Educated bonefish [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Educated bonefish

02-14-2008, 09:14 AM
I'm finally understanding why some prefer to fish for ultra-educated bonefish in places such as the keys. As Bahamian bones get smarter in areas close to lodges, I've had a chance to fish a range from 'jump on anything' dummies to some sophisticates indeed, and am finding I gravitate more and more to educated fish, where hooking a couple/day is good fishing.

I was wondering what level of bonefish sophistication others favor? Where do you rank sheer numbers of hookups vs technical level? What about big dumb fish vs small smart ones?

Mat M
02-14-2008, 09:59 AM
I do love dumb fish because they can help to make a tough day better but what I really enjoy is fishing ultra skinny water where even unpressured fish require a subtle presentation to get a take.

Had an afternoon in Ascension Bay in December where those skinny water fish shot me to pieces. I didn't think I was going to catch another fish ever for a while there but along came a dumb one and restored a bit of confidence. I then managed to make to make some decent casts and and land a few of those skinny water fish.

My favorite fish however are those out in tahiti and New Caledonia. Big cruising singles and doubles that make you week at the knees. They haven't seen many fly's but you still have to hold your nerve and make the cast.


02-14-2008, 10:24 AM
I never met a bonefish I didnt' like.

I don't discriminate against dumb ones :)

However the ones that I will never forget are the ones that I crawled on my belly like a snake through the chalky white marl with my shoes left 100 yards back on a lone mangrove so my socks would make less crunch on bits of coral and cast with most of my body in a pothole hoping the mantis shrimp would not bite my privates all to hook a fish weighing in the teens after hours of stalking that nearly empties my backing and finally explodes the tippet while churning the flat into a froth as if I had hooked the entire pod at once. Then landing a 6-7 pounder and thinking how small it was in comparison.

Or the two fish I saw tailing at twilight, barely enough light to see... realizing that it was not two fish but one with a gap between the dorsal and tail point like none I had seen for years, and it being so dark that every cast I made even when practically on it's nose went unseen until I finally hit it on the head and it motored a vee wake like a torpedo from a nuclear sub to deep water as I stood there thinking i need to tie some glow material into my flies for next time.

etc. etc.

02-14-2008, 12:17 PM
The first place I ever went bonefishing was Ascension Bay in Mexico. At first it was difficult and then I got used to it, it was quite easy. I then visited a number of different lodges in the Bahamas and found that more challenging.
Then followed a couple of years fishing a week per month in the Keys. That was extremely difficult and I blanked more often than caught. However in the Keys the fish are not only educated but few and far between. You learn to not waste many chances and that your presentation must be perfect. However the fishing is not that enjoyable.

I fish for fun and to blank is not fun.

The places that I now fish: Los Roques, Seychelles, Cuba and Bahamas are much more fun to fish as there are numbers of fish and you should catch some.
I don't enjoy catching 100 fish per day so if I am in the situation that there are schools of hungry fish around I try to choose one and go for that and it only counts if it is the fish I am trying for.

I think as our sport becomes more and more popular the fish become educated and therefore more difficult to catch.
It is a fact of life and there is not much you can do about it apart from trying to find new locations all the time.

Back to the point of your post. I think that you must adapt to the surroundings and if the fish there are difficult then you must try harder.

With regard to the Keys though. The guides there seem to think that everywhere is too easy and that the real bonefishing is to be had there. I think it's a bit like hitting your head against a wall. As my father pointed out it only hurts when you stop. If you go somewhere else you can see how bad the bonefishing in the Keys really is.


02-14-2008, 12:48 PM
I like both. Catching lots of fish and having to work hard to catch a few fish. Just returned from a trip where I didn't catch 10 bonefish the whole week. Two years ago it was double digits every day but one. I had a great trip each time.

The past trip each shot at a fish was a reward and if you hooked up then you really felt like you had accomplished something. I can remember each shot at a fish from this trip nearly as well as I can remember the fish landed. The water was cool and the wind was howling. Most of the fish we saw were big ones. We also had a number of shots at permit and I managed to get my second one on fly.
I can fish for them all day, even if I know I am only going to get a couple of shots, and still enjoy it.

I wouldn't want to choose between catching a lot of dumb fish and trying to catch big smart fish. The perfect trip for me would be a combination. Go out and catch some fish then concentrate on the big fish or permit.

Trevor B
02-14-2008, 03:21 PM
I’m still somewhat new to the Bone fishing game but I have learned this, for me being there is number one and seeing fish is a very close second.
I think 8 or 9 is the most I have caught in one day but I can remember each and every one of them at the end of the day. I’m sure if I caught 30 or 40 I would not be able to say that.
On my recent trip to CI the only time that I got little a frustrated was when we were not seeing any fish, if there are fish to be seen then I can cast at them all day and have a blast.
CI is supposedly known for having huge numbers of small but easy to catch Bones, I found the opposite, not huge numbers and each and every fish was a decent one, indeed on the last day they were all 6+lbs, I think that’s good anywhere. They were also somewhat on the picky side and I experienced my first refusals which made for many fly changes and I think because of this it has made me one step closer to being some day a competent Bone fisherman.
So for me it’s the challenge and I will take that over sheer numbers any day
“Anything that comes too easy is seldom worthwhile”

02-15-2008, 08:30 AM
For the same reason I choose spring creek trout fishing over most freestone fishing, and why I like permit fishing better than any bonefishing, I want the challenge of tough fish. The bonefishing isn't bad in the Keys, it's just tough. But the average fish is as large as anywhere and most days you will get enough shots to make it worthwhile. It's just that most bonefish in the Keys are as tough to catch as permit in Ascension Bay or Belize. I fish Andros Island two or three times a year. I spend my time in the Middle Bite and West Side where the big fish are. I might only get eight to ten shots a day, but most will exceed six pounds. Usually, I don't even cast to fish I know are less than six pounds. I once was fighting a fish that was maybe four pounds when my guide showed me once that he said was about 38 inches. For me, that would have been a lifetime fish. Sometimes on the first day of the trip I'll throw to most anything to break the rust loose, but after that I'm looking for big fish. They are almost invariably selective and spooky. I once caught 42 bones and one small permit from a staked out boat in the lagoon behind Pesca Maya Lodge in less than three hours. Only the permit even took me into my backing. Frankly, I got bored to death with it all and told my guide that we were fishing for permit only the rest of the trip (and that's exactly what we did.)

06-22-2008, 09:51 AM
Well, North Andros should be great for you, then.:roll: Some of these fish are getting educated kindeedd, especially right after the spring season. It seems fuel (or whatever) is reducing length of skiff runs, so fish close to lodges are picky indeed. It took me most of the day to dial in the fly, leader length and lead distance. The whole area from Joulters to Fresh Creek to and through middle bight has super-smard bonefish. Lots of 'em, it's just they demand pretty high angling skills.