If you're planning a bonefish trip for this fall or winter, chances are you're not thinking about Puerto Rico. You're almost definitely not thinking of Culebra, a small island off the Puerto Rico's eastern coast. And why would you be? As Culebra fly fishing guide Chris Goldmark says, "Culebra should never be considered a major Bonefish destination by any stretch of the imagination." However, if you're looking to plan an out-of-the-ordinary bonefishing trip that offers up shots at perhaps the Caribbean's biggest bonefish, off the shores of an authentic island oozing with culture, at prices that are dwarfish in comparison to bonefish trips to the Florida Keys or islands of the Bahamas -- you might want to take a look at Culebra after all.
The aforementioned Chris Goldmark has been fishing Culebra's waters for over 20 years, after his wife took a job and refused to return to the states during a trip in the late 1980s (seriously). Chris guides repeat clients year after year who are lured back to Culebra's inviting culture and its unusually large bonefish. And while Chris might not think of Culebra as a major bonefish destination, there are plenty of fish to chase.
In an interview with 'Bonefish on the Brain', Goldmark explained, "Bonefish populations in PR are largely limited to the two eastern islands of Culebra and Vieques with a few scattered pockets of fish around the “Big“ island. This was not always the case. The flats of La Parguera on the south west coast of PR once hosted one of the largest and healthiest populations of Bone fish found anywhere in the entire Caribbean basin. These flats were for the most part gill netted to extinction in the 80’s and early 90’s when the demand for Bone fish for bait was at an all time high. Today both Culebra and Vieques have healthy populations of bones, although not in the great numbers of years past. Culebra still boasts of having some of the largest fish in the Caribbean."
Culebra also offers shots everyone's other favorite Caribbean species, permit and tarpon, which along with bonefish comprise the "grand slam" of tropical fly fishing. In fact, one of Chris's clients, Bill Gehman from Orrington Maine, recorded Puerto Rico's first ever grand slam while on a guided trip with Chris this April.
After years of waiting, I'm hoping to make my first trip this winter. See you there?