Skip to main content Skip to main content



The Bonefish

The Bonefish, Albula vulpes

Thick-bodied but streamlined. Dark back, usually greenish, and silver sides; pointed snout with underslung mouth; forked tail. A smaller and much lesser-known variety, the Longfin Bonefish, Albula nemoptera, looks almost identical, except for streamer-like extensions of its dorsal and anal fins.


ommon from 2 to 10 pounds; sometimes to 15 pounds, and possibly to 18 or 20. World record 19 pounds; Florida record 15 pounds, 12 ounces.


Although popular in the Bahamas and tropics, Bonefish are seldom eaten in Florida.They are indeed very bony; and too highly prized as gamefish to kill for, at best, a mediocre dinner.


Legendary for long-distance runs in shallow water. Strong, jack-like fighter in deep water.


For sight-fishing in the classic style, the most productive tackle is a spinning outfit with a light rod of 7 feet or longer and 8-pound-test line. Bonefish are also among the top favorites of fly fishermen, whose standard gear is an 8-weight outfit. Lighter fly rods get some spot use, if wind conditions allow, and 9-weight outfits are not too heavy for good sport. Live shrimp is the bait of choice among spin fishermen, but cut shrimp, conch (in the Bahamas and Caribbean) and crab all work well. Best lures are “skimmer” jigs, 1/8 or 1/4 ounce, with horizontally flattened heads that help keep the hook upright. Most fly rodders lean toward very small flies with monofil- ament weedguards on No. 2 or even No. 4 hooks, but standard streamers on No. 1 or 1/0 hooks work. In a less-than-classic approach, Bonefish can be caught by bottom fishing on deep flats and in channels near the flats.


Casting; Still Fishing.


Silver Ghost White Fox Macabi 


The bonefish is a tropi- cal species and is seriously fished only in the south end of Biscayne Bay, Greater Miami and the Florida Keys—and also, of course, throughout the Bahamas and Caribbean. Stragglers are sometimes caught north of the preferred habitat, usually from the surf, although a few are taken from the Indian River. The Longfin variety is rare in Florida.


Bonefish do much of their foraging on shallow mud or grass flats, where they can be sighted and cast to.They also frequently gather in large schools over fairly deep, soft bot- tom, where their feeding stirs up patches of silt or “mud.”

Lower Keys Bone

Forum member tourchkey showing off is bonefish caught in the keys

Bonefish on Fly

Charles catches a bonefish in his backyard on fly while waiting for dinner to be cooked

Inshore feeding

Pictured to the left is a trout engaging to feed in the grass beds before it got hooked and to the right is a bonefish searching the sand beds for some crustaceans.

Bonefish on Fly

Bonefish caught on a fly rod and slowly being released into its habitat.

14.6 pound Bonefish

Jim Easterling and third generation fishing guide Meko Glinton of deep water cay land this massive bonefish while fishing the flats.


Bonefish caught in South Caicos


Bonefish caught by Kent Hughes in Key Biscayne


Bonfish caught by Kent Hughes in Key Biscayne

Biscayne Bay Bone

Kayak Bonefish

Combine an offshore trip in the tropics with an inshore bonefish excursion via kayak.

Joe Bonefishing in the Keys

3 Toothy Smiles

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

Popular Videos

Project Dreamboat - All Out Albury, Ultimate Aluminum Skiff

Project Dreamboat - All Out Albury, Ultimate Aluminum Skiff

Today, on Florida Sportsman Project Dreamboa, Brian and the crew work to put custom touches on a 23' Albury Brothers; George LaBonte heads out with Todd Flis on his decked out Scandy White, an aluminum skiff built for the backcountry; and the team at MCU takes on restoring a 31' Contender that has seen Better Days.


Florida's Phosphate Industry & Why it's Harmful to Us & Our Environment

Gil Smart, of Policy Director for Friends of the Everglades, explains how phosphate is processed and the troubling current “disposal” methods for millions of tons of radioactive phosphogypsum, the toxic byproduct of fertilizer production. Most recently, this mismanagement was at the detriment of our citizens and waterways after the disaster at Piney Point, where Florida officials permitted the dumping of over 200 million gallons of toxic process water directly into the Tampa Bay.

Best Boat - Carolina Skiff 19 SWS, Crevalle 26 Open, Dusky 33

Best Boat - Carolina Skiff 19 SWS, Crevalle 26 Open, Dusky 33

A look at 3 boats individually great boats.

See All Videos

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!


Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

Preview This Month's Issue

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Florida Sportsman App

Other Magazines

See All Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get the top Florida Sportsman stories delivered right to your inbox.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Florida Sportsman subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now