Bonefish, the ghost of the flats, are one of the most exciting species to target when fly fishing. Difficult to spot in even the shallowest of saltwater flats, they move without sound from one feeding spot to the next. Sometimes they will give themselves away by feeding with their tails clean out the water, or moving in large schools creating nervous water, but it takes the most alert angler to notice a bonefish on the flats.
Spotting bonefish is just half the battle, they require delicate and precise casts, often into the wind or at range. And then, patience… as the fish moves effortlessly across the flats you must wait for the opportune moment to move your fly as if resembling a fleeing shrimp or crab.
Once hooked they are a true gamefish, they will go on searing runs across the flats at speeds hard to imagine. Make sure your hand is clear of the reel as it spins uncontrollably. The ghost of the flats, the bonefish, is one of the best species to target on the saltwater flats; find out about six of the best destinations to target them below.
St Brandon’s Atoll, Mauritius
It is one of the most remote and undisturbed saltwater flats fisheries in the Indian Ocean comprised of over 50 small islands, raised coral ridges and vast sand flats divided by three major channels. Like many of the Indian Ocean destinations, St Brandon’s offers fantastic species variety for Indo-Pacific permit, various trevally species and a host of other fish, but what separates it from the others is its bonefishing. The atoll offers some of the finest fishing for giant bonefish in shallow water given the right tides. Based from a simple and comfortable four bedroom guesthouse on the largest island of Raphael, anglers will have a chance to explore this wonderful atoll.
Bair’s Lodge, The Bahamas
Bair’s Lodge on the east side Andros Island in the Bahamas is ideally situated giving you access to some of the largest and most varied flats in the world. Andros Island has long been associated with the biggest bonefish, Bair’s Lodge is an ideal base from which to try for a ‘giant’. Guests can fish primarily for bonefish and the occasional tarpon and permit. Both Deep Creek and Little Creek lie within easy striking distance from the lodge, and offer more protection from potential wind than oceanside flats. Both creeks are also conduits to renowned West Side and other remote cays to the south and southwest. The lodge sets the bench mark in terms of quality guiding, delicious food, comfortable accommodations and courteous hospitality. Bedrooms are open and airy, air-conditioned, with plenty of storage space and electricity outlets to recharge phones and camera batteries.
Punta Allen Fishing Club, Mexico
The lodge sits in the Heart of Ascension Bay, with its multi-cultural background the lodge combines Mexican, French and Italian influences to offer guests great comfort and a fantastic fishing experience on one of the Caribbean’s most productive flats systems. The bay features miles and miles of shallow flats, a perfect breeding ground for crabs, the cherished delicacy of bonefish and permit,. The bonefish are plentiful, so your opportunities for landing these fierce fighters are numerous. Ascension Bay is world-renowned for its seemingly endless saltwater flats and fishermen come here primarily seeking the challenge of the elusive permit and bonefish, plus the chance to achieve a Grand Slam. The lodge comfortably houses 6 to 8 anglers at a time. Accommodation is shared but there are two rooms that can be taken on a single occupancy basis.
Turneffe Flats Lodge, Belize
Located on a beautiful raised coral atoll 2 hours boat ride off the mainland, Turneffe Flats Lodge accesses some of the most beautiful saltwater flats in the world. Bonefishing is a mainstay of the fishing operation with miles of crystal clear, wadeable flats. It is also one of a select group of saltwater destinations where you can experience flats fishing for tailing permit with a reasonable opportunity to catch one. Tarpon are present throughout the year, but the migratory tarpon season really begins in April and continues to mid-October.
Alphonse Island, the Seychelles
It is one of the longest established fisheries in the Indian Ocean that began back in 2000 and is still one of the most productive and consistent fisheries in the world. It was built with 5 star accommodation in mind, and in the past two or three seasons it has reintroduce many facilities and non-fishing activities. Most of the fishing occurs on the nearby St Francois Atoll which is a wonderful mix of large white sand flats, channels, drop offs and coral finger flats. The majority of the fishing is wading although the operation is equipped with 16′ Dolphin skiffs to move around the atoll with. You will not find a finer bonefish fishery anywhere in the world. Once you have filled your boots with bonefish you can begin to hunt the other species such as giant trevally, bluefin trevally, triggerfish and of course milkfish. Alphonse Island offers outstanding saltwater flats fishing with extremely comfortable accommodation (single room as standard), service and top quality food.
Cayo Romano, Cuba
The flats at Cayo Romano/Cruz can be great and they are a hot spot for bonefish and permit with some tarpon. The guides there love fishing for permit for which it has quite a reputation. The open ocean is close to the flats so big bonefish and permit can comfortably move to deep water for rest and safety, but creep back to shallow water on the tide change.
The flats are an inviting combination of hard packed white sand and a semi-firm mottled bottom that still provides good wading. It’s very similar to Los Roques, Venezuela in terms of the amount of area that’s wadable and there are places here where you can wade for hours without heading back to the boat. There are great opportunities for casting at tailing fish and it is not uncoomon to encounter bonefish in excess of 10 lbs. In terms of time of year March through July is considered as high season and the prime is probably April – June as that is when some of the migratory tarpon show up as well.
The operation underwent a massive upgrade in 2019 when accommodation moved from a rather dingey Cuban hotel with long drives to the fishing to a brand new “Lodge” within a new hotel system. Whilst it is located on a large hotel complex it is like a separate apartment system that they use so it has its own pool, bar and lounge area which is only 100 metres from the dock. Rooms are all newly renovated, ensuite bathrooms, air conditioning and WIFI.
For more information about the various bonefish destinations we offer or for a specific itinerary and quote please contact us or call our office on +44(0)1980 847389.