April 17th 2020 – With weather like this its hard to stay at the dock during this COVID – 19 Panic. Blue skies and crystal clear waters with temps in the 80s are a fantastic ingredients for bonefishing here in Key West. Even though tarpon fishing is absolutely crazy I wanted to fish outside the box and go for bonefish.
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As a Key West flats fishing guide it’s difficult to fish for anything but tarpon in mid April. They are everywhere and thats what my anglers want, who can blame them. Tarpon fishing season this year is no different, in fact its absolutely amazing, there are tarpon everywhere as I mentioned in my Key West tarpon fishing report. But, I made a promise to myself that if it’s my choice what to fish for, I would go bonefishing on my flats skiff. This COVID panic demic has provided for me the perfect opportunity to call that shot and I did. it was really fun.
Last week I went fishing a few times in my flats fishing skiff. Just minutes from my house are some fantastic bonefishing grounds. I hardly every get to visit them this time of the year as I am always in the hunt for tarpon for my clients. So I thought I would change it up.
Seemingy every flat I visited had a good number of quality fish. Incoming, high and outgoing tides produces some great shots at bonefish in the 3-5 lb range that were non fearing and ready to eat. Three days of bonefishing with three different anglers 2 were fly fishermen and one was a spin fisherman we were able to compound on some nice sport fishing in just a few hours on the flats.
We had shots at groups of tailing bonefish that were digging making muds without a care in the world. Tossed a shrimp in there and watched them fight over it and we were in for a fight on the super light tackle. The cruisers that I saw were kinda bullies just working through an area but very willing to stop to eat a fly. These were larger fish and not as many together. I have found that larger bonefish don’t really like too many friends and the really big ones are loners. Leading these fish was easy as I could see them coming from 200 ft away. They ate like they were mad and really put up a nice fight.
Fly fishing for the bonefish I was using an Orvis Helios 3D 8 wt 9 ft fly rod, this thing is a lazer when casting. Coupled with my own creation of a bonefish leader to a crazy charlie or spawning shrimp fly patterns that these bonefish could not turn down. A 12 lb fluorocarbon bite tippet with a loop knot to the fly. – See: Fly fishing Guide
Spin fishing I usually use a #1 Owner SSW hook with a small split shot on 10lb fluorocarbon going to a 8lb braid (samurai) using an FG knot. Split shot size depends on the wind. I find that off of my custom built spinning rod by Key Largo Rods coupled with the new DAIWA Exist spinning reel this is the perfect bonefish set up. A super smooth drag is needed to maintain these guys as they Love to rip off line.
These past few years the bonefishing out of Key West has been absolutely amazing. Best I have seen in my career. There are so many fish around my anglers are having a blast casting to and catching them for a quick release.
Here are some of the tools I use for my bonefishing.
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