Two world records come not from the Keys or Andros, but South Africa. I’ve read plenty of reports of 20 pound bonefish taken one place or another, usually written about on message boards without useful things like first-hand accounts or pictures (and none of them widely accepted as truth). However, the IGFA recognizes the largest all-tackle bonefish as coming from South Africa and weighing in around 19 pounds (1962). Yes… 19 pounds… that kind of bends the mind a bit. My largest is 7.5 pounds and I was pretty frigging impressed with power plant that thing had under the hood. I can’t really comprehend a 19 pound fish… the run… the weight. Another fish of 17 pounds was taken from roughly the same area in 1976. Still a monster.
The biggest fly caught bone seems to still be a 15 pound 8 ounce bone caught in Key Biscayne (FL) in 1997. If this has changed, I don’t know about it, but, the amount of things I don’t know could fill countless volumes.
In a few dedicated hours of searching the web for fly fishing (or any fishing) operations around where those fish were taken and I simply couldn’t find one (not one that has a web address anyway). In an email with Aaron Adams from the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust, he said that not much is really known about the S. African bones. They don’t really know exactly which species of bone is down there, the studies have not been conducted and the money to conduct those studies has not landed on their doorstep.
The area (Zululand) may be difficult for fly anglers due to very high tides. The other issue is security, as in there isn’t much of it and wealthy western types make nice targets.
There do appear to be other nice species there… like GT’s… Kosi Bay seems like the place to head for those and I’m guessing this would be where you’d look for those toddler sized bonefish. Before you rush out there, however, check out these fishing reports. The word that comes to mind isn’t “excellent,” but more like “sucky.”
There do seem to some bonefishing opportunities in Mozambique. Looks like a nice place, really.
Mozambique seems to offer more for the fly angler and doesn’t seem to have the… um… security issues that others have mentioned about S. Africa.
Now, I’d add that I don’t really know what the situation is like in S. Africa. I went to Sarajevo in 1997 and people were suggesting I needed to pack heat… I didn’t (didn’t try to smuggle a gun in and didn’t need it).
So… for me, it all seems like a bit of a mystery. The world’s TWO largest bonefish coming from a place that isn’t targeted for bonefish in any meaningful way. Doesn’t it make you wonder a bit?