OK, you’ve decided that you’re going to chase some bonefish on foot. Want to make sure you actually catch one? Here are 5 ways to improve your chances.
- Walk quietly. Bonefish sense noise and vibration from a long ways away. If you’re on a flat with a hard bottom, step softly – landing on the balls of your feet instead of your heels. And don’t ‘slosh’ your feet through the water – pick your foot up vertically, step forward, and step down. Seriously – it makes a difference.
- Let your line loop behind you in the water. The best way to manage line while wading is the simplest. Strip off a length of line that you’re comfortable casting. Leave enough line out of your rod tip that your rod will load well when you start casting (probably 12-15 feet). When you’re wading, just let that extra line loop behind you in the water. When you see a fish, quietly pull that long loop in the water into a pile at your feet (this way it’ll have less drag when you cast) and make your shot. NOTE: Stripping off a giant length of line isn’t helpful and can cause problems with line management…if you really think you can quickly, accurately and consistently make shots on foot that are much over 50 feet, well, thanks for reading our blog, Lefty!
- Walk where they came from. When you’re wading, you should generally be set up so the fish are swimming towards you. Not always, but most of the time, bonefish tend to swim a certain path on a flat. When you see a fish swimming at you, don’t just look at where he is – look at where he came from. Chances are, he’s got friends behind him, taking the same path he did. Walk there.
- Wear good boots. In fisheries like ours on South Andros, there are some really huge flats with all kinds of bottoms, from hard sand to muck to nasty limestone. You can get out of the boat and literally walk for hours, and you need to have good footwear. No, not an old pair of All-Stars. No, not a pair of ‘flats sandals’. A good, solid pair of boots designed for wading on the flats, like the Simms Flats Sneakers. Wear good socks too.
- There’s more where that came from. One of the great things about bonefish is that they tend to be plentiful. When a fish swims by, make your best shot. If he doesn’t eat, try again once, or maybe twice. But then don’t waste your time! Shots at a fish that’s swimming away are very, very low percentage. Keep walking in the direction that fish came from – you’re betting off finding a new target.