Caribbean Fishing: The Complete Guide for 2024

Feb 21, 2024 | 7 minute read
Reading Time: 7 minutes

The Caribbean encompasses 14 countries, with a total of over 700 islands scattered across this famous sea. Some of the finest angling on the planet takes place in these waters. Huge fish, epic fights, and sublime natural beauty… It’s what sportfishing dreams are made of! And every year, anglers fishing in the Caribbean create new legends and form lifelong memories.

A view of Marigot Bay on Saint Lucia, one of the islands in the Carribean, taken from above the bay with docked ships visible on azure waters that stretch towards the horizon.

In this article, we’ll provide you with an overview of everything that makes the Caribbean region so enticing to fish in. We’ll cover the different spots, when to visit, what you can reel in, and so much more. So if you’re planning a vacation in this slice of paradise, read on!

What are you interested in?

Top Fish Species in the Caribbean

From pristine flats and hidden coastal alcoves to the open waters and depths of the Caribbean Sea, there’s an incredible variety of fish to find here. While we can’t hope to cover them all, here are a few of the most sought-after species you can catch out here…

  • Bonefish. With silvery, shimmering scales, incredible speed, and an elusive disposition, Bonefish are often called the “grey ghosts of the flats.” They’re notoriously difficult to hook and terrific fighters once you finally get them to bite. These traits have made them into a prized catch, especially for fly anglers. Bonefish have found their home all over the beautiful beaches of the Caribbean region, but the best action is in Belize and the Bahamas.
  • Tarpon. Armed with enough power to leap several feet above the water, Tarpon are one of the most spectacular game fish on the planet. They’re often touted as the hardest-fighting inshore fish, earning them their well-known “Silver King” nickname. Tarpon are widespread throughout the Caribbean, and you can catch them near just about any of the destinations in the region. As for the best Tarpon fishing, you’ll find it in Cuba and Belize.
  • Mahi Mahi. Possessing both great looks and a delicious taste, Mahi Mahi are among the most popular game fish in the sea. They grow big and fight well, but not too fiercely, making them the perfect target for anglers of all skill levels. While they’re generally considered a deep sea species, you’ll often find them fairly close to the different islands of the Caribbean.
  • Wahoo. Big, gutsy, and lightning fast, Wahoo embody adrenaline. They’re capable of blistering, drag-screaming runs that’ll give even the most experienced anglers a workout. And to add to all that, they’re among the tastiest fish out there. Like other offshore fish, they often move along the deeper portions of the Caribbean Sea, as well as its trenches, canyons, and ledges. In places such as San Juan, the perfect fishing grounds for these fish lie just a few miles from the coast. So if Wahoo are on your bucket list, go for destinations that offer the quickest path to the deep seas.
  • Billfish. Sailfish, as well as White and Blue Marlin, roam the Caribbean Sea’s depths. They represent the pinnacle challenge that these waters offer. All three fall among the fastest and most fearsome opponents an angler can face anywhere on the planet. Like Wahoo, Billfish race along the various dropoffs and underwater ledges. You can catch them anywhere in the Caribbean, but Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, and the Dominican Republic traditionally have the most consistent bite.

We’ve barely scratched the surface of what you can catch in the Caribbean with these few select species. Barracuda, Snapper, Grouper, different types of Sharks, and Jacks are all frequently targeted in these fishing grounds – not to mention Mackerel and various types of Tuna that swim around. The Caribbean region is a true smorgasbord of fish no matter how you look at it.

Caribbean Fishing Seasons

Two pigs swimming in shallow waters on a beach in the Bahamas, the waters are aqua blue and sparkling from the sunlight.

Considering that the Caribbean is such a huge region, the fishing seasons are naturally not perfectly uniform across the whole sea. But what’s generally true is that most fish can be caught year-round here, including big game such as Tuna and Marlin. The main thing most people focus on when planning their trip is the weather.

From June to October, most islands in the region experience their rainy season. Besides rainfall, this is the time of the year that brings hurricanes into the mix, sometimes making it a gamble whether you’ll be able to leave your resort, let alone fish. But if you happen to visit during this period and the weather is favorable enough to hit the seas, there’ll definitely be hungry fish waiting. It’s also the best time to catch Billfish.

