Fishing in the Bahamas is a rite of passage for any ambitious angler. Picture yourself poling across gin-clear flats just one cast away from a potential world record. Imagine big game battles on the high seas with a tropical paradise as your backdrop. Now think how it’ll feel to do all that and more in a single day. That’s what’s waiting for you on this stunning island chain.
Those are some mighty fine words, and they’re easy to back up. The Bahamas are home to hundreds of world records for dozens of different species. Sportfishing brings in an incredible $500 million every year. Safe to say, the fishing here’s pretty good.
Top Catches in the Bahamas
We’ve talked up the Bahamas enough, now let’s jump into what makes them so unique. Well, it’s simple – you can target just about any fish you can think of. Whether it’s laid-back reef fishing with a delicious meal at the end of the trip, premier flats action, or a big game bite that will take your breath away, the Bahamas have it all. Still, there are top catches that steal the show here, so let’s jump right in and see what they are.
Outstanding Marlin Fishing Puts the Bahamas on the Map
There are many, many reasons anglers come to the islands, but the main one is the arrival of Marlin in the spring. Billfishing in this part of the ocean is simply outstanding, with plenty of grander Marlin to test your skill, strength, and patience.
White Marlin are the first ones to show up in mid-spring, usually in April, and you can land specimens that weigh over 100 pounds. But these fellas are just the opening act for the main star, the magnificent Blue Marlin. They enter the scene in June and stay around through July.
The Blue Marlin bite is so good that they’re on the country’s coat of arms and currency. Not only that, but some of the best fishing tournaments on the planet take place here during the high season. Blues are ferocious fighters and their aerial spectacles are matched by none, which makes them the ultimate catch of every sportfisherman worth their salt.
Standard catches are in the 200–300 lb ballpark, but there are mammoths out there that weigh thrice that. Deep canyons and troughs in the Bahamas’ bluewaters are the hallowed fishing grounds for your Marlin chase. Once you hear that reel scream, strap yourself into the fighting chair and fish on!
Tuna – A Football-Shaped Angler’s Dream
Another superstar of big game fishing in the Bahamas is the mighty Tuna. Yellowfin are the most popular catches, but you can also get Blackfin or Skipjack on the line. There are fewer Bluefin than before, but that doesn’t take away from fast and furious action.
The best seasons for Tuna fishing are spring and summer when there’s plenty of huge Tuna out there. This time of year is also good for long fishing trips because the ocean is calm and the weather predictable. Your prey are most active during the times of low visibility, usually just before sunrise and at dusk, when the fish come closer to the surface to feed.
There’s a number of ways to entice one of the fastest fish in the ocean, and trolling is the most popular technique. The most important thing to remember is to follow the movement of birds when you’re on a Tuna hunt, as they’ll give away the fish’s feeding ground.
You’ll find Tuna around the deepwater canyons that are scattered all around the 700 Bahamas islands. Some of the best spots include the areas between the islands, not too far from Bimini.
Bonefish Made Fly Fishing in the Bahamas Famous
From the deep waters of the Atlantic, we move to the shallow sandy flats that are the home of Bonefish. Why? Well, Bonefish may not look like much at first, but they’re one of the hardest challenges an angler can face. Tough to trick. Impossible to spot. They spook at the first sign of danger and hit 40 miles per hour as they escape across the flats.
If that sounds like your idea of fun, you may want to save yourself the cost of flights and just straight-up move to the Bahamas. The country’s clear, sandy flats are the perfect breeding ground for super-sized fish. Five-pound “Ghosts” are the norm here, and more than a few fish have made it into the record books over the years. And targeting them on the fly is an unforgettable experience.
There’s no bad time to go Bonefishing in the Bahamas, it’s just even better than usual during some parts of the year. Action is at its best from October–May when the waters are cooler and the weather is dry. This is also a great time to target other inshore game fish like Permit and Tarpon. Basically, if you’re an avid flats fisher, you’ll be in heaven in the Bahamas.
