My half bonefish from Cuba

I had something happen in Cuba that I’ve never had happen before. I know it happens and it has happened plenty of times to plenty of people.  I had a bonefish bit in half on the line by a barracuda.

I didn’t see the cuda around before I hooked the fish. I didn’t think the bonefish was acting weird or wild before the fish hit. I had the bone on and then, all of a sudden, the cuda was there, chewing on the bonefish.  When I pulled in the fish, I was left with the front 1/3 or so of the bonefish.

I got to hold it him my hand and look it in the eye.

It was a weird moment. It underscored that this is a blood sport, even when we don’t intend it to be.

Thanks for the pull. Sorry it didn't work out.

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  1. I didn’t know cudas could slice so cleanly. Their teeth look good for gripping, not slicing like sharks. I read somewhere that according to Dr. Aaron Adams, scientific leader of the B&TT that the mortality of released bonefish is 40%. Of the 12 or so bonefish that I’ve released I know one got run down by a shark so I think the number quoted is high, IMHExperience. I will from now on practice in water releases, not fish if sharks are in the immediate area, and release the drag if a shark comes around while fighting the bonefish.

  2. I’ve had cudas slice through many species of fish I’ve caught, but fortunately never a bonefish (yet). Re: the 40% mortality rates, I am sure the number is much lower among people who read this blog (i.e. conservation-minded fly fishermen, BTT members), BUT take a look at some of the bonefish videos uploaded to YouTube by gear fishermen. For example, this goofball ( who caught a 9 lb. bone in Biscayne Bay from his kayak using bait, who kept the bonefish out of the water for over 2 minutes to put his gear away and pretty up for his ‘hero shot.’ I don’t know what groups like BTT can do to get conservation on the mind of the “domination” breed of fishermen, but a 40% mortality rate sounds about right to me.

  3. Wow! Reminds me of the time a friend of mine was playing a largemouth bass, when a larger largemouth tried to “barracuda” it. The attempt wasn’t successful, but striking, as you described. Even, if on much smaller terms.

  4. Hi Eric,

    Once you catch a Barracuda, you’ll know exactly what kinds of teeth they have. Large protuding K-9’s at the front of their jaws…and scissor-like triangular dentition on the sides and rear of the Jaws.

    I had a ‘so so’ sized cuda of about 14lbs cut a large “Houndfish” of about 6lbs cleanly in half “AT FULL SPEED (20-25 mph?)” That fish looked as if it were chopped in half with a cleaver…there was barely even any blood!!! 😮

    I’ve been “sharked” a few times with bones…and there’s allways been some sort of warning…Not with big Cuda’s. They seemingly appear out of nowhere to smash and consume your fish.

    Good fishing,


  5. I’ve caught some cudas in the past and I know destructive their teeth look. Impressive animals to say the least. I also had a yellow jack cut in half on this trip, but I didn’t get a photo of that one. Cudas are kind of awesome. I think I could be pretty happy just fishing for Cudas for a day or two.

  6. Just read that Jose Wejebe died I know this has nothing to do with your trip but I but I had to say something to some one . First saw him on Walker Key with Phlip and thats were I first found out about bones I didnt now then that one day I would be puting all my energy into trying to save enough money to go and chase these fish ,a great loss to the fly fishing world and the world of TV fishing shows . Hope there is some good water were ever he is fishing now !

  7. Yeah, heard the news about Jose down in Cuba. One of the guys on the trip knew him and had even flown in his plane. Said he was a real good guy. Such a small world. Sad to see him go.

  8. One of the first things a guide looks for on a flat are sharks and rays. If they’re not around, chance are the bones won’t be either. It’s natural, just like lions following a herd of wildebeast. In fact, in deeper waters, sharks will be waiting for the traveling schools. This happens a lot with migrating tarpon.
    Don’t feel too badly about losing a fish or two to predators. You will never put a dent in a fish population with a hook and line, it takes a net for that. In November, in Trinidad de Cuba I questioned a local fisherman about the local bonefish population. He said, “we made them into cheviche.” He was patching his net at the time.
    A 40% mortality rate seems high. Most studies indicate a 75% suvival rate for released tarpon, and they go through a much longer, more arduous battle.
    The kind of fishing we do helps preserve the stocks and demonstrates the best use of the resourse.
    Photo safaris bring more income to the poor in Africa than the sale of Rino horn.

  9. I don’t feel too bad about the 1/2 bonefish. It happens.
    I think the mortality rate can certainly be 40% with improper handling and there is no shortage of that. Best thing is to take the pics of the fish in the water, remove the hook with the fish still in the water and get the thing on its way.
    Air exposure + handling = higher mortality and almost of that comes from predation.

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