Aquarium Bridge 2

Aquarium Bridge 2

Tracy&James | Sunday, 20 December 2020

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about how Tracy and myself name flats fishing areas between us to give them a more ‘logical’ title that is both descriptive and memorable. This week I’m going to tell the story of my first visit to ‘Aquarium Bridge 2’ as it was a sight that will be etched in my memory forever. Obviously ‘Aquarium Bridge 2’ isn’t its real name, in fact I have no idea what its official moniker is. I’m pretty sure that Tracy and myself used to call it ‘broken bridge at the end of the flat that’s too far to walk to’ before I bit the bullet and trekked down to it, once there what I saw was quite remarkable. Sometimes, when flats fishing, you do get to see things that make your jaw drop, sometimes from the sheer beauty of an area, other times from the harsh viciousness of nature, ‘Aquarium Bridge 2’ was a bit of both.

I should probably start by saying a few words about ‘Aquarium Bridge 1’ which is probably no more than 30 miles from ‘Bridge 2’.  In hindsight, perhaps naming ‘Aquarium Bridge 2’ as we did showed a bit of a lack of imagination, but it’s stuck now.  ‘Aquarium Bridge 1’ is still intact so that you can walk over it, whereas ‘Bridge 2’ is most definitely not usable – perhaps we should have worked on the fact that it’s just the support piles that are left there, but then again naming a stunning spot after piles isn’t that great either.

Unlike ‘Aquarium Bridge 2’, Bridge 1 is quite accessible as you can drive a car right up to it, but not over it (you can walk over it though).  This area connects a couple of flats to the sea in the form of some fairly narrow channels, no more than 15m wide.  As such there is often a good flow of water almost to the point of resembling rivers.  I remember when Tracy and I first peered into the crystal clear water and started counting the species of fish we could see.  In the Caribbean you almost expect to see juvenile snappers in such areas, and sure enough there were greys, mangroves and some small mutton snapper present.  Flitting about amongst these was another very common tropics species, the sergeant major.  Sitting higher in the water was a shoal of needle fish and hanging back, eyeing these up was a pretty motionless barracuda.  There were various other bottom dwelling fish that I can’t positively identify that were darting in and out of the rocks that lined the edges of the channel.  Whilst watching all this, a school of bonefish exited the flat via the channel, immediately beneath out feet.  A few minutes later bar jacks also started moving through.  The name ‘Aquarium Bridge’ seemed appropriate and stuck.  [I actually subsequently caught quite a nice cuda in the spot, which gave a really interesting fight in the narrow confines.  At one point it jumped and caught my leader in an overhanging mangrove – but it all worked out OK in the end].

I didn’t think anything would top ‘Aquarium Bridge’, that was until I made the trek to ‘Broken Bridge…’.  I probably have the notes somewhere about that day, I can’t remember if I was catching fish on the huge flat that leads to this area or not, I can distinctly remember the sight when I got there though.

To be honest, I was expecting to find snapper as I trudged along the sand bank having exited the flat (leaving Tracy targeting some bonefish – she later informed me she was slightly spooked by some very aggressive sharks that were sneaking up the mud trail left by her wading across a very soft, silty bottom).  Anyway, once I’d made it there, the usual snapper species were all present, holding in the slipstream of one of the collapsed bridge piles and darting between twisted metal and concrete structure.  Just a little further back was a shoal of big eye jacks, the sort of size that would be fun on a #7 bonefish outfit.  Then I saw something a bit unexpected, tarpon – not huge but at least four of them.  The water was ripping through the bridge and hanging back, avoiding doing any work to counter the current, was a nice sized cuda.  Looking at the tackle I had set up at the time (a bonefish rod and a predator rod) this initially seemed my best target.  But just as I was putting my bonefish rod down, a big (maybe 70-80lb) lemon shark cruised, upstream, though the bridge no more than 20ft from where I was stood.  It subsequently looped round and came past me again, heading downstream, it was obviously patrolling and became my primary target.  On the next loop through I presented my streamer to it.  I chose to cast as it was coming downstream to avoid the current taking the fly towards the fish.  This seemed to work as the shark bristled and moved to take the fly.  As it opened it’s mouth one of the big eye jacks charged in and snatched the fly, and the shark cruised by.  I landed the jack after a short tussle (it was quickly overwhelmed by the #10 outfit), not the epic battle I was expecting when I saw 80lb of lemon shark closing in.

All that happened within a space of probably no more than 15m by 15m.  We felt we couldn’t call this anything else other than ‘Aquarium Bridge 2’ knowing that it was more spectacular than ‘Bridge 1’.  Tracy and I returned a week or so later, and although some of the species were now missing, I did manage to catch one of the tarpon, plus snappers and jacks.

Have a great week,

James.