Key West Bonefish

The Basics

Bonefish are a popular target on Key West fishing trips. They are here year-round, but often seek deeper waters in winter. Therefore, the best time to fish for them is April through October. Catching bonefish can quickly become addicting, but it is not a task for the faint of heart. These fish have keen eyesight so don't expect to be able to sneak up on them unless they're feeding. Bonefish are also very good at camouflage, making them exceptionally difficult to spot. If you do spot one and manage to hook it, be prepared for a fight; they have been known to run up to 75 yards, providing a challenge to even the most experienced fishermen.

How They Feed and What's Unique

One unique characteristic of the bonefish is its mirrored scales. This is why they are so hard to spot; the scales reflect their surroundings. This characteristic is a great defense from predators, whether those predators are fishermen or other fish like sharks or Barracudas. To avoid these predators, bonefish prefer to spend their time in the grassy patches of the shallows. The shallow waters also have an ample supply of the bonefish's favorite snacks: mollusks, shrimp, worms and crabs.

How We Get Them

So if the bonefish is so good at camouflage how can it be spotted? There are two things to look for: tailing and cruising. When bonefish feed, they bury their snouts in the sand and their tails stick up slightly from the water. A guide with experience and a sharp eye will be able to spot the translucent tail fins catching the sun. This is typically the best time to try and hook a bonefish because they will be too interested in feeding to be spooked by the approaching boat. If the hook is baited with a fly or a shrimp they will likely bite. When a bonefish is cruising, look for water that is "nervous"; it will have a different ripple than the water around it. Once you have spotted your target, cast your line a good ways away from the fish so it does not spook. Twitch the line as the fish gets closer and you should get a bite.