Barbados is the archetypal island paradise. With its stunning sandy beaches and impossibly blue waters, this Caribbean nation has “wish you were here” written all over it. For many visitors, there’s something that can make even the soft white sands and colorful cocktails take second place: the thrill and excitement you’ll find aboard Barbados fishing charters!
The waters around Barbados drop to Billfish depths within swimming distance of shore, something that local charter captains take full advantage of. You can spend the day battling Blue and White Marlin, Yellowfin Tuna, Mahi Mahi, and Wahoo just a few miles from shore. You get to take on huge fish with a great view, without burning a ton of fuel to get there–everyone wins!
It’s not all bluewater action here, though. Nearshore reefs have a reliable bite of Snappers and Groupers, and shore fishing Barbados’s famous beaches can land you Bonefish, Garfish, Jacks, Barracuda, and so much more. There really is no end to what the island has to offer.
When to Visit
You can find most fish year-round here but the “official” fishing season runs January-April. This is when all your big game favorites show up in force. You can expect double-digit hookups and constant hits during these glorious months.
If you’re fishing from shore, it’s more about the weather than the fish themselves. Bonefish, Tarpon, Permit, and Barracuda never leave the island but heavy rains can put a dampener on the bite throughout the second half of the year. No matter when you come, you’ll find fish. It just hits a whole new level December through May.
Types of Fishing
So you’ve decided when to go, now you need to pick what to catch. Here the main styles of fishing you can choose from on your trip.
The vast majority of Barbados fishing trips take place offshore. And with monster Billfish, tasty Tuna, and some huge Wahoo and Mahi Mahi, it’s easy to see why! You can find these fish all around the island, but most deep sea fishing trips leave from the capital, Bridgetown.
Half day charters will normally focus on Mahi Mahi, Wahoo, and Rainbow Runner. Wahoo are the island’s signature species. They’re known locally as “Kingfish” (in case you’re wondering why Mackerel tastes so good here) and you can expect to load the boat with them even on shorter trips.
Head out on a full day trip, and you can either split your time between the whole cast of characters or focus just on Billfish in the hopes of a personal record. Blue and White Marlin, Sailfish, and Longbill Spearfish all live here, and you never have to go more than 15 miles from shore to find them. If you’re looking for an IGFA Billfish Super Grand Slam, this isn’t a bad place to try!
Barbados is sadly lacking in proper sand flats like you would find in other parts of the Antilles. There are still a few inshore specialists who can get you on Barracuda, Jacks, Cero Mackerel, and other shallow-water species, though. The best place to try this is in the north of the island from places like Holetown, where the waters are generally shallower. You can catch Bonefish and even Tarpon in the lagoons in the northeast of Barbados.
If you don’t fancy chartering a boat, you can enjoy some great angling from shore. You have less control over what you catch and will usually bring in a mix of Eels, Garfish, Triggerfish, Barracuda, and Mackerels. Holetown has some great beaches for this style of angling.
Why waste the water by just looking at it? Spearfishing is very popular here and you will find several specialist companies operating out of Bridgetown. What you target on these trips is down to your skill level: beginners can have a great time taking on Snappers and invasive Lionfish, while more accomplished spearos can try bluewater spearfishing for Mahi Mahi and Wahoo.
Most Bayan bluewater action focuses on trolling or freeline live-baiting. Ballyhoo and Rainbow Runner are some of the best baits around and they can both be caught pretty easily here. If you fancy something a little different, many guides also offer traditional handline fishing. This takes a little getting used to, but nothing beats the triumph of finally landing a fish this way. Think “Old Man and the Sea.”
If you fancy trying a spot of shore fishing while you’re in town, your best bet is to use cut baits of ballyhoo, mullet, or squid. You can pick great bait up at the local fish market, and scope out what’s been biting in the process! Small lures on light spinning gear also work well.
Spearfishing focuses on freediving until you find your fish, then taking aim and firing. Equipment varies with your skill level. Hawaiian slings are more like a slingshot than a gun, and are much safer to handle. Powered guns pack more of a punch and are much more accurate, so they’re much better for bluewater spearfishing.
But you can do all these things anywhere. How about something truly unique? How about tree fishing? No, we’re not talking about limb-lining. We’re talking about throwing a fallen tree or tabletop overboard at night, then coming back the next morning to your own personal FAD. You can get some epic topwater Wahoo action in this way and it’s certainly a true Bayan experience.
Need To Know
You don’t need a fishing license to enjoy these waters, whether you’re on a charter or casting from shore. One thing you do need to do is be very clear about what happens to your catch. Billfish can be kept and sold in Barbados and while smaller Marlin are almost always released, big fish will often be kept. If you make it clear you want to release the fish, most captains won’t have a problem with it. You may get a smaller share of the catch at the end of the day, though. The crew has to feed their families, after all.
There’s a lot to love about fishing here, but the thing that really makes Bayan fishing trips special is their flexibility. Fancy chasing Marlin all day long? Sure thing. Want to throw some snorkeling or a beach cookout into the mix? Why not! Local guides have a relaxed, “can do” attitude to fishing that comes from knowing they have the best job in the world. If you could spend every day fighting huge fish in one of the most beautiful places on the planet, wouldn’t you love it, too?