The Fly Fish Chick just got back from three days in the Keys and is considering selling her home to go chase tarpon. Now, she didn’t mention bonefish at all, which leaves me sad, disappointed, weeping tears of regret and sorrow. Sounds like good fishing with so-so catching, but the setting is just amazingly beautiful, if my memories from 1984 are to be trusted (my last trip to the Keys).
The fact that FFC didn’t chase bonefish and had to settle for tarpon may have something to do with the fact that bonefish are really tough in the Keys (and yes, I am joking about the “had to settle” thing).
I recently posted on a couple of message boards asking for perspectives on Florida bonefishing and here are some of the comments I got:
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.
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.
I have friends(not FF’s) I usually fish with in the Keys. The one time I got a guide I asked about Bonefish, he had one question, “can you put the fly in the ice chest at 40′ in a 15 knot wind?” If the answer is yes “let’s go” if the answer is no “let’s try something else”.
The advice in a nutshell was this… bonefish in FL are tough. They get fished over a lot and are very selective, although they are big. If you go to Florida to fish, you may catch some bonefish, but other species are more available and can provide an excellent experience.
So, I forgive the Fly Fish Chick for not targeting bonefish. When I finally make it to Florida to fish, I may be looking for poons or cuda, although I’m going to have to get beyond this singular fixation on bonefish first. Maybe my trip coming up this weekend to fish the Truckee River will help.