“It’s really a tale of two cities, with the five-star resort on the north
end of the island and the old fishing village in Alice Town at the south,”
says Levine. The resort is just another focal point of change on an
island that’s seen its share of ups and downs through the years. “When
we were growing up in the ‘60s, my father would take us over by boat.
This is before LORAN and GPS. You had to dead reckon over there,”
says Levine. “We were there during the drug years, during the human-smuggling years. The island bounces up and down through prosperity. When they announced the plans for what became Bimini Bay,
my father had romantic notions about the Browns Hotel. He bought
the place, but passed away in September 2010, and left it to my
brother Alan and me to run the place.” Their father, I. Stanley Levine,
is remembered as a champion of the arts in Miami, and a co-chair of
the Lincoln Road Task Force that revitalized the pedestrian mall at the
heart of South Beach. But besides the arts, his other enduring passions
were fishing and diving, loves he passed along to his sons.
Bimini is made up of two inhabited islands, North and South,
that stick up from the western edge of the Great Bahama Bank.
This huge area of shallow water drops off to thousands of feet just
offshore, making it a prime location for big-water gamefish. On a
sunny Saturday, we motored the short distance out the channel and
dropped lines at the color change. Trolling along the drop-off, we
hoped to entice a wahoo or similar predator lying in wait for baitfish
swept over the shelf by the outgoing tide. After boating a ‘cuda, and
a nice wahoo, we decided to deep drop for a while.
I never knew what to make of electric reels. I assumed, as I think
many do, that they sort of take away from the angling experience.
What I didn’t realize was how much skill it takes to use one to keep
a weighted line on the bottom, nearly a thousand feet down. And
how this sort of fishing wouldn’t be possible without them. Using a
six- to 12-pound cylinder of lead connected to 100-pound braid, we
could drop 800 feet of line over the side and still feel every bump
and twitch as the lead bounced and thumped the mud bottom
below. With one hand on the line to feel for strikes, and the other on
the controls of the Lindgren-Pitman reels, you had to concentrate to
raise or lower the weight so it kept bouncing on the bottom. I didn’t
master the technique fast enough to add any fish to the box, but the
other reel yielded a yellow-eyed snapper (silk snapper) for dinner.
Where the FiSh Are
But the big attractions for most anglers are twofold — the flats with
abundant bonefish and permit, and the pelagics just offshore. Bluefin
tuna migrate past Bimini each May, and blue marlin follow. Many of
the big-game tactics used to land such enormous fish on hook and
line originated with Bimini’s bluefin tuna fleet in the ‘50s and ‘60s. In
its heyday, on a southeast wind, a 70-mile-long strip of water between
Cat Cay and Bimini known as Tuna Alley would come alive with bluefin schools, with monster 500-plus-pound fish rising to the surface to
surf down the face of waves along the rip. The fish could appear anywhere along the 70-mile stretch. Captains would sight-fish for these
and Alice town.
right: A Lindgren-Pitman reel
for fishing very,
very deep. Far
right: Spectacular diving can be
found near the
Watch video of a floatplane take
off from the channel on north
Bimini from a unique perspective. See this story online at