Posted: Wed 11/03/10 11:19 am Post subject: Florida Keys Bonefish?
Okay this question might come off as a bit ignorant and uneducated. I read on the FWC site that bonefish are in Florida. What parts of Florida would one be able to locate one of these? Bonefish are a fish on my bucket list. I wasn't too sure if I should have asked this in my earlier post... sorry.
Posted: Fri 09/09/11 2:45 pm Post subject: Bonefish in Florida
I just returned from a fishing trip to the Florida Keys. I was there from August 29 to September 5th. Like you, Darth, bonefish is on my bucket list of species to catch on fly. The Keys are absolutely beautiful and it is fishing heaven! Everywhere you go, flats, inshore, cuts, bridges, offshore is all very fishy!! There are so many species to go after. This particular trip I went to specifically target bonefish. I did plenty of research before going and all signs pointed to the bigger bonefish appearing on the flats in September. The captains online reporting from the local marinas, and the websites for guides in the Keys. reported that bonefish are there in September. I was f*%^n fired up to fire bugs at these fish!!
Now the reality...the reports were all completely inaccurate!! Inaccurate to the point that I call it a complete misrepresentation, and simply put: bullshit. My buddy and I arrived with his boat in tow. We posted up at the Pines and Palms on the oceanside in Islamorada. Cool digs. Well maintained. Our first two days we decided would be scout days. We looked at maps and hit every cut, every flat, and every channel where water drains off of the flats. Day one we thoroughly scouted the ocean side flats off of Long Key near Islamorada. We also hit Shell Key, Lignumvitae Key, the"stadium" and every flat between and around those areas. We took our time and posted up to watch for moving water, and sight fishing opportunities. Day 2 we hit the same spots for a quick peek in the morning. We did not SEE a bonefish, or any signs of them at any tide. We decided to do some recon and hit up the local marinas, World Wide Sportsman (flats wading boots for $25!!!), and Florida Keys Outfitters Fly Shop. The bottom line is SEPTEMBER IS THE WORST MONTH FOR BONEFISHING IN THE FLORIDA KEYS. I spoke to a guide that lives with two other guides and collectively they scheduled a whopping four trips for bonefish during September. The fish are not around at all. They return in good numbers in October through late Fall. Another guide said he had been out six of seven days and saw an estimated 30 bonefish, all on the same day, and only had 8 fish in range of a cast. So eight opportunities in six days...not good odds.
I write this post for two reasons...1) to vent some frustration since all info pointed toward reasonable shots at bonefish, and the info was wrong..., 2) to offer legit information for anglers going to the Keys to stalk bonefish. I want to provide some honest info so that the couple $$grand that you invest in going to take a trip like this at least gives you an opportunity to have a realistic shot fulfilling another bucket list item.
We ended up running well north of Islamorada to Cape Sable and Flamingo and targeted redfish. The waters in that area are super fishy as well. We got on a cut adjacent to a grass flat just southwest of Cape Sable and started blind casting. I was throwing an epoxy shrimp fly, and my buddy was using spinning gear with a Gulp shrimp. We caught everything but redfish! We had fish on every cast when the drift took us over the grass! We would lose the bite then go to our waypoint and start the drift again and get on fish all over again! We caught about two dozen trout with a handful of keepers for dinner. We caught enough of other species as well that kept a bend in the rod. Trout were a good sign since the reds and trout are typically in the same areas...like I said everything but reds...
Later that night I hooked up to about a 50 pound tarpon under a bridge on the way to the boat ramp. I saw a tarpon roll and waited to to see which direction he was headed. He rolled again headed to the ocean side of the bridge. I fired repeated casts ahead of him and got him to roll on a black and purple tarpon toad. He rolled, missed it and I started to strip faster to get a water haul going and the tarpon followed and blew up on the fly!! That was heart pumping!!! Lost him on the first jump...bring your tarpon toads when you go!! Black, and Black/Purple got the most follows.
Here's a summary...go to the Keys and keep an open mind. Plenty of lobster to be had in September. Be sure to get a lobster tag, though. Plenty of fish to catch. Not all of it is sight fishing. If you are targeting bonefish, NO BONEFISH IN SEPTEMBER. PERMIT ARE OFFSHORE ON THE WRECKS. Save money and hire a guide. (PM me for specific info). Don't believe what the locals post on the internet.
Get your double haul ready. Wind is a factor around 9-10am. You need to deliver a fly about 50-60 feet wind or no wind. Accuracy is a must when shooting at mangrove lines. 8 weights and larger work best. I brought a 6 weight but wind dictated that it was not the best choice. I caught a one pound trout on my 8 wt. and thought it was a much larger fish the way it was pulling and fighting. Don't underestimate the strength of the fish there! I caught the tarpop on a 10 wt...
I hope this info helps to make everyone else's trip to the Keys more productive!
I went to the keys in May, and found bonefish on the keys. Specifically Bahia Honda State Park, in the morning. I found small bonefish that would school in 4 - 5 and dart around the white sands. I landed 2 hooked and lost 3. I managed to check one of my fish off for sure.
Here are my pointers for what they are worth from a bonefish noob.
1) When arriving at the Beach DO NOT STEP FOOT IN THE WATER. walk as close as you can to the tree line but do not step in the water. The bonefish I caught were no more than 10 - 15 feet from shore.
2) Match the color of the sand with your fly. I had to go to an all white and clear, and very little flash crazy charlie. Size 6 + 8 worked great for me that day.
3) If you see a bonefish... wait a few seconds... just watch and observe it. Calm yourself down then make a selective cast. Taking a breath and watching before shooting a cast helped calm me down.
again I went in May, and got it along Bahia Honda Flats, at around 8:00 - 9:00 AM when the beach was first opening and was surprisingly empty.
I had no guide, no boat. I used a 9 weight with intermediate line. 10 lbs leader that was about 10 - 12 feet long. FLOURO.
Now If I can only find a wadable place to go after some baby tarpon
i use to stat at the pines and palms all the time when i was younger on our annual fl keys mini season trips. we had a blast at that place. i have talked to guys that seem to be able to catch bonefish year round down in the keys and it always seems to just come down to plain dumb luck, like my dad always tells me when it comes to fishing "i'll take dumb blind luck over skill any day" hopefully you get some nice bones on the fly, I have caught several on spinning gear but now I am wanting to get a big daddy on the fly.
May 2012 I visited Bahia Honda State Park between 1 PM and 6 PM and it was HOT. My wife and I planned some swimming and later a little fishing. When I stepped into the water for some swimming, I ran into 2 big 40lbs Permit. They left me speechless and my rods where still in the car . This was on the Atlantic side and left after the ranger station, close to the loop.
To the right of the ranger station there is a flat where I found a few schools of Bonefish. These Bonefish were all between 2 and 3lbs each and uncatchable for me. Luckily there were some Barracuda for a little action. So YES the fish are there, you just need to bring your rods and some luck.
Posted: Mon 12/03/12 9:00 am Post subject: Florida Keys Bonefish, Your Virtual Flats Fishing Guide DIY
My Threebone website explains How, Where, When to catch bonefish in the Florida Keys for the Do It Yourself wading/shore fishers. The informative website has: Fishing Reports, Flats Fishing Photos (proof), Fishing School, Fishing Blog, Flies, and even a Humor section. I call it threebone because I have caught 3 bonefish in one day from roadside beach angling a few times, and even caught 4 bonefish in one day in November this year.
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