Beginner's Guide to Fishing in Barbados
Sep 26, 2019 | 8 minute read Comments
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Reading Time: 8 minutes

In many ways, Barbados is the perfect tropical getaway. Checking all the boxes a “typical” Caribbean paradise can offer, the scenic island boasts white-sand beaches, clear turquoise waters, as well as splendid colonial buildings and mouth-watering delicacies. Like we said – typical. But what truly sets this place apart is the year-round angling it offers. Yes, fishing in Barbados is one of those bucket-list, must-try experiences. Today, you’re going to learn everything about it.

Fishing in Barbados: Three anglers holding their catch of the day, Mahi and Wahoo

Before we get to the nitty-gritty of fishing in Barbados, let’s first cover a few basic facts about the island, so that you know where you’ll be casting your lines.

Barbados Geography

Barbados is 21 miles long and up to 14 miles wide, with a 59-mile long coastline. The island is located in the western reaches of the North Atlantic, east of the Windward Islands and the Caribbean Sea. This makes it the easternmost of the Caribbean islands.

a view of the coast of Barbados

The west and south coasts are lined with colorful coral reefs and seemingly endless beaches that plunge into the warm Caribbean Sea. On the other side, the Atlantic Ocean and its rough seas meet the ruggedly beautiful east coast.

Fishing in Barbados: An Overview

Due to its year-round tropical climate and warm waters, most of the Caribbean islands offer great fishing, and Barbados is no exception.

There are more than 500 fish species swimming around Barbados. For you, this means a wide range of opportunities for all types of sportfishing. It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for beach, inshore, or deep sea big game fishing, something’s on the bite in these waters. 

Two anglers on a fishing boat in Barbados, holding a large Mahi Mahi

Of all the fish species that inhabit these waters, the ones most fishermen go after are Blue and White Marlin, Dolphin (Mahi Mahi), Wahoo, Sailfish, various Tunas, and Barracuda.

Rules and Regulations

Barbados is a country dedicated to the preservation of wildlife and the health of the waters surrounding the island. The country has large areas maintained as marine reserves by the National Conservation Commission.

Having said that, you don’t need a fishing license when sportfishing in Barbados. The official authority for sportfishing in Barbados is the Barbados Game Fishing Association, which is also responsible for organizing all fishing events and tournaments.

Barbados Fishing Seasons

Fishing in Barbados is seasonal and dependent on the impact of the rainy season on major South American rivers and their effect on water clarity, salinity, and the amount of debris that currents bring from these mighty waterways. Surface currents off the island are complex but generally directed toward the northwest.

Barbados is a windy place, with only its western coast sheltered from the Caribbean gusts. Still, thanks to its position in the south of the Caribbean, the island doesn’t suffer as much from hurricanes as many of its northern neighbors do. In 2019, Barbados was largely spared by the devastating hurricane Dorian.

These windy conditions make the fishing demanding at times, but they also often attract large pelagic fish species. Fishing is particularly good between January and April, when all of the game fish are in season. The “official” fishing season according to the BGFA is from December to April.

What fish can I catch in Barbados?

In short – a lot. As we mentioned, Barbados waters hold a large variety of fish species. Of these, Barracuda is probably the most popular, seeing as it’s in season throughout the year. You can also catch exciting Billfish, like Sailfish and Marlin. These guys are in season from January through April.

And then there’s a host of reef fish like Barracuda, Mahi Mahi, Wahoo and Kingfish, all of which are as abundant as in any other Caribbean fishery. January through May is Tuna time in Barbados. During this time, you can catch anything from Skipjack and Bonito to Blackfin Tuna and even the odd Yellowfin if you’re lucky.

Two smiling anglers on a fishing boat, each holding a Wahoo in their hands, with several other fish in front of them

Tarpon is present around the island, but not in great numbers. They hang around the freshwater springs, of which there are only a few and mostly on the northeast coast. On Barbados, local fishermen refer to them as “Cuffum.” Long Pond lagoon on the northeastern coast is said to have a good Tarpon population.

