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Bonefish Fishing in Florida

Written by Capt. Noah on Wednesday, 29 May 2013. Posted in Fish Info

Albula Vulpes, or Bonefish, live in tropical and subtropical inshore waters across the globe. They move with the incoming tide to feed on shallow mudflats. As the tide ebbs, they retreat back inshore. Primarily caught for sport, Bonefish are extremely popular and highly sought-after by fly anglers and are among the world’s top game fish on the fly. Florida is known as one of the best places to catch Bonefish world-wide.

Medium in size, these powerful fish typically weigh up to 19lbs and grow into lengths measuring around 35in. The base of their pectoral fins is yellow where their other fins are dusky. Equipped with an airbladder, these awesome fish can improve their tolerance for water that is poor in oxygen and can survive in brackish water. Silver in color, these fish prefer to swim in schools. Only the largest individuals will travel alone. Juveniles are observed swimming in large schools of similar sized fish, while mature fish congregate in pairs or smaller groups. In Hawaii, Bonefish are caught for dinner. However, these fish are generally not eaten anywhere else.

Their common diet consists of small fry, crustaceans, molluscs, shrimp, crabs and worms. Bonefish will follow stingrays in the hope of catching small prey that the rooting rays disturb. They can also be found in ledges where there are currents, in drop-offs and in healthy seagrass beds. These places provide small prey with shelter against strong currents.

Otherwise known as “phantom” or “gray ghost”, it is the opinion of many professional anglers that Bonefish are pound for pound the strongest and fastest saltwater fish on earth. These animals are phenomenally powerful for their relatively small size and will put up an enormous fight. Anglers fish for Bonefish in shallow waters, in depths ranging from 8in to several feet. Here are some tips to use when catching Bonefish in Florida:

Tackle for Bonefish

These fish can be caught comfortably on a light spinning setup with a 6lb test. A quality spinning reel of a small size works extremely well. These fish can run for a long time and quickly peel your line off, particularly with a lighter drag. Ensure you have enough line for even the large ones. If you are fly fishing for them, a 7lb or 8lb fly rod is perfect.

Bait for Bonefish

The most effective baits are live crabs and shrimps. Even flies are designed to resemble them. Small jigs with spinning gear also work for Bonefish.

Techniques for Bonefish

Generally, Bonefish are caught sight fishing; which is hugely exciting. We like to pole our way around shallow mudflats and look for them. When you see one, cast the bait or lure ahead of the direction they are swimming and they may bite. Here are some ways to catch Bonefish:

  • Fly fishing is immensely popular with anglers, particularly when fishing for Bonefish. Use flies that resemble shrimp or small crabs and weight them so that they will sink to the bottom. These fish are bottom feeders, so gently swim your fly along the ocean floor. You can use a small jig with spinning gear. This works better when you tip your jig with shrimp.
  • Live bait is simply the most effective method to use for Bonefish. Casting live crabs or shrimps in front of the fish is extremely tempting to them. They almost always bite, much to the chagrin of fly fishermen standing by.

Call today to book your Bonefish Fishing Charter in Florida and experience serious excitement.


About the Author

Capt. Noah

Capt. Noah

Noah is a United States Coast Guard licensed captain and PADI divemaster. He grew up in South Florida and has a passion for all things involving water. He is one of the rare bread of boaters who loves sailing and power boating. Noah sails competitvely and enjoys travelling, photography, and cooking. 


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