The Ultimate Boneyards

Six more bonefishing hot spots across the globe

Cuba's Jardines de la Reina     Photo: Brian O'Keefe

Shaped like fork-tailed torpedoes and damn near as speedy, bonefish (Albula vulpes) are some of the most challenging fish you can catch on a fly. Hook one and it'll rocket away at up to 30 miles per hour—so fast the line will seem to melt from your reel and the backing will zip off in seconds. Then, just when you think it's hurdled the horizon, it'll come back for another round (a typical bonefish is good for at least two exhilarating runs before it tires). Up to 37 inches long and weighing from three to (if you're lucky) 20 pounds, bonefish cruise shallow saltwater flats gobbling shrimps, crabs, and worms. Because they're difficult to spot and easily spooked, casting for bonefish takes some practice, and stealth is a requirement: If you can see them, they can see you. But snag just one and you'll see why anglers travel the world in pursuit of these elusive silver phantoms. Here, a half-dozen of the planet's best bonefishing destinations.

Andros Island, Bahamas
The largest and wildest Bahamian island is the birthplace of one of the world's first bonefishing lodges—the Bang Bang Club, popular in the 1940s and now under renovation—and the ubiquitous Crazy Charlie fly. Landing an eight- or ten-pounder is not uncommon on the flats off the North, Middle, and South Bights, deep bays that slice the island's southern half. Local guides Charlie Neymour and Andy Smith can show you how it's done for $350­$400 per day; book them through Westbank Anglers (800-922-3474; www.westbank.com). Westbank also offers six-day packages at Tranquility Hill Fishing Lodge, a basic hotel overlooking the North Bight, for $2,400 per person, double occupancy, from October through July.

Los Roques National Park, Venezuela
A sun-soaked collection of more than 340 islets and reefs about 80 miles northwest of Caracas, Venezuela, Los Roques National Park offers superb bonefishing from January to September. You can wade for miles, across everything from mangrove lagoons to pancake flats carpeted with turtle grass. Frontiers International Travel (800-245-1950; www.frontierstrvl.com) offers six-day packages, with accommodations at the three-room Pez Raton Lodge on car-free Gran Roque, Los Roques' largest isle, for $2,995 per person, double occupancy.

Christmas Island
Sooner or later, every die-hard bonefisherman heads for Christmas Island. The world's largest atoll, located 1,300 miles southwest of Hawaii in the South Pacific Republic of Kiribati, boasts miles of hard white flats, large fish populations, and consistently warm, dry weather. Local fisherman Moana T. Kofe was named Guide of the Year in 1995 by Fly Rod and Reel magazine; book him (from $110 per day) through Kaufmann's Streamborn Inc., 800-442-4359. Seven-day packages from Castaway Fly Fishing (800-410-3133; www.castawayflyfishing.com) feature beachside accommodations at Big Eddie and Joe's Bonefishing Lodge and round-trip airfare between Honolulu and Christmas Island for $2,895 per person, double occupancy.

Jardines de la Reina, Cuba
This 150-mile-long archipelago about 50 miles off Cuba's southeastern coast is home to hundreds of mangrove- and palm-dotted cays and miles of sandy flats that teem with macabi (that's Spanish for bonefish). Sign on for a fishing trip with the Cuba-based, Italian-owned company Avalon Fishing and Diving Center Ltd. (it's legal, technically, as you won't be spending American money on Cuban soil) and you'll eat and sleep aboard the Tortuga, a houseboat with seven double berths, a small fleet of skiffs, and a team of expert Cuban guides. The bonefishing's best from March through June. Avalon's six-day packages range upward from $2,500 per person, double occupancy (011-39-335-814-9111; www.avalons.net).

New Caledonia
New Caledonia, a 6,500-square-mile French island about 1,200 miles east of Australia in the South Pacific, is the sport's fresh frontier. The draw? Nine- to 12-pound bonefish that are less skittish than most, and calm, clear waters where few bonefisherman have tried their luck. French guide Philippe Leroux has negotiated exclusive bonefishing rights with the local Nenema tribe and brings groups of up to three anglers at a time to their protected flats. His six-day packages, which include lodging at the six-bungalow Relais de Poingam, on the island's northern tip, run $2,200 per person, double occupancy (011-687-42-54-11; www.fishing.ifrance.com/fishing).

St. Francois Lagoon, Seychelles
In recent years, aficionados have declared the Seychelles, dozens of islands sprinkled across the Indian Ocean about 1,000 miles north of Madagascar, the best bonefishing destination in the world. The sparkling flats of the St. François lagoon near Alphonse Island (a tiny atoll about 240 miles south of Mahé) are the main attraction. This is bonefishing at its most exclusive—only 12 rods per week are allowed on the lagoon. Westbank Anglers (800-922-3474; www.westbank.com) offers six-day trips, with accommodations at the luxurious Alphonse Island Resort, the only hotel on the island, for $4,995 to $5,800 per person, double occupancy, September through May.

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