Turquoise waters, white sands, and luxury hotels are all recognizable features of the Maldives. This stunning stretch of the world, made up of over a thousand coral islands, has long been a dream destination for honeymooners, nature lovers, and you guessed it – anglers. On a Maldives fishing trip, you’ll explore the immense biodiversity of the Indian Ocean.
The average elevation in the Maldives is just 5 feet, making the ocean an integral part of living here. Fishing is an important aspect of the local economy and plays a big part in the culture, too. That, combined with the sheer variety of fish found here, all contribute to its reputation as one of the fishiest places on earth.
In this blog, we’ll cover some of the top catches in the Maldives, as well as how and where you can fish for them. We’ll also tackle some important regulations to keep in mind during your trip. Before you start planning that dream vacation, let’s dive in!
Maldives Fish Species
Fish in the Maldives are exotic. You can reel in specimens of all shapes and colors, including plenty you’ve never seen before! There are endless catches to make, but here are a few of the top targets the bring anglers to the Maldives.
If there’s one fish anglers come here for, it’s Trevally. More specifically, Giant Trevally. They’re at the top of every bucket list, and some visitors even dedicate their entire vacation to hooking one. The Maldives are among a few places in the world where you can catch GTs year-round, both on the reefs and over the flats.
The bigger fish, ranging between 30–80 pounds, congregate on the reefs. Targeting GTs here is a great opportunity to try out the Maldives’ most popular fishing methods – jigging and popping. The same goes when fishing over the flats, the only caveat being that the fish here are smaller, usually hitting between 10–15 pounds. Fly fishers won’t mind, though, as the clear shallow waters here are perfect for sight casting.
Tuna fishing in the Maldives is important for a number of reasons. There’s an astonishing number of massive Yellowfin, and a year-round supply of Dogtooth and Skipjack Tuna. They’re vital to the local economy and draw throngs of anglers to the country for recreational fishing. One of the most exciting parts of Tuna fishing here is trying out traditional fishing methods.
Pole and line fishing for Tuna are common practices in the Maldives. Even for commercial fishing, which is pretty unusual. It’s one of the most sustainable ways to catch fish, as you’ll be hooking them one-by-one. This means there’s no risk of harming other fish in the process. And the gear you need is pretty simple – a single hooked line on a pole.
It’s actually the vessel that makes the magic happen. Once you’ve spotted a school of fish, the back of the boat sprays water and small bait fish get scattered across the surface. This sends the fish into an absolute feeding frenzy. You won’t be limited to just pole and line fishing, though. Fly fishing, trolling, jigging, and popping are also regularly offered.
The reefs are what make the Maldives – literally and figuratively. The islands themselves are made from coral and it’s also responsible for the diversity of marine life here. As such, the fishing offered in the Maldives is largely focused on reef fishing, and visiting anglers certainly don’t mind. Groupers, Red Emperor, Sweetlip Emperor, Jobfish, Squirrelfish, Jacks… the list of what you can catch goes on and on!
When out on a trip to the reefs, you’ll mainly bottom fish. Live bait and deep drop jigging are both popular and effective at getting you a delicious fish. Keep any fish you plan to eat that day and release the rest. Coral reefs play a big part in the Maldivian tourism industry and a healthy fish population is crucial to sustaining them.
We couldn’t let you go without mentioning the big game fish you can catch here. Deep sea fishing in the Maldives will see you go after some of the most desirable pelagic fish in the world. Alongside Tuna, you can target Wahoo, Mahi Mahi, Sailfish, and Marlin. While there is technically no off-season in the Maldives, big game fishing is best from November–March.
This is considered the “dry” or “northeast monsoon” season. The skies and the waters are calm, making popular techniques like jigging, popping, and trolling easy to execute. What more can we say? Few locations can boast big game fish list this long, let alone in a setting as stunning as the Maldives.
The Indian Ocean is so diverse that there’s even a chance you’ll reel in an undiscovered species on your Maldives fishing trip. That said, there are a few more already-discovered fish we couldn’t not mention.
Fly anglers will be happy to know that Permit, Bonefish, as well as Bluefin and Golden Trevally, are all additional targets to put on your list. Additionally, you can jig and pop for Barracuda, Red Bass, Coral Trout, and Rainbow Runner.
How can I go fishing in the Maldives?
