This week Catherine and I traveled to Greater Guano Cay in the Bahamas to go spear fishing and snorkeling. We first flew to Marsh Harbor and then caught a ferry to Greater Guana Cay. Cal, Cal’s brother Ben and Ben’s girlfriend Kelly picked us up by boat at the ferry docks and after dropping off our stuff at Cal’s family’s house and picking up his mom we hit the reef. The visibility was 80-100 feet in every direction, and the first reef we hit was 100 yards from shore. There was pushing 100 feet of vis on the beach at the shore, it was amazing. When I hit the water the giant towers of living coral where like nothing I have seen in the Keys. If the Keys reef used to look like the Bahamas then it truly is a tragedy what has happened to it. Everywhere around us there were coral forests of varying colors, caves and trenches everywhere. Clear water and almost no current.
On one of first dives, I followed a nice 15-20# black grouper into a cave. It gave a false impression that this reef was going to be filled with fish. We swam quite a distance over some of the most amazing reef I have ever seen and saw pretty much nothing to shoot. Huge caves, ledges and holes everywhere and nothing. I have to come realize that with structure that is beyond anything we see in the Keys, in the Bahamas this guarantees nothing. In Bahamas, just like everywhere else there seems to be good spots and not so good spots, but some of the not so good spots look like the most amazing structure ever. We swam out to the drop off, I passed on a nice Nassau because I was still under the impression that the monster fish were about to appear. The drop off was beautiful, 80-100 foot of vis and the reef going from 5 feet deep to 70 feet of water in the span of 30 feet of so. There were reef sharks cruising the drop off, and some jacks but not any larger pelagics. When we were swimming back to the boat, Catherine saw a monster hammerhead and some schools of southern sennets. Cal shot a nice trigger which took off with his slip tip. I was able to track it down and spear it in a crevice. I also took a small Nassau, plus Cal’s brother got a large margate (yum). We also tried to take a small reef shark, mostly for the novelty of it. It’s legal to spear sharks there, and some locals kind of recommended it. So up to trying anything, every time we saw a smaller shark we tried to get close but they seem to know to run from us.
I also basically hugged a moon jelly by accident and was covered in stings. The rash guard I was wearing seemed to offer no protection, and actually seemed to hold in the stinging particles so I had to strip it off to make the stinging stop. I also put my bare wrist down on some fire coral, which is a great experience I highly recommend.
The next day everyone went out, which included Cal’s mom and step dad. The first spot we hit was almost no reef, just some little bumps and rocks. On that little spot I shot a queen trigger (a forbidden fish in Florida), the blew a shot on around a ten pound porgy. Cal shot a 13-14# mutton. I also saw more triggers, a huge yellowtail and some various jacks. That little patch of rocks had almost more fish then the huge reef from the day before. We then worked a little patch off the beach of a deserted island. There were more triggers, porgies, big lane snappers, all decent fish but nothing huge. We then planned on hitting a more remote reef but a nasty storm blocked our path. So then we headed south.
The next spot we hit looked similar to the big disappointing reef of the first day. We swam out across the reef and Cal shot an ok Nassau. I saw a big Nassau but let my chance slip away, trying to make sure Cat got it on film. Cal said trying to be a celebrity cost me that fish. When we reached the edge of the reef, there was some seriously chunky structure and lots of fish. There were small grouper all over of the place, of the Nassau and tiger variety. Cal’s brother Ben shot a nice mutton which took his Hawaiian sling spear up into a cave and apparently got off. He then shot a nice hog around 28-30 inches long. I shot a hog similar in size but it tore off. This was pretty much how I hoped the Bahamas would be, reef going from around 50 feet of water to 5 in almost shear wall and fish all over. A reef shark did a swim by but did not bother us. We could have worked down that wall all day but we were out of time, it was late and Cal’s parents were waiting in the boat.
The next day I convinced everyone to go check some other reefs instead of going to the awesome spot. Kind of a mistake but not really. You don’t know what is out there until you go. We found some huge rocks that stuck out of the water and found the giant parrot fish spot. Cal tried for the world record midnight parrot fish but failed. There were groups of sharks circling and in the good vis it was great to watch. We then hit another big reef, and not learning our lesson from the day before, we parked the boat inside of it and swam out, which took forever. Not sure why we didn’t park the boat on the deeper side of it. Cal and his brother both saw big groupers. I saw none. I did see a lot of smaller groupers but passed on them. Cal’s brother got a nice hog. I chased a nice mutton forever but he got away.
We then hit another beach front reef, and again it held just as many fish as the giant reef. More than likely there are more fish on the big reef but with the hundreds or thousands of holes and ledges they are hidden better. Cal shot a Nassau, and his brother got another queen trigger. I missed a large ocean trigger. We saw some sharks, rays and squid. Then Cal lost his slip tip for the 4th time to a giant hog who took off under an old wreck. At this point my ears were hurting and my body just could not dive anymore. We headed in, all in all an awesome trip. I did not get to pole spear a trophy fish but I plan on making my way back to that area again.
We got a couple fish on video and a bunch of video of of the reef, will put that together in a bit.
I also noticed using the pole spear makes my left arm hurt over time, not sure if this will happen every time I use it or if its an isolated thing.