I cast a crab pattern dropping it quietly some two feet in front of the feeding fish. The bone moved forward. I lifted the rod tip giving some movement to the crab, the bone moved forward engulfing my crab pattern. I tightened into a good fish. For a second or two nothing moved. Suddenly the bone switched into overdrive, then turned away from me heading across the flats to the mangroves in the distance. I stuffed the rod high and let the fish go, the reel was just a blur. "Don't touch the rod Martin" shouted Leonard from his poling platform in the stern. That first run was probably 140 to 150 yards, for ten minutes the fish was boss. Eventually the pressure started to tell, some minutes later my prize was close to hand, a good bonefish estimated around 7lbs. As Leonard unhooked and released my prize I punched the air with joy. This was fishing as good as it gets.

If you are fishing the warmer climes for the first time, you couldn't pick a better place than the Bahamas or a better fish than the bone, because for a fly fisher there isn't a better fish swimming in the ocean that's as exciting as a bonefish. Hook your first bonefish then watch it speed away, seeing a hundred yards of line disappear in a blur is something you don't forget. I call them silver bullets, that's how fast they move. They certainly have to be the spookiest fish that swims. Strange as it might seem, bones sometimes throw caution to the wind, grabbing anything cast in their direction - but it's not very often. The Bahamas must be one of the nicest areas in the world to take a holiday, it has something for everyone. Getting there couldn't be easier, you will find the Bahamian people are very friendly, always smiling. It's one of those place where you feel safe at all times of day or night and you never ever feel you're getting ripped off - it just doesn't happen the in Bahamas - and you can party all night.

I have visited and fished many of the islands in the Bahamas, all are excellent. Andross Island is probably the biggest of the islands with several excellent bonefish camps and I have never been disappointed. Moxey's bonefish camp is as good as it gets. The Moxey family have been around guiding bonefish anglers for many years. I first met Joel Moxey sometime ago during one of the World invitational bonefishing championships. He was a man with a firm warm smile, twinkling eyes and a tremendous knowledge of the fishing and wildlife. Joel told me how he had spent several years as a successful banker, but realised he was missing the island, it's people and the bonefishing guests. He gave up banking, returning to his family home in Moxey Town on Mangrove Key, Andross where he now runs a very successful bonefish camp. Joel Moxey is one of those guys who will help anyone. When time allows, he still guides for his guests, taking them to some of the finest bonefishing in the world. Why travel to Christmas Island in the South Pacific when you can visit the Bahamas just a few hours flying time!

You can reach Joel Moxey by E-mailpax@bahamas.comTel 242-369-0023 Fax 242-369-0726 If bonefishing appeals to you your more than welcome to join me on a trip.


The Tackle - Rods, Reels, Lines and More

To get the best out of your fly fishing trip for bonefish, you need two rods. If you can afford two rods, I suggest the Thomas and Thomas four piece, nine feet model in eight and nine weight. I find these rods cast a nice tight loop which is so important when fishing in windy conditions. For use in light or no wind the eight weight model is perfect, but should the wind spring up then a nine weight will make a lot of difference to your casting.

If you can only afford one rod then make it an eight weight, should the wind pick up you can always use a nine weight line on your eight weight rod. There are several lines on the market that have been designed for bonefishing. I have used the Cortland Ghost tip with a floating line with good success, it's been designed for the tropics and comes with a 10 foot clear sink tip making it an ideal line for fishing the shallow calm water on the flats where the fish are going to be very spooky. Using a Ghost tip line I have caught fish, when perhaps a standard bonefish line with a nine foot leader would have spooked every fish on the flats. Some guides are not to happy with clear lines or the clear sink tip lines. For them it becomes a tough job to work out where the fly is in relation to the fish especially when out with a newcomer to bonefishing.

Most times I use leaders of around nine feet in length but in very windy conditions I will cut my leader length back to 7 feet. The leader should be tapered down from 40lb to 10 pound breaking strain nylon with two feet of fluorocarbon line of ten to 12lb breaking strain for the tippet. If you are fishing open flats with smaller fish you might get away with a 6lb tippet, but I don't recommend such light tippets. When fishing near mangroves I use 10 perhaps 12lb tippet, should I see any big fish I would go up to a 15lb tippet.

I reckon the two most important bits of equipment are your reel and your polarised glasses. The fly fishing reel has to be extremely good, you cannot get away with a cheap trout size reel costing just a few pounds, bonefish are in a different league. The JW Young's Seaventure reel from Masterline stockist is ideal and will do the job it's designed for. It's of British manufacture and a very well made saltwater fly fishing reel. I have several Tibor reels but these days the Tibors stay in the cabinet, I use my Seaventure models, and not only for bonefishing. I have caught barracuda and blue sharks using my J W Young's Seaventure reels. Finally you need a quality pair of polarised glasses. If you wear glasses all the time then you need to get polarised glasses made with your power lenses. You don't get time to change glasses when hunting the bones and unless you have a good pair of glasses you won't see the bonefish. The best glasses I have used are from Optilabs Ltd 109 Stafford Road Croydon Surrey CR 4NN E-mail sales@optilabs.com Tel 0208-686-5708 They are well worth the money and will cost you less than visiting your high street optician.


Fly And Crab Patterns

You need a selection of flies and crab patterns. As with all fish, there will be some days when the fish will eat anything, other days they will be very choosy so don't go without these: a few Clouser minnows in size 1's and 2's in chartreuse and white, a selection of Gotchas, Crazy Charlie's, Mini-puff's and Orange mini shrimps. Some crab patterns such as Rag head, Rug yarn and Del Brown patterns - and make sure you have a couple of Borskey shrimps. I get all my bonefish flies from Kaufmann Streamborn E-mail kaufmanns@kman.com.

The best book on the subject is Randall Kaufmann's book simply titled 'Bonefishing' It's without doubt the best book on the subject, it covers everything you need to know on the subject, from locations, tackle, flies and much much more. It's not a book just for this year. It's one for the next twenty or thirty years, it's that good. The weight of the book is about four and a half pounds, the size of a nice bonefish. In fifty years time anglers will still say to each other "have you read Randall Kaufmann's 'Bonefish' book?"