Friday, January 4, 2013

Bone Fishing

For years I have deep sea fished in the Bahamas and I have always heard about the great Bone  fishing areas throughout the Abacos. In the past few years I have had a lot of weather days and could not offshore fish. I decided to try my hand at Bone fishing. 

Not just hiring a guide but learning the skill on my own. Of course I have heard about all the different techniques and ways to search out this allusive game fish. Through trial and error this is what I have learned. They are not easy to catch and when hooked they fight harder than any fish that I have caught. I am still a novice and can only get you started from a beginners point of view. As you know fly fishing is the ultimate challenge for this fishery, but let's start with light weight spinning tackle that almost every fisherman owns. I am using a light weight spinning reel with twenty pound braid line. This is very necessary because getting close to these fish in ultra clear water is not easy. You must be able to cast a good distance with accuracy to start your fishing. I choose walking in shallow areas as my transportation and a good form of exercise. Stealth is the key. 

First you have to locate an area that holds fish, I am fishing in Treasure Key and as far down as Wood key in the Bahamas.There are many shallow bays accessible by car that you can fish. A sandy bottom is necessary or you will lose your shoes for sure. Bare feet not a good idea because of urchins and Stonefish. I use camo crocks or just tennis shoes that you don't mind ruining. After locating a bay ,look at the tide, wind and cloud cover. The lighter the wind the more you can spot the fish. Unfortunately that works both ways, it also makes it easier for the fish to spot you. I use sandy light weight pants and a light blue or gray Salt life performance shirt. I wear a hat that offers a lot of sun protection. The reflection off the water can be brutal. 

Good sun glasses are a must. If it is cloudy you will have a hard time wading and seeing fish before your pressure wave is felt by the fish and they are spooked. Always walk with your shadow behind you. All this must be considered before you decide to map out your best path for seeing fish before they see you. I usually like to fish on an incoming tide because the fish are coming in over the once exposed flats to eat crabs, shrimp and other weakened prey. I have also noticed that the fish will work the down wind side of the bay. 

Slowly walking along, creating as little noise and pressure wave as possible I scan the area for tailing fish of cloudy bottom where the fish have just been feeding. When I spot a school I determine their feeding direction and cast about twenty feet in front of the school. If you cast near the school they will instantly scatter and swim offshore. I first started with dead shrimp. I used a three food twenty pound flour carbon leader and a number 4 live bait hook. If windy I added split shot to increase my ability to cast. When the school swims over your bait you might be lucky enough to get a hook up. I usually leave my bail open because of their incredible speed. As my skills have sharpened I have gone to all artificial baits. I still use the same floracarbon leader but I put on a one quarter ounce No-Alibi jig with a very small pink gel body that resembles a small pink shrimp. Cast well in front of the school and work your bait like a shrimp hopping  off the bottom. For this you need a light action rod to get the right pop off the bottom. There are many flys and jigs that can be purchased on line for Bone fishing.
If you have access to a boat the shallow ares just in front of No Name key to Green Turtle key can produce some very large fish.

However, if you just want to try Bone fishing then by all means get one of the local guides out of Treasure key or Tangelo Bone fishing lodge. You will have a fun and catch at least ten fish. These guides forgot more than I know about Bone fishing. They have grown up in the area and have a vast knowledge and ability to locate the ghost, Mr.Bone fish.

Tight lines and good luck

-Captain Don Combs

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