You can’t fish for bonefish in Florida without knowing these 3 important facts.
If you’re a saltwater fishing aficionado who’s looking for bonefish, then you’ll need to visit Florida after you’ve bought your gear from Eat My Tackle. That’s because if you’re looking for large bonefish you need to go to the waters of the Sunshine State. It’s possible that you can find some bonefish in brackish water, since the bonefish swim bladder lets them store lots of air when they can’t get oxygen from the water. But your best bet is to go to the saltwater flats of Florida, in Biscayne Bay and the Florida Keys.
Here are some important facts you need to know about before you start your fishing adventure:
Catch and release only. There was a time when fishing for bonefish in Florida was just like fishing for other species. You had size restrictions and bag limits for the bonefish you catch or keep. Those days are over.
Now Florida and its Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission have changed the rules. You can only catch and release these beautiful bonefish.
Bonefish and its value to the Florida economy. So why did the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission suddenly change the rules? The reason is because bonefish have become extremely valuable to the economy of the state, so of course the powers that be no longer permit saltwater anglers to deplete the waters of Florida of this resource.
Keep in mind that bonefish is one of the most popular game fish in the world, and their populations are virtually exclusive to the flats of Florida. That means bonefish anglers go to Florida for their sport. They don’t go anywhere else. Bonefish live for a very long time, and generally they can last for more than 20 years. So the authorities don’t want any of them to die prematurely.
A study produced by the University of Miami approximated the value of each bonefish to the Florida economy at $3,500 a year. At 20 years for each fish, that’s an accumulative value of at least $70,000! So why would Florida allow anglers to keep the fish? That’s like killing the goose when they keep laying golden eggs for more than 2 decades.
The appeal is in the challenge.Of course, for dedicated bonefish anglers this cat and release only rule doesn’t change anything. That’s because fishing for bonefish is always challenging.
This challenge starts with the fact that we don’t know as much about bonefish as we do about other game fish species. We’ve done many studies about trout, salmon, and bass. But we haven’t done enough study about bonefish. They’re an enigma.
For example, their reproduction cycle is virtually unpredictable, and experts think that they spawn anytime between November and May. We also don’t know much about bonefish population densities and migration patterns.
They’re also very elusive, which is why in Florida they’re called the “gray ghosts”. Their smoky silver hue is hard to discern, they’re amazingly speedy, and they have the uncanny ability to elude anglers.
Their eyesight is quite sharp, so they’re more nervous than your typical game fish. And their strength is surprising, so if you hook one, be ready for a struggle.
If you’re angling for some bonefish, at least with these facts you’re better prepared. With bonefish, you need all the help you can get!