The Other Bonefish

Emily Gribble, from Minnesota, releasing her bonnethead shark caught during her stay in Stuart and fishing with Capt. Michael Mauri. Photo credit: Capt. Michael Mauri.

I occasionally think that my non-traditional approach to most fly-fishing situations probably makes the more traditional fly-guy’s head spin. Those that know me can attest to my passion for all sorts of different species on fly.

A few years back I was fishing with my wife for tarpon in the Keys. As our luck usually goes, the wind picked up and we decided to leave oceanside and hit the flats for some bonefish. Not a bad option to have! As we were sneaking along some good-looking flats, I spotted a nice little bonnethead shark. I presented my little white/chartreuse Clouser three yards in front of him and waited. As he came closer I started stripping my fly and sure enough, he took it instantly. What fun these native Florida sharks are on a fly rod! Not only are they very nosy and strong, they also like a variety of flies.

A few weeks back our friend Emily was visiting from Minnesota and between the intermittent rain showers and thunderstorms we were spared one afternoon for some flats fishing. Emily hooked into the beautiful bonnethead on an eight-weight with a bait fish pattern. Not a bad catch for her first time in Stuart.

Most bonnethead sharks that we land in Stuart were meant to be a snook – similar rod, line and flies. However, I highly recommend targeting them on purpose. They look similar to a hammerhead because of their head shape but they max out at about four-feet in length and at 25-pounds they are way smaller than a monstrous Hammerhead.

Target Species: Bonnethead Shark
Rod: 8 weight
Tippet: 25- or 30-pound fluorocarbon, 12-pound wire
Handling tips: Always keep the shark in the water or dripping wet. Hold the top fin to stabilize for a quick pic and to remove the hook.
Safety tip: Be mindful of teeth while removing the hook

Be careful and have fun with them!

The Fly Fishing Column is written by Capt. Michael Mauri,,, (772) 485-3321.