Mars Bay Bonefish Lodge

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Bonefish do a lot of mudding. They fill their mouths with water and blow critters out of the sand and mud. The next time you fly to Andros look down at the creeks and bights. You'll see streaks of muddy water. You're looking at schools of feeding bonefish. 

So what do bonefish eat?'s hard to say...or you could say they'll eat almost anything.  Researchers have studied the stomach contents of hundreds of bonefish. One Florida Keys study examined the stomach contents of 200 bonefish and found 106 different types of forage food. Generally they eat fish, worms, mollusks, and crustaceans. Mollusks are, among other things, clams and snails and crustaceans being shrimps and crabs.

The first thing you'll notice about the pictures below is that not too many bonefish flies even slightly resemble what bonefish feed on. Maybe you can develop a pattern that does. Who knows what they think they are eating when they pick up a fly.  The Lefty's Craft Fur shrimp is one of a few flies that could pass as a Goby minnow, shrimp, or crab.

Mantis shrimp are incredibly fascinating creatures. They all have front legs resembling a praying mantis. Some have over-developed elbows used for cracking open clams and crabs. They have been known to crack the glass of aquariums. Others have evolved sharp tips on their legs used for spearing a passing fish. Larger species can release a cocked elbow and slice a finger to the bone. Their vision is the most complex in the animal kingdom making humans seem blind. The videos below show a Mantis Shrimp cracking into a clam and the other shows a crab taking a beating. For more Mantis Shrimp info click here.

Pictured above and below are two different Mantis shrimp captured here on Andros. Notice the color difference. One is Chartruese and the other is tan/rootbeer. Others are brown and black.
Left is a Snapping Shrimp captured on South Andros. Notice the over-developed claw.
There are both saltwater and freshwater species of the Goby. The ones pictured here were caught just in front of the lodge in Mars bay. They are approximately two inches long and come in variety of colors.
Crabs are a large part of the bonefish diet. There are a number of different species in countless sizes, shapes, and colors. Pictured are a few from South Andros waters.
If your tying your own flies the crab pic the the right is very important. Crabs have two positions when threatened. One is the fight position. They extend and open both claws and face the attacker. Some of you have seen this behavior when you're wading a flat and cross the path of a crab with it's pants down. They directly face you and appear fearless and ready to take on the world. The other position is the flight position. The crab will fold the bow side claw and legs under its body and fully extent the stern side and swim sideways. You want to tie a fly that mimicks this swimming position because you are stripping the fly. This picture shows that position.
I grabbed a shovel tried to dig up some worms and clams. It turns out that they are hard to catch. I'll keep trying. I did catch these two small worms. I wonder if a bare anodized red hook would work. I'll bet you a dollar a San Juan worm fly tied on a saltwater hook would work.