Fly fishing for Bonita in Tampa Bay

The last cool front has really fired up the fall fly fishing here in Tampa bay! Bonita have pushed in shore to feed on small fry bait and bay anchovies in giant schools! This may be one of my favorite fish of all time to chase, as they take a fly with aggression and instantly put your gear to the test as the rip the fly line deep into your backing.


The day starts as we launch the skiff and head to the shipping channels and local beaches to find fish crashing bait. Once spotted I maneuver the boat in front of an oncoming school of bonita and through the boat in neutral. This is when the angler makes a quick presentation to the school of hungry fish and often times uses both hands to strip the fly past actively feeding bonita.


Once hooked into a bonita you should expect a few long hard runs that will send you into your backing. The bonita look like little tuna and fight just as hard. Capable of reaching speeds over 40 mph the runs rip line off the reel with ease.


This action packed run and gun style of fishing can last for hours or until the angler’s arms are sore.


Along with bonita it is not uncommon to see kingfish, tarpon, mackerel, jacks, and on rare occasions permit joining in on the feeding frenzy!

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Here is a quick clip of an angler making a cast and being rewarded with a bonita:

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