Bonefish telepathy [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Bonefish telepathy

10-15-2006, 07:07 AM
I was fishing White Bight (probably the most 'technical' flat on Andros) a few days back. Got a fish, but on the next pod, they would move up to the fly and then scatter from it. I changed a fly to something rather different and got another bone on it; but then, guess what? The next pod would inspect that fly and scatter away.
Changing to something drastically different, (to Bonefish Bitter from sparse shrimp) got me another, and then an inspect-scatter again. Same thing happened with a fourth fly.
Now these were all distinct pods, but within 500 yds of each other. It felt like fish were communicating to avoid a fly type after one got hooked. I don't imagine they are anywhere near that sophisticated, but has anyone encountered this behavior before? I think I have, but never quite as obviously as just now.

10-15-2006, 07:42 AM
I am sure that fish can communicate (perhaps over long distances), but I wonder if "Run when you see Josko's fly" is a little sophisticated.
Sounds like these fish on that flat are getting hammered. I saw this on Andros too.

10-15-2006, 07:47 AM
I dont like to "count"/report fish caught numbers. Even though I have strong Irish
bragging genes in my DNA. Yes, been there and done that. Day one, a truck load of bones to the 2, a few in the morning, and then, at least 50 shots,
decent presentations, and the little *&%%$#'s would follow and turn away...I mean like all day long !!! Changed flies like crazy......same behavior....follow and turn.....I guess "when they're hot, they're hot, when they're not, they're not".
Had a lot of real time casting practice, but that was all day 2 was worth.:confused:

10-15-2006, 07:48 AM
Eddie.....gotta believe you are correct.........

10-15-2006, 08:51 AM
I wonder what would have happened if after you caught the first Bonefish you cut off that fly and then put a duplicate "fresh" fly on instead of a different pattern and see what happens...?

I have nothing to base this on ... just curious about the discussion.... but what if the caught fish or you left some scent that put off the next pod ... again no science just speculation and joining the discussion...

Hey Mark... when is your next adventure beginning ? ....
I will join you one day on a trip! or if I am DIY alone on Andros... hook up with Josko... I am getting the travel itch bad!!!

10-15-2006, 09:12 AM
Maybe you forgot to clean off the bonefish spooey from the first fish :hihi:


I've observed that pods appear distinct but often circulate on a flat and are not prone to fall for the same trick twice unless something dramatically different is done as they approach. The game gets harder but I do a few things to change up their perception of the morsel and they've worked very well. One example is to go to a small crab and set traps for the fish with it. Rather than cast at them you have to predict their path and move teeny twitches at most when they are on top of it. Cast past their potential crossing and pull it into their path before they cross so they don't see anything but the crab laying on the bottom when they arrive.

Another thing to consider is that bones get on the move and they are focused on that, then they get on the grub and they focus on that instead. If the fish are not reacting as they blow past ask the question - where are they headed? Inevitably they are headed somewhere. It seems they always are on a tide change. Without so much as a fly change you can get them in a whole different mood when they decide they've arrived at the buffet table and it might only be 100 yards away.

Without seeing the structure and fish behavior I'm just guessing but these little enigmas are what makes bonefishing so damn much fun (not to mention the serious workout for the drag system).

10-16-2006, 06:22 PM
The more I think about it, the more I'm convinced that fly odor was the key here.

10-16-2006, 11:59 PM
From my limited experience, what Juro says makes sense. In short, just when I think I know what dem bones are going to do, they show me how little I know. I've also found that when I catch a bone, my hands and forearms get wet, sun screen gets wet and probably adds an unwanted scent to the fly. Whatever the reason, I just seem to have better results if I give the fly a good sand or mud soak after catching a bone and then keep my mitts off of it before I cast again.

10-17-2006, 12:14 PM
I add some "bottom" to my flies before the first cast and after every fish (at least when I remember) when bonefishing. I do so for all of the above reasons and the fact that a book called Through the Fish's Eye (I think that's the correct title) talked about the ability of some species to actually emit a "danger" scent on bait or lures which then repels other fish. It doesn't take much bottom to make the fly attractive again.

10-17-2006, 02:15 PM
Thanks for asking the question...

I learned a lot from all the info provided by the forum responders..

Very interesting theories.... looks like I will have to spend $2k to go to the islands and practice your suggestions !

10-17-2006, 02:43 PM
I googled "bottom" and I don't even want to talk about what came up.
What do you mean by "bottom", is it a fish scent?

10-17-2006, 09:59 PM
Yes, it's a good idea to rub your fly in the muck, sand or turtle grass to cover any scent that you may have left on it from sun tan lotion, oils, etc. . . Might also work to cover up another bonefish's "smell" that may have rubbed off on your fly after you caught it. I do the "bottom rub" to start the day, after any fish is caught and released, and whenever putting on a new fly. It only takes a second and it can't hurt.