Shore and Beach Fishing in Barbados

If you’re fishing from the shore, you’ll be glad to know that Bonefish inhabit most of the coastline. The island lacks shallow flats, so you’ll be casting from the beaches and catching fish in the surf.

Fishing off the beach or rocks is good very early in the morning and at dusk, when schools of bait fish are closer to shore. This is also when you can find pelagics feeding on them near the shore. Anglers who want to try their luck at this type of fishing can try various techniques, depending on the targeted species.

Fly Fishing

You can try fly fishing for Bonefish, Barracuda, and Tarpon. The equipment for this kind of fishing should consist of a 9′ rod and a good reel with 200 yards of 30 lb test backing, and WF line, with an 8–15 lb fluorocarbon tippet. A strong wire is a must if you’re going after Barracuda.

Bottom Fishing

Bottom fishing can be very effective for catching Snappers, Groupers, Moray Eels, and Sharks.

The live and cut baits you can use are crabs, squid, flying fish, and sprats. For this technique, you can use 4–5 m long surf or telescopic rods, with large baitrunner spinning reels, filled with 30 lb mono or braided line. Hook sizes depend on the species you’re after.

Lure Casting

Three young boys holding a Wahoo

Lure casting techniques can be very effective while wading the coast for species such as Jacks, Bonito, Permit, Barracuda, and Mahi Mahi. A spinning combo is best for this style of angling, with a 9′ fast action rod and reel filled with 20 lb test braided line.

Barbados Shore Fishing Spots

Waters close to shore go as deep as 70 feet in some places, and these are great spots for bottom fishing and lure casting, especially using the shore jigging technique. When done right, this method can produce unbelievable results!

The great thing about fishing in Barbados is that you can wet your line from almost the entire coastline. The only exceptions are the upper north and east coast on the Atlantic Shore. These areas tend to have higher cliffs, which makes casting impossible.

The entire western shore and a good part of the south are largely protected from the eastern winds. This makes them particularly enjoyable to fish from. However, the deep and turbulent waters of the east coast can hold very large fish close to the shore.

These are some of the best shore fishing spots in Barbados:

  • The pier in Speightstown
  • Godings Bay in Speighstown
  • Six Men’s Bay in Speighstown
  • The southwest coast near Silver Sands
  • Holetown beach between Tropical Sunset hotel/Zaccios and Mango Bay
  • In front of the Rostrevor apartments on the Gap
  • Cave Bay, Greshie Bay, St. Lucy
  • Alleyne’s Beach in Mount Standfast
a view of the Speightstown Beach in Barbados
The pier in Speightstown.

Inshore Fishing

The techniques often used in this type of fishing are lure casting (jigging/popping) and trolling. Most of the inshore fishing is done in waters just 20-70 feet deep, close to the reefs or right above them. The usual species caught inshore are Spanish and Cero Mackerel, Barracuda, Wahoo, Bonito, Yellowtail Snapper, and various Jacks and Tunas.

Female angler holding a Wahoo on a boat in Barbados

The best tackle for this kind of fishing is a heavy-duty spinning combo, with 7′ rods and saltwater reels ranging in size from 8,000 to 20,000, with a 20-40 lb test braided line.

Deep Sea Fishing

Going out into deeper waters will allow you to try a whole other variety of fishing techniques. These include kite fishing, live and dead bait drifting, lure and dead bait trolling. Most big game fishing boats do trolling when targeting big game. Depending on the boat, you’ll see anything from two to six lines in the water at a time. The tackle for this type of fishing should consist of top quality rods and reels, filled with 30 lb or 50 lb test line.

trolling rods on a moving fishing boat with the water in the background
Quality rods are very important when trolling.

Pelagic game fish prefer deep blue water, and they usually get bigger as the waters get deeper.

Luckily, you’ll be in waters as deep as 400 feet within just a mile offshore. This means that you’ll spend very little time reaching the fishing grounds. In fact, even the 1,500 foot mark is as close as 3 miles offshore!

