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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!