Snapper and Grouper – Reef Beauties
So the flats are a fly fisher’s paradise and the bluewaters are a big game battlefield, but what if you just want to reel in something tasty for dinner? To the reefs! Spring and summer are the most active times on the Bahamian reefs. The water is warmer and the fish are more aggressive. This means superb Snapper and Grouper action.
Start by going after Yellowtail Snapper near the surface. Go to the slightly deeper waters, and you’ve got plenty of choices, including Yelloweye, Queen, Mutton, and Mangrove Snapper. Lots of variety, lots of delicious fish, and all that without losing sight of land.
After that, you can switch to bottom fishing for Grouper. Depending on the depth, you could reel in Red, Strawberry (Red Hind), Yellowfin, and Black Grouper.
Another species you may come across is the Nassau Grouper. These guys are big, strong, and highly intelligent. On top of that, they taste delicious. However, they’re critically endangered, so we would recommend releasing them whenever possible. You’re not going to be short on fish, after all.
And So Much More…
Still not enough for you? Don’t worry – these are just the A-listers. You’ll also be battling Mahi Mahi by the dozen and some of the biggest Wahoo you’re ever likely to find. Then there’s Bigeye Tuna, Sailfish, Triggerfish – you get the picture, there’s a lot hiding in these deep waters. And let’s not forget about the prime fighters like Amberjack, African Pompano, Mackerel, and Hogfish.
During the warmest months, you’ll witness and enjoy the full onslaught of Tuna, Marlin, and Sailfish. The only exception is Wahoo, which always seem to do their own thing. These guys peak in the winter and move off just as the rest of the gang rolls into town.
The great thing about big game fishing in the Bahamas is that most of the top game fish are around at the same time. So when that time comes in the summer, you better be ready to rumble, because the fish will be!
Types of Fishing in the Bahamas
As there are hundreds upon hundreds of fish to target, there are many different types of fishing to help you get your prey of choice. Which technique or type you’ll pick depends on your personal preferences and what you’d like to target. Here are a few favorites among locals and visiting anglers alike.
Fly Fishing in the Bahamas
We mentioned that Bonefishing is extraordinary all over the archipelago, and no one enjoys it more than passionate fly fishermen. These silvery fish are close to impossible to see in the crystal-clear waters of the flats and channels, which makes the experience all the more exciting. Add to that the possibility of landing Tarpon and Permit, and you’ve got a party.
Not only is it a challenge to find “Ghosts,” but it’s equally testing to get them into the boat. They’re fierce fighters and having one fight you on an 8 wt rod is enough to get anyone’s blood pumping. You can go out on the flats on a small skiff or do some wade fishing during the low tide, it’s up to you.
Bonefish are by far the most sought after catch of fly fishermen, but you can also find a solid Tarpon bite in the summer months, and Permit follow closely behind. Our advice? Try a bit of everything, you won’t be disappointed.
Spearfishing in the Bahamas
If an adrenaline rush on the water doesn’t cut it for you, then your next adventure should be underwater. Going spearfishing around the Bahamas’ stunning reefs is an experience you should treat yourself to at least once in your life.
Both experienced spearos and beginners are wowed by the beauty of the archipelago’s marine life. You can go after a slew of species and crustaceans in these clear waters, including Snapper, Grouper, Hogfish, Lobster, even sea snails (Conch). Look for your prey around reefs and corals, and you’re sure to find something good.
Bahamians take great care of their diverse marine life, so there are strict rules you need to abide by in order to spearfish here. There’s a number of regulations to think of. For example, you’re not allowed to wear scuba gear when spearfishing, you can only do so by free diving. You can only use the Hawaiian sling or a pole spear, not spearguns. There are also many places in the country where spearfishing is forbidden, so choose your spot carefully.
