Boxfish [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Boxfish

02-12-2008, 11:33 AM
Occasionally on tropical flats I find Boxfish, and have been trying to get one to take a fly for quite a while now.
Does anybody have a good method for taking boxfish? I've been told small (size 8-10) crabby flies, like pop's bonefish bitters, and slow retrieves work, but the best I've been able to do is feel pecks on the line, and get mangled flies back.

02-12-2008, 01:49 PM
They have very small mouths, so small flies are best. I would only target the larger ones, and they will fight pretty well, usually taking one good run into your backing. Also, I only ocassionally cast to them when no bones are around on a slow day.

I find it is best to set the hook by watching your fly and the action of the fish. When he follows the fly, stop it and let it settle to the bottom. I have had little success hooking them while the fly is moving. When you see him stop and tilt down, strip set. Don't wait until you feel a tug.
If you missed him, he'll usually follow it again. Let it settle to the bottom and repeat.

Be gentle with them when releasing-I never take them up onto the sand--just grab the "box" carefully and remove the barbless hook.

Apparently they are delicious to eat if cleaned properly, but I would never keep one.

02-12-2008, 02:06 PM
I caught one on a #6 gotcha but usually don't throw at them. I did target trigger fish a few times on trip last week. Tried a lot of flies but again when I tied on a #6 gotcha they ran to it.

Here is the best way to get a box fish. A quide was poling me last year when a large box fish swam about 10 feet in front of the boat, moving left to right. As the fish moved to the right side something passed quickly by my right shoulder, swooshed into the water and smacked that box fish dead center. The guide had speared him with his fiberglass pole. It didn't kill him but the next dead center hit did or stunned him so that the guide could get out of the boat and collect him. That is some radical skill there.

He said that there is a some sweet meat located on the fishes back. We used to catch what we called blow fish in NC that look very similar. We would skin them and collect a small piece of meat from thier upper back. Tastes like chicken. I imagine its about the same as with the box fish.

02-12-2008, 02:14 PM
The call boxfish 'shellfish' on most Virgin islands restaurants, and it is absolutely delicious. Yoiu actually get two decent-sized fillets off the thing.

And yes I've seen guides spearing them with poles, too.

02-12-2008, 05:54 PM
I caught a few of them on the flats in Roatan. Targetted them because there wasn't a bonefish to be seen. Got them all on tan #6 Gotchas. They are a lot of fun. Don't run as fast a a bonefish but they do put up a good struggle.

02-12-2008, 08:38 PM
What do they look like? Are they like cowfish?

02-13-2008, 05:01 AM
Hi Frogfish

Yes in some places they are called Cowfish.

I caught a reasonably large one on my last trip to Los Roques. I was using a #4 gotcha and simply cast to the fish as there were no bones around. I thought that I had foul hooked it but the hook was in the corner of its mouth. It was quite a tough fish to bring in.

02-13-2008, 06:13 AM
Trophy boxfish

02-13-2008, 08:59 AM
This boxfish my buddy caught on Eleuthera fell to a small #6 mantis shrimp immitation. Looking at the fishe's small tail, you wouldn't think that it could ramp up enough horsepower to even take drag...this tiny guy took my pal into his backing.


02-13-2008, 09:04 AM
Small bonefish bitters work well.

02-13-2008, 09:54 AM
Here in the Virgin Islands we refer to 'shellfish' two ways...the traditional lobster, conch, shrimp - 'shellfish' and to local 'shellfish' which is usually a trunkfish (more triangular in shape then a box fish). The meat is very good and roasted over a beach fire with a little island attitude adjustment (in my case Cruzan Rum) goes a long way. I use a variety of small, #6-#8, flies when the hunt for bones is lacking.


02-18-2008, 04:29 PM
No fly needed to catch boxfish - just take a look here how our guide is doing the cowfishflatdance....on a bone empty flat - big time pleasure for our cameraman :chuckle: (9 mb)

02-18-2008, 06:39 PM
awesome! They appear to be dumber than dumber. How can evolution not preclude them from extinction? Interesting.

03-07-2008, 05:59 PM
Over the years I've caught several boxfish, but like the other posters here, only target the bigger ones. Mostly this is because they have such small mouths that it takes a big one to take in a average #6 fly. They pull very hard - not as fast as bones - and make fewer runs but a big one can take you well into the backing on an 8-weight.

I find the toughest thing about them is their eyesight, which seems to be very poor. They can be tough to catch that way since you pretty much have to cast right on them. Good news is they are dumber than anything (or maybe just fearless since they're a pretty tough meal), so they will swim right up to you. The also won't hold a fly for very long, prefering to pick at it rather than suck it in. (I've had them methodically bight the rubber legs of my flies.) I like to stop the fly once the fish follows and as soon as he's on it start a sloooowww, crawling strip and really feel for the take.

The biggest I've caught were on permit flats on a permit tide and easily took a #2 permit crab and were, believe it or not, great sport on a 10-weight.

Just be careful removing the hook, they have a MEAN bite... feels like getting hit with a very sharp hammer. Also, since they live on shellfish (no pun intended) they can cause quite an infection if they break the skin.

Tight lines,

03-08-2008, 05:34 PM
They appear to be dumber than dumber. How can evolution not preclude them from extinction?

... ummm, they have a shell.