Bahia Honda State Park – Florida Keys

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.

Bahia Honda beach.  Bathers and snorkelers are near the pavilion, but thin out as you walk North.


Turtle grass flat with a starfish.  These starfish were common, often in only inches of water at low 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.

Out a ways from the beach, the turtle grass patches are bordered by deeper sand flats.  Small barracuda and jacks would hover along these edges, and chase my small bonefish fly.


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.

Walking back at the end of the tide cycle.

One Comment Add yours

  1. John Ogram says:

    Gorgeous water and excellent narrative!


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