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Bonefish: A Great Treat for Sportsmen, but They're Not Considered Good Table Fare

February 17, 1986|EARL GUSTKEY

Bonefish are found in warm, tropical waters around the world. They're shallow water feeders, and therefore equipped with survival characteristics that truly challenge even the most skilled fly fisherman. For one thing, they're among the fastest fish in the sea, capable of astonishing bursts of speed. For another, they're very wary, constantly on the lookout for predators such as sharks and barracuda. They're not considered good table fare, however, and most are released after being caught.

Fishing for bonefish is hunting. The idea is to spot them, then stalk the fish and carefully present a crustacean-patterned fly.

Fly fishermen rate them, pound for pound, among the most ferocious battlers of all game fish. On light tackle, a three-pound bonefish can keep a fisherman busy for half an hour.

Bonefish are prehistoric, belonging to a family of very primitive bony fishes that date back 125 million years. A bone's mouth is a marvel of evolution, complete with a tongue and two sets of teeth, one consisting of tiny, pearl-like teeth for grasping and another, stronger set, for grinding and mashing up crabs, clams, snails, shrimp and other foods found on coral flats.

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