Bonefish are the Ghosts of the Flats in the Florida Keys
I do believe the Bonefish is one of the most sought after flats fish here in the Florida keys. Some anglers spend their whole life stalking
this one fish species. And some of these never lay an eye on the fish never mind getting to fight one. The other flats fish of choice would be the Tarpon
and the Redfish
Most serious anglers looking to hook up with one of these Bone’s will hire a local flats guide. It saves you lots of gas, frustration and time. The guides know the local waters, have the right boat, and know where to find the fish under any condition. They can be found on the flats out front and in the backcountry on the Gulf side of the Florida Keys near the mangrove islands.
Bonefish are known for their speed. They have superior eyesight, hearing and smell, which allow them to disappear just as you’re making your cast. And lots of these casts are being made by an angler fly fishing. Here's a book that I found with lots of choice information about how to fly fish.
To spot a bonefish takes practice. They will swim just under the surface of the water when they’re up on the flats. You can see the movement of the water as a wake is created by the fish cruising along. Most of the time the bonefish is in deeper water. This makes him very difficult to spot. When the sun bounces off the bottom it reflects off the fish. Bone’s are so silvery, they reflect like a mirror.
They are easier to spot when they’re feeding. They feed with their head down and their tail breaking the surface of the water. This is called a tailing fish. Bonefish like to feed facing the current. They root around with their mouths in the sand and silt that’s on the bottom. Their looking for crab
, shrimp or any other creature they can dig up. This really mucks
up the water, causing it to become really cloudy. The current carried this away from the Bonefish and he’s able to see the crab and shrimp again.
Their favorite bait
is live shrimp.
Most all local Bait and Tackle Stores stock them. You’ll need to cast the shrimp a few feet in front of the fish and let it drift to the bottom. If your cast is too close, you’ll just spook him. Then he’s gone like a rocket.
The fish will smell your live shrimp. As soon as he gets to it, he’ll suck it in. Your job is to make sure theirs no slack in the line and that the rod tip is low to the water. Next slowly lift your rod way up in the air, over your head.
You’ve now set the hook. Hang on he’s making a run. As you’re fighting the fish he’s gonna make a couple more runs, then he’s worn out. After this it’s easy to reel him in and release him back into the water unharmed.
Very few Bone's stay here in the Florida Keys all year long. They like the water temperature to be at least 70 degrees. You can find them here in April, May, June, September, and October. November is usually too cool for them. July and August are too hot for them they seek out cooler, deeper waters.
The Bonefish in the Florida Keys will weigh anywhere from 5 to 10 pounds. Don’t let the size fool you. They are a worthy opponent. And the Keys are the only place in the United States where you can fish for them.
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