10-18-2006, 08:18 AM
Assuming your post wasn't tongue-in-cheek, I think Vince answered it well. Bottom is simply the floor of the flat. In the Bahamas most areas have what I'd describe as marl. If you're very shallow you can simply reach over and pick some amount right off the bottom yourself. When deeper, I ask the guide to get a little on the end of his pole. Obviously this is even easier to do if you're wading. There are places where the bottom is quite hard and this would be more difficult to do, but even those flats usually will have a fine layer of silt on top (of the bottom!)

10-18-2006, 08:29 AM
Vince and JR,
Thanks for the information on "bottom". Its something I have never done but will be doing from now on. Being an ole bass fisherman, that got into flyfishing and bonefish late in life, I was thinking of some kind of fish scent that you might spray on the fly.

10-18-2006, 08:58 AM
Just to be clear, I don't think scent is key unless there is sunblock, cigar, tequila or other foreign compounds on the fly. I just threw that joke in there, but I do feel that circulating fish verses new arrivals or those jaded by lip piercings from the last tide (or with any regularity over time) are repelled from the appearance of a fly in typical presentations.

I have rubbed my fly in the marl but only when suspecting that a refreshed application of SPF50 got on it and it was my go-to bug. That's not very often.

If results are my teacher, it's working with what the fish are thinking in concert with presentation that gets them to eat the fly.

10-18-2006, 11:03 AM
Just had an idea...

shrimp flavored sunblock :hihi:

10-18-2006, 02:13 PM

Sounds to me like a classic case of pheromone communication. Pheromones are common among many insect species, and among vertebrates, as well. These external chemical secretions can communicate all sorts of things, depending on species.

One dramatic example involves salmon in fish ladders. If a male type person sticks his hand in the water, salmon will flee. If a female person does similarly, no panic. Apparently male hands exude some sort of fear/flee indicator to the fish that is detectable in minute concentrations.

So ... it seems likely bonefish can also excrete either a pheromone or other chemical messager that is absorbed by the fly during the bonefish's escape struggles, and this messenger remains on the fly to warn other bonefish away.

My .02


10-18-2006, 05:32 PM
Juro and others,

Flats species tend to be very sensitive to odors. I find that to be particularly true for bonefish, permit, and mutton snapper. For years I didn't add any head cement, epoxy, superglue, or colored marker ink to any fly intended for use on those species. Unfortunately, those types of flies don't last very long when tied without cements. I've found by using bottom I can use at least a little bit of head cement and the other adhesives when desired. Also everyone emits a substance called L-serene (sp?). Perhaps thirty years ago the Berkeley company, makers of Trilene, offered to do an L-serene test for fisherman for free. We had to send a palm print to them and they measured the secretions and sent back a colored palm print. The more electric blue there was in the print, the more L-serene your system secreted and the more fish were likely to be turned off to your lures or bait. Mine came back looking like a bright blue neon sign so I've always been very conscious of minimizing scent on any lures or flies. So yes, I do use bottom to mask scent. I also wash my hands more than most guys would, using unscented soap. And I still almost never use markers to color flies intended for those species. Even we can smell that stuff on them, so you know how well the fish must be able to smell them.

10-18-2006, 09:08 PM
I use only zapagap on my bonefish flies. The flies probably stink to those bones once I set the hook with the lip being so close to their nostrils and all ;)

10-19-2006, 07:52 AM
Ok, here is another thought.

From my limited experience and what I have heard and read, bonefish movement on a flat can be changing all the time depending on the tide and other conditions. They can be on a flat one day and then under the same conditions not be there the next day. On low tides they seem to spread out in small groups of 2 to 5 fish. Then as the tide rises and and they want to move into the creeks and mangroves they seem to gather in larger groups. Sometimes on high tides you find them in large schools.

So you have a rising tide and the groups of bones are moving up into the creek. The first pod comes along and you hook your fish, fight and land it. Maybe 5 minutes. You release him. Where does he go? Does he head up into the creek or does he head back from where he came not liking what he found going into the creek? I think he would head back and along the same path that he was coming in on which would also be the path of the next pod of bones heading to the feeding grounds. He sees his new buddies, he joins up heading with them up into the creek. When this new pod nears you and come to inspect your fly, this fish sees the same thing that got him in trouble just a short time ago. He is alarmed, which triggers the other fish and they all move off.

Don't know if this is common but I can see it happening under certain conditions.

10-22-2006, 09:34 AM
Frank.......leave this Thursday......I am in a tying frenzy...thank god bones are not that particular if they are tying is very much average.....will be back 4 Nov......some DIY on the southern part of Abaco......almost lost a fishing partner to muck north of Treasure Cay last trip......really excited and hope dem bones is hungry.........low tide day one is 5:15 AM........should get a good moon.....if that actually means anything.....some say it does others focus more on light conditions and wind......wish me luck......still looking for my 1st double-digit...