Wade fishing for Bonefish can be a frustrating game. Many variables can make it a difficult but exciting challenge. Coming up with a game plan” before venturing out onto the flat will help increase your odds. Here are a few tips to hopefully make your next or first bonefish trip a successful one.
1. Keep the sun at your back. Seeing bonefish is one of the hardest parts of fishing for them. Having the sun at your back will increase your odds of seeing them. The glare is reduced and penetrating the water with your eyes is much easier.
2. Try to keep the wind at your back or over your non-casting arm’s shoulder. If you are a right-handed caster positioning the wind so it blows over your left shoulder will keep the line away from your body and also help lengthen your cast. If you are a lefty caster try to position the wind over your right shoulder.
3. During an incoming tide allow the water to come up onto the flat for a while (2-4 hours after dead low tide). One mistake many anglers make when fishing an incoming tide for bones is they fish to them as soon as they begin to enter the flat. Many times you will push the bones off the flat and they will stay off for the duration of the tide. Giving them the chance to come up onto the flat for a while will allow them to feel comfortable and also allow more fish to come onto the flat. You will have more bones to fish to and more fish that will be willing to take your presentation. Also, wade close to the shoreline (usually 10-30 feet onto the flat) to allow them to come onto the flat, and since it is an incoming tide they will be moving in towards you. Wading the outside edge of a flat during an incoming tide will often spook them off the flat before you have a chance to make a cast.
4. During an outgoing tide try to wade farther out on the flat or work the flat so fish leaving the flat will be coming past you. During high tide, the bones will be way up onto the flat. When the tide leaves they will begin to migrate off the flat. Very often they will be moving off the flat and making one more run down the flat to feed before leaving. Try to cut them off or “work” the flat so you have as many opportunities as possible. Wading close to shore during an outgoing tide will often push them away from you and off the flat for good.
5. Keep your flies “scent-free“. Suntan lotion and bug repellent is every bone fishermen’s enemy. Bonefish have a good sense of smell. Make sure to wash the palms of your hands or rub them on the bottom of the flat to get the lotion off your hands. Also, rub mud or sand off the bottom of the flat into your fly. Any unusual scent on your fly will make a bonefish think twice about taking your pattern!
6. Wade fishing deep water flats can be a difficult challenge. When your three feet into the water it is very difficult to see the fish. Fish these flats during or around low tide. Deep flats can fish well an hour before or after low tide. Deep flats are a good option when other average depth flats are too low to have fish on them.