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.
H2O Bonefishing, The Bahamas
H2O Bonefishing is one of the, if not the most diverse saltwater programmes under one roof anywhere in the Atlantic and Caribbean. The lodge is located in the town of Freeport in Grand Bahama. Grand Bahama Island has some of the most expansive flats in the Northern Bahamas with shallow flats extending 25 miles to the west and more than sixty miles to the east of the island. Their fishery is just a part of the 2500 square mile Little Bahama Bank. Not only is there a large area of backcountry fishing but fishermen can enjoy the island’s ocean side flats which are well protected and offer miles of white sand, marl and turtle grass flats. All of these areas offer some of the largest bonefish that can be found in the Caribbean, with fish of 10 lbs+ regularly encountered. Add to that a great offshore fly fishing and light tackle options for dorado and a variety of different tuna species, headlined by the larger and more powerful yellowfin tuna then anglers have a very diverse fishery to experience.
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 Largo, Cuba
Cayo Largo is by far and away our most prolific Grand Slam destination with a lot of our clients reaching their goal each year. The national park is made up a series of cays, mangrove lagoons and flats that run for some 50 kilometres. The flats tend to be white sand interspersed with turtle grass ideal for those who want to wade. It is these wading flats that the bonefish love to move onto and feed in both large schools of smaller fish but also big lone fish. The skiffs also offer access to the deeper flats where the permit like to hunt and also the channels that offer great tarpon feeding grounds. Accommodation is in the beautiful all-inclusive Hotel Club Sol with comfortable rooms and a broad variety of bars and restaurants on offer to its guests.
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.