Nov 09

How to cook bonefish

A surprising number of searches get directed to this website for the search terms “How to cook bonefish,” or “cooking bonefish.”

Don’t eat bonefish.  Really… just don’t do it.  I know some cultures have a history of doing it, and for them, I say “I wish you wouldn’t, but understand if you harvest one every once in a while.”  If you are not one of those people I just say “DON’T DO IT!”

These are game fish that are way too valuable to be eaten.  Go get some Mahi Mahi, go get some carnitas (mmmmm, carnitas) or kalua pig (mmmmmm, other form of pork).  Don’t eat bonefish.  In Florida, they figure that each bonefish, over its lifetime will contribute about $75,000 to the Florida economy, about $2,500 each year.  This is sustainable, catch and release angling.  These are good jobs which value local eyes and local color.  This isn’t cleaning up the puke from spring breakers… these are good jobs.

If you absolutely MUST cook a bonefish, here is what you need to know….

  • Take a 6″ bonefish (bonefish over 6″ are poisonous and will kill you with the slightest taste) and set aside.
  • Get a kettle of oil, fill kettle all the way to the top and heat to 650 degrees.
  • Call fire department.
  • Run out of burning building.

If you think you can’t destroy the bonefish stock and that they’ll always be there, just ask the people of Campeche in Mexico. There used to be bonefish there and there aren’t bonefish there anymore. Haven’t been bones there for 20 years or more at this point. Netting is what did it. You can pretty well wipe out a whole population with modern nylon netting.

Sep 09

O’io Tagging Program (that’s Bonefish, by the way)

Hawaii is a beautiful place.  Really.  I love it.  For a long, long time it was not thought of as a fly fishing mecca by most of the fly fishing public (as far as I know, any way).  While that is starting to change,  thanks to the presence of big, huge O’io (bonefish), there are other things that are slower to change.

Hawaii is still primarily a meat fishery.  Lots of blue water, lots of dead fish and some tasty fish tacos.  Mahi Mahi, Trevally, others.


I recently sat next to two native Hawaiians at a wedding reception and we started talking about bonefish (yes, pretty much all I talk about).  The woman talked fondly about bonefish fish cakes that marked just about every important event in her childhood.  Bonefish are still eaten in Hawaii.  It has cultural connotations.  The memo about the economic value of a bonefish hasn’t reached the islands.

There are some folks that are doing some good work, however.  There is a tagging program at work in the Islands aimed at learning more about Hawaiian O’io.  The Oceanic Institute and Hawai’i Pacific University have teamed up to launch the tagging program.  I look forward to learning more about their work in the future.

Tag ’em! (but leave the boga grips behind)

I also look forward to a day when bonefish are not made into cakes and the locals are OK with that.