Waters to the southwest of the island boast large underwater structures, which tend to attract big pelagic fish. This makes the capital city of Bridgetown an ideal launching point for a deep sea adventure.  

a group of smiling anglers holding fish they caught on a fishing trip in Barbados

If you’d like to target a bucket-lister like Marlin however, you’ll need to go a little further out. Most of these monsters are caught between 8–25 miles off the coast.

Barbados Fishing Charters

By now, it’s clear that Barbados has all the ingredients for an unforgettable angling experience. Still, all the fish we mentioned aren’t going to just jump on your boat by themselves. Unless you’re casting from the shore, the best way to make the most out of fishing in Barbados is to hire a fishing charter.

Thankfully, the island has no shortage of expert angling guides, many of which are equipped with top-of-the-line fishing boats. A large number of these charter operators are located in what’s called Fisherman’s Row in Bridgetown. 

Barbados fishing trips operate either in the morning or the afternoon. Depending on your preference, the outings can last anywhere from 4–8 hours or more. Most charters include all the necessary fishing equipment, the appropriate bait, drinks, and even lunch on full day trips.

four anglers on a fishing boat in Barbados, each holding a Mahi Mahi

On top of all this, a number of guides will provide transportation to and from your accommodation. As far as prices go, most guides will charge you around US$100 per hour for the boat, and this usually allows you to bring up to six people. Not a bad deal for a potential fishing trip of a lifetime.

In Good Company

The Caribbean is dotted with some of the best fishing destinations on the planet. Standing out in such elite company is definitely a tall order, which makes fishing in Barbados all the more special.

If you’re fishing in Barbados for the first time, you can expect to see an uncanny contrast. On one hand, there’s the thrilling reel action that will make your heart throb. On the other, there’s a distinct laid-back local charm, a “can do” attitude that’ll probably give you pause if you’re not used to fishing in these parts.

But trust us, all this means is that you can make your Barbados fishing adventure exactly what you want it to be. Having read this guide, we hope that you’re one step closer to making that adventure a reality.

Have you ever fished in Barbados before? Is there anything else you’d like to know about fishing in this beautiful place? Drop us a comment down below, we’ll be happy to help!

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Comments (26)
  • Ronald

    Mar 20, 2014

    Cool text. I will be in Barbados in mid-June and wanted to check if there is a chance for shark fishing?

    Thanks
    Ron

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      Mark

      Dec 6, 2015

      Hi, just wondered did you get any response about shark fishing?
      If so could you pass on any information
      Thanks

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      Jaime

      Jan 27, 2017

      Hi Ron and Mark. Just saw this post now but wanted to give a heads up all types of sharks are now endangered. If you want to look up more just look it up. Many other fish to catch as I am a pro fisher and marine biologist. It is vital to our marine ecosystems to sustain these populations.
      If you have any more questions let me know I charter the waters around Barbados and Bahamas every year.

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      Jodi

      Jan 21, 2019

      Hi, I was just reading you post. We are heading to Barbados again this March. Are you in Barbados? My 11 yr old son is a fishing enthusiasts and for as l can remember has wanted to become a marine biologist. Both my son and husband are Scuba divers as well. Where do you work out of? I’m sure my son would love to meet you.

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  • strongoutdoors

    May 21, 2014

    Very good post. Nice pic! Thanks

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  • Bob Johnson

    Jul 28, 2014

    Outstanding information. I’m on my way in August.

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  • David

    Sep 30, 2014

    Great post! My family and I will be in Barbados 10/20/14 staying in Bathsheba near Atlantis Hotel. Definitely bringing fishing pole and gear after reading this.

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      Dino

      Oct 2, 2014

      Thanks David! Late October is also the start of Marlin season in Barbados, with plenty of Mahis, Wahoos and ‘Cudas to keep them company. Shore or deep sea fishing, you’re in for a treat!