Most islands in the Maldives are far apart, meaning you’re likely to be fishing from wherever you’re staying. Nevertheless, there are countless fishing techniques you can employ either from a boat or from the shore. Let’s get into it.
Charter Boat Fishing
If you’re here because you’d like to experience big game or reef fishing, charter boat fishing is your best option. There are vessels of all shapes and sizes for you to choose from. Whether it’s traveling in style aboard a luxurious mega-yacht or hopping aboard a traditional dhoni – the Maldives have it.
For a fully immersive experience, consider a liveaboard charter. This is a great way to “island hop” and explore the deep waters beyond. Most charters will include your fishing license and your gear. Still, it’s a good idea to check in with your captain beforehand to make sure you’re getting what you bargained for.
If you’ve got less time to spare, fishing from shore can also be a rewarding experience. Just make sure it’s allowed. The Maldives take marine conservation very seriously in an effort to protect the local reefs. As such, strict rules apply. This includes a blanket ban on shore fishing from resorts – unless you have explicit permission from hotel management.
You’ll most likely have to head to one of the smaller inhabited islands or a completely uninhabited island to fish from shore legally. Once you’re there, you can cast for Bonefish, Bream, Barracuda, Jacks, and even small Grouper and Snapper. Maybe you’ll even reel in a GT! The fish here are strong, so gear up with a strong braided line.
This fishing experience is unique to the Maldives. You’ll set out long after the sun has set to fish under the stars for nocturnal species. These trips take place aboard traditional dhoni fishing boats and you’ll mainly use handline fishing techniques. It doesn’t get more authentic than that!
Night fishing trips are a great choice for families with children. They aren’t too long and you won’t have to worry about the harsh sunlight. To top it all off, you could go home with some delicious fish. Emperors, Snappers, Squirrelfish, and Jacks are all potential targets.
Where should I go?
There’s no such thing as bad fishing in the Maldives – the country is 99% water, after all! That said, fishing regulations can be tricky. As a result, most anglers choose to fish around the resorts they’re staying at. That’s not your only option, though. If you’re heading out on your own, here are a few places worth visiting:
- Malé: This is likely to be the starting point of your fishing adventure. As the capital of the Maldives, Malé is the most accessible atoll. You can fish the surrounding waters for reef species or head to nearby, less-inhabited islands.
- Dhiffushi: Dhiffushi is the easternmost inhabited island in the Maldives. You can either stay at one of the resorts on the island or take the ferry from Malé for an overnight visit. Night fishing, big game offshore fishing, and inshore fishing are all available here.
- Keyodhoo: If you’re looking for a more low-key Maldives trip, try Keyodhoo Island. It’s a small fishing village where most of the locals fish for a living. You’ll find budget-friendly guesthouses and fishing lodges here. Local captains are happy to take you out for both reef and offshore fishing.
- Fulidhoo: This island is another great option for low-key anglers. Like most of the island, it has beautiful beaches, crystal clear waters, and great fishing. Stay at a fishing lodge or one of the local guesthouses and spend a few days big game and reef fishing.
Anything else I need to know?
Fishing is an integral part of the culture and economy of the Maldives. As such, tight regulations are widely enforced to promote marine conservation. The first thing to take into account is where you’re fishing. Fishing reefs with “reserve” status is strictly prohibited, and this includes most resorts. You also aren’t allowed to fish the sandbars or coral reefs that make up the islands themselves.
There are a few more things to keep in mind. Using fishing nets isn’t allowed over the reefs and spearfishing is prohibited across the country. In terms of fish species, fishing for all types of Sharks has been banned for over a decade. Likewise, Giant Trevally and Billfish are is catch-and-release only most of the time.
This is a good rule of thumb to apply to everything you catch in the Maldives. If you don’t plan on eating it, just snap a great picture and release the fish back into the ocean. This will help ensure we can keep coming back to the stunning fishery for years to come. You can find more details on fishing regulations in the Maldives here.
Maldives Fishing: Paradise on Earth
The Maldives are a dream destination for so many people. And how could they not be? The country is a literal paradise on earth! You’ll feel like a drop in the ocean on its beautifully isolated islands, surrounded by some of the most spectacular marine life in the world. Let’s make sure to keep it that way.
Have you checked the Maldives off your list of dream fishing destinations? How was it? Where did you go? Drop us a line in the comments – we love to hear from you!