4 Fast Facts About Bonefish: An Angler’s Ideal Catch

February 15, 2023

Bonefish, the common warm water sportfishing species known for its power and speed in chase, are typically found in clear, shallow costal water. This makes Hawks Cay Marina an ideal starting point for any bonefishing adventure. So, what should anglers know about bonefish?

Captain Tom Rowland, host of The Saltwater Experience filmed at Hawks Cay Marina, recently interviewed Marine Scientist Dr. Mike Larkin on the Tom Rowland Podcast about the unique species. Here are a few interesting facts from their conversation:
TR: Where did bonefish come from?
ML: The first bonefish ancestors arrived 136 million years ago in the cretaceous period. The oldest fossil on geologic record was found in the Montana area. The albula (bonefish) species arrived 65 million years ago, whereas humans have only been around since 6 million years ago. They have a big jump on us in terms of the time that they’ve been here!
TR: How many species of bonefish are there?
ML: There’s 8 confirmed species of bonefish, though the number is speculated to be 10. There are different species of albula found in the flats of the Florida Keys, deep waters off Key West, San Diego, Hawaii, the East China Sea off Korea, the Seychelles and the southwest coast of Africa.
TR: How do bonefish see?
ML: Fish have stem cells in their eyes – they can change the colors they see and their eyes can heal a lot better than ours. In the first year of a bonefish’s life, they focus their vision in front of them for feeding and behind them for protection. The second year of their life they lose some of that backward vision and instead see better downwards.
TR: How do they reproduce?
ML: Bonefish reproduce offshore with eel-like larvae that swim in-shore. We’ve found bonefish in Florida to have a 40-day life cycle – the period between the hatching of the egg to becoming a bonefish. When bonefish eggs first hatch, they need to be in water with a really stable salinity. If the salinity changes, the eggs will either shrink of explode.
Bonefish can be caught year-round in the Florida Keys, with March through October being peak season. Learn more about fishing for bonefish from Hawks Cay at https://www.hawkscay.com/experience/florida-keys-fishing-charters/backcountry-fishing/bonefish.

For more on bonefish with Captain Tom Rowland and Dr. Mike Larkin, tune in to episode 630 of the Saltwater Experience here.