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  • Dave S

    Oct 22, 2014

    Heading to Holetown in morning,The condo I rented is right on the beach you mentioned,hope to catch dinner!

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  • Robyn

    Dec 5, 2014

    My husband and I are planning ….in the future…..Jan. 2016 for 3 months to stay near Mullins Beach. We love the outdoors/ nature and fishing. All things we do at home.
    I get quite seasick so fishing from anywhere other than a boat is great. Fish are good but can you get lobster or shrimp as well?

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      Vukan

      Dec 5, 2014

      Hey Robyn. Unfortunately Barbados can get a bit tricky if you want to go for species other than Barracuda / Jacks / Permit when you don’t have a boat. These should be able to catch pretty easily from the beach.

      Regarding your question about lobster and shrimp, I honestly don’t know but will ask some of the captains we work with and get back to you 🙂

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  • Chris S

    Dec 11, 2014

    Hi Vladimir, I stay every year in Holetown for 6 weeks in Jan & Feb, I always fish from the beaches and have caught many species of fish including Gar,Bonefish, Flatfish eels etc but nothing of any size except the odd big Gar, I would love to catch a Snapper. I always use Flying fish strips but have been told that baitfish, crabs and squid are better, where in the Holetown area can I buy or catch some of these and are bait fish OK to use as deadbait or are they better alive?
    Best Regards,
    Chris.
    PS. Great article & Info.

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      Dino

      Dec 19, 2014

      Hey Chris,

      Thanks for the question. I just talked to Ralph, Captain of Billfisher III over in Bridgetown – he recommends using deadbait rather than live bait when targeting Snapper if you want to be most effective. Ballyhoo and mullet are a popular choice (squids may do the job as well, although these are his first choice), and you can buy these and any other baitfish at a local fish market. Hope you catch your Snapper this time around!

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  • Jon S

    Jun 15, 2016

    Tarpon and Bonefish anglers are needed for Barbados and other islands in the eastern Caribbean!

    We’re using DNA analysis to determine how populations are connected from the islands through Cuba to Florida and the western Caribbean – which means we need help collecting DNA samples from throughout the region. Barbados is the most important site, so if anybody is interested in going tarpon or bonefish fishing there (or anywhere else)….all we need is a small fin clip or a couple of scales from any fish you catch, then let the fish go.

    I hope we can talk you into going fishing, and passing this word on to other anglers – contact me and I’ll give you more information about our study, and get you some simple DNA collection kits.

    Thanks!

    Jon Shenker, [email protected]; Florida Institute of Technology/Bonefish and Tarpon Trust/Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

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  • J

    Jun 22, 2016

    I fish at bath beach I try using live bait but int catching nothing what kind of bait can I use this time of month

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  • Brian

    Jul 13, 2016

    I will be in St. Philip parish for the month of February next year. I plan on packing a 6-foot telescopic rod and a spinning reel, along with a selection of lures, jigs etc. The house we’ve rented is near Harrismith and Bottom Bay. Is there any chance of success fishing from the beach in these locations or others in the vicinity and if so what should I expect to catch (bearing in mind that it’s called fishing, not catching)? Would bait be better than lures?

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  • Barry

    Oct 23, 2016

    Hi,
    Am going to the gap & Hastings in Dec.
    Taking my spinning rod with 12lb braid on reel.
    Will this be ok fishing from shore ?
    Also what is the best type of lure to use.
    Am new to sea spinning, so all replies would be greatful. Boo

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      Cat

      Oct 31, 2016

      Hi Barry,

      With that setup we expect you’ll have a great time shore fishing. Take a variety of lighter spoons and jigs and see what works best for you: there are plenty of Bonefish around and they make for an unforgettable fishing experience! Anyone else have any suggestions?

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  • John Coombs

    Jan 15, 2017

    Staying on Barbados the third week of April. Avid surf fisherman. Any recommendations on lures. I striper fish in the Northeast so I have a variety of tackle. Fly and plugging is what I am interested in. How easy is it to transport rods and tackle?

