Hungry, Hungry Bonefish

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Is That a Hook in Your Face or Are You Happy to See Me Photo by Louis Cahill

One of the things that makes bonefish so much fun is their generous nature.

When bonefish are feeding they are some motivated little dudes. If you can get a fly in front of them the odds are good that it will get eaten without a lot of scrutiny. This is not to say that’s always easy. Often the conditions make it nearly impossible. Making a sixty foot backhand cast, into thirty mile per hour wind, to a fish that’s booking across a flat, and changing direction unpredictably is plenty challenging. All I’m saying is that once you pull it off, the bonefish will likely reward you for your trouble.

I was at the World Wide Sportsman in Islamorada the other day to pick up a few essentials. They have a big saltwater aquarium with all of the popular Keys sport fish represented. I arrived about five minutes before feeding time and the natives were getting restless. This little bonefish had himself whipped into a frenzy. Watch this video and you’ll see what I mean. Remember there is no food yet, he just knows it’s time and he’s losing his cool. All the other species of fish are chill but Mr. Bone is literally trying to get out of the tank and chase down some grub.

Ok, that’s fun but it also tells you a lot about this fish and his eating habits. He’s ready to stick his face anywhere there’s food and he wants to be there first. A good lesson here, for example, is how to fish to a school of bonefish. The lead fish in a school will always be the biggest. He’s the one you want to catch, right? When you drop a fly in front of that school, this is the attitude your going to see when they come after it. If you want to catch that lead fish you had better maximize his chances of getting to your fly first. Lead him too much and and you will likely get his smaller buddy. Hit him as he turns, same result. Watch that lead fish and look for your best shot.

This is very different than, for example, fishing to a school of tarpon where dropping your fly on the lead fish’s nose will likely end in you seeing the back side of the whole school. The tarpon is a very different fish with a very different personality. They require a different strategy. Bonefish, tarpon, permit, redfish, snook, each has it’s own very distinct personality and feeding habits. Watch the video below and it becomes clear how differently each of these species behaves when it’s time to eat. For me one of the most striking things you’ll see is what a thoughtful feeder the snook is. It’s easy to see why rock star salt water angler, Chico Fernandez calls snook the most challenging saltwater species. Pay close attention to this video and you’ll learn a lot about the players in the salt water game.

Louis Cahill
Gink & Gasoline
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2 thoughts on “Hungry, Hungry Bonefish

  1. Louis – this comment doesn’t have anything to do with your post on bonefish, but I did want to congratulate you on the TU Magazine Cover this month, plus the one on the inside. Nice work and well deserved!

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