10-16-2009, 11:31 PM
Alright... help me sort the fact from the fiction when it comes to FL bones. I have not fished FL for bonefish, almost set a trip and then changed course and booked the Bahamas instead.
I hear stories of days spent not even seeing a bonefish. I hear of cocky guides who belittle their clients. I hear it is impossible to do DIY.
Now, I'm sure there are great guides and some bad ones. I'm sure that more than one horrible angler has caught a bonefish, and at least a couple have done it DIY.
Where's the truth here?
I posted a similar question to another message board and the general response was basically that I should target other species if I go to FL.
Love to hear some opinions on this.
10-17-2009, 08:03 AM
I think you're on the right track. There are still a few of the stereotypical "screamer" guides working, but the vast majority of guides working there are not like that at all. I've fished with ten guides down there over the last twenty years and only one or two ever did it at all, and even then it was just occasional.
You can certainly target the bones in the Keys. Lots of tournaments do just that, but combining it with a pursuit of other fish can be more enjoyable and productive. I'd say that bones in most of the Keys are just as tough as permit these days. While you'll rarely go an entire day without seeing a fish, it certainly is possible to go an entire day or more without seeing an interested fish. I have fished entire days there without a hookup.
DIY is possible, but the places to do it are fairly limited. Most all the gulf side is too soft for wading, and access can be a problem for good areas on the ocean side. Plus the numbers of fish are so much smaller than at areas like Acklins or areas of Ascension Bay that going fishless is quite likely.
If you want to target bonefish, I'd hire a guide, and I'd avoid tarpon season which is roughly from late April through early July. If you're simply going to be in the area and want to DIY for a day it can be done. But most of the guys I know who've tried it for an entire week simply said it's unlikely they'd do it again.
In addition to that great advice, I can say firsthand that I DIY is tough. I DIY'ed a few consecutive years there (annual kickoff meetings were there at my company) and it was hit or miss. I enjoyed it, because I was there anyway as JR says and I wanted to stalk bonefish. I got an 8#'er at Bahia Honda once, others sporadically. You used to be able to rent boats at Bud n' Marys.
10-18-2009, 09:08 AM
I fished the Keys for a week every month for just over 2 years.
I have fished from Biscayne Bay to Key West and have had about 15 different guides.
I can't remember not seeing a bonefish but I have had a good number of days when I have not caught a fish.
Having said that, the fish that you do catch can be large. I have caught 6 fish over 12lbs.
A good day bonefishing is 2 fish. The fish are very spooky. You need a perfect presentation and even then the fish may not take.
There are of course opportunities to catch other fish such as reds, snook, tarpon and permit not to mention Jacks, ladyfish, snapper etc. etc.
The guides are mostly nice people but there are one or two who are not and do not like inexperienced anglers.
The last time I visited the Keys I did not bother looking for bones but went mostly after snook and reds and also landed a 130lb tarpon.
It can be very frustrating fishing the Keys and it can be very rewarding. It depends on if the fishing gods are smiling down on you.
If you only make a few trips every year then there are other places to go where you are more likely to have fun catching fish. However if you do a lot of bonefishing then you must visit the Keys, particularly Islamorada.
10-20-2009, 10:23 PM
Thanks for the advice. Much appreciated.