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Bonefish: Bahamas or Mexico

ComandanteComandante Posts: 290 Deckhand
Looking for your opinions. I'm just beginning the planning for a 2017 Bonefish fly fishing trip. Probably want to fish at least seven days while gone. Timing not an issue and will be dependent on recommended fish availability and average fishable wind conditions . Local guide (s) and lodging preferred. Party of three.
Thanks in advance!

Capt. Gabe Kovacs 1600 ton Master
Offshore Supply Vessels


  • LighthouseKipLighthouseKip Posts: 21 Deckhand
    Both are excellent destinations, and pretty fishy year-round. You should consider Belize also. El Pescador is a world-class lodge. Check out www.yellowdogflyfishing.com.
  • FlatsFrenzyFlatsFrenzy Posts: 893 Officer
    Oahu...seriously...look up Captain Jesse Cheape with Hi Tide Fly Fishing.


    I spent a day with Jesse back in late July...landed 5 bones, broke 2 more off, and missed hook sets on a few more. Probably 20-30 shots at bones up to 8-10#. He walked the flats with me carrying a 12wt rigged for GTs...because there is always a chance...

    If you haven't looked at Oahu as a bonefish destination, you're missing out IMHO.

    Gulf Coast of FL
    @flatsfrenzy #flyonly #onelessspinrod
  • sunflowersunflower osprey, floridaPosts: 648 Officer
    The Bahamas are certainly the definitive bonefish destination. I think Mexico in general offers more of a mixed bag, with the potential for smaller tarpon, permit, and snook. I have not fished Mexico but I have fished a number of locations in the Bahamas, as well as the Seychelles, the Keys, and Christmas Island.

    Andros Island is the Mecca of bonefishing. I have fished in the north Joulters with Phillip Rolle, and in the south with Andros South. Both were great experiences. The Joulters offers acres of white flats, the south tidal creeks and flats. On Abaco, the Black Fly Lodge is a perfect experience with fabulous guides, accommodations, and multiple diverse fishing areas. Great variety for a seven-day trip.

    If you want fewer, bigger bonefish ... go to Abaco. If you want lots of bonefish with the potential for big ones, go to Andros.

    Yellow Dog Outfitters is an excellent resource, though sometimes they give so many options it becomes bewildering.

    If I had one day left to live, and one fishing trip left to experience ... I would probably choose to spend it on the bow of a skiff in south Andros.


    grace finds goodness in everything ...

  • saltybumsaltybum Posts: 1,659 Captain
    Checked my IGFA book and out of 35 records 24 were in Florida with second place going to the Bahamas with 6.
    The two biggest, 17 and 19lbs were Zululand S. Africa
    If you're interested. I thought it was.
  • sunflowersunflower osprey, floridaPosts: 648 Officer
    I have been to the Keys at least a dozen times. I live in Florida. It has the advantages of being American, with reliable guides, hotels, etc. Expect fewer fish, and more difficult to catch. Two bones is a good day anywhere in the Keys. Any Bahamian destination would probably offer at least 3 or 4 times as many chances and fish. Keys bones tend to be bigger on average.

    I go to the Keys after permit, and the bonefish are by-catch. It is arguably the best place in the world to catch permit. Certainly to catch bigger permit.

    Again, it comes down to if you want more chances, more fish ... or more trophy fish.


    grace finds goodness in everything ...

  • JoeBCJoeBC Posts: 608 Officer
    Sunflower, when was the last time you fished the Keys/BB for Bones? Last few years have seen a real increase in #s especially of smaller fish. I certainly noticed way more fish in Biscayne over the last few summers and had some real good days bonefishing from my kayak. As long as you avoid holiday weekends (and weekends in general) the fish are a lot more cooperative than folks on the internet like to admit.
  • sunflowersunflower osprey, floridaPosts: 648 Officer
    I fish once or twice a year for permit in Key West & Big Pine. Probably ten trips over the last few years. I went last in October 2016. I haven't gone specifically in the Upper Keys where the bonefishing is more classic, or for bonefish. I hooked 4 and landed two over two days in October. I might have caught one or two per two days in prior trips.

    I am glad the bonefishing is getting better. I have heard it is increasingly good from the guides.

    I have never heard anyone ever suggest that you catch more bonefish in the Keys than in the Bahamas.

    I have caught more than ten bonefish in the Bahamas on a number of days. I have caught more than 10 in an hour, easy, in the Seychelles and Christmas Island. Catching small "banana" bonefish gets boring very fast.