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      Cat

      Jan 18, 2017

      Hi John,

      As far as flies and lures are concerned, I’d recommend you take a look at this report of an experience fly fishing in Barbados. Check out our post on traveling with fishing gear – this should give you everything you need to know about transporting rods and tackle.

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  • Kyle

    Apr 8, 2017

    Hola!

    I’m moving to Barbados in July, I’m an experienced fishing guide from Florida and am very excited to learn the waters of Barbados.

    Do many people Kyack fish there? It’s common in Florida and I’m considering purchasing an ocean Kyack to bring with me. Does anyone sell them there by chance?

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  • Skipper V

    Jun 5, 2017

    Use some sea roaches from the beach ( catch them by laying fish on the sand and they come up to eat it , then scoop them up in a handfull of sand )

    I have a small boat that you can hire and while I am not an experienced fisherman (my Dad was) and I know a few spots ,you have to bring your own gear , I can supply chum and bait , you can contact me via Face Book :Barbados Private Tour Guide

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      Kyle

      Jun 18, 2017

      Skipper V. WaHats your Facebook name or page. Interested, I have all the tackle, high quality stuff.

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  • John Dyle

    Sep 1, 2017

    I will be in Bridgetown off the Adventure of the Seas on September 21.
    I am interested in the best light tackle inshore or lake/pond fishing available at that time for my wife and I, but primarily for my wife. WE DO NOT WANT TO TROLL. WE DO NOT WANT BOTTOM FISHING USING HEAVY WIEGHTS. Sorry for the caps.
    I am fairly experienced, and have owned several offshore, flats, and bass boats on the east coast, west coast, and mid-west US. I’ve also chartered boats all over the Caribbean.
    Back to my wife; she has caught lots of Pacific and Atlantic ‘cudas, Bonita, Jacks, ect., and 2 largemouth bass over 12 lb. The issue is that these were caught with Daiwa Gold 120 closed face reels. She has a nice touch though. She can easily drop a 1/8 oz. lure within 6” of a target 20 feet way on a flats or bass boat, or on the shore, but only with a closed face spin cast. I simply carry 3 newly lined Gold 120’s for her. Big catch, line gets trashed (or broken); drop in a new reel, no worries. I reline her reels after every trip. All good, but she cannot deal with an open face or free spool reel for casting.
    The objective is for her to catch fish. I am not interested in crap shoot/off shore trolling for “big” fish. Gone there, done that. I just want a reasonably good chance for my wife to catch a few fish over 12 inches. I am more than willing to carry 3 newly lined Daiwa Gold 120 closed face reels if that helps.
    FWIW, we always loved catching even small cudas, macks, jacks, Bonitoes, even Ladyfish on light tackle. Peacock Bass would be a treat; we have never fished any freshwater in the Caribbean. We just want some catch and release action, with no intention of eating anything.
    I would sincerely appreciate detailed info regarding whatever opportunities you may have to offer.
    TIA,
    John Dyle
    [email protected]
    1-260-432-7590

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      Cat

      Sep 12, 2017

      Hi John,

      One of our most popular charters in Bridgetown is the Billfisher III. This is a family friendly charter that is very well-regarded by our customers. They do more trolling than light tackle fishing (and have the boat for it) but do deliver on enjoyable fishing experiences.

      From the sound of it, you might want something smaller, though. On the other side of the spectrum, we have Bad Habbits. This operation might be closer to what you are looking for – a small boat and a captain who is known for delivering excellent customer service and knows how to fish these waters.

      Both of these charters are available to be booked online safely and securely. Please get in touch with our customer service team at +1-888-395-2564 if there is anything else we can do to help!

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  • Chris Guy

    Jul 29, 2018

    Will be staying near Hastings in September and trying some shore fishing mainly hoping for Jacks and Snapper or whatever comes along. I have fished other Caribbean Islands and have had good catches with raw shrimp. Is there any other baits you think might be equally effective? And where will I source my bait?

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