VI, I field a ton of questions from fellow anglers over what they should take when they head across the pond.
Unlike most major U.S. coastal fishing destinations, very few, if any, Bahamas fishing destinations have tackle shops. The bottom line: You must be 100% self-sufficient if you want to survive here and catch fish.
Below is the check list of the gear I took aboard the MARC VI during my trips into the Bahamas last season, which included Bimini and the Abacos. It's a long, long list, but I'll have the peace of mind in knowing that I will be on top of my game whether I opt to exclusively troll offshore, bottom fish along the reefs or drift and live bait or chunk for big kings, dolphin and tuna — or any combination of the above.
I invest a lot of time and money to get to the Bahamas, and I want to make certain my boat has what it takes to catch fish here.
1. Make sure your vessel has insurance coverage in the Bahamas. This is a "biggie", as many boaters are unaware that their insurance coverage ceases to exist beyond a specific number of miles offshore.
2. Updated safety gear, such as first aid kit, flares, life jackets, fire extinguishers, and EPIRB.
3. Yellow quarantine flag (to display upon docking prior to clearing Bahamas Customs & Immigration). Then, to be flown as a courtesy after clearing Bahamas Customs & Immigration, an American flag and Bahamian flag.
4. Spare anchor, chain and rode, and anchor retrieval ball.
5. Spare prop & hub assembly
6. Spare fuel filters
7. Tool kit
8. Sunscreen, polarized sunglasses, rain gear, protective sun clothing
9. U.S. Passport
10. Good, common sense (to know when it's unsafe weather-wise to attempt a crossing to or from the Bahamas)
1. Four 8-pound class spin outfits, for yellowtail and Cero mackerel. Mine are Penn Conquer and Penn AF Series spinning reels.
2. Three 12-pound spin outfits, for yellowtail, kings, school dolphin, small horse eye jacks. Again, Penn Conquer and Penn AF Series spinning reels.
3. Three 20-pound spin outfits, for large yellowtail, kings, amberjack, large horse eye jacks, sailfish, yellowfin and big dolphin. Mine are Penn 850SSm and Penn 760 Slammer spinning reels. I've also been using the Penn Conquer spinners filled with 30- and 50-pound test Sufix braid.
4. Two Penn Torque 300 reels. One spooled with 80-pound test Sufix braid, the other with 65-pound test Sufix braid and paired with Penn 5-foot, 6-inch stand-up rods rated for 50- to 100-pound test. These are the big sticks we use for muscling up large grouper from the reefs.
5. Two Torque 200 or 300 reels spooled with 65-pound test Sufix braid and a 100-foot long top shot of 30-pound test Sufix monofilament, for live-lining baits on the reefs for big kings, trolling, or chunking for yellowfins and dolphin.
6. One 50-pound class trolling outfit rigged with an 80-pound test monofilament leader and 8/0 in-line circle hook, should the situation warrant it for big tuna.
7. Penn International 30- & 50-pound class tackle for offshore trolling. My 50s are filled with 80-pound test Sufix braid with a 100-foot long top shot of 50-pound test monofilament, whereas my 30s are filled with 50-pound test Sufix braid with a 100-foot long top shot of 30-pound test Sufix monofilament.
1. Bucktail jigs, 1/16- and 1/8-ounce, for yellowtail.
2. Bucktail jigs, 1- through 3-ounce, for mackerel, dolphin.
3. Top water chuggers, for horse eye jacks, amberjack, tuna and dolphin
4. Assorted Rapala swimming plugs from two- to four-inches, for mackerel, and a few Rapala CD-MAG 14s and 18s for trolling up the blackfin and yellowfin tuna.
5. Assorted small offshore trolling lures and feathers, for dolphin and tuna. I like the Williamson Dorado and Sailfish Catcher lures, and also the Williamson Tuna Catcher, Flash Feather and Diamond Jet Feather Lures.
6. Medium size trolling lures, and natural bait skirts, for offshore trolling. I'm fond of the Williamson Big Blue Cavitator and Diamond Advocate and Coyote lures.
1. Assorted in-line circle hooks in sizes from 1/0 through 12/0, for yellowtails, mangroves, muttons, grouper, dolphin & tuna. I prefer the VMC Sureset Circle (model 7381) and VMC Tournament Circle (model 7385).
2. Extra strong J-hooks in sizes from 2/0 to 6/0, for drifting live baits for big kings: VMC Big Bait-Live Bait series (model 7118).
3. Extra strong treble hooks in sizes from 2/0 to 6/0, for creating stinger rigs for kingfish: VMC Sureset 6X Strong (model 5538).
4. Grouper Hooks, sizes 8/0 and 10/0: VMC Dynamic Live Bait (model 7360)
5. Gold hair hooks and Size 8 & 6 Sabiki bait rigs, for catching live bait.
1. Spanish sardines (eight, five-pound frozen blocks)
2. Frozen goggle eyes (about four dozen)
3. Silversides (four, five-pound frozen blocks)
4. Ballyhoo (at least eight dozen, mostly medium and large, with a couple dozen small ones for pitch baiting and bottom fishing).
5. Squid (two five-pound boxes)
6. Live pilchards (when you can find and cast net them near your destination).
• My offshore trolling bait connection is Bait Masters of South Florida, 1-800-639-2248.
Split shots to 16-ounce egg and bank sinkers.
1. Sufix Fluorocarbon Leader in 15, 20, 25, 30, 50, 80, 100 & 130 pound test.
2. Single strand wire from Size 2 (29-lb. test) to Size 7 (80-lb. test).
1. Assorted barrel swivels from 50-lb. test to 230-lb. test, for fabricating kingfish and grouper rigs.
2. Three Way Swivels from 70-lb. test to 130-lb. test, for grouper fishing.
3. Ball bearing snap swivels for offshore trolling, 130- to 235-pound test.
1. Large mesh chum bags
3. A minimum of ten blocks of chum per day of bottom fishing. I use Captain Mark's Pure Sardine Chum.
4. Fine grain chicken feed or uncooked oats, to mix into a chum supplement that contains silversides, thawed sardine chum, menhaden or sardine oil and just enough saltwater to turn it all into a pasty concoction that can be ladled out to spice up your chum slick.
6. Gallon of sardine or menhaden oil, to mix with chum supplement
Ice is as precious as gold in the Bahamas, and you'll need a ton of it to chill down your drinks, sandwich meats, and, of course, your baits and fish.
I use Engel's High Performance Rugged Ice Boxes, which keep ice and maintain the cold for several days, compared to standard coolers that have to be replenished with ice daily. Engel also makes fish bags and bait trays.
1. Landing net, gaffs
3. De-hooker and Venting kit, for releasing unwanted bottom fish
For more on "George Poveromo's World of Saltwater Fishing," visit www.georgepoveromo.com.