Spotting bonefish can be tough, but like every other facet of fly fishing, it’s a learned skill. While there’s no substitute to time on the water, the following tips can help break the learning curve, and actually help you spot more fish!
Spot More Bonefish – 3 Tips
- Take note of other species. Bonefish can look very different in the water, from a pale greenish/gray to dark black, depending on the color of the bottom. Therefore, when fishing an area you are not accustomed to, it can be difficult to spot fish when you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for. However, other silver sided critters (barracuda, shad, and so on), can offer a clue on how light or dark a bonefish might appear on that particular flat. Take note!
- Scan from feature to feature. There’s a lot of water out there for bonefish to roam around in, and it can be overwhelming trying to spot a single fish on a seemingly endless flat. Often times a systematic way to focus your attention can be really helpful. While you’re scanning for fish, try picking out a bottom feature (a patch of grass, chunk of coral, conch shell, ect) and scan only the space between it and the next bottom feature. If something moves in between features (or the feature itself moves) get ready! If not, keep scanning from feature to feature until the contrast of a fish comes into view.
- Use your peripheral vision. “Is that a fish?” – “No man, that’s bottom.” Sound familiar? Bonefish hardly ever stop moving, so if what you’re seeing is sitting still, odds are its not a bonefish. However, the movement of the water coupled with the speed of the boat can often give even inanimate objects the appearance of movement. To confirm what you’ve spotted is truly moving or not, try this little trick; While looking at your target, use your peripheral vision to look at a fixed object in the same general direction (a mangrove shoot, a nearby key, or even the horizon line). Measure the movement of your target against your fixed object. If it appears to move in relation to your fixed point, you got it.. It’s probably a fish.