South Florida has a lot to offer visiting anglers. There is plenty of offshore action, fresh water fishing opportunities are vast, but fishing the flats on Biscayne Bay off Miami for bonefish may take the prize as the biggest challenge of all.
Where to Find Bonefish
The flats are the shallow water in Biscayne Bay. There are miles of it extending all the way from Miami to the upper Keys. It is a great estuary where thousands of acres of marine meadows supply habitat for a very wide variety of sea life. And in this pristine world, there are predictors and one of the most interesting is the bonefish.
A silver steak, it is amazingly powerful. A five pounder can easily rip off 80 yards of line in a turbo dash across the flats. When this happens the rod feels as if it has been electrified. It is thrill to feel the power of this fish. Many also feel a sense of privilege to see what such a magnificent creature can do at full throttle.
How to Catch Bonefish
Bone fishing is sight fishing. The special flats boats that are used are designed to float in just a few inches of water. With the motor off, the the fishing guide poles his boat to a place were his charter can cast to the fish. A key to success, of course, is seeing the fish in the first place. It is not easy for beginners even when their eye sight is very good. But once the guide points out the fish, it is not hard to catch on. Usually what the angler sees is a shadow or several shadows, just a few shades darker green than the water and moving.
Or at times, bonefish and certain other Key Biscayne game fish will tail, which means that as they root into the bottom for various crustaceans the tips of their tails will break the surface. An experienced guide can spot tailing fish from a good distance away. Bone fish appear as singles, doubles and sometimes in small schools.
Tips to Catching Bonefish
Once spotted, silence is important. Bonefish will spook because of noise. Poling a flats boat toward the fish is an art. The cast needs to be accurate. As the angler calculates where to cast, it is important to take into account the speed and direction the fish is headed. But also, the the wind and current and how those elements move the boat, sometimes quiet quickly, all need to be taken into account. A cast that doesn’t land a little ahead of the fish is probably not going to produce results. Guides will point to the right spot to aim, but it is up to the angler to execute the cast. With some degree of luck, the angler may get more than one shot at the same fish.
The tension is high in these bonefishing situations. Every member of the team has to do their assigned part. But, when a bonefish picks up your bait or takes a fly and streaks across the flats, you’ll think you made a touchdown in the Super Bowl.
All this world class fishing action with the skyline of Miami in the background.
About the Author:
Hi! I’m Capt. Tom Weber, and I was born and raised in Stuart, Florida. I caught my first fish at the age of two on a family fishing outing. Fishing was always a big part of the Weber family traditions and was incorporated into many weekend outings. From the beginning, I was hooked and I’ve been light tackle and fly fishing the inland waters from Stuart, Miami, and Islamorada for the past 40 years. I moved to Miami 12 years ago and realized my love for Biscayne Bay – its beauty and its incredible fishing opportunities. Fish with Capt. Tom Weber at www.floridanativecharters.com