This is a book to capture the imagination of any angler who likes to roam wild and free. Having done quite a bit of DIY bonefishing myself over the years I was intruiged as soon as I heard this book’s title. Discovering a likely flat, wading it, seeing bonefish on it, then stalking and catching them - all without a guide - has to be one of the purest, most satisfying aspects of our fantastic sport.
It can actually be done in many saltwater flats destinations - there are often isolated flats and creeks where guides tend not to go, or there’s a handy road within walking distance, or there’s often a small flat near coastal habitation, providing one is staying in the right locale. However, getting to know where these little gems are is often a case of hard-earned local knowledge or, in my case, detailed scrutiny of Google Earth and a friend who has a house-boat in the Bahamas. Otherwise, hiring a car, or paddling a kayak can gain you access to some great, remote, quality fishing spots. But where exactly?
Well, this book is an excellent (the only?) place to start, presenting 16 destinations, ranging from Florida to Mexico to Hawaii, and with over 300 individual fishing spots located. To the saltwater fly fisher, opening this book is like stumbling upon a pirate’s treasure map. Maps of tropical destinations such as Abaco Islands, Acklins, Long Island, Exumas, and many other Bahamian islands, Florida Keys, Biscayne Bay, Turks & Caicos, Cayman Islands, Southern Yucatan, etc, are detailed to show roads, and pin-point where bonefish can be found. It indicates the places to fish and gives other lip-smacking information, like whether permit, tarpon, snook and barracuda might be present, and throws in a few fly recommendations. Local guides are listed, along with accommodation ideas, flight details and car-hire options. But there’s a human side to this guide-book too. There’s plenty of colour photographs and the author gives many personal accounts and experiences within the pages. Each destination includes a ‘Seven-Day Sample Trip’, lists the ‘Nonfishing activities’ local to the area, and each is given a ‘Spousal rating’. Rod Hamilton has spent the last 20 years dragging his wife to out-of-the-way tropical destinations, and readers of this book who are thinking of taking their partners along will be glad of the wisdom he imparts… and give Great Inagua a miss. Bahamas it may be, but, as the book puts it succinctly, "There are very few amenties on Great Inagua and I don’t recommend this trip to a nonfishing partner". It accompanies a photo of him, awaiting a donkey shish kebab from a roadside shack.
The book also includes a section on ‘how to DIY’, which includes fishing and planning tips - in which there’s plenty of useful advice - and an equipment section.
Please note, though, that I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone who has no experience of bonefishing. A guide is an absolute necessity when you first start to understand all the nuances of this brilliant sporting fish: its behaviour, how to spot and stalk them, the tides, the sun, the wind, the flats, the moon, the way they fight, the sharks, the stingrays… However, for those that have progressed to be sufficiently confident with ‘ol bones’ to tackle them alone, then this unique book is the starting point for an incredible pioneering journey. It’s a dangerous book; one that sorely tempts me to stuff it into my back-pack, pick up my rod, and book a flight to the Caribbean. Trouble is, I’d be gone for at least two years...
Published by The Derrydale press
RRP: £18.95 (Coch-y-BONDDU BOOKS)