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Bonefish Fisherman: Silent Hunter Of The Flats

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Silence is one of the most critical skills to develop for bonefishing. Whether you are on the boat poling for bonefish or going after them on foot, every deliberate effort to mute noise and conceal your presence will help.

Moving Through The Flats With A Push Pole

Seemingly small noises can spook bonefish. Banging your cooler lid closed, dropping heavy gear on the boat bottom and even shuffling your feet can prove counter-productive. Moreover, the boat’s hull will actually amplify any sounds that are made. This makes it extremely important to move with grace and caution. Using a push pole and keeping the engine off will help you conceal your approach, however, you still have to take extra care to avoid banging your push pole into the side of the boat.

Think Like A Predator

Fishing for bonefish is a lot like hunting. You have to be stealthy, calculating and careful. You will also have to learn how to take advantage of both the sun and the wind and develop the ability to see through the water. In fact, the best bonefishers often pretend that the water doesn’t exist and only look at the flat bottom instead.

You will want to master this technique as soon as you can because it will make it easier for you to both spot and react to bonefish activity. You should also focus on positioning yourself like a predator; in a way that ensures that you cannot be easily seen. When wading, stand in turtlegrass patches, in shadowy areas and behind mangroves, trees or rocks. Constantly search the surface of the water and be on alert for ripples and other disturbances on the surface.

Pay Attention To Your Guide

When fishing from the boat, it is important to pay attention to the directives that are given by your guide. The extra height of the poling platform and his experience will allow your guide to see much further and far better than you. Rather than casting for a fish that you have spotted with your own eyes, capitalize on the directives of your guide so that no phenomenal opportunity to snag a bonefish is wasted.

Dress For The Hunt

Bonefish can see colors clearly and in both light and dark conditions. In fact, whether the water is clear or muddy or whether they are absolutely still or swimming at top speeds, these fish can easily identify objects that are out of the ordinary. Thus, bright colors may make them exit the scene or radically alter their behaviors. This means that you should leave your multi-colored, Hawaiian shirt back at the lodge when heading out to the flats and opt for light blue and tan apparel that allows you to blend in with your surroundings. Jewelry and other flashy items should be left behind as well. The more inconspicuous you are, the more likely you’ll be to snag an unsuspecting bonefish.

Use Caution While Casting And Wading

Develop the right wading skills for making a stealthy approach. Practice on navigating smooth surfaces, hard surfaces and surfaces that are soft and uneven. Make an effort to lift each foot vertically, stretch it forward and then gently land on the ball of your foot rather than the heal. Cast only when you need to. Making practice casts or false casting while wading will let the fish know exactly where you are.

Your efforts to approach bonefish like a hunter will significantly increase your chances of success. Few skills are as valuable as being able to move through the water without alerting bonefish to your presence. When you approach these fish with the mindset of a predator, you will soon become invisible to your prey.


  1. Robert Merrill

    This is one of the best tutorials on Bonefishing I’ve ever read.

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