My brother and I hired a guide for a day and went out “backcountry” to fish for bonefish. Catching a bonefish on a flyrod was on his lifetime fishing bucket list, and this was a great opportunity to tangle with some of the larger bonefish in the world.
A bit of background for the non-fisherman out there. The bonefish is almost the perfect sport fish. They are hard to catch–but not too hard. They are not big fish, 3 or 4 pounds is typical, 6 to 8 pounds is a respectable catch, and anything over 10 (a “double digit” fish) is really something to brag about. They can be caught by beginners, but an experienced angler will find skill and good technique well rewarded. They willingly take artificial lures and flies, but not every time. Then, once hooked, they are strong and FAST. They feel very vulnerable out on the shallow flats where they feed, and can be nervous and easy to spook.
They are hunted on the sand flats in tropical waters around the world. Typically you catch them in just a few inches of water. Almost all of the fishing involves casting to fish you see, and they can be very hard to see! They are the color of the sand, and, although impossible, it sometimes seems like they don’t even cast a shadow. A major predator of young bonefish are the ospreys that are so common here, so the fish are always looking up for approaching danger.
Our guide, Edwin, had a fantastic boat built for this kind of shallow water fishing. very shallow draft, he can run at 30 miles per hour in water 4 to 6 inches deep. There is a high platform at the back of the boat where he stood while we fished, pushing the boat with a pole. The height gives him the best chance of seeing these elusive fish. At the bow of the boat, there is a shorter platform for the fisherman.
How did we do? We both had a blast. We didn’t come across a huge number of fish, but more than enough to keep us having fun. We each had a chance to cast to at least 6 or 8 fish, and we each hooked four or five. Jim landed one respectable fish of about 6 lbs and one monster of about 12 lbs.
Through our entire day we did not see another boat fishing. We did see spectacular scenery, watched a small flock of flamingos, saw ospreys and pelicans hunting, and we heard clapper rails hiding back in the mangroves. Pretty close to perfect.