The bonefish were happy, tailing lazily 150 feet from the bow of our skiff at 11 o’clock. A gentle breeze was quartering from the left. Oh how I wish I had my fly rod with me. It would have been a perfect shot for a right-handed caster. My guide applied steady pressure to the push pole, and we slipped forward, the bonefish completely oblivious to our existence. At about 75 feet, my guide stopped the boat. I flipped the tiny marabou crappie jig off of the rod guide it was hooked on, made a cast and put that jig about 20 feet in front of the lead fish. That bonefish and about ten others took off like missals to attack that jig. All I had to do was lift the tip of the rod and that speedster raced off across the flats of the barrier island we were fishing.
I never realized that hunting bonefish was so easy. Just kidding… This day was surely something special. The schools of bonefish in Turks and Caicos were huge and not hard to find with the seasoned guide I had hired. He worked his tail off for me. I chartered his skiff for a half day and in that time hooked about twenty-six bonefish and landed fourteen. We were fishing an incoming tide on the flats and the bones were tailing everywhere. They didn’t even realize we were there. Once the tide became slackthe bonefish were very much aware of our presence and became very skittish. I guess that’s why they call them the Ghost of the flats. During slack water, throwing that little crappie jig at them was like throwing a brick in the water. It was amazing to see the speed of these fish and feel their power on the ultra-lite rod my guide provided me.
This trip was taken in the month of September. Unlike a recent trip that I made to Belize this past October, all of these fish were quite large. The guide approximated one of my fish to be close to 7lbs. The fishing took place about a half hours ride from the dock on the mangrove flats around a few barrier islands. We were fishing in anywhere from 6 inches of water to maybe three feet of water. On the trip to Belize that I mentioned earlier, I was loaded for bear. Equipped with my 8wt fly rod, and about $200.00 in a wide array of fly’s, my hired guide took my wife and I on a 2 hour journey to fish a National Park off of Honduras. The bonefish were not as abundant nor were they as large as the fish in Turks & Caicos (see the picture). This was a little disappointing being Belize with all the hype and stuff.
Two days after my bonefish experience the guide located me at the resort I was staying at and asked me if I would be interested in making a trip to the local reef for some bottom fishing. I asked him how quick could he pick me up. By the time I ran to the room to grab my gear and the bar for a few six packs, he was waiting for me in the parking lot. It was about a ten minute run to the reef where we picked at a lot of yellow tail snappers, this strawberry grouper and this mutton snapper. Both the grouper and the snapper tasted outrageous on top of linguine with garlic and oil, and a very chilly bottle of white to wash it all down.