3 Facts about the Florida Bonefish

If you’re interested in Florida Bonefish fishing, you should know these three important facts.

If you’re a saltwater fishing aficionado who’s looking for sportfish, then you’ll need to visit Florida after you’ve bought your gear from Eat My Tackle. That’s because you need to go to the waters of the Sunshine State if you’re looking for large bonefish. It's possible that you might catch some brackish water bonefish because bonefish have a flexible air bladder that allows them to store lots of air when they can't get access to 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 saltwater fishing adventure:

Person holding a bonefish partially in the water

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, buthose days are over.Now Florida and its Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission have changed the rules, so you can only catch and release these beautiful bonefish.

Bonefish in shallow water

Bonefish and Its Value to the Florida Economy

Why did the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission suddenly change the rules? The reason is that bonefish have become extremely valuable to the economy of the state. Thus, the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission no longer permits saltwater anglers to deplete the waters of Florida of this resource.

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 two decades.

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 only go to one place for their Florida bonefish fishing.

Man casting a fishing line into the ocean

The Appeal Is in the Challenge

Of course, for dedicated bonefish anglers this catch and release only rule doesn’t change anything, 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, meaning that 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. On top of this, 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 saltwater game fish, and their strength is surprising, so if you hook one, be ready for a struggle.

Underwater photo of man holding bonefish and fishing rod

What Kind of Saltwater Fishing Equipment will You Need?

Now that you know more about bonefish, it’s time to talk about the type of equipment and saltwater fishing tackle you need for Florida bonefish fishing. The good news is that this sport doesn’t require a lot of gear, and what you do need is relatively inexpensive.

You can use either spinning or baitcasting tackle when you go bonefishing, but we recommend that you use spinning tackle because it will give you more control over your casts. Since bonefish are easily spooked, you need all the control you can get.

As far as rods go, we recommend that you use a 7- to 8-foot long graphite rod. This type of rod will give you the power and sensitivity you need when you’re fishing for bonefish.

Our recommendation for lures is that you use small baitfish imitations such as bucktail jigs, plastic grubs, and streamers. You can also use live bait, but make sure you use small shrimp or crabs.

When it comes to line, we recommend that you use 20-pound test monofilament line. This type of line is strong enough to handle the fight of a bonefish, but it’s also light enough so that it won’t spook the fish.

Now that you know more about bonefish and the type of equipment you need to catch them, it’s time to start planning your Florida bonefish fishing adventure!



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