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Can you conquer the bones? Sure, the Bahamas can offer sunshine, seclusion, solace, and a sexy tan, but did you know it can also offer the chance to engage in some of the best fishing in the world? Exuma bonefishing is truly a challenging and gripping sport and the regional coastlines are particularly exceptional for this spirited pastime. Bonefish are some of the most elusive fish in the sea and can be a slippery prey to hook; however with a knowledgeable guide and a few tricks and know-how, hooking yourself a “bone” can be a truly satisfying and pleasurable experience.
Bonefish are native to the Caribbean, but are particularly plentiful just off the coast of the Exuma Islands. The immaculate sandy flats of the Exumas provide the ideal location for this sport, as bonefish keep to shallow muddy and sandy flats when digging for food. Parts of the south-east side of the island are known to have some particularly good spots. Bonefish are usually caught for the sport and spirit of the chase; they are not particularly known to be so great-tasting. In fact, bonefish are said to have the most fight per pound of any other fish!
Fly fishers flock to the islands of the Bahamas every year to experience the challenge and adventure of Exuma bonefishing. Bonefish are silvery in color and are very fast-moving; it is not uncommon to see three or four enthusiastic fishermen splashing merrily through the shallow waters, rods in hand, to chase down a school, which can reach up to approximately 300 fish. A bonefish can streak up to 25 miles per hour in order to evade sharks, barracudas, and of course, energetic fishermen! An average bonefish weighs between 4 and 6 pounds, but can reach up to a whopping 19 pounds. Although bonefishing is popular in any season, the months of May to July are said to be particularly exceptional for this spirited sport.
Bonefishing is not your typical fishing expedition by any means. Exuma has many resources and facilities where visitors, whether amateur or pro, can visit to learn the techniques of bonefishing and seek aid from experienced and enthusiastic guides. Most guides on the island have grown up in the area and are well-versed in the movements of this slippery, silvery fish. It is important to rig up your rod straight away while your guide prepares the boat; you definitely do not want to be caught unprepared as a school of bonefish swiftly heads your way. If the tides are high, you can expect to be fishing in creeks and mangrove shorelines, as Exuma bonefishing is tide-dependent. Depending on the weather and seasonal changes, the average number of bonefish schools sighted per day in Exuma is 40 to 400, while the average number of fish caught per day is between 3 and 45.
Essentials for Eager Bonefishers
- Fly rods
- Reels with plenty of backing (150-200 yards)
- Spare flylines
- Leader material/tippets
- Flies (Gotchas, Christmas Island Specials, Charlies)
- Pliers/clippers/hook sharpener
- Wading shoes
- Wading pack
- Fly tying kit
- Sunglasses, hat & sunscreen
- Water bottle
- Light rain gear
Whether you have the craving for an exhilarating fishing experience or just want to try something new and different, Exuma bonefishing is the ideal choice. It is definitely not a passive activity and can be enjoyable for the whole family. Hooking your first bonefish is a unique and fulfilling experience that may have you adopting the sport full-time. As any local bonefisherman will tell you, there is nothing as exciting as casting your line out into that azure sea and waiting in anticipation for that impending thrill of the chase. The avid bonefisher is always scanning, anticipating, and moving in order to hook their next big one.
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