Bonefishing in the U.S. Virgin Islands
Here is a nice Trip Report from subscriber Craig Beckjord on his recent trip to St. John’s in the U.S. Virgin Islands. I have had several reports from there over the years all of which have reported seeing, casting to and catching bonefish.
I have not personally been there but it certainly looks like a location worth exploring. So throw in your eight weight when packing and then report back to us on what you found.
Here is what Craig has to say.
“My wife and I recently returned from a week’s trip to St. John, USVI. While we had one day booked with a local guide for tarpon, I really wanted to fish for bonefish. I searched perhaps my best resource for learning about new places and getting that specific answer for my question: the forum component on Trip Advisor. Here you can search on a specific word or ask a question.
With both input from Trip Advisor and the local guide, we set out to DIY fly fish on St. John. All beaches on St. John are public. Additionally, the beaches are public to the high water mark. Getting to beach is the rub. We did not trespass getting to our target areas and I encourage you to research your spots and do the same.
No fishing license is required on the island. However, there are a few areas/beaches that exclude fishing. Additionally, some species may not be harvested. (This didn’t come into play where we fished and what we were fishing for.)
Our first area was on the east side of the island and at Johnson’s Bay. This area is south of Coral Bay and slightly past the Calabash Market. We found parking just off the road which gave us beach access. From there, we walked around a rocky point and walked a beach toward some mangroves and Lagoon Point. The local guide said that bonefish will hit this area on a rising tide. We timed our visit based off of this. The area consisted of a lot of turtle grass, rock and coral. While we did not see any bones, I did get to cast to a tailing permit right at the point! This area was exposed to the wind and surf, but a great experience. We saw a total of two permit at Lagoon point. I would recommend weed guards on your flies and many small crabs were on the coral.
The second area was a wonderful DIY spot. It goes by many names, so I’ll list them all: Mary’s Creek, Annaberg sugar plantation or Leinster Bay. This is on the north side of the island and mostly off the tourist radar. Park in the parking lot of the sugar plantation. The water is 20 feet away. I hopped in and looked left. A large, walkable flat was present along with turtle grass, rock and a coral edge. I did see ‘pods’ of bonefish tailing in 1-2 feet of water. I was able to cast to them, but was not able to land one. I’d recommend 12 pound leaders with 10 pound tippet. I say this as they spooked when I was throwing larger line. This area is very tide dependent. I saw the bones tailing on an outgoing tide, but did not see as many on the incoming tide. If you have a SUP (as we did), ferry down to the far west end of the inlet. Very small tarpon were here and I hooked into one that took a bone fly. Great stuff!
Also keep in mind that the beginning of June is baby shark season. I had a few dozen nurse and black tip reef sharks on the flat with me.
In all, DIY fly fishing on St. John is there. So are the bonefish and permit. Go get ’em.
Cheers and tight lines”