Bonefish are something west central Florida anglers would normally have to pay thousands of dollars to target. A trip to the Bahamas or Florida Keys would be your best shot, but even then landing one of the finicky ghosts on the flats is no easy task.
Catching one locally has happened, but encounters are often secondhand stories of “I heard that …”
Proof is often hard to come by.
Capt. Will Osborne now has proof. In fact, he has double the proof. He has been lucky enough to run into not just one, but two bonefish in the past year.
Each winter, Osborne typically turns to mullet fishing for income when the charter fishing business enters its slow season. Last year while tossing nets for mullet around the Coral Shores area of the intercoastal, Osborne netted a decent-sized bonefish with his mullet catch.
“It was the nastiest water,” Osborne recalled. “He was just swimming along with a school of mullet.”
On his Facebook post chronicling the catch from Dec. 1, 2016, one Holmes Beach resident and angler commented, “My dad always claims to this day he caught, on two separate occasions, bonefish at LBK (Longboat Key) Pass, back when we were all like 10. I always called his bluff. Guess he was right.”
As fate would have it, Osborne found himself fishing in Longboat Key this past week due to the poor mullet catches he has been experiencing.
“Normally I only mullet fish for two months, but it’s been terrible so far,” Osborne said. “I’m booking trips in the downtime and making the best of it.”
“We were fishing some docks in Longboat Pass throwing live shrimp, catching a few redfish, flounder and trout on three feet of 20-pound leader with a 1/0-hook and there were mullet all around this dock. One of my anglers hooked a fish I thought was a ladyfish, so when it came into the boat and flipped off the hook, I kind of looked at it. ‘That’s a bonefish!’ I said. They didn’t even realize what they had just caught.”
This time Osborne’s friend would have even more reason to believe his dad as a few pictures were taken of the bonefish caught. It was in the exact area that the friend’s dad stated he landed two many years before. Osborne filmed the release of the once-in-a-lifetime catch, as it swam away to its foreign home.
“I know it’s rare and something pretty unheard of around here,” Osborne said. “I think it’s cool to see for sure.”