Ragged Island, Bahamas February 2009
Ragged island in the southern Bahamas seems like the forgotten Bahamian island, a place where time has almost stood still. I say almost, because while the friendly and down to earth residents live a simple life centered around the sea, they enjoy satellite tv, wireless Internet and a fiber optic cable laid along the ocean floor which connects Ragged to the rest of the world. And the mailboat makes a weekly visit to the island.
Chickens & goats roam freely throughout the island--they are everywhere, and certainly outnumber the residents. There are few cars on the island--maybe 3 to 4 working ones, and golf carts are the preferred mode of transportation. We had free reign of two golf carts, one seriously rigged off-road cart that was my personal favorite for making the couple mile trek to the flats on either end of the island.
There are no scheduled flights to Ragged--we took a charter from Great Exuma to the island--only a 30 minute flight.
Ragged is exactly the kind of place I love--off the radar--both tourist's and fisherman's. Less than 50 people make Ragged their home. A lodge did make a go of it there several years ago, but closed only after a season or two. The new lodge that has been built from scratch is where we stayed for three weeks.
The lodge just opened this year, and we were one of the first groups to call it our home for three weeks.
The lodge is very comfortable--everything is new--beds, pillows, couches, flat screen television, boats, motors . . . you get the picture. However, it was partially still under construction during our stay, though the major details have been taken care of. The hot water system was not working properly the first week, but was mostly under control for the two weeks after that. It was easy to forget the lumber stacked in the yard, or the construction tools scattered about, when your mind is on bonefish. And bonefish there were on the flats surrounding Ragged island and the other area cays.
So while our group will gladly accept thank you's for breaking in the lodge, for making any future trips easier for the next guests, and for helping to work out some of the kinks that sometimes occur in a new operation located in a remote part of the Bahamas, they are not necessary. We were treated to great hospitality, fantastic scenery and excellent angling.
Bones were abundant, and just about everyone hooked at least one 7-8 lb bonefish (and some larger)--though not all of the big bones were landed. Barracuda were everywhere, and several were caught on the fly, many others on spinning gear. Permit were seen, some were cast to, none were hooked. I think I was the only angler that did not see a permit! Some nice jacks were tangled with, as well as snapper, grouper, mackerel, boxfish, triggerfish, needlefish and sharks.
Some of the memories that stand out are described below. I will not soon forget my time on Ragged, and I plan on returning next year.
Andy Astour's broken rod from battling a 60+ lb shark.
Chuck Foster's huge 'cuda, which he landed while waiting for the plane to take him home, within sight of the airport runway.
Fishing the bluewater and catching mackerels, 'cudas and grouper with Bruce Thomas. Bruce caught some monster barracuda!
Walt Dunsby and I on the breathtakingly beautiful beach near gunpoint, and hiking up the rock formations for an even better view.
Witnessing Dr. Tom Lundeen's hookup of a huge bone, the blistering runs, my belief that we had it whipped after two trips into the backing, and the feeling when it wrapped the line around a single mangrove and the tippet parted.
Big bones seen, landed and lost.
The tale of swimming pigs in the ocean-and photos to prove it!
Erika and Aneeka's spicy conch salad!
guide Marvin's mischievous smile
guide Junior's quiet confidence
Other stories of big sharks hooked and lost. And some landed.
Rod's half bonefish landed at the blue hole
The big fish Dr. Joe Lanigan hooked and lost at blue hole--we can only wonder what it was.
Some of the guys cleaning conch with guide Alvin and eating the gribble--the long clear spaghetti-like organ that is said to greatly enhance one's manly abilities. One of the guys ate not one, but at least five of these, according to eyewitness at the scene.
Dr. Joe Lanigan's huge bonefish that I hope is etched into his memory forever, since both he and his partner forgot their cameras that day!
Bob Bond catching a puffer fish on a fly--establishing some kind of lodge first I'm sure!
The flying squid that attacked Rod Squires at high velocity.
Mutton, schoolmaster snappers & yellowtail snappers tangled with.
Nightly awards during the third week, with Tom & Bob capturing 2 awards each. I think the fix was in.
Landing two big 28+" bonefish.
Dinners at Sheila's restaurant and playing pool there.
Cold kaliks, conch salad and conch fritters after a good day on the water.
2010 dates set
February 12--March 3.