Beginner's Guide to Fishing in The Maldives
Jun 8, 2020 | 4 minute read Comments
73
Reading Time: 4 minutes

So you want to go fishing in the Maldives, and you want to charter a boat and catch some fish. You’ve heard it’s a tropical paradise, but don’t have a clue about what fishing looks or works like over there. Or, you’ve already been there and have decided to give fishing a go. Worry not! This guide will cover everything you need to know.

One of many beautiful islands on the Maldivian atolls

Intro to the Maldives

The Maldives is Asia’s smallest and lowest country, with an average elevation of just over 1.5 meters above sea level. It’s also one of the “fishiest” places on earth, because of the variety and amount of marine life and its role in local culture. Fishing and tourism are the two primary economic branches, with about 30% of the population working in the fishing industry.

The country consists of 1,192 coral islands which are grouped into 26 atolls, spread from north to south. The atolls are made out of live coral reefs and sandbars that form a 900 km ridge spanning the entire length of the country, rising steeply from the Indian Ocean, and creating an ideal place for nutrients and marine life to gather.

Is fishing allowed in the Maldives?

Since so much of their livelihood depends on fish stocks, Maldivians have developed strict fishing regulations that the local authorities widely enforce. Reef fishing is not allowed on reserves, with penalties from ranging from $500 to $2,000. You might be thinking “What does this mean for me? I’ll just fish my resort’s house reef.”

The problem is that most resorts want to protect their house reefs, and have so secured a status of “reserve” for their house reef. This means that you can’t go shore fishing there, unless the resort management explicitly allows you to.

The inhabited islands (villages and towns) and remote, uninhabited islands are ok to fish.

A "no fishing" sign in the Maldives

Important:

Here are a few Maldivian fishing regulations that you should know about: (You can read the entire document here).

  1. If the distance from the beach to the reef edge of the inhabited island is greater than 1,000 meters, fishing beyond the 700 meter boundary of the reef is open to all;
  2. As long as you obtain permission from your tourist resort, you can fish from the resort’s reefs;
  3. You may fish the individual reefs that are not part of an island, or sandbank or any other dry area;
  4. You may not use nets to fish from the reefs of Male.

What You Can’t Do When Fishing in the Maldives:

  • Use nets to catch Mushimas (Mackerel)
  • Kill any form of Sharks for any purpose.
  • Use guns, explosives, or poison to kill fish.

Now that you know the rules, let’s get to the fun part.

Types of fishing in the Maldives

Considering the immense biodiversity of the Indian Ocean, you never know what you can get in these waters. Nevertheless, here are a few common methods for catching the most popular local species:

Shore fishing

There are literally thousands of species you can hook into, from reef fish to Barracuda, Bonefish, Bream, small Grouper, Snapper, and Jacks/Trevally. The most common methods are live bait fishing, fly fishing, and beach casting.

The fish in these tropical waters are very strong, which is why we suggest using a strong braided line and wire for lure fishing. Also, don’t use expensive lures as they will get destroyed or snagged on the coral within minutes.

Jigging/Popping

With shallow flats filled with large predators, jigging/popping is what you’d consider the main attraction of sportfishing in the Maldives. You will go after similar species as with shore fishing, with the addition of Tuna, large Barracuda, Red Bass, Amberjack, and his majesty, the GT. People book 7-day liveaboards just to have a go at landing a big GT. You’ll need heavy duty gear to pull these beasts out.

Bottom Fishing

This is the main commercial method for reef fishing. Live bait, cut bait or deep drop jigging are popular. Bottom fishing will get you mostly Red Snappers, Groupers, Jacks, Scarlet and Job Fish, but Breams, Dogtooth and Yellowfin Tuna are also common.

Night Fishing

You will leave your resort at sun down and the Dhoni (boat type commonly used for night fishing) will anchor at the outskirts of your nearest atoll. Expect Emperors, Snappers, Squirrelfish, Mackerel, Jacks, and other reef fish.

Big Game Fishing

If you’re in for a real adrenaline rush, the Maldives are among the best big game destinations on earth with dozens of top-notch big game charters available for day trips. Heavy duty trolling can land Marlin, Sailfish, as well as Tuna, Dorado, and Wahoo.

