Travel Blog: Exploring the Flats of the Virgin Islands

News & Tips: Travel Blog: Exploring the Flats of the Virgin Islands...

ExploringFlatsVirginIslands blogKeeping things straight to the record, the Virgin Islands area is not exactly Bonefish Central. There are two islands that have viable fisheries that have sizeable inland salinas — or saltponds. These are Anegada of the BVI and Barbuda of the Antigua/Barbuda nation.

Because these islands are not on the short list for outfitters, some excellent bonefishing can be had, since pressure on the fish is still minimal and the netting seen in the Pacific is not present here. However, decent guides are in short supply on either island, and self-guiding and wading may be inevitable. These islands do not get hit by the fronts of winter — a great advantage — but are smack dab in the risk path of African-born Hurricanes in summer and early fall.

As to geography, the entire Northeast island portion of the Caribbean are mountaintops featuring deep-drop shorelines. Flat coral atoll structures are not the rule, like Los Roques way to the south. Flats tend to be more sporadic features.

Do people report some tailing flats in the British Virgins? Yes, they do, near Beef Island of Tortolla and Mosquito Island near Virgin Gorda. Yet the fact remains that these areas are not vast and provide minimal habitat for the bonefish that would be there in huge numbers if there were huge habitat, like the Bahamas. So you'll find some reports of bonefish caught here and there in very specific places, generally picked up in website forums and loads of research.

I fished Jost Van *** of the BVI after debarking from my ship for the day, The NCL Spirit, and searched around the island fairly thoroughly. Despite some prior advice and directions, I was not impressed by viable bonefish habitat. However, when I adjusted my sights to have fun and cast for whatever comes along — I find this easy to do — I loaded up on finny action.

Using an 8-weight fly rod and white clouser type fly, and a 4-pound spinner rigged with a tiny rubber swim jig, I hooked up with an excellent variety of fish. The action around the island occurred either around the ever-present minnow schools or around shoreline reefy structure. I released loads of palometa, lane snapper, blue runners, jacks, houndfish, sennets, and got spooled by a big bonita that shot into the area to hit the minnows. The action was so much fun; I didn't give the bonefish a single thought.