Bonefish are pound-for-pound one of the strongest, fastest-running saltwater fish anywhere. They are also one of the coolest to have your photo taken with. Their scientific name is Albulidae, which means “white fox".
Bonefish are noted for moving from deeper water onto shallow tidal flats to feed, where you can find and cast to tailing fish—one of the most challenging (and rewarding) saltwater experiences available. They typically retreat back to deeper water as the tide ebbs. Bahamas bones can reach upwards of ten pounds, but a more representative size would be about a third of that. A big bonefish, a lifetime fish, would be any fish in excess of ten pounds. Larger, adult fish break away from schools, traveling in singles and doubles and offering great sight-fishing opportunities on the flats of Abaco and South Andros islands.
As prolific as Bahamas bonefish are, relatively little is known about them. The Bonefish & Tarpon Trust (BTT) aims to change that and has been heavily involved in scientific research in conjunction with our lodges. For more information, BTT is an excellent, angler-friendly source. Visit tarbone.org.
The Bonefish prefers shallow flats, tidal estuaries, protected bays, turtle grass flats, and other brackish areas at depths of 2 to 6 feet. It is found worldwide in subtropical warm seas. In the Eastern Pacific, its range includes waters off California to Peru; the Western Atlantic range stretches from North Carolina to Florida, the Bahamas, the Antilles, and the rest of the Caribbean almost to Brazil.
A pelagic fish, bonefish feed on benthic creatures such as worms, crustaceans, and mollusks—rooting them out from the sandy bottom. Granular teeth, forming specialized dental plates, cover the bonefish’s tongue and upper jaw. Similar grinders are also present in the throat, helping bones to grind then swallow prey. Small to medium-size bones often feed in schools. Sharks and barracuda frequently prey on bonefish, which may explain why the fish evolved such an ultra-fast body for quick escapes. Bones can reach speeds up to 30+ miles per hour.