Deep Sea Fishing in Punta Cana: A Beginner's Guide

Dec 17, 2021 | 8 minute read
Reading Time: 8 minutes

Looking to cast your line surrounded by a little slice of paradise? Head to the easternmost tip of the Dominican Republic, and you’ll be surrounded by stunning scenery. This area is known as the Coconut Coast and is packed with 32 kilometers of white sandy beaches and heavenly cane palms. It’s a beautiful setting, but that’s not all it has to offer. The magic of deep sea fishing in Punta Cana – the most well-known town along this coastline – has to be experienced to be believed!

An aerial view of Punta Cana showing clear blue waters, the coastline, and a boat speeding out from the shore

Punta Cana is bordered by both the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, where they converge and form a strait known as the “Mona Passage.” The strait is a big game fishing hotspot and is home to some of the biggest, most notorious sport fish around. Add to that Punta Cana’s year-round tropical climate and IGFA-record catches, and you’ll want to start packing your bags right away!

Before you head off on a deep sea fishing trip in Punta Cana, you probably have some questions. What fish species, exactly, can you expect to battle here? What kinds of techniques can you use to reel ’em in? And are there are any hotspots you should know about? Don’t worry. We’ve covered this, and more, below. Let’s dive in…

Top Deep Sea Fishing Targets in Punta Cana

Punta Cana offers a huge range of angling opportunities, but the deep sea fishing really can’t be beaten. With anything from Billfish to bottom dwellers on offer, anglers travel here from all over the world to experience a taste of bluewater action. Here are some of the fish you can expect to target when deep sea fishing in Punta Cana.

Billfish

So good that we just couldn’t narrow it down to just one member of the family! Punta Cana has made a name for itself across the globe as a Billfishing hotspot. You can get your hands on Marlin, Sailfish, and Swordfish. But why do people love going after these fish? Well, although each species has something unique and special to offer, let us make a quick generalization here. All of these Billfish fight hard, grow huge, and are seriously fun to catch.

Something else that makes targeting these fish in Punta Cana special is that you don’t have to travel far to find them. You can encounter Blue and White Marlin, as well as Sailfish, in large numbers just a mere few miles from shore.

Two anglers holding a large White Marlin caught in Punta Cana

You can technically target Billfish all year round, but there are some specific times of the year where they’re especially abundant. If you’re targeting Sailfish, it’s all about winter, with November to February seeing them flock here in huge numbers. You don’t have to worry about wrapping up, either, thanks to Punta Cana’s tropical climate!

White Marlin are up next, showing up in late spring and sticking around until late August. They’re followed by Blue Marlin, which appear in June and stay until late fall. This time of year is often considered to be Punta Cana’s peak deep sea fishing season. You’ll usually be trolling for your Billfish, as they find it pretty hard to resist fast-moving lures and bait. And once they bite? You’re in for some fast-paced, rod-bending fun!

Mahi Mahi and Wahoo

Billfish may be the number one deep sea fishing target in Punta Cana, but they’re not the only species out there. Next on our list is Mahi Mahi. Beloved for their feisty spirit and beautiful shining scales, these colorful fish are an incredibly popular target in Punta Cana. They inhabit these waters in abundance year-round, but are especially plentiful from October through April.

You’ll find Mahi Mahi lurking around Punta Cana’s reefs, a short distance from shore. As with Billfish, the most common way of targeting them is by trolling open blue waters. Once you see a Mahi biting at the end of your line, the battle is on. These fish are highly-skilled acrobats, so you’ll be treated to plenty of leaps and headshakes as you try to reel them in.

An angler in a cap and sunglasses holding a large Mahi Mahi with sea behind and land in the distance

Wherever there are Mahi Mahi, chances are extremely high that you’ll find Wahoo, too. Often referred to as a “favorite bycatch,” these fish are some of the fastest ocean-dwellers around. Because of this, trolling for them is a common technique and yields exciting angling action. Wahoo inhabit these waters year-round, but October to November is an especially plentiful time.

When targeting Mahi Mahi and Wahoo, it’s not just about the thrill of the chase (and hopefully the ensuing battle!) They also make for excellent table fare. What could be better than reeling in these fish then serving ’em up as a delicious meal to enjoy in the sun?

Yellowfin Tuna

Speaking of delicious meals, our next fish is known around the world for its flavor. It makes for some excellent angling action, too. We’re talking about Yellowfin Tuna, of course! These fish are large and in charge, and usually weigh anywhere from 20–50 pounds. The further you travel out onto the bluewaters, the more chance you have of encountering a 100+ lb beast.

March and April are the best months to target Tuna in Punta Cana. Most local anglers choose to troll for them. This is because they tend to feed near the surface and are attracted to moving prey. You’ll have a better chance of enticing them with lures and bait that are on the move! Once you have one on the end of your line, you’ll be in for some first-class action.

