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Fishing in Maldives
In the Maldives, fishing is more than a popular pastime—it’s the second largest industry in the country, surpassed only by tourism. Countless species of fish are vital to both of these markets, drawing visitors from far and wide for scuba diving, deep sea fishing, and marine research. Choosing a Maldives fishing charter is about more than the fish, however: are you looking for a luxury getaway, or an authentic experience guided by local fishermen?
A day on these emerald waters can be as modest or as extravagant as you would like, with your choice of mega yachts, cabin cruisers, and even dhonis (local traditional boats). Whichever you choose, rest assured the colorful and enchanting fish of the Maldives will never disappoint. You might even reel in a new discovery!
Anglers will delight in exceptional big game fishing in the Maldives. In fact, this is one of the world’s premier destinations for it. Thanks to the traditional pole and line fishing method used by commercial fishermen, local waters have retained their natural abundance. The pole and line technique allows anglers to target their catch one-by-one, rather than dredging up thousands of fish in massive nets. This technique has become iconic of Maldives Tuna fishing in particular, and some charters allow visitors to experience this method first hand.
Plenty of other fish in the Maldives have their own reputation for adventure. Giant Trevally (GT) is at the heart of local sport fishing, and anglers have a blast popping and fly fishing for it. This bad boy is biting all year long, often in the company of other impressive species such as Bluefin Trevally, Yellowfin Tuna, large Barracuda, and Red Bass. While chasing GT farther from shore, you can reel in big game fish like Wahoo, Mahi Mahi, Sailfish, and Marlin.
Dedicated anglers will often book a week-long Maldives liveaboard trip so they can focus all their effort on capturing the majestic GT. If you’re hoping to turn this experience into something especially magnificent, you can even book a local yacht charter. These often include scuba diving, onboard spas, and other activities that your non-fishing companion can enjoy. The best time for a Maldives big game fishing excursion lasts from August through March, when the weather is pleasant and most big game fish are biting.
Excellent reef fishing adventures are also to be had among thousands of coral islands surrounding the local atolls. The most colorful and extoic creatures inhabit these spots, never failing to surprise and delight the angler who manages to reel one in. Common reef fish in the Maldives include Groupers, Red Emperor Snapper, Sweetlip Emperor, Jobfish, Bream, and even Dogtooth or Yellowfin Tuna.
For a truly unique sport fishing experience and a chance to encounter the most exotic species, look for a Maldives night fishing charter. While casting lines under the moonlight you can reel in Squirrelfish, Sweetlip Emperor, Mackerel, Jacks, Snappers, and many other reef dwellers.
Need to Know
With more than 1,000 coral islands to choose from, it’s hard to pick a bad place to fish in the Maldives. Malé Atoll is one of the most accessible destinations, with international flights and world renowned resorts at your disposal. Many charter operators based on other islands offer pickup service from Malé for your convenience.
Liveaboard charters are a great way to explore other atolls and the deep sea beyond. For those with less time to spare, casting a few lines from shore can also be very rewarding, so long as it’s allowed in that location.
If you plan to fish alone, make sure you’re familiar with local regulations ahead of time. Strict rules apply to specific areas and types of fishing. In some cases, there are protected areas where you cannot fish at all. In general, fishing inhabited and uninhabited islands is allowed. You may fish from individual reefs that are not part of an island, or sand banks, or any other dry area.
The first UNESCO biosphere in the Indian Ocean was founded at Baa Atoll in 2011, and marine conservation is taken very seriously throughout the Maldives. Always be aware of where you’re casting lines, since reef fishing is prohibited on marine reserves and can lead to penalties ranging from $500-$2,000. It’s best to refrain from reef or shore fishing at resorts unless explicitly permitted by the resort management.
The best way to fish responsibly is to book your trip with a professional Maldives fishing charter operator. You do not need to purchase a fishing license when you book a charter.
Maldives Fishing Styles
Big Game Fishing
Maldives Big game fishing includes heavy duty trolling, jigging, and popping. Anglers troll for Sailfish, Marlin, Mahi Mahi, Tuna, and Wahoo. Jigging and popping are preferred for Giant Trevally, Red Bass, Barracuda, Amberjack, and more. You can also catch these species from shore, mainly by beach casting, live bait fishing, and fly fishing. Strong braided line is recommended, since these fish put up a strong fight!
Pole and Line Fishing
While typically reserved for commercial fishing, Tuna may also be targeted by the traditional pole and line technique. Commercial fishermen use 10-15’ bamboo poles fitted with a fishing line, a barbless hook, and a feather. After luring Tuna to the dhoni with live bait, these fishermen cast their lines and target the fish one-by-one. You shouldn’t expect to try this method on a typical fishing charter, but it’s possible to find a crew that offers trips specifically for visitors interested in the pole and line technique.
Bottom fishing with hand lines is the typical method for reef fishing in the Maldives, traditionally aboard a dhoni or a smaller vessel called a bokkuraa. Depending on the species, techniques may include deep drop jigging, live bait fishing, or fishing with cut bait. Some anglers prefer feathered hooks with no bait for catching Green Jobfish.
A Maldives fishing charter gives you the chance to try your hand at any of these techniques. Whether you’re in the market for an authentic hands-on experience or a decadent vacation on the waves, your next adventure is waiting here!
Maldives Fishing Seasons
January marks the height of dry season, when Maldives big game fishing is at its peak! This is a great time to hook into GT, Sailfish, Marlin, Wahoo, Mahi Mahi, Yellowfin Tuna, and more.
Big game fishing will start winding down toward the end of the month. Be sure to get in on the action while you can! Marlin, Wahoo, Mahi Mahi, Tuna, and plenty of other fish are still biting.
The peak season may be ending, but you’re still likely to land a Barracuda, Sailfish, and much more. If you’re not having any luck offshore, try hitting the flats for some GT action!
As dry season comes to a close, be sure to keep an eye on the weather forecast in case of heavy rain. You’re less likely to make it offshore to catch Yellowfin Tuna, Marlin, Wahoo, and Mahi Mahi at this time.
When the weather is fair, May can be a great time to catch GT and Barracuda. Your chances of catching other big game fish are slim, but the reefs can still be promising.
For light tackle and fly anglers, GT fishing on the flats never fails to disappoint! Wait for a break in the weather and head out to the shallow turquoise waters for some fun.
Don’t let a sunny morning fool you at this time of year—severe storms can linger just over the horizon at the peak of wet season. It’s best to stay inshore and see what the flats and reefs have in store.
Wet season is far from over, but big game fishing is starting to pick up again. If the weather allows, you might have a chance to reel in Tuna, Mahi Mahi, Sailfish, and more.
The peak season for Maldives big game fishing is inching closer and closer. All the trophies are biting offshore, including Tuna, Wahoo, and Mahi Mahi. Marlin are still scarce.
With wet season drawing to a close, Yellowfin Tuna and Mahi Mahi are biting more than ever. As always, you can count on great action inshore while fishing for Barracuda and GT.
There’s no better time for big game fishing in the Maldives! Marlin are appearing offshore, joining the ranks of Sailfish, Wahoo, Tuna, Mahi Mahi, and much more.
A tropical holiday getaway may be just the thing you need this year! Ditch the crowds on shore and head out to sea for Marlin, GT, Tuna, Sailfish, and plenty of other trophies.