The Bonefish of Bonaire
Here is a nice Guest Blog from Greg Olsen on his recent family trip to Bonaire. Though I wouldn’t consider it a “bonefish” destination it is a place where you can combine a family vacation (especially if you are divers) with a couple of afternoons casting to bones.
I spent a month there with my wife and friends, fishing 28 of the 30 days, so have a fairly good feel for the place and what it has to offer.
Chris has captured the variety and essence of Bonaire very well in his Blog. I had to laugh when he talked about the wind, because now my buddy and I compare all trips and the associated weather with “our trip to Bonaire.” It’s there that we concluded we can fish in winds up to 30 mph, but over that means “it might just be time for a beer.”
“Just wanted to thank you guys (Rod Hamilton and Kirk Deeter) for the advice on Bonaire and your book, which I reread right before going.
After my first experience fishing salt last year on Cat Island, in the calm water of Orange Creek, flats fishing on Bonaire was a whole new ball game. You guys said it was windy, but I had no idea what windy really was until Bonaire, it is 24/7 windy!
My son and I concentrated on the flat adjacent to Sorobon Beach. We had activities planned everyday, so spending a couple of hours early in the morning, before the wind surfers woke up, worked well. The first morning, I saw a school of six Bones, I got a cast in front of them, started to strip, got two to follow, before they lost interest and went back to the group. I got another cast in front of them, one followed without eating, until I paused my retrieve, and the fish pounced on it. My second cast and a fish! I figured this was going to be easy!
Well….., that first day we had an incoming tide and the wind was only 17 mph. The rest of the time, it was low tide and the wind cranked up to 27 mph. So about a third of the flat had no water and the turtle grass, which the fish preferred was ankle deep, but the constant waves were knee high. You could see through the face of a wave like a window, but then you had to walk into the wind and rising sun. Keeping the wind and sun at your back allowed one to cast better, but it was much harder to see.
At times, it reminded me of grouse hunting without a dog. There were bonefish that would sit still in little depressions with water barely covering them. A couple times, I almost stepped on a fish, before it “flushed.” I couldn’t see them and they couldn’t see me!
Still we got a few shots every morning, but more often than not, they seemed to not see the fly, and with the shallow turtle grass getting churned up, that would not be surprising. Our last morning, my son Brian did hook up, but with the fish screaming through the shallows with its back out of the water and over broken coral (adjacent to the resort), the tippet broke.
We had an awesome time on Bonaire. The snorkeling was unreal, swimming with sea turtles and we toured caves, mangroves, donkey sanctuary, national park,etc. Kirk, you wrote about observing tarpon when diving in Bonaire and getting an up close observation of their habits. I was able to do that a few times with schools of bonefish in ~ 6-8 feet of water. They seemed to not to care or notice me following them across a flat, watching them eat. One school, had a permit for a wing man!
Yes, the fishing was a bit frustrating, but we got much better at spotting fish, especially over turtle grass and experience fishing a flat. Not to mention, casting into high winds. The morning we departed, there was not time to hit the flat one more time, and I discovered what I missed was not the catching of bonefish (maybe due to only getting one!), but just being on the flat with my son, the sun coming up over the ocean, the sound of waves and the birds, and the anticipation of seeing a glimpse of the gray fox.
Thanks again, I really appreciate your help!”
Thanks for the report Greg, well said.