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What is a Bonefish?

Saturday 02.25.2012 , Posted by
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Bahamas Bonefishing (40 of 53)

When planning an adventure in the Bahamas, you are likely to come across bonefishing somewhere along the line. Then you are likely to find a lot of people asking, “What is a Bonefish?”  According to Wikipedia:

The bonefish (Albula vulpes) is the type species of the Albulidae family, or bonefishes in order Albuliformes. It is amphidromous, living in inshore tropical waters, moving onto shallow mudflats to feed with the incoming tide, and retreating to deeper water as the tide ebbs.

In real life, the Bonefish possesses an entirely more dynamic existence.  What Wikipedia fails to mention is the ability of a Bonefish to mirror its surroundings and camouflage itself from eager fisherman and fierce predators.  It also fails to mention that they will quickly change direction if so much as a shadow graces their path. The iridescent fish is also rumored as the strongest and fastest moving of any saltwater fish. This superfish also has a lung-like airbladder that allows it to tolerate oxygen-poor water by inhaling air.

This slew of powers the finicky critter touts are the likely reason they are one of the most prized game fish for anglers. After a long day out on the water, we quickly realized just how hard they are to catch. The only person in our group that managed to catch one was Lauren, and there were four of us with two boats and, hands down, the two best fishing guides around.

The Pinder Brothers, are a long standing family of Bahamian fishing guides.  All of the four brothers have been Bonefishing since they were born and their father was a guide his whole life.  In the off season they catch lobsters by the thousands and pretty much anywhere you turn their name is on something.  From the Pinder’s ferry service that we used to get to the Abacos to the Swingers crew in the famous Junkanoo parade, the Pinder brothers have the pulse of the Grand Bahama.  Their knowledge of the island, energy and contagious sense of humor truly encompass the spirit of the Bahamas.

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All across the web, fisherman talk about this fish and how addicting it is to hunt the fish. Jeffrey Pinder told us, “My favorite thing about Bonefishing is that it is a combination of hunting and fishing, so there is never a dull moment all day.” This is the truth.  The fish spends most of its time searching through mangroves to find food in 8 inches to a few feet of water.  The guides stand on an elevated platform on the back of the boat using a long pole to push along and spot fish.  Then, so as to not spook the fish, they softly speak cues as to where to cast and the next move.  Check out the video below to see some footage from the day.

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While it may seem boring when 4 people spend an entire day cruising around the shores of the Grand Bahama and only catch one fish, the most addicting part goes far beyond the fishing. “The flats” are about as picturesque as it gets.  The calm aqua blue waters, with birds, marine life just feet below the water and even hammerhead sharks cruising around is enchanting to say the least.  The water is shallow so it is perfectly calm and the mangroves add a geometric glowing green landscape just above the water.

The whole experience is nothing short of a meditation on the water.  So if it is a peaceful break from the busy hustle bustle that is calling, this may be the ticket whether you are an avid angler or a city boy who has never touched a fishing pole.  Whatever way you look at it, a day with the Pinder brothers will leave you with a Bahamian history lesson, new found fishing skills, enough laughs to give your abs a workout, and a zen meditation that would make a monk brew envy. Beware though, there are no guarantees on the Bonefish trophy, those fish have earned their reputation for a reason.

If you are interested in trying a day of Bonefishing yourself, go to to

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From time to time you end up with something a little bigger…like a Barracuda.

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Mose w bonefish Spring 2011 - Copy

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Steven Shoppman

Written by Steven Shoppman



Steven Shoppman is a contributor to The Visual News and an avid explorer. In 2009 he received the honor of "Adventurer of the Year" by National Geographic Adventure Magazine for his expedition driving two trucks around the world. The expedition was named "The World by Road" He continues to plan new adventures and you can visit his personal website to learn more about him at www.stevenshoppman.com.

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