Beginner's Guide to Fishing in The Maldives
May 14, 2019 | 4 minute read Comments
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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 of 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 $2000. 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: (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 1000m, fishing beyond 700m 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 dynamite or any other explosive to catch or kill fish,
  • Use any kind of gun to catch or kill fish,
  • Catch or kill fish by using poison,
  • Use nets to catch Mushimas (Mackerel) – schools or small reef fish that live in the lagoons of inhabited islands,
  • Kill any form of sharks for any purpose.

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

Fishing by season and species in the Maldives

List credit: http://www.mgfa.org.mv

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 15 meters depth, a few hundred meters from the house reef, or trolling for Wahoo from a watersports 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 (65)
  • 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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      Lisa

      Feb 8, 2018

      Hi Nikola,

      The waters of that picturesque island are known for their reef fishing. Tuna are also biting but you will have to travel to the fishing grounds.

      Regarding fly fishing, you will have to check with the locals. They can show you the sweetest spots and might even cook your catch 🙂

      Lisa

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  • Marius

    Feb 7, 2018

    Hi there,
    I will go in november in Guraidhoo Island at Ithaa Beach pension wich is not a resort (obviously). Is anyone here to give me some ideas regarding fishing there? Renting boat, what equipment to bring with me, where to fish?

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      Lisa

      Feb 8, 2018

      Hi Marius,

      Fishing is definitely among the activities that you can try there! Take a look here to see the potential fishing charters.

      Enjoy!

      Lisa

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  • Peter

    Mar 5, 2018

    Hello, I am going to Komando at the end of April, looking at big game options. Who would you recommend?

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      Stefan

      Mar 9, 2018

      Hi Peter,

      Glad to hear you want to explore the fishing opportunities in the Maldives as there are plenty. You can check out Yasmin Sport Fishing which is the closest to where you will be staying. It’s always good to check whether local captains would do pick-up as a lot of them do.
      Stefan

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  • Mark

    Apr 11, 2018

    Where can I legally go bonefish fishing on flats in Maldives ? It seems that several locations do not allow fishing from the reef/shore.

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      Stefan

      Apr 17, 2018

      Hi, Mark,

      I did some research on the topic. The safest way is to get in touch with the resort where you plan to stay to ask if they allow fishing around their flats.

      The current regulations don’t give the specifics, but I have reached to a couple of captains and will let you know if I get more info on this topic.

      Tight lines,
      Stefan

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  • kidiak

    May 8, 2018

    Hi,
    May I know if it’s ok to go fly fishing along the beaches in Male island? Do we need to apply permits for that?

    tq

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      Stefan

      May 25, 2018

      Hi, kidiak,

      Good question.

      I think the safest option is to consult the island office and get their permission.

      You can get in touch with them through their home page.

      Cheers,
      Stefan

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  • ALEX VANRIJKEL

    Aug 12, 2018

    Hello,

    What are the best months to fish for Bonefish, Permit and Trevally in the Maldives?
    Kind regards,

    Alex

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      Stefan

      Aug 29, 2018

      Hi, Alex.

      Thanks for reading the blog.

      You can fish for Giant and Bluefin Trevally throughout the year. Any month is a great month to get them.

      As for Bonefish and Permit – the best time is from October to April. However, they are nowhere near as numerous as Trevally.

      Hope this helps.
      Let me know if you have any more questions.

      Tight lines,
      Stefan

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  • theo isaiah

    Jan 10, 2019

    hi i will be on a costa cruise ship docked in male for 2 nights 23 & 24 Feb 2019. i would like to fish on a local wooden boat. i have a restricted budget. i love deep sea fishing. how do i go about arranging a trip?
    Regards Theo

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      Sean

      Jan 22, 2019

      Hello Theo,

      Thank you for reading the blog.

      While most of the boats we have are 25ft center consoles, there are a few options I think you might like. Please take a look at Lodehlla. You can reach the Captain through the link I am sending to inquire about your trip.

      Should you need any further assistance, please feel free to contact our Customer Service team through this link.

      Tight lines!

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  • zainal ali

    Jan 14, 2019

    i’ve book a fishing trip in june because that’s the only period i’m free to travel . can i land a trevally in this month?

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      Sean

      Jan 22, 2019

      Hello Zainal,

      Thank you for reading the blog.

