The "Grey Ghost" of the flats. On everyone's list of the top three flats and saltwater fly fishing quarrys. They are the fish that convinces everyone that saltwater fly fishing is several quantum leaps removed from more familiar trout fishing, even if the fish is the same size. In the first 10 seconds of hooking their first bonefish, everyone UNDERSTANDS. Or their reel falls apart. Or both.
Basically a carp designed by NASA, all Titanium and liquid propellant, a swimming mirror on fins, the bonefish relies on disappearing into the saftey of reflecting it's surroundings and when that doesn't work, fleeing at orbital escape velocity. The only thing a bonefish cannot make disappear is it's shadow. If it weren't for the perpetual shadow, a persistent shadow that moves in the flickering light-play on the bottom of the flat, we would never see the fish at all.
Their second characteristic is paranoid twitchiness, exploding in panicked flight at the slightest vibration, real or imagined. A school fish, this both makes their life difficult and presents an achilles heel. If you live and eat in a school of 100 paranoid schizophrenics, you would starve and collapse from perpetual panic as different individuals are continuously set off. So, if you make a bad cast in a big school, just wait. A few of the fish know what spooked them. The other 90 don't know and are just as aware as you how often some school members are set off by the shadow of a passing pelican, or something eqully benign. In a minute or so, the fish that only reacted to the flight of the fish that were actually spooked will regroup, settle down, and resume feeding.
While there is no such thing as a "little" bonefish (they all fight big), the biggest, most educated, and most challenging of all bonefish exist at the northern limit of their range, Biscayne Bay, within sight of Miami. There, 8 pounders are average and a 10 pounder is ho hum. This was our first, caught off our own boat, without a guide, after two years and 5 Florida trips of trying.
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