Bonefishing is one of the most challenging fly casting feats there is, because the casts must be long and accurate as bonefish are very wary and reactive. Catching one bonefish in a day is considered an accomplishment. Bonefish are known as a premier fly and light tackle target and they are predominately a coastal species found in intertidal flats and deeper adjacent waters of tropical areas. The bottom of the flats they frequent can be sand, grass, coral and rock. Bonefish generally have bright silver scales on the sides that can reflect like a mirror, and blue-greenish backs. They usually feed at the bottom of the water on crustaceans, worms, mollusks and small fish.
Bonefishing is categorized as sight fishing, which requires good casting ability, vision and skilled maneuvering using angles and geometry. In order to catch bonefish, you must first spot the fish with skilled sharp vision. Casting into the wind is a very important skill for bonefishing. The fish are usually within 50 feet of the boat and they are always moving, so you must be able to anticipate where they will go to hit them with the cast.
One important factor is the weight of the fly. The fly has to go deep enough for the fish to see it, and it can’t be too heavy to go below the fish. Also, the cast should be done ahead of the fish, which are usually going against the current. Using shrimp as bait is very effective for bonefish. You must remember to remove the tail when attaching live shrimp to the hook, so that the shrimp does not flail around with its tail. You can also crush the head, which allows the fish to smell the shrimp which can attract them more to the bait.
Bonefishing is best done when temperatures are stable and not too cold, which is when they are most active. Also, this is not to say they never feed in colder waters. Regardless of the weather, these fish need to eat. However, they may be going to deeper warmer waters when the weather is too chilly.
Another thing to keep in mind is that bonefish don’t always go against the current. Oftentimes, they are against the wind and disregard the current. There are multiple factors to consider, but positioning with the wind so the bonefish will come toward you is actually an effective strategy.
Usually a nine foot rod does the job for most bonefishing. Bonefish mostly feed at the bottom, so keep this in mind. The color of the fly should match the color of the bottom of the water, because prey usually take on the color of the environment for camouflage.
One thing that many people talk about is how easily bonefish get spooked. This may be the case, but it doesn’t mean you have to abandon the fishing spot if they accidentally get spooked. Because oftentimes the fish will come back to any prime real estate because they are there for a reason. However, this doesn’t mean you can scare off fish recklessly. Silence and quiet is a very important part of fishing. Even if they do return, scaring them off does you no good.
Overall, bonefishing is really a worthwhile experience. Just being able to develop the skill of catching your own fish, which is one of the best food sources in the world, is worthwhile. The general peace and quiet of fishing also allows for meditation and quiet reflection of inner thoughts.