The Grey Ghost of the Flats
Bonefishing during the fall months is outstanding in between cold fronts that begin sweeping into South Florida in October and November. The water temps cool down into the high 70's and low 80's and the schools of Bonefish run around the troughs, cuts, channels, and flats in search of small shrimp, crabs, minnows, etc. that are migrating along the grassy and sandy bottoms. Fly selection is crucial to success when finding the schools of Bonefish swimming around in depths. Heavy lead-head bonefish patterns are particularly useful when trying to reach fish that are in deeper columns of water. It is also important to match the color of the fly with the natural critter. This is accomplished by using light colored flys (sandy-pearl or yellow-orange) on sandy or shoaly bottoms and darker colored flys (brown or dark olive green) on grassy or marl bottoms. The saltwater naturals tend to blend in with their environment, and their colorations are adapted to the colors that surround them.
Spotting the schools of Bonefish in deeper water is difficult, because they blend into the bottom so well. Their silvery bodies reflect the color of the bottom structure giving them a natural camouflage. The trick for spotting them is to study the bottom of the sea-bed in front of you. Do not look further than thirty or forty feet out from your skiff, as the Bonefish will often not be visible in deep water until you are right on top of them. Your guide will also be looking, so be alert and listening to his directions.
Now let's talk about presentation. When the fish appear, react quickly with one false cast to judge range and accuracy then shoot the fly to the target, landing the fly in front of the fish. Make sure that you allow for tidal currents if the fish are holding in cuts, troughs or channels. The fly should land up current of the Bonefish school, then allowing for sink-rate and drift to feed down to the strike zone of the fish. This usually takes just a few seconds, depending on where the fly has landed in relation to the position of the fish, how deep the water is, and the sink rate of the fly in seconds. Once the fly has sunk to the bottom, you then make several short (3 inch) quick strips to induce the take. Pause in between every second or third strip, unless the fish chases the fly, then keep stripping. Keep your eye on the fish ALWAYS! When one of them sees the fly, the reaction will be an unmistakable wiggle of the tail to rush the fly to eat it. Don't stop stripping until you come tight with the fish and feel the fish turn to run! Then let him run while letting the loose line slide through your stripping hand until the line is cleared to the reel. Then gradually lift your rod tip and enjoy the fight!!
Before you travel to the Florida Keys,
contact Capt. Dexter Simmons for a "live report"! Call Capt. Dexter
at 305-745-3304 or email
firstname.lastname@example.org Capt. Dexter
Tight Lines and Screaming Reels!
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