Fishing the Bahamas with a Charter
So where do you begin when you come to the Bahamas? Well, if you’re a first-time visitor and want to wet your line and have a productive day on the water, turning to locals for guidance is a good idea. Whether you’re here to hook into a colossal Marlin or chase “Ghosts” across the flats, there’s an expert who can make it happen.
There are a lot of fishing charters on the main islands that organize a great variety of trips, depending on what you’d like to catch and how much time you’ve got. Going out with professionals also means that you don’t have to bring your gear. The crew will have everything you need.
Another important upside to fishing with a guide is that fishing licenses are covered in the price of the trip. Your captain will also let you know what the fishing regulations are and how much of your catch you can keep. If you want a comfortable and successful angling experience, then booking a charter is definitely an option to consider.
Top Fishing Spots in the Bahamas
In an archipelago of over 700 islands, picking one perfect fishing spot will always be the tough part. Thankfully, there’s a good number of places that have already earned a stellar reputation among fellow anglers, making things a bit easier for everyone. Here are the best of the best.
- Bimini: The waters around Bimini are a great place to start. Remember all those records set in the Bahamas? Most of them were set here, and yes, many of them were set for Marlin. In fact, the Billfish bite is so good that people regularly travel by boat from Florida just to get in on the action.
- Treasure Cay: Go to Abacos Island, and you’ll find more deep sea fishing opportunities that you could try out in a lifetime. Treasure Cay is in the north of the island, known for its top-notch Billfish bite, as well as excellent Mahi Mahi, Snapper, Wahoo, and Tuna.
- Exuma Trough: Right between Exuma and Cat Islands, you’ll find the Exuma Trough, where serious trophy fishing takes place. Blue and White Marlin, Sailfish, and Tuna are all there for the taking. The island Exuma also boasts good flats fishing.
- The Tongue of the Ocean: Often shortened to TOTO, this is a long trench of deep water between Andros and Nassau. It’s completely sheltered by reefs and shoals. This means that when the high winds whip the water into a frenzy elsewhere, TOTO keeps putting huge fish on your hooks.
- Andros Barrier Reef: Welcome to the biggest reef in the Bahamas. At 190 miles long, it’s actually the third-largest barrier reef in the world. These sprawling corals are home to the entire food chain, from small tropical fish and Lobster up to massive Manta Rays and Marlin.
Fishing Tournaments in the Bahamas
When you know just how amazing fishing in the Bahamas is, it only makes sense that the country is home to dozens of sportfishing tournaments. Competitive Billfishing is especially popular, but other species don’t fall behind either.
Bahamas Billfish Championship is the best-known tournament in the country, with hundreds of anglers coming to compete every year. June and July are the months to participate. There are also Hawk’s Nest Wahoo and White Marlin Smackdowns and Bimini Wahoo Mayhem Fishing Tournament that offers the highest money prizes.
The Bahamas is also the host of two qualifying tournaments for the invitation-only Offshore World Championship Series. So whatever your game, there might be a tournament in the archipelago for you!
Rules and Regulations
The government of the Bahamas make sure that their fisheries are well protected by law and before you hit the water, it’s important to understand the rules. Unless you’re a citizen of the Bahamas, you’re going to need a valid fishing license before you cast your line. If you’re going out with a charter, then your guide will take care of everything for you.
Spearo enthusiasts should take special care, get informed before their first dive, and follow the regulations related to spearfishing. Bahamians are doing their best to keep their marine life safe and we should do the same.
Fishing in the Bahamas – An Exciting Adventure in the Caribbean
You already know that the Bahamas is an amazing vacation destination, but now you know that it’s unmatched when it comes to fishing too. Island living will easily seep into your bones, and trust us when we say that the fishing action here is intoxicating.
The best part, it’s only a short boat ride away from Miami, so you just need to pick your vacation days, book a charter, and off you go. Those trophy fish won’t catch themselves!
Have you ever been fishing in the Bahamas? What did you catch? Share your thoughts and fish tales in the comments below!