Updated September 21, 2011
Bonefish is now a Catch-And-Release fishery
At the April 2011 FWC Commission meeting, the FWC Commissioners ruled to make
bonefish a catch-and-release fishery and eliminate the previous one-fish bag limit. All
harvest of bonefish is prohibited, but there are allowances for temporary possession of one
bonefish at a time, at the site of capture for photos, measuring and weighing. Additionally, a
no-cost tournament exemption permit is available for tournament directors for Weigh-In
Bonefish are one of Florida's premier gamefish and are known as "grey ghosts of the flats"
because they are stealthy, fast-swimming fish that are exciting and challenging to catch.
South Florida is one of the few places in the United States where anglers have the unique
opportunity to fish for bonefish and the shallow saltwater flats of the Florida Keys and
Biscayne Bay are considered a world-class destination for catching large, trophy-sized
Bonefish mature at three to four years of age (17-18 inches total length), may live longer
than 23 years, and grow to be three feet long and 15 pounds. Bonefish can be caught year-
round in the Keys, but peak bonefish season is generally March through October. Not much
is known about the biology of bonefish, but spawning occurs from November through May,
probably in deep water or offshore.
There are multiple similar-looking species of bonefish that inhabit Florida waters, but the
common bonefish (Albula vulpes) dominates Florida's recreational fishery. Little is known
about the other bonefish species, but many juvenile bonefish caught in Florida have been
identified as bigeye bonefish (Albula garcia). Bigeye bonefish appear to live in Florida
waters as juveniles and leave sometime before adulthood.
Learn more about bonefish biology: Bonefish Sea Stat
Conserving One of Florida's Most Valuable Gamefish
A recent study by scientists at the University of Miami estimated the value of a single
bonefish in the Florida Keys to be $3,500 each year. That's nearly $75,000 over the
lifespan of the fish! Most bonefish anglers recognize the value of bonefish as a
gamefish in Florida and practice catch and release with the bonefish they catch. Visit
the links below to learn about catch and release and proper fish handling practices you
can use on your next fishing trip to help conserve bonefish.
Image Credit: Diane Rome Peebles
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission • Farris Bryant Building
620 S. Meridian St. • Tallahassee, FL
32399-1600 • (850) 488-4676
Florida Keys Sportfishing Information : Florida Keys Fishing Charters : Florida Keys Flats Fishing : Florida Keys Offshore Fishing : Florida Keys Wreck Fishing :
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Florida Keys Fishing Tournaments : Florida Keys Fishing Articles : Upper Florida Keys Fishing : Middle Florida Keys Fishing : Lower Florida Keys Fishing
|More helpful Florida Keys and Key West websites:
www.flkeys-diving.com | www.thefloridakeys-keywest.com | www.flkeysgc.com