Bonefish are one of the most recreationally fish for species in the world. Found in nearly all the warm, shallow waters in the tropics. The most common places are the Florida Keys, Bahama’s, and the Caribbean. The record for a Bonefish is 16 pounds caught off Bimini. Bonefish are silvery in color, with a long deeply forked tail, and single dorsal fin. They have a pointed head covered by a thick layer of transparent cartilage and their mouth is under their head. Depending on their environment, they can develop a light or dark complexion that aids in their camouflage.
Bonefish are bottom dwellers and pretty much feed on creatures on the bottom of the flats, which is why their mouths are where they are, unlike other fish. Their pointed heads and location of their mouths aid in the dislodging of food from sand and coral. They don’t have teeth, but they do have a hard tongue and pallet used to crush hard shelled food.
The species can be very elusive, and very predictable. They are always in the mood to eat and take a fly, which makes them a commonly targeted species for fly fisherman. Bonefish are also high on the food chain for other predators such as Barracuda and sharks, so Bonefish tend to stay in the shallows to avoid their enemies. You may also find Bonefish in areas with rays. As rays stir up the bottom scaring up crabs and shrimp. So be sure to be on the lookout for feed rays in the area.
The best time to fish for Bonefish is when the tide is dropping and the water is falling off the flats. This forces the fish into deeper water known as “Bonefish drop”. During the outgoing tide Bonefish will stay in the shallow water as long as possible and feed to avoid deeper water and predators. Also during this time they will tend to be in larger groups. Use a Spawning Shrimp or Fleeing Crab fly. Both have a realistic look and are simple and highly effective patterns.