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Spearfishing in the Jumentos and Ragged Islands

I recently had a spearfishing trip down to the Jumento Cays and Ragged Islands. For those of you who are not familiar with this area there is a reason, it is one of the most remote areas in the Bahamas. A chain of islands that begins near the southern tip of Long Island and extends south to Ragged Island which lies less than 70 miles from Cuba. 

 

The trip was organized by a group of avid spearfisherwomen and men who are also long time Headhunter customers. They had been diving the Bahamas for years and were looking for some new areas to explore. They contacted me for some insight into spearfishing in the Southern Bahamas and explained to me their criteria. They wanted good anchorages, shallow diving, clear water, and places that would be good for teaching kids to spear lobster and small fish but also have great reefs for the adults. We dismissed most of the Southeast Bahamas(Rum Cay, San Salvador, Long Island, Crooked, etc) due to sharks, poor anchorages, deeper water, or a combination of all three. Since the Jumentos were attached to the Bahama Bank, they looked to be a perfect fit. I had spent a summer diving the south side of Georgetown and the northern Jumentos and had had some incredible diving. So they set their sights on this area. I wasn't planning on going with them on the trip, but when Cameron Kirkconnell was injured the week before while we were over in Nassau, I scrambled to clear my schedule so I could cover for him. 

As we headed south from Georgetown, we hit up some of the incredible coral heads on the south side of Great Exuma. Perfect areas for the kids to get their first lobsters. It is always fun to watch someone learn how to use a sling or polespear and then land their first fish or lobster. And it is even more exciting and rewarding when kids are learning! After a few quick pointers they were kicking around the reef with sling in hand. It took a few practice shots but both kids managed to get their first lobsters in just a few minutes!

We continued south to Seal Cay and began diving the reefs  and heads around there. Saw lots of nice Nassau grouper, hogfish and lobster. Over the next 4 days we covered about 60 miles of reef and dove a wide range of spots. The fish population was above average but nothing extraordinary. The one thing I noticed is that after 5 days in the water I never saw a single black grouper, not even a juvenile. But there were far more Nassau grouper than you find up north. 

Although many of the reefs had clearly been worked over by commercial lobster divers, we were able to find plenty of small heads that were holding good numbers of lobster. 

For the duration of the trip we had a 12-15 knot wind out of the E or SE. Luckily the Jumentos provide adequate anchorages in these conditions. But just like the charts called for, we experienced some surge in certain areas. We also had trouble keeping our anchor from dragging each night. 

In the end, the trip was a success. The kids got their first lobsters and hogfish and the clear water really helped them to become confident freedivers. And the geography saved us from the east wind. But the best part of the trip was exploring new reefs and watching the kids learn to hunt. If you are looking for trophy fish you can find them much closer to home. If you have any questions regarding spearfishing in the Bahamas feel free to contact me and hopefully I can point you in the right direction. 

 

Brad Thornbrough