Nov 09

Redeeming the Florida Bonefish

Some would say the Florida Bonefish don’t need redeeming, and, just to make sure everyone is clear about this, I have no way of knowing.  Since I started the blog back in August I’ve been looking for some encouraging news about Florida bonefish and haven’t found much.  I even put the question out on a couple message boards asking for someone to share the good news with me.

The Cliff Note version of the replies I received went something like this…

Bonefishing in Florida can be great, as long as you don’t want to catch bonefish… fish for ‘cuda.

Yeah, see, that wasn’t what I was looking for.  Are Florida Bones just impossible?  Do you need to outcast the Rajeff Brothers to even consider boarding the skiff of your ill-tempered, prima donna guide to go out and look for bonefish that you likely won’t see, and if you do see, won’t be able to cast to, and if you get the cast to the fish, the fish will laugh at your pathetic offering and flip you the fin?

So, I was relieved to have a little email correspondence with Captain Luke Kelly from Key Flat guide service.


A nice Captain Luke Kelly Bonefish

When I asked him about Florida Bonefish here is some of what he had to say:

I have spent my entire life in the lower Florida Keys and have been guiding flats for the past six years or so. I can honestly say I have handled somewhere around 1000 bonefish in those six years, no BS. There are a lot of bonefish down here and the fact is somewhat overlooked. I too have heard of people’s bad experiences bonefishing in the Keys and I know that is due to bad guiding, not the fishery. I often see them poling vacant flats, and showing people no fish.

Now, the lower Keys certainly are not the Bahamas. I have been to Andros several times and that is a different world over there in terms of bonefish, I always tell people the same. However, they don’t have nearly the amount of permit and even tarpon that we have here (especially the permit).

My honest summary on bonefishing in the lower Keys would be that we don’t have the numbers of that as the Bahamas, but we certainly have large adult bonefish. And most importantly, they offer promising potential for the official inshore slam (tarpon, permit, bonefish in one day) in an area where it is best offered, the lower Florida Keys.
Well, that’s hardly the tale of woe I’ve been hearing from so many quarters.  Makes me want to go catch a Made in the USA bonefish.
Capt. Luke Kelly

Made in the USA, no passport required (for all you running from the law)

The Captain…

Captain Luke Kelly

Another vote for the “Made in the US” bonefish is just the overall travel time and cost… SFO to Miami can run about $280, but SFO to Andros is about $700… and the SFO to Andros journey times out at about 20 hours there and 18 back.  As has been said by many anglers in many places over the ages, “you are only fishing when your fly is on/in the water.”