Fishing Seasons

While there is no off-season, big game fishing is best November–March.

Fishing in the Maldives: Season and species

You can find further information on our calendar here.

Fishing Charters

All resorts have boats that will take you “deep sea fishing.” However, make sure you know what you’re signing up for. In some resorts, when they say “deep sea,” this can mean fishing waters 15 meters deep, heading a few hundred meters from the house reef, or trolling for Wahoo from a water sports boat or Dhoni with third-grade rods and lures.

To avoid the risk, we suggest not waiting to arrive at your resort before searching for a charter. Check out our boat listings to make sure you get the best deal.

Have you been fishing in the Maldives? What fish did you catch? Did you have any issues figuring out the local fishing regulations? Let us know in the comments below!

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Comments (73)
  • Kim

    Sep 2, 2014

    I just came back from Huvadhoo Atoll and was quite disappointed in the offer of fishing charter there. You have to rent it through resort and they overcharge you. I would advise everyone who want to do some fishing while in Maldives (and you should :)) to book a resort closer to Male since the offer is better, much better, there.

    Just a hint 🙂

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      Rasheed

      Sep 19, 2017

      Dear Kim,

      We now provide the service from Huvadhoo Atoll at much lower rates compared to the rates provided by resorts.
      Thanks

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  • Andrew Witt

    Feb 24, 2015

    I have fished in Cuba, mainly off the shore, using bass estuary rods bait fishing usually uncooked prawns, heavy 100grm and medium 20 To 80 gram spinners and soft rubber baits. I am putting that experience into play in the Maldives, using large and medium poppers, shallow plugs Toby, Mepps spinners and sport rubber baits. However, My question is a simple one, I would like to try LRF fishing similar lures as above, but only to a couple of grams? Would these be of a advantage to my quest to fish off the shore?

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      Dino

      Mar 19, 2015

      Hi Andrew,

      We asked Captain Latheef of Alpha Royale for his opinion on the topic, he thinks you’re definitely onto something here – light lures that you mentioned seem to work very well close to the Maldivian reefs, and can even be productive offshore if the fish are boiling on the surface. Hope that helps!

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  • brianteo

    May 17, 2015

    Do you have list of resorts that allow guest to fish at the resort island? because i know some of the resorts don’t allow fishing within the resort compound. Thanks. And any charter boats you can recommend for day trip fishing, popping, stickbaits and jigging.

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      Dino

      Jun 2, 2015

      Hi Brian,

      Couldn’t really tell you which resorts allow fishing and which don’t, as it often comes down to the resort’s own discretion. For example, we’ve had several instances where a customer of ours was staying at resort X which didn’t allow charters to pick up clients from their compounds (which they aren’t allowed to do), at which point we had to get in touch with the Maldives Tourism Authority in order to solve the issue. So unfortunately, the answer is not as clear-cut as I would like it to be.

      As for charter recommendation, Alpha Royale is a popular choice on our site: it’s a 50ft vessel powered by a 115HP Yanmar engine which specializes in GT popping and jigging. Hope that helps!

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  • Mikey Paget

    Sep 16, 2015

    Just back from an 8 day trip to Meeru Island, booked a 4 hr trip casting fishing!! What a trip 10 small tuna and a 120lb sailfish!! Took 30 mins to land, if im honest, it was a bit of a lucky one but still very welcome!!

    Only cost $230 but seen loads of other fish!! Including a Baracuda that ate my little tuna in half

    Last 4 mins of the fight
    http://youtu.be/QBJmVYr5chs

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  • frenzyhook

    Nov 27, 2015

    It my dream to go there fishing….. I wish my dream will come true near future. Nice info, it help much.tq

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  • Chad

    Feb 25, 2016

    Since most of the sport fishing charters are out of Male, how does it work when you are staying on Meeru (for example)? Will the boat pick you up on the island? Thanks in advance.

