Bonefish. The Gray Ghost of the Flats. Before when I thought about going bone fishing, I only thought of the huge costs of getting to where the bonefish live and the costs of hiring a guide. It wasn’t until my buddy showed me a website about DIY bonefishing in the Bahamas, I saw how easy it could be done and I was in, my vice was out with Gotchas and Crazy Charlie’s filling up my fly box.
Bonefish, when pursued on a fly rod, are typically caught on the shallow flats along the coastline of tropical waters. Most accessible for us located in America would be Southern Florida or the Caribbean. They get their nickname of “The Grey Ghost” from their silver color and their ability to sneak right up on you on the flats.
We flew out to Nassau and then took a puddle jumper flight over to Mangrove Cay in Andros. Our first day, we spent on a flats skiff with a great guide, Alvin Greene. He showed us techniques for stalking the fish, how to present the fly and more importantly how catchable these ghosts truly are.
The rest of the time we spent wading the flats on our own. We had scouted the island on Google Earth the weeks before and had selected the flats we wanted to fish. We spent the next three days knee deep in gin clear, warm Bahamian water with flats as far as the eye can see. We found school after school of bonefish patrolling the shallows and each successful presentation rewarded us with screaming drag, a bent rod and a huge grin. Contrary to what I had heard, these fish are very willing to take a fly. I would lay a fly about 10 feet in front of a school, and before the fly sank halfway to the bottom, 5 bones were bee lining for it. In the end we caught just about as many Bonefish by ourselves than with a guide.
The cost of this 5-day trip cost us about $1000 each. If you time your trip right, you can catch the off-season (June-October) and end up being the only fly fishermen on the island like we did. Our lodging only cost us $500 for the 5 nights with 3 meals and beer included. Our lodge positioned us to walk straight out onto one of the cay’s many flats, with other highly productive flats within kayak or bike distance (both bikes and kayaks were provided for free by the lodge). The most expensive parts of the trip were the plane tickets and the guiding fees, but with enough research or bringing along someone with experience you can avoid the guide altogether. So without guiding and buying you plane tickets far in advance it is entirely possible to get into some of the most productive bonefishing flats in the world, for a week, for less than $900/person.
If you book your trip far enough in advance for spring break or Christmas time you can easily afford this trip for around a grand, and you can prepare yourself for a week of being knee deep in the Caribbean and kicking back in a hammock with a cold Kalik beer in your koozie.
· 7-9 wt rod
· 7-9 wt reel with weight forward line and good sealed drag
· 12lb-16lb test bonefish leader
· Fluorocarbon or Mono tippet to match the taper of your selected leaders
· 30-50 SPF sunscreen (No matter how much “you never get sunburnt” the sun on the flats will find ways to burn you)
· UPF Clothing (i.e. PFG, Orvis, Simms…)
· Sun Gloves
· Plenty of Gotcha and Crazy Charlie pattern flies in hook sizes 2-6
· Waterproof pack like the Orvis Gale Force series
· Wading shoes or sandals
· Costa Del Mar polarized sunglasses (Green Mirrored Glass lenses work best)
· Your trusty 5Rivers trucker hat
- Intern Zaz