Conversely, the period between November and May is considered the dry season across the region. This brings more stable weather conditions, making it easier to get out there and invest time into finding big fish. It’s also when the inshore fishing is at its best, especially for anglers interested in catching Bonefish and Tarpon. You can use the calendar below as a general reference, though bear in mind fishing seasons may vary between individual destinations in the Caribbean.

Species Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Bonefish Great Great Great Great Good Good Good Good Good Great Great Great
Tarpon Great Great Great Great Good Fair Fair Fair Fair Great Great Great
Snapper Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Great
Mahi Mahi Great Great Great Great Good Good Good Good Good Great Great Great
Wahoo Great Great Great Good Fair Fair Fair Fair Fair Good Great Great
Tuna Great Great Great Good Good Good Fair Fair Fair Good Great Great
Marlin Good Good Good Good Good Great Great Great Great Great Good Good

Top Caribbean Fishing Spots

With the abundance of fish the Caribbean waters hold, there are naturally countless places you can start your adventure from. Here are some of the best destinations to visit – click any of the images below for a deep dive into each.

Types of Fishing in the Caribbean

Depending on what you’re comfortable with, there are a few different kinds of fishing you can enjoy in the Caribbean. What’s certain though, is that each of these offers world-class action, it’s only the methods and the targets that change.

  • Inshore Fishing. In most destinations around the Caribbean, there’s good fishing either from shore or very close to it. Trips to these fishing grounds are ideal for anglers who just want a casual day on the water, without venturing too deep. There are many different species that inhabit the local reefs, including Snapper, Grouper, Barracuda, and more.
  • Deep Sea Fishing. The Caribbean’s waters offer angling enthusiasts a chance to catch some of the most prized fish on the planet. From Mahi Mahi and Wahoo to Tuna and Billfish, the quality and the variety of fish you’ll find in the Caribbean is almost unmatched. Start your journey from Punta Cana or Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic, Montego Bay in Jamaica, or Grand Cayman. These are just a few places that offer incredible deep sea fishing.
  • Fly Fishing. With some of the most coveted fly fishing species present throughout the Caribbean, it’s no wonder aficionados hold this region in such high regard. The trio of Bonefish, Tarpon, and Permit is on the bucket list of just about every saltwater fly angler. However, some islands have it better than others in terms of fly fishing. For example, Barbados has very few available flats. Meanwhile, Nassau, Bimini, or Belize’s San Pedro feature the kind of fly fishing grounds where you can truly fish your heart out.
  • Spearfishing. Considering the sheer beauty of the Caribbean’s waters, as well as the abundance of marine wildlife in them, it comes as no surprise that the region is popular among divers. Most of the islands are surrounded by reefs that serve as perfect hunting grounds for spearos. Just make sure to read up on regulations as you choose your destination, as the rules regarding spearfishing often vary. In some places, such as the British Virgin Islands, spearfishing is completely banned.

Fishing Trips in the Caribbean

For most visiting anglers, the best way to experience fishing in the Caribbean is with a local guide. Simply put, they hold the most knowledge when it comes to where the fish are and how they move, as well as which species are biting at the time of your trip. Most of the time, they’ll also provide you with all the necessary equipment. And if your type of adventure necessitates a boat, you’ll definitely need to pair up with a charter captain.

So whether you plan on tackling the flats with your fly rod or you want a fun inshore experience with your family, it’s all about picking a guide that specializes for what you want to do. With a pro at your side, even bucket list trips for monster Billfish can soon turn into reality in the Caribbean.

Caribbean Fishing Regulations

Can infographic featuring an illustration of a Blue Marlin above a text that says "Caribbean fishing regulations, what you need to know" and with an illustration of a boat underneath.

When it comes to fishing regulations in the Caribbean, they differ from country to country. With no general rules, you’ll have to get familiar with how things work when you decide on where to go. Of course, if you plan on hiring a fishing charter, your captain will typically be able to inform you of any relevant regulations you should abide by.

In fact, asking a captain is often the easiest way to get first-hand information. Digging up official information can be hard at times, depending on which island – or islands – you’re visiting. Below, we’ll share a few links for fishing regulations across the Caribbean.

Caribbean Fishing FAQs

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From a young age, Marko has been a nature buff. His first contact with fishing came through his dad who’d take him to the Danube River. It’s where Marko got his basic angling education, landed his first catch (an Ide), and learned how to cook a mean fish stew. Marko also enjoys hiking, running, traveling, and writing about it all.

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