Bonefish By Kayak

By: Randy Morrow

The Keys are famous for several species of fish in both shallow and deeper water. One of the most sought-after targets for sport fishermen in the shallows is Albula vulpes, aka bonefish.
I recently had a day to myself and decided to head out in my kayak with fly rods to see if I could catch bonefish. The weather had scattered showers and moderately breezy; not perfect bonefishing weather, but good enough if the sun would stay out. Seeing them is half the battle, and without the sun it gets extremely difficult.
I started the morning looking for tarpon, but there were 2 guides already in the general area, and I didn’t see any tarpon activity, so I moved on to my bonefish plan. The tide was moving nicely, but before long, a consistent cloud line formed and would block out the sun for extended periods. I don’t like poling the kayak around when I can’t see the bottom, because I’ll likely spook any fish that are there without getting a shot at them. So, when the sun disappeared, I would gently drop anchor and play around on my phone until the sun came back out and I’d resume fishing. It finally got to the point where there were long periods of clouds with just a short bit of sun – quite frustrating! I noticed that about a 3/4 of a mile away, the next set of Keys were consistently sunny, being out of the line of clouds. I hadn’t planned to go there, but sitting on a dark flat was not working out and before long I would lose the good tide. So, I moved over to the “sunny” islands and resumed the search.
Bingo! Bonefish were consistently moving through the new area, and I was getting good shots at happy fish for the next 90 minutes! The wind was causing difficulties in making long casts, so I started moving a little closer to the fish than usual before casting so as to improve accuracy. A very basic, medium-weight shrimp fly was getting good results and in short order I landed 4 bones and had several more follows that didn’t quite work out. The schools of fish were generally about 5 to 7 fish per school and moving slowly with their faces on the bottom looking for food. Some of the fish were singles or pairs, and one school of 20+ came sprinting at the kayak as well. Then, as the tide died, the fishing did too.
It was long run back to the launch spot, and as I was moving, I spooked a couple more bones in an unusual area not far from the launch. I slowly circled back around and looked to see if I might get lucky. I did find one more pair of bonefish and hooked one of them but lost him when my fly line tangled in the guides and the leader popped. Dang!
Oh well, still an outstanding day on the flats in my little plastic boat! If you’ve always wanted to catch a Florida Keys bone, get in touch with me and we will make it happen!

— Randy Morrow, Kayak Fishing Guide | Phone/Text: 305.923.4643 | Email:

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