Southern Boating

Five Days Fishing in the Berry Islands

Five Days in the Berry Islands

The Berry Islands hold great historic intrigue owing to their past as a drug transshipment Mecca and a playground for the rich and famous to live out their fantasies. Nevertheless, it’s the championship sport fishing and island tranquility (with their many secluded beaches) that attract leisure boaters.

On a five-day journey with two travel days and three fishing days, you can cover a lot of territory and catch a lot of fish in the Berry Islands. Here is a sample itinerary to spark the imagination.

Day 1: Arrival

Don’t miss a good day of trolling while cruising to the Berry Islands. Stop in Bimini to clear customs and immigration and secure your cruising permit. With permit in hand, take your time and cruise to Great Harbour Cay Marina. Let your lines out as you cross Little Bahama Bank. Troll for yellowtail, bluestripe, jack, barracuda, and mackerel, or along the ocean edge for tuna, wahoo, and dolphinfish (mahi-mahi).

Whether you arrive in time for lunch or dinner, request a complimentary pickup from  Carriearl (pronounced Carry-Earl) Boutique Hotel, which is a cozy and casual resort with only four rooms. The restaurant and cocktail lounge is just over a mile away from the marina and a social hub for hotel guests and boaters staying on the island and cruising in the area.

Their signature appetizer is a “tasty tingum,” a shared plate of lobster, shrimp tempura, calamari, cracked conch, and other samplers. On the international dinner menu, you’ll find conch and lobster meals, both Bahamian classics, and a few elevated downhome favorites like crab and dough. There is a British stamp on the Barefoot Chef’s bangers and mash, a sausage entrée, and a French signature on the restaurant’s Coquilles St. Jacques, a beautifully plated appetizer with scallops and mashed potatoes.

Two minutes away from Carriearl, across the fairway of an unused golf hole and down a walkway of palm trees, a five-mile-long, deserted, white sand beach beckons. At the southern end, Shark Creek is a mangrove nursery ideal for kayaking, and Shelling Beach grows spectacularly at low tide, conjoining the offshore Hawk’s Nest Island.

Day 2: Bonefishing

The Berry Islands have a reputation for very large schools of bonefish. After spending more than nine years visiting Great Harbour Cay, Skip Whitman from North Carolina says the quantity of bonefish still amazes him.

“I have seen schools of two thousand bonefish where you cannot see the bottom. I’ve bone-fished in about seven or eight places between Florida and The Bahamas, and I have never, ever fished a place that has as many bonefish as the Berry Islands,” says Whitman, who loves the thrill of the hunt when bonefishing.

With over 30 islands and cays in the Berrys, bonefishing flats are located across the mini-archipelago. “Lord have mercy. A friend of mine caught about six bonefish in three days and it was his first time,” adds Whitman. “He caught all of these on a fly rod, not with live bait. For someone who has never done it before [and] to be successful on the first trip, that is wonderful. I think he saw ten thousand bonefish in the three days!”