An angler sitting on a boat, holding a Yellowfin Tuna

These fish love to make deep dives to the ocean floor and dart around reefs, wrecks, and other underwater structure when hooked. As they can grow to exceptional sizes, it’s not for the faint-hearted! You’ll have to use all your strength and wits to bring one aboard your boat. But their delicious meat, as well as the bragging rights you’ll earn from conquering such a huge fish, are well worth the effort.

…And More!

Although deep sea fishing in Punta Cana tends to be synonymous with hard-fighting big game species, it can also mean plumbing deep waters for bottom dwellers. On the menu are Tilefish and Grouper and Snapper varieties, including a local variety of Snapper known as Pargo. This fish is nicknamed the “Brute” Snapper, so get ready for a workout!

How can I go deep sea fishing in Punta Cana?

Although Punta Cana boasts deep waters just a few miles from shore, stepping foot on a local charter boat is still the best way to go deep sea fishing here. No one knows these waters as well as the captains and guides that essentially live on them. Not only will you be privy to plenty of local tips and tricks, but you’ll also be decked out with all the gear you need for a successful day on the water.

An offshore fishing boat riding through the water

Depending on the fish you want to target, as well as where you’re going to be casting a line, the fishing techniques you’ll be using may vary. Below, we’ve covered some of the most popular ways to go deep sea fishing in Punta Cana.

Trolling

This technique is the bread and butter of deep sea fishing, both in Punta Cana and around the world. Trolling basically involves dragging a selection of lines, topped with live or artificial bait, through your chosen fishery at different distances and depths.

Why is it so successful when it comes to big game fish? Well, not only can you increase your chances of a catch by using a variety of bait or lures at once, but you can also utilize outriggers and downriggers to cover plenty of ground. Add to this the fact that a huge number of pelagic fish are attracted to moving prey, and you’re onto a winner.

An angler holding a Mahi Mahi with the ocean in the background.

Another huge plus of trolling is that, if you fish with a local guide, you won’t need to worry about bringing or setting up your own gear. The vast majority of charters will provide you with everything you need, as well as setting up the gear for you and showing you the ropes.

Bottom Fishing and Deep Dropping

Trolling isn’t the only way you can fish for some deep sea monsters. As deep sea fishing in Punta Cana can also mean targeting reef fish and bottom dwellers, you may have the chance to try your hand at bottom fishing. In its simplest form, this technique involves lowering a weighted hook or lure to the bottom of the water column. Punta Cana anglers have added their own quirks to this technique, though, and if you fish with a local guide they’ll let you in on their secrets.

An angler holding a juvenile Swordfish on a fishing boat

An extreme form of bottom fishing is deep dropping. If your idea of deep sea fishing involves hooking into big fish that lurk far below the surface, such as Grouper and Swordfish, give this technique a whirl. You’ll usually be fishing in waters anywhere from 100–500 feet deep, using an electronic deep dropping reel capable of reaching these depths. Electronic reels do the heavy lifting once a fish bites, but you can opt for a manual reel if you want to do the work yourself.

Where can I go deep sea fishing in Punta Cana?

We’ll keep the answer to this short and simple: pretty much everywhere! Punta Cana is a small place and is bordered by both the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea. No matter where you depart from along its coastline, chances are you’ll have direct access to fish-filled waters.

Something that makes deep sea fishing in Punta Cana so special is its proximity to the Mona Passage, located just east of the town. This strait is formed where the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea meet, and boasts waters that run a whopping 1,000 meters deep in some places. The strait is home to a wide variety of big game fish, from Mahi Mahi to massive Marlin, and it’s very likely you’ll spend most of your deep sea fishing adventure exploring the magical waters here.

Anything else I need to know?

Infographic on blue background with white text reading "Deep sea fishing in Punta Cana, what you need to know"

Just the legalities of fishing here, of course! Compared to places within the US, fishing rules aren’t as stringently applied to solo anglers in Punta Cana. Because of this, it can be tough to find vendors selling licenses. However, if you’re fishing alongside a local guide or charter operator, you don’t need to worry. They’ll cover all the necessary licensing and permits for you.

When it comes to what fish you can keep, the main rule to remember is that Billfish are strictly catch-and-release in Punta Cana. This goes a long way to helping preserve this fantastic family of fish for future generations of anglers to come. All other deep sea fish species are fair game!

Deep Sea Fishing in Punta Cana: Hook Big Game Fish in Paradise!

An aerial view of Punta Cana showing the coastline and boats in the water

If you want to combine your deep sea fishing adventure with tropical climes and stunning scenery, Punta Cana is the place to be. As well as feeling like paradise on earth, it’s also home to some of the most prestigious big game fish around. All that’s left is to pack your bags, choose your target species, and get ready for some reel-screaming action along the Coconut Coast!

Have you ever been deep sea fishing in Punta Cana? What did you catch? Any tips and tricks to share? Let us know in the comments below!

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