Bahamas bonefish adventures can be surprisingly affordable. Here are 7 things Canadian anglers should know


Sight-fishing for bonefish is challenging and thrilling


When stalking bonefish, you stand on the casting deck of a skiff, ready to cast, as the guide slowly poles the boat along from an elevated platform, watching for fish. There’s a reason bonefish are called “grey ghosts.” They’re perfectly camouflaged, and very hard to spot. With their higher vantage point and lifetime of experience, the guides almost always spot the fish first. They’ll tell you where to look, saying, for example, “Two o’clock, 60 feet way, moving left to right, school of 20.” Then it’s a matter of the guide anticipating the movement of the fish, and positioning the boat so you can make a cast. If you are unable to see the fish—and for at least your first day or two, you probably won’t spot many of them—trust the guide to tell you when and where to cast. I caught several fish without ever seeing them until they ran. It wasn’t the most elegant way to hook up, but still a cool experience.

Generally, you want to lead the fish by some distance, so the fly or lure has settled to bottom as the bonefish approaches. Then you need to move the fly enough to get the fish’s attention, but not spook it. The guide will continue to help with a series of instructions such as, “Long strip, long strip. Stop. Short strip. Wait.” If the fish don’t get fooled, the guide will issue more instructions—“Pick it up and go again. More left”—until finally it’s time to set the hook: “Hit it!” Such coaching is essential for rookies learning how bonefish move and feed, not to mention for anglers like me who are prone to first-day buck fever.


Once hooked, bonefish don’t leap or headshake or tail-walk like some of our favourite Canadian gamefish. Instead, they’ve only got one trick, but it’s a good one—tearing off at a stunning speed. If you manage to keep the fish hooked during that first blistering run, there’s a good chance that, after a few more runs, you’ll land it.

Chris Clackner (left) and the author with a bonefish double-header

Adding a little extra flavour, it’s not unusual for struggling bonefish to attract four-foot-long sharks or barracudas, which seem to appear out of nowhere. If they can get a bead on your fish, they won’t hesitate to hit it. Big predators also blow out the flat, meaning it’s time to find a new spot. But if you have a rod rigged and ready with a 40-pound wire leader and a big popper or baitfish imitation, you can take a parting shot at them first. Cudas, in particular, are spectacular gamefish—imagine extra-toothy pike with nitrous-oxide boosters—and much easier to release than sharks.