Bonefishing is hard! A Cayman Islands Report

sweetandsalt

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I spent two half days on a boat with a guide in the Keys fishing for Bones. We saw a total of one pod made one cast and no luck. Bonefish are still a fish on my list.
The Keys used to have lots more bonefish then they do today but even when they did, those way above average big boys where among the more difficult to feed fish I have ever encountered. Some two decades ago I was tarpon fishing in the backcountry behind Islamorada in a "lake" surrounded by shallower turtle grass flats. We saw a tail, a big tail, come up and poled after it. Turned out to be a group of three bonefish in the, and I am not kidding, 14 pound class. We followed them for what seemed like all day (perhaps 45 min.) and did not spook them nor did I ever get in a good enough position to make a serious presentation to them either. They were very exciting to observe and essentially impossible to catch.
 

just4grins

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My wife and I fished Little Cayman when there were only 39 permanent residents there. It appears all the tourism and townhouses have spooked the bones. Also, we went in July, really hot, the weather, no other fishermen, but huge schools of bones. On my first day I hooked up 26 bones. Once again it appears that once a place is discovered it goes down hill.
A shame.
 

sweetandsalt

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Bonefish and development or human activity in general are not compatible. Bonefish graze flats, they don't have a specific pattern or territory as, if the did, they would deplete their finite prey specie supply, so they roam. Therefore they are unpredictable, though they do favor specific depths and tide phases' as the shallow water protects them from their tooth predators.

They are quite primitive and have genetic memory going back to when there were serious avian predators, not mere osprey but these raptors dinosaur ancestors. So bonefish spook very easily in response to motion from above, or below or sideways...they are just born spooky. The crunch of a push pool, the scrape of a wading boot, tidal slap against boat chines, sounds you generate in whatever you are doing are transmitted to them and makes them nervous.

The key is to hunt for bones in as remote and unpressured quality habitat as possible and present your crustacean imitation to them from as far away as you accurately can. Many hope to combine a family or couples tropical vacation with bonefishing and I have had but minor success in this process. So, I travel to out islands in the Bahamas, stay in bonefish camps and run considerable distances in skiffs to find fish unmolested by man. I fish quality, dedicated tackle and learn its properties intimately so I can cast to these great fish at distance; minimum 50' and preferably longer. I can't do this too regularly as it is costly and after 6 days of hard core bonefishing, my wife likes to cap off the experience staying in a nice resort in Nassau for a weekend prior to boarding our flight back to the States...more money.

I suppose 80 some % of my fishing is dry flies for wild trout and I am very happy on a great river with sharp 5-weight. But bonefishing sharpens an anglers skills and awareness like no other form of fly fishing and I dearly love it. I have pursued these remarkable fish since the 1980's and hope it remains feasible for me to continue to do so, even for one week a year, as long as my eyesight and ability to cast an 8-weight permits. I have an old friend, now in his late 70's, who commented to me in the western section of the North Bight that it has taken him his whole life to be able to cast a whole fly line but now he can't see that far.
 
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smp005

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"I have an old friend, now in his late 70's, who commented to me in the western section of the North Bight that it has taken him his whole life to be able to cast a whole fly line but now he can't see that far."
Much like me - when I had the time to travel and fish, I could not afford it - now that I can afford to travel and fish I can't find the time!! Argh!!!!!
 

oldskewl808

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Very nice !!!



I have two full days in Honolulu this November on my way to CXI - hoping I might end up with a picture like that :)


Did you book a guide? Or are you going to DIY.


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sweetandsalt

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I've not been to Hawaii and I imagin DIY bonefishing would be a fun side-bar to a pig roast and hula skirt dancers. Still, I'd let someone else roast the piglet, dance in the grass skirts and, if I wanted to find bonefish during a two day stint, hire a guide. One might find a bigger bone in Hawaii than in Christmas Island...if not as many.
 

sweetandsalt

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When folks have finite financial resources but live around water, they are going to rely on the sea for food as have their ancestors. No species protective legislation will deter a fisherman from providing sea food to his family whether bonefish, sea turtles, conch over-harvesting or whatever. Near remote settlements in the Bahamas, conch shell piles are huge and bonefish can be scarce.
 

JW51

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"I have an old friend, now in his late 70's, who commented to me in the western section of the North Bight that it has taken him his whole life to be able to cast a whole fly line but now he can't see that far."


Much like me - when I had the time to travel and fish, I could not afford it - now that I can afford to travel and fish I can't find the time!! Argh!!!!!
Yep, and you know the rest of that phrase; when you have money and time, i.e. retirement, you won't have the energy/body to wade the flats much.
 

mjkirshner

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I'm beginning to realize how lucky I am to live where I live. I can be on Biscayne Bay in a little more than an hour or Key Largo in three hours. I've never caught - or even seen - a bonefish, but I really want to try. Now all I need is some good weather ...
 

sweetandsalt

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I'm beginning to realize how lucky I am to live where I live. I can be on Biscayne Bay in a little more than an hour or Key Largo in three hours. I've never caught - or even seen - a bonefish, but I really want to try. Now all I need is some good weather ...
There are a number of good guides who know Biscayne well. I've only fished there a handful of times, typically when the wife and I visit her elderly mother in Delray. Given a stretch of warm, clear, calmish weather, this is a fine time to fish there. There is no such thing as a guarantee bonefishing, but you will get shots. Rig you 9-weight with a long leader and a fuzzy crab fly.
 

jspfishing

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My buddy had a guide make him cast to make sure he can handle the wind. I thought that was a little insulting haha. Is that normal for guides to do?? How do they handle people getting tore up by the wind?
 

oldskewl808

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My buddy had a guide make him cast to make sure he can handle the wind. I thought that was a little insulting haha. Is that normal for guides to do?? How do they handle people getting tore up by the wind?
I do it, but I usually say something like hey go ahead and take a couple blind casts into that deeper area right there sometimes it holds fish. Then I watch the casts with my fingers crossed.


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jspfishing

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I do it, but I usually say something like hey go ahead and take a couple blind casts into that deeper area right there sometimes it holds fish. Then I watch the casts with my fingers crossed.


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They made him do it or he wasn’t allowed in the boat lol. But what if your fingers crossed failed you? What do you do? Customers are always right and they paid to catch fish. That would be my fear as a guide
 
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