BY MICHAEL VATALARO
FLYING (TO) FISH
HAD I SEEN OUR PILOT’S passport photo before our flight, I may never have gotten aboard the little five-seater floatplane. Adam, who’d pilot our flight to the island of North Bimini in the Bahamas, lacked none of the customary self-assurance associ- ated with pilots. He carried himself like any other young guy with an incredibly cool job. But in his passport photo, he looked 14. Even the customs officers gave him a
hard time about it. I’m glad I went, though. Flying to the island from Fort Lauderdale or Miami takes
less than 30 minutes and makes it abundantly clear how close this corner of the Bahamas is to
South Florida. But the best part was landing in the recently dredged channel off North Bimini and
taxiing directly to the beach across from a Bahamian Customs Office annex. Step off the plane, into
the sand, and cross the street to clear in. Couldn’t be easier.
My wife Stephanie and I had flown in for a weekend of fishing and exploring ahead of the Miami boat
show. On the plane we met Michael Weber, general manager of the Bimini Big Game Club, a legendary
fishing lodge. On the beach we met Robert Levine, owner of Browns Marina, another fixture in Bimini, its
docks immortalized in Hemingway’s Islands In The Stream. The next day we would be trolling for wahoo
on Levine’s 50-foot Riviera sportfish, and deep dropping with electric reels in the afternoon. Day two,
the plan was to chase bonefish on the flats with a guide. In the meantime, we relaxed dockside at Browns
before heading from Alice Town north toward Resorts World Bimini where we’d be staying.
There are few cars on Bimini; most people, locals and tourists alike, travel by golf cart. The roads are
narrow, the distances short (the whole developed portion of the island spans maybe three miles) and gas
expensive. Traveling from Bimini Bay to Alice Town at the far end of the island takes 15 minutes. But those
minutes bridge the old Bimini, where buildings constructed in the 1930s saw their heyday in the ‘60s and
‘70s, and the modern Bimini Bay complex. The complex includes two marinas, several restaurants, the
newly opened casino, plus a pool, tackle shop, grocery store, and, of course, unit after unit of condos and
single-family homes, many available through the rental agency.