Last week we covered wading for bonefish. Today we’re here to chat about poling.
Compared to wading, poling is much more of a team effort. With an angler standing at the ready on the bow of the boat, the guide stands on the stern (hopefully on a poling platform), using a push pole to control the movement of the boat down the flat. When fish are encountered, the guide is able to position and rotate the boat so that the angler has the best shot possible. The additional height that the guide gains from the poling platform also helps a lot in spotting fish.
Here’s are some situations in which poling is probably your best option.
- The angler is new to bonefishing. Sharing a boat with a guide allows for easy, direct communication, and the guide’s positioning of the boat can help present the fly more effectively.
- There’s deep water on the flat. Whether you’re in a fishery that tends to have deeper flats (the Florida Keys come to mind), or simply fishing a flat on South Andros at high tide, it’s much easier to get around and to spot fish in deep water from a poled boat.
- You’re on a flat with a soft bottom. There are a lot of flats in the world that bonefish love to feed on, but are just too soft to wade through comfortably. Whether the bottom is covered with mud, piles of soft sand, beds of turtle grass, or worse, soft bottoms are much more easily negotiated from a poled boat than on foot.
True, when you’re fishing from a poled boat only one angler gets to fish at a time. But don’t forget that a couple of those conditions described above – deep water and soft bottoms – equate to big bonefish in a lot of fisheries around the world. Talk to the true veterans of South Andros – 15 year + anglers – and they’ll tell you that there’s nothing they like better than poling the deep, soft flats of the West Side, looking for the big boys.