Chasing Bonefish on the Flats
Albula vulpes, or bonefish, is common in inshore tropical waters and moves onto shallow mudflats or sand flats to feed with the incoming tide.
Bonefish are notoriously wary and great skill must be taken both in approach and presentation when fishing for them. noises from the boat or even the boat’s shadow can spook the fish. Trust me, I’ve scared more than one school of fish in excitement to get a cast off or dropping a water bottle!
Fishing for bonefish is more like hunting for bonefish. You are sight fishing in extremely shallow water (1-2 or 3 feet max) and looking for tailing fish in the flats, or even their shadows when they cruising or feeding on crabs, shrimp or other crustaceans.
Tactics and Tackle
First, go with a professional guide. My go to guide for inshore flats fishing for nearly a decade is Capt. Mo of Miami Bonefishing.
Fly fishing with an 8 or 10 wt outfit is the ultimate way to catch bonefish, but they can also be taken on live shrimp. Typically sight fishing requires a guide who is an expert in the area and can pole the boat through the flats as the motor will scare the fish away for sure. Once a school is spotted tailing, then it’s up to the angler to make a precise cast (even with live bait) and not to scare the fish!
Once hooked, hold on as these babies can easily peel off a 100 yards of line and make for a spectacular fight.
The fight and the Reward
After brushing fight on light tackle or fly rods, you are pumped and hooked on these gray ghosts for life.
Once netted, take care if taking photos and make sure the fish is strong and healthy before releasing him. Bonefish is strictly catch and release and is considered a top gamefish.
And don’t despair if you don’t catch one, as they are not easy to find, catch and land. My best day ever was 3 bonefish. Most trips for bone fishing I’m super happy with one!