Fishing the North Sound at Grand Cayman
Expect a challenge. The bonefish are spooky, the tarpon have too much to eat.
It was a quarter century ago that I caught my first bonefish, on Little Cayman, not the Grand island. I'm more than overdue to tackle the bonefish in North Sound, so I join Davin Ebanks to seek not only bonefish but the tarpon that inhabit the deep channels.
We begin our afternoon at a beautiful set of flats called Head of Barkers. In several places the water is cloudy, a sign that fish are feeding on the bottom.
Although muds like these consistently produce bonefish at Little Cayman, Davin says he's yet to take one from muddy water here, whether using a fly or dead bait.
“It's nothing but mullet,” he explains. “They bottom feed just like bonefish and they look and act a lot like bonefish.”
Davin is the expert but I can't resist casting a hook loaded with small silver minnows to one of the larger muds. After my offering is ignored, I notice the muds have remained stationary.
That's contrary to bonefish behavior, which is to move continually, feeding into the current. Mullet these must be. Or a stray school of stingrays playing hooky from Stingray City, also in North Sound.
Rather than pole the flats, we slip over the side of the boat into waist deep water and wade quietly toward shore where Davin sighted tailing bonefish the previous afternoon.
We spot several dozen fish and cast to many of them but without luck. There are days when bonefish, always extremely skittish, will spook at the slightest sound or movement. These fish streaked away before our lures traveled more than three feet from our rods.
Giving up on bonefish, we motor a few hundred yards to a small mangrove lagoon with numerous rolling tarpon.
The tarpon are gorging on a small fish known as sprats. Thousands of the sprats swim frantically clockwise and counterclockwise around the lagoon trying to escape the tarpon.
In their haste, some bump into our boat.
With so many baitfish, our chances look poor. Davin still manages to lure a 20-pound tarpon that obligingly shows us its complete profile before spitting the hook.
When a panicked sprat jumps into our boat, we send it back on a hook. A tarpon mouths the bait but refuses to take it.
Davin sighs. He says fishing is often better at night and he intends to cruise over to George Town later. He once fought a tarpon for 2 hours next to the Burger King there. “But it was so big I don't think it knew it was even hooked,” he admits.