    Guides in the Keys charge about $500 - $600 per day. Hotel and food runs another $200 - 300.
    So, around $800 per day. There are lodges in the Bahamas that can match that with way more fish.

    For me, as a doctor, it is more expensive to be out of the office than to fish. The Keys are better because it limits my time lost to travel.

    These are from October 2016 in Key West.


    grace finds goodness in everything ...

  • tarpon41tarpon41 Posts: 283 Deckhand
    I agree in principle with Mr. Mark(the traditional English appellation of a surgeon has the better form/forum less ambiguity school superintendent...bishop of the church of what's happin now...). Exceptions:last stop before ashes, west of Key West last week June first week July but if there was just one or two more days left after that then Cargill Creek Andros and fish with DeWayne Neymour and Andy Smith; however, if it was to be ashes in January then Andros North Bight Middle Bight...for big bonefish. The numbers problem with Bahamas is if you lodge it you must factor the low rate is for two in the boat ...a single is essentially a doubler and that is when the Bahamian cost along with transportation will significantly exceed the Keys one in the boat. I would agree with his 800 per day for a single...put two in the Keys skiff and room it's half that and there is no good lodge on Andros that equals
  • Carl BlackledgeCarl Blackledge Posts: 674 Officer
    Bone fish questions,

    I am not what you call a Bonefish guy, However I do have something to add to the conversation concerning Key's Bonefish. I went about 7 years ago with Capt, Scott Collins in the 7 mile bridge area to get a grand slam, and I did succeed, every morning we went and nailed the baby Tarpon right off the bat, then we motored over to the Bonefish flats and in no time I caught and released about 4-6 Bonefish everyday of my trip, the moral of the story was it wasn't anything to get a half dozen Bonefish, I do realize that was a few years back, however I wouldn't hesitate to return to that same place and lay out my precious rubies for a Bonefish only trip, you guys make it almost sound like Bonefish are hard to find and almost an endangered spices in the Key's, again I do realize Its been a few years since I was there, It's just hard to believe.

    My 2 cents

    Carl Blackledge
  • BacklashBacklash Posts: 880 Officer
    Well Carl, Scott is a helluva good guide and all around good dude, so theres that. If you went looking DIY, they might be a little bit harder to find.

    We had a "freeze" down here in the Keys, probably the winter after your last trip. Not a genuine freeze per se, but it stayed in the 40's and 50's for about a week straight, and killed A LOT of fish. The tropical species were hit hardest.
    For the following several years, bones became a pretty hard thing to find. They're rebounding nicely now..
    The upper keys bone fishery is quite different than mid and lower keys IMO.
    The middle and lower keys are more similar to a Bahamaian fishery, with larger #'s of schoolie fish on average, more shots, more willing to eat, but smaller.
    The fishery around Key Largo, Tavernier and Islamorada is where you'll see less #'s but bigger fish on average. It really depends on the flat though.
    There's flats right here in my backyard where I'll consistently see repeated schools of 30+ fish, all carbon copies of each other in the 7/8lb range.
    Then run 2 miles south, and you will see doubles and triples in the 10 to 12lb range (those fish are smart), run a mile west and you've got groups of 10 in the 4 lb range.

    If you don't know the area, and your trying to get into them, they can very much seem like an endangered species. But go with a good guide like Scott, or someone who's dialed in general, and it can be world class- as the record books can attest to.
    It was a tough few years though after that winter..
  • Lobstercatcher229Lobstercatcher229 Posts: 4,845 Captain
    I vote Bahamas over Mexico.
  • Permit RatPermit Rat Posts: 2,283 Captain
    As one who has fished extensively in Mexico, as well as the Keys and to a lesser extent in the Bahamas......a previous poster was correct in that Mexico offers more diversity of species. The bonefish however are small. The record bone caught in Xcalak (6 miles from the Belize border) is only 8 1/2 lbs. My largest is about the size of Sunflower's companion's and I wonder if they weighed 4 lbs. Lots of 2 lbers. though.

    However, Mexico does offer other species, depending on the season, including tarpon, permit, snook, some trout and snapper. North of Cancun is Isla Blanca and probably offers better fishing for the "others," while Xcalak has more bonefish and baby permit.

    However, for a bonefish-specific trip, I'll side with those in favor of Andros. I have never fished there, but have heard there are larger bonefish there. I've fished the Abacos, out of Deep Water Cay Club and caught a lot of fish, but nothing of any size.
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