Bonefish are often the first flats fish that anglers encounter, and these same anglers can catch these fish right away with few problems in most parts of the world.  Although these fish are relatively common, they are still incredibly special.  This is especially true for bonefish over ten pounds.  There are a few destinations in the world where you can encounter a double digit bonefish.  A favorite spot of many a legendary fly angler is Andros Island in the Bahamas.  These Big Andros Island bonefish inhabit some of the most beautiful flats in the world, and at the right time, you can have multiple shots at trophy bonefish on a given day.  In this podcast, Capt. Shawn Leadon from the Andros Island Bonefish Club shares some of his experiences with these big fish and fills us in on how to put the odds in our favor for these awesome fish of the flats.

KEY TAKEAWAYS: BIG ANDROS ISLAND BONEFISH

  • 1-3 pounds, diet: algae, worms, and soft stuff
  • 3-4 pounds, diet: crustaceans such as crabs and shrimp
  • 5 pound plus, diet: meat eaters, including minnows such as mojarras
  • Big fish don’t swim with the smaller fish as much, and he thinks it’s because the smaller fish are a little more agile and get the food
  • Different times of year have different food types: December to March more crustaceans; April to May: worm hatch; summer months: mainly minnows
  • He likes the West Side for your best shot at double digits
  • April to July, you see the spawning ritual where fish school up and hover
  • He recommends 20 lb test breaking strength from a conservation standpoint to get those big bones in as fast as possible
  • In his eyes, bonefish aren’t leader shy
  • Big flies excite the fish, and whatever size hook you use, make sure that it has bulk
  • He also recommends flies with lots of flash (Diamond Braid, Flashabou, and Krystal Flash) and thinks that this flash suggests baitfish characteristics but also that it represents life in the movements of the water
  • Heavier pound test allows the fish to be released with less lactic acid buildup.  When fish are fatigued, they will swim up in the water column.  This is a death sentence for the fish.
  • A big mistake with trophy bones is getting too excited and not waiting for the guide’s instructions.  The guide can read the fish’s body movements and knows when the fish has taken the fly.
  • Time with a guide is important too because you can both be on the same page before anything is even said
  • Teamwork between anglers.  The angler not on the deck should be helping the angler on the deck as much as possible.
  • Line management is critical, and your buddy is your “line caddy”
  • If the first cast is greater than 50 feet, put the fly right on the fish’s head
  • On the second cast, if the fish has become aware of the fly from the first cast, put the fly about five feet in front of the fish and beyond it so that you can retrieve into the fish’s path.
  • When fighting big fish: don’t crank down the drag (put it at medium) and don’t palm the real
  • With a little tug of the tip of your rod, you can move the fish’s head toward you so that it will move towards you.  Once you get the fish to the boat, you can horse the fish in with heavier tippet.

LINKS AND RESOURCES RELATED TO THE PODCAST

Andros Island Bonefish Lodge

Andros Adventures

Capt. Rupert Leadon

Vanessa Haley’s Study

Mojarra Minnow

Dr. Aaron Adams with Bonefish and Tarpon Trust

Two Part Series on Tippets and Leaders

A three-pound bonefish has the capability to rip anglers to their backing.  Once you start talking about the double digit fish, you’re going into another realm of power.  These fish have lived through the ospreys, sharks, and barracudas and have probably seen an angler or two.  At the same time, these big fish need to take in many more calories than their smaller counterpart.  Big Andros Island bonefish seem to act as the predators they are.  They get excited with big fly patterns, and they supplement their diets heavily with minnow species in addition to crustaceans.  Heavy tippets and smart approaches to playing these special fish will get the fish in as fast as possible and allow us to release our bonefish with as high a chance as possible to survive and roam the flats.  This will give future generations of anglers the opportunity to cast their fly to a double digit bone, and like Capt. Rupert Leadon, say “Gotcha!”

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FLY FISHING FROM ALASKA TO THE BAHAMAS.

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