For lots of anglers who’ve grown up on the freshwater, fishing saltwater flats eventually becomes a goal. In a lot of ways, it’s the natural progression of the sport- looking for the next new experience within fishing. For those anglers looking to get on the flats, there may not be a better introductory or timeless fish than the bonefish.
Perhaps the bonefish was built with the fly fisherman and fisherwoman in mind. It’s rightly nicknamed the “ghost of the flats” with silvery sides giving it the ultimate camouflage and delivering to the angler a continual challenge. But once hooked, bonefish explode in a swim and can take you to your backing multiple times over the course of one fight.
It’s for some of these reasons that the bonefish has gained notoriety among anglers and the same reasons people travel from all over the world to chase these prized gamefish. However difficult bonefish may be to catch, for a lot of anglers they’re the perfect introduction to saltwater fly fishing.
Bonefish provide everything needed for a beginner on the flats to get a feeling of what they’re getting into. Fishing for bonefish will quickly show the angler the need for accuracy and distance when it comes to casting. Throwing a sloppy cast at a school of tailing bones is a recipe for spooking the whole school and blowing the shot.
Stealth and precision are what’s called for when bonefishing. These are the fundamentals of any saltwater species and, typically, bonefish occur in larger numbers than say, permit. This gives the anglers more chances in a day to get a bonefish to eat. Ultimately more chances mean a little more forgiveness to the novice bonefisherman. If you’re trying to figure out where to take your first bonefishing trip then we have some great suggestions.
Belize has a few different options for anglers looking to book their first bonefishing trip. Belize is home to some of the world’s nicest, laid-back people and the culture’s hospitable approach to life is evident in their lodges. The bonefish in Belize tend to be a bit smaller than their brothers and sisters in The Bahamas; however, as a "first saltwater trip" in general, it's hard to beat Belize.
El Pescador Lodge – In business for over 40 years, El Pescador is one of the best-run, most famous lodges in all of Central America. The lodge offers world-class sight fishing for bonefish and has been a perpetual favorite of Yellow Dog year after year.
Belize River Lodge – The bonefish within the ecosystem found at Belize River Lodge can be found on a regular basis throughout the year. With great accommodations all in a jungle setting, anglers will be wondering when’s the soonest they can return!
Turneffe Flats Lodge – Bonefishing is the mainstay of fishing Turneffe and the Atoll is home to the finest wadeable flats in all of Belize. The area’s large ocean-side flats are only five to 15 minutes from the lodge by boat. Anglers can sight-fish to large schools of tailing bones at all hours of the day.
Turneffe Island Resort – The bonefishing is consistently good throughout the year and for anglers of all experience levels. Novice saltwater angler can expect to see hundreds of bonefish over the course of a week, a scenario that provides a great opportunity to learn the intricacies and nuances of flats fishing.
Mexico’s Ascension Bay is ranked near the top of destinations we consider the best for someone looking to take their first bonefishing trip. Between easy flights from the U.S and terrific rates, it’s a favorite destination of ours.
Pesca Maya Lodge offers a great fishing program, good food, and one of the best values found anywhere in the world of saltwater flats fishing. With hundreds of square miles of flats, this is a terrific destination to catch your first bonefish!
Grand Slam Lodge is one of the finest destinations in the entire Caribbean for anglers seeking bonefish on the flats. Anglers will find bones tailing in skinny water during the lower tides and nice schools of fish moving into deeper water as the tide rises.
Casa Blanca Lodge has established itself as one of the world’s finest saltwater fly fishing and light tackle fishing lodges. The waters of Ascension Bay are loaded with large schools that provide consistent action all year long.
The Bahamas may be home to the largest numbers of bonefish on earth and for that reason alone it should be on the top of every angler's list if looking to take their first bonefish trip. Between easy travel and great bonefishing it’s little wonder why the Bahamas is considered the capital for bonefish.
Swains Cay Lodge is a full-service bonefishing operation and beach resort that’s ideally situated and built to cater to angler, non-anglers, families, and couples. Located on one of the nicest white sand beaches on Andros, Swains Cay Lodge is situated on the island in the Bahamas considered the “Bonefish Capitol of the World!”
East End Lodge is a fishing-focused destination with a team of professional guides that are always excited to put clients on any one of the many bonefish that inhabit the lodge’s surrounding waters. East End Lodge is very close to some of the most beautiful and productive flats on Grand Bahama and close to the five bights that cut through the “horn of the island on the East End.
If you’re like most anglers that feel the eventual urge to try your hand in the saltwater then you should definitely consider any of the above lodges for your first trip. With good numbers of bonefish and a staff of patient guides, your first trip bonefishing will surely be an enjoyable one. Be sure to contact Yellow Dog or call 888-777-5060 to start planning your first bonefish expedition.
For more information on bonefish lodges, trips, how-to articles, and more visit our bonefish fly fishing page
- The Top 5 Bahamas Bonefish Flies from Doug McKnight
- How to Spot Bonefish Like a Saltwater Flat Guide
- A Brief Guide to Fly Fishing for Bonefish in The Bahamas
- Perfecting Your Bonefish Presentation and Hook Set
- Bonefish Leader and Tippet Advice from Jeff Currier and Oliver White
- A Complete Guide to Fly Fishing Cuba for Bonefish