Sometimes it isn't about the size of the fish or the quantity of fish, at Abaco Lodge you will find a very complete bonefishing collective experience. The operation is about 4 years old and has already withstood the test of time and weather. The words handsome, comfortable and welcoming come to mind when I think back on my stay in November of 2012.
The accommodations are lovely with King beds in small cottages, and cinnabar red-painted structures practically glow in the sunrise and sunset light, the bar is well stocked, and the tackle shop well supplied with everything from rods and reels to a superb assortment of flies and fly lines, (a critical "something" often missing at other bonefish destinations.) When you are there, be sure to notice the beautiful woodwork, architecture and furniture in the lodge and the cottages. This is stuff you'd be proud to have in your own home or club; its not beat-up stuff from some rent-a-center or old lodge that went out of business. These not-so-small touches add a gracious feel to your stay.
FYI, the Lodge was created and run by Oliver White, and while he will remain an active influence on the place, he is expanding his fishing management and destination development responsibilities with Nervous Waters (the new owners and a highly respected company that owns 7 or 8 other blue-ribbon fly fishing destinations in North and South America). The new club managers are Ken & Anne Perkinson, and they are already putting their own stamp on the place, and it is clearly a good stamp. They "get it" and are excellent additions to the Abaco Lodge experience.
As to the fish, what they lack in sheer size you'd more typically find on the west side of Andros or north side of Grand Bahama, they more than make up for in their challenge. These are smart, wary fish and they require a good cast. Scale is an important thing to remember, because the Marls of Abaco are an immense shallow water, bay-like structure, the fish are almost perpetually in skinny water, making them much more wary than their ocean transiting brothers on other islands in the Bahamas. They live in fear of birds, barracuda and small sharks, and when on a flat, they are particularly vulnerable, hence their "twitchy" state. The good news is that a 3 or 4 pound bonefish will get you into your backing, assuming you don't have your drag screwed down to "freight train". This is a sport to see , cast, hook and enjoy that singing reel drag. You categorically do NOT need to hook 8+ pound fish to to have a GREAT week in Abaco fly fishing for bonefish. (There are bigger bones in Abaco, but they aren't as frequently caught in the Marls as they tend to be found closer to deep water, and just pop up onto a flat for a quick feed and then back to the deeper havens.)
To be highly productive with a fly rod in the Marls, you need to be a good caster, but that doesn't mean that if you are new to fly fishing or need improvement in your casting with an 8- or 9-weight flyrod you shouldn't book a trip to Abaco Lodge; au contraire, the guides are very patient and have good teaching skills to make you more proficient and get you into bonefish.
The Marls also provides a lot of lee from wind, almost regardless of wind direction, because of all the different mangrove keys and various protected shorelines that run in different compass headings. Ordinarily I wouldn't fish for bones with less than an 8-wt, and usually fish a 9-wt. if the wind is blowing, but you will have chances to throw at bones with a 7-wt. and that fits the scale of the size fish better than a 9-wt rod overloaded with a 10-wt. line. The lee of the mangroves and pine-tree lined shores will give you windows of opportunity with the 7-wt that you should try to take advantage of if you get a chance. Again, it is a matter of scale...Tight lines!