Last Monday, after my other friends left Key West, I headed to Bahia Honda state park to hunt for bonefish. This park is a gem – gorgeous sand, great amenities, and generally is not too crowded for fly fishers to hunt the sand and grass flats for hours. I armed myself with my 8wt and a small Clouser-style shrimp pattern, a 12′ leader, and set off on the North-Eastern flat with a falling tide.
I saw several stingrays, small jacks, and hooked a small barracuda in my first hour of fishing, but my heart started pumping when a few big tarpon cruised into a sand trench within wading distance. I worked my way out, positioning myself near the trench. The tarpon were gone by the time I got there, but I stood ready, waiting for other fish to come through. Within 15 minutes, a pod of three tarpon in the 30-40lb class came through. I was able to get a cast off, but it fell 10 feet shy of the lead fish, and the tarpon slid of the flat into deeper water. Damn. 20 minutes later a large bonefish appeared, but was too far away, and moving too fast, to target.
I stayed in place, hoping for more fish to appear. Unfortunately, that bonefish signaled the end of the action (except for the rays that cruised by my ankles). I walked back in, wondering if the bones were closer in. They weren’t. After three hours of trying, I called it quits, having enjoyed every minute of the effort (much like the tarpon trip). It must be the beauty of these places – hard to be frustrated on a tropical island, as least for the non-ship wrecked among us.