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      Xavier

      Feb 29, 2016

      Hi Chad! Indeed, most charters go out of Male and pick up only makes sense if you’re staying up to 15-20 miles away. Anything farther than that would take too long and/or cost too much. There’s also the question of individual boats’ capabilities – as you can see, there are fast big game sportfishers and smaller wooden pangas. Male being the hotspot, it hosts a selection of charters in various price ranges, so if you’re farther away, the choices are slimmer.
      All said, the most convenient way would be picking out a boat closest to your resort. For example, Big One out of Thulusdhoo.
      Get in touch with our customer service team for more help!

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  • Michal Sielski

    Jun 17, 2016

    Don’t go to resort.Go to a local island where you will find guest houses witch charge abou 80$ per night.The food is cheap and you will not spend more than 20$ per day.For GT and bluefinn just take good pare of shoes and wade to a reef edge where the waves are breacking.There is plenty of them everywhere.Every local island have harbour where you can rent a small boat with 50-100 hp engine for 20-50$ per day.I did my budget trip this year.Fished 12 days by wading around island and spend only 1600$ incudig everything with flight from and back to Poland.

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      Ozgur yasar

      Aug 11, 2016

      Thats a pretty good deal. Were you shore casting, trolling or popping of the boat?

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      Doug

      Feb 23, 2017

      Michal your idea of fishing by yours of and staying local sounds amazing. Do you have recommendations on specific islands to go to?

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      Wesley

      Mar 22, 2017

      Hi
      Just reading your reply about wading the local islands instead of going to resorts in maldives.

      Where did you stay amd which island did you stay on?
      Sounds like you had amazing fishing?
      Thanks in advance..

      Looking for a llace i can take the family and also get some surf casting for GTs done.

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      Shaun Turner

      Sep 14, 2017

      Which are the local islands I should be looking for ? And what airport to arrive at please. Sounds amazing and I am a guide so happy to sort myself out . Just want to shore fish .

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      Stefan Johansen

      Sep 27, 2017

      Hi
      Try Keyodhoo Island, either Jupiter Sunrise Lodge or White Maakaanaa Lodge.
      They offer full day dhoni charter for US 250 . They do all kinds of fishing and lovely people too. Stayed on the last one in Feb 2016, recommended.

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      Fredrik Snickars

      Nov 7, 2017

      Is it ok to fish on local islands from the reef for foreigners?

      I have read that its a forbidden zone 700m from the reef.

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  • Dave

    Oct 11, 2016

    It seams that spear fishing is not allowed. Would a Hawaiian sling be allowed?

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  • stefano

    Oct 25, 2016

    hello I come to the Maldives December 1 to 11, I wanted to fish 2 days spinning or jigging the giant trevally, are available ???
    thank you

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      Cat

      Oct 31, 2016

      Hi Stefano,

      Thanks for your comment. You can take a look at the charters that available on your chosen dates here – and you can also sort by fishing type and target fish. If you need any help finding your perfect charter, our friendly customer service team would be happy to help you out!

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  • Bayley

    Jul 27, 2017

    G’day, my question is 1. Have you got a list of all charters out of Maldives. 2. Honest answer (from admin or others) but how many fish are you looking at ? 3. What are the boats and tackle like, looking at photos they don’t look quality ? 4. Which charter is known the best ? Just asking yous to be completely honest.

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  • Jean Borg

    Nov 22, 2017

    Staying at the W Hotel Maldives from the 19th till 25th… would like to go fishing
    during the day ( whatever would be the best time to fish ) .. preferably using a rod
    with live bait etc … that type of fishing rather than jigging if possible.

    Have already fished in Maldives for Big Game a few years ago, was good but wanted
    to try the normal traditional Maldivian fishing this time round.

    Any day from the 20th would be fine …

    Kindly let me have details etc ….

    Would either be alone or maybe my wife would also join.

    Many thks , await your reply.

    Regards
    Jean

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      Cat

      Nov 22, 2017

      Hi Jean,

      Thanks for getting in touch. We have several possibilities that you might like to take a look at: Dream Adventure focuses more on bottom fishing than jigging, so could be suitable for you and your wife. If you do decide you’d like things to be a bit more technical, Alpha Royal does offer jigging (it is very popular with visiting anglers) but can also take you deep sea fishing or bottom fishing if you’d prefer.