      You sure can land a Trevally in June! The only thing you’d need to keep an eye on is the weather, so make sure to keep in touch with your Captain after you book a trip. You should have a great chance of landing GT on the flats.

      I hope you’ll find this helpful.

      Tight lines!

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  • Nat

    Jan 20, 2019

    I would like to fly fishing for bonefish and GT in Maldives
    Can you organize a trip? I prefer to stay on guest house not a fancy resort . Which atoll you recommend?
    I will be in Maldives every month from feb to April to photography some projects.

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      Sean

      Jan 22, 2019

      Hello Nat,

      Thank you for reading the blog.

      We would be happy to help you organize a trip in the Maldives.

      Dharavandhoo atol, for example, gives you a great opportunity for a Bonefish + GT combination. The atol has an airport as well as a few interesting guesthouses. Please take a look at Keyolhu Sportfishing – click to view.

      For more information, please feel free to get in touch with our Customer Service team.

      I hope this helps.

      Tight lines!

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  • Ken Haines

    Jan 28, 2019

    I am staying at Adaaran Club, Rannalhi for 4 days from 13 February and would love to do some light shore fishing – lure fishing ( Ihave my own light tackle).
    Does anyone know if it is allowed and if so what sort of fish to expect if I get lucky
    Many thanks in anticipation

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    • Reply icon

      Sean

      Feb 4, 2019

      Hello Ken,

      Thanks for reading.

      If you’re looking to do some shore fishing, you will need to check whether this is allowed with your resort. If it is, you can expect to catch Trevally, Bream and small Grouper.

      You can find out more about the local fishing regulations through this link.

      I hope you’ll find this helpful.

      Tight lines!

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  • Rosen

    Mar 9, 2019

    Hello,

    I am planning on going to Summer Island in late October/early November 2019. What are the fishing opportunities/charters there? I am interested in popping/spinning with lures for GT and whatever else is biting and will be bringing my own tackle. As this will be my first time in the Maldives, action and numbers of fish is more important than size of fish, Any info is greatly appreciated!

    Tight lines!

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    • Reply icon

      Sean

      Mar 18, 2019

      Hello Rosen,

      Thanks for reading the blog.

      Fishing in the Summer Island area is great in late October and early November. Apart from GT, you’ll have an excellent chance to land Barracuda as well as Mahi and Yellowfin Tuna if you have the right tackle.

      As far as charters go, you can take a look at Just Salt and Shuruno, these are two of the most popular Captains we have in the area.

      For more information, please feel free to contact our Customer Service.

      Tight lines!

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  • Eunice

    Jul 10, 2019

    Hi Sean! Great blog, thank you for sharing. I would like to know more about the fisheries regulations in the Maldives. I’m hoping you could help – I’m interested in fishing laws that they currently have.

    The Maldives is on my list to visit, hopefully during seasons when they have fishing tournaments!

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    • Reply icon

      Sean

      Jul 10, 2019

      Hey Eunice,

      Thanks for reading, I’m glad you liked the article.

      You can take a look at the official government issued document listing all the fishing regulations in the Maldives here.

      I hope that helps. I’m sure you’ll have a great time!

      Tight lines!

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  • Joel Reiser

    Jul 25, 2019

    Can someone help me with a charter in September out of Oblu select Sangeli?

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      Albert

      Jul 29, 2019

      Hi Joel,

      We don’t have any charters on Akirifushi Island itself, but we do have several elsewhere in Male Atoll.

      I would recommend getting in touch with our Customer Support team and talking through your plans. They can then help you to organize a trip with a nearby captain.

      I hope that helps!

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  • Jeremy

    Sep 2, 2019

    Do you have any boats that would pick up at Kuredu resort? Looking to fish for Billfish and other large game fish while I’m there in Oct. I know the resort offers a tour but checking what other options are availabl

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      Sean

      Sep 2, 2019

      Hi Jeremy,

      Thanks for reading.

      There are a number of fishing charters that offer pickups in the Maldives. However, each charter operator has their own limits in terms of how far they would go to pick their customers up.

      I would suggest looking at a few of these charters to see if they would be able to arrange something like this. You should be able to contact each captain from their respective charter pages.

      Should you need any assistance, feel free to contact our Customer Service.

      Tight lines!

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