There are excellent saltwater flats throughout the Caribbean and the Florida Keys that can be reached by “self guided”, wading anglers. Often, these flats are dry at low tide. While it isn’t likely that you’ll find many bonefish on a dry flat, you may find other things that will improve your fishing success when the tide comes in.
When scouting a dry flat, pay close attention to bottom contour. Look for cuts or depressions that will flood at the start of the incoming tide and offer bonefish paths onto the flat from deeper water. These are good areas to begin looking for fish. Try to make a mental image of how the flat will flood and, keeping in mind that bonefish often feed into the tidal current, attempt to predict how fish might travel on the flat.
Also, look for signs of recent bonefish activity. The most obvious sign that fish have been feeding on the flat is the presence of triangular depressions in the sand or mud made by bonefish in pursuit of their prey. Bonefish often use the same flat day after day, so finding these signs can indicate a productive flat.
Finally, spend some time searching for small crabs, shrimp, and baitfish in the shallow tide pools left on the flat at low tide. What you find can offer clues to successful fly selection. A fly that imitates the available food in form, size, and color is often a good first choice.
Note: This short piece appeared a couple of years back in Fly Fishing in Salt Waters magazine.