      Please feel free to browse the charters we have to offer or to give our customer support team a call at +1-888-395-2564 if you’d like any further suggestions.

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  • Gavin

    Dec 24, 2017

    Please could someone recommend a game fishing trip for mid Jan for tuna etc staying at meedhupparu resort for 1 week. Looking to go early 5.30am for 6-8 hours

    Thanks

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  • Olly

    Dec 30, 2017

    Hi
    Staying at Kuramathi resort island for 5 nights in February and would like to know if there are any fishing charters that would pick me up to go popping/jigging?
    Thanks
    Olly

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      Cat

      Jan 9, 2018

      Hi Olly,

      Take a look at Atoll Fisher, which specializes in catching HUGE GTs and operates near where you will be staying. Let us know how it goes!

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  • Gavin

    Jan 5, 2018

    Hi I have left a message on the board and called and was promised an email still no response???

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      Cat

      Jan 9, 2018

      Hi Gavin,

      I’m really sorry for the delay in getting back to you. Yasmin Sport Fishing and REETHI-1 operate close to the area you are staying. If you are still looking for a charter, please email [email protected] or give us a call at 0800-802-1304 (if you’re calling from the UK) or +1-850-502-4257. Our customer service team will help you find someone suitable for the time you are searching for.

      Best wishes for a successful trip,

      Cat

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  • Martin Lewis

    Jan 6, 2018

    I’m researching catch limits and minimum sizes for groupers (I believe they have been mandatory from 15th March 2014) and other key demersal fish. I have found http://www.mrc.gov.mv/assets/Uploads/February-2014-Current-Status-of-the-Reef-Fisheries-of-Maldives-and-Recommendations-for-Management.pdf
    but wonder if there has been more recent conservation measures?,
    regards

    Martin Lewis

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      Cat

      Jan 9, 2018

      Hi Martin,

      I haven’t heard of any more recent updates to the official legislation for recreational fishing, but it’s worth keeping an eye on what the Blue Marine Foundation are working on out there.

      Best,

      Cat

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  • Heli

    Jan 12, 2018

    hi,
    do you know if flyfishing on the flats is allowed, e.g. at kuramathi

    best
    heli

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      Lisa

      Jan 17, 2018

      Hi Heli,

      Fly fishing is a must-try on the Kanifushi Island’s flats, for example. Kuramathi is a big-game fishing destination. Also, shore fishing is banned there!

      Hope it helps.

      Best,

      Lisa

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  • Joel Dubey

    Jan 31, 2018

    I am going to be at Paradise Island Resort & Spa on Hulhumale. Can I fish from shore there? Are there any good charter fishing guides there? What about fly fishing?

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      Lisa

      Feb 1, 2018

      Hi Joel,

      Looking at what we have on FishingBooker, offshore fishing is quite something down there. I mean, take a look here!

      Fishing from shore can be illegal since a lot of resorts are private. The safest option is to get yourself a local fishing guide and explore your options. Bonefishing is arguably the most exciting thing you could try close to shore but it might involve a little bit of traveling. Anyway, local knowledge is the best!

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      Carlos

      Feb 3, 2018

      Hi Lisa , it’s very interesting about flats and wadding myself there , can you contact to more information ?
      [email protected]
      Thank you so much

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      Lisa

      Feb 5, 2018

      Hi Carlos,

      Feel free to just give FishingBooker a call. Our guys at customer service will tell you about the guides we have in the Maldives 🙂

      Call from the States +1-888-395-2564
      or International +1-850-502-4257

      I hope you find a suitable guide and make a great catch possible!

      Lisa

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  • Victor Mason

    Feb 5, 2018

    Great blog..This place is beautiful. I and my wife love to travel all over the world and we both love to fishing. I love this place and we will be fishing there. In your article you have shown the total Guide for us, This important information will helping all the travel and fishing lover.

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  • Nikola

    Feb 6, 2018

    Hi. I am going to holiday to Omadhoo. it is a local island with residents but not a resort. Can I do fly fishing there ? Do I have to buy a license?

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