The Bonefish Enigma

Lately I’ve been fishing with a light spinning rod, sight-casting a small white jig to bonefish on the flats. The first few days after a week of stormy weather were slow. One morning I saw only one bonefish in three hours.
Two days ago I headed out on a rising tide. The trade winds had waned to 15 mph and the sunny conditions promised great visibility. Right away I spotted fish, lots of fish. There were big bones feeding alone or in pairs and I saw a shoal of 10 or 15 smaller fish cruising the sand just off the beach.
The jig did not perform as well as I had hoped. It was both too heavy and too light. Many fish spooked when the lure hit the water, even when I cast 10 or 20 feet ahead of them. On the other hand it was too light to cast into the wind with any accuracy. The weather forecast indicated that the good fishing would likely continue so I decided to try again the following day.

This time I left the light tackle at home. I brought not only a heavier rod but I also packed a net, which I used to capture a couple of crabs as I walked along the beach towards the reef where I had seen so many fish the day before. Again, I saw lots of bonefish, but instead of casting to them I picked my targets based on topography. I cast my crabs into sandy depressions or deeper channels that might attract bonefish as they moved across the shallows. Fishing with bait can be a tedious waiting game so in anticipation I packed my ipod. In the fourth or fifth such spot, with Florence and the Machine in my ears, a bonefish grabbed my bait and headed for the horizon. It’s hard to believe a five pound fish could be so strong. Had I hooked it on lighter tackle, or even with my fly rod there is a good chance it would have escaped, but with a heavy drag and 40 lb braided line I brought the fish to hand, removed the hook and watched it swim off strongly.
Needless to say, I had forgotten the camera at home.


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