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Top Fishing Charters in Montego Bay

Fishing in Montego Bay

The thing that makes Montego Bay fishing special is the simple fact that you can fish in 1,000 feet of water less than a mile from the shore. The town faces directly onto the Cayman Trench and has easy access to some of the deepest waters in the Caribbean. Originally named “Fairweather Gulf” by Christopher Colombus, the area is also protected from the strong southeasterly trade winds which sweep across much of the southern coast of the island.

Known For

Deep waters, calm seas, and a stunning view to enjoy while you fish? Sounds too good to be true! Unfortunately, the area has suffered from a long history of overfishing and no longer boasts the huge hauls of decades past. There still is a decent population of a variety of pelagic and reef species if you come at the right time. 

What can I catch?

With waters this deep, it should come as no surprise that the main focus of most Montego Bay fishing is Marlin. Blue and White Marlin can both be found offshore, tagging each other out over the course of the year. Monster Blue Marlin are rarely seen in Montego Bay, with most fish weighing in around the 100-150-pound mark - even the island record is “only” 590 lbs. But what they lack in size, they make up for in number, and in breeding season you can expect multiple hits even on a half day trip.
And it’s not just Marlin you will find offshore. The waters are home to plenty of other big game species, including Mahi Mahi, Wahoo, and Yellowfin Tuna. Down in the depths you will find several species of Grouper and Snapper, as well as big Amberjack and Barracuda patrolling the deep-water banks and rocks. 

When should I go?

All the species mentioned so far can theoretically be caught all year round. However, with declining populations of many of the areas key species, you will be hard-pressed to find a decent specimen when they are not at peak season. 
Blue Marlin are found in their biggest numbers in the fall and from August to October you can often get multiple hits even on a half day. The biggest fish are said to be caught in June. Older females as large as 300lb can be caught this time of year, although the odds of catching a fish are much lower. White Marlin are at their best in February and March and as soon as they drift on the Mahi Mahi move in to take their place. 
Essentially, you head out can any time from the beginning of Spring to the end of Fall and expect to catch something exciting, as long as you’re not bothered about what exactly it is. If you do visit Jamaica in the winter (and seeing as it’s peak tourist season, chances are you will) you can still get in some productive bottom fishing, dropping lines a thousand feet or more to target the weird and wonderful creatures which dwell in the deepest waters of the Cayman Trench.

How much will it cost?

Montego Bay Charters vary in price, and you really do get what you pay for. You can find a half day trip for $500 but it may end up being more of a booze cruise than a fishing trip. If you are serious about catching big fish you can find some great boats with professional crews starting at around $700-$800 for a four-hour trip.
Full day trips usually cost around double the half days and mostly target the same waters. If all you want is to catch some big fish on a budget then you might have more fun fighting Amberjack and Grouper on a half day than chasing elusive Marlin on a full day. The more high-end charters will head further offshore on a full day, though, fishing in as much as a thousand fathoms for the big Blue Marlin who reportedly shy away from the Jamaican coast.


Rules & Regulations

There is no specific sportfishing license in Jamaica, so will be covered by the boat’s fishing license aboard registered Montego Bay Fishing Charters. Sportfishing is not very well-regulated in Jamaica and what few strict restrictions there are normally apply to the harvesting of conchs and other commercial activities, rather than the protection of billfish. Marlin can be kept and sold and ecologically-aware anglers are advised to agree what will happen to any fish caught before your trip. All other catch is either kept by the boat or split between the crew and the clients.

Types of Fishing

Most charters in the area do not supply live bait. You can catch it on the trip, fish with lures, or bring along fly tackle (depending on the species). If you are planning on deep sea fishing Montego Bay then you will be almost exclusively trolling. Many of the cheaper boats are in need of an upgrade and the gear they use may have seen better days. The more established charters do have proper equipment, though, and their crews are much more versatile in the techniques they employ. This is here the more high-end options start looking better value.
Deep dropping is a big deal in Montego Bay, which should come as no surprise considering how quickly the ocean floor drops. Electric reels are a necessity when fishing for deep-water fish like big Groupers and Tilefish and are popular among charters in the area. You will usually be using cut bait to tempt in these greedy bottom species, kicking back with a Red Stripe and a cigar and bringing up your hooks every so often to check the bait. It may not sound like the most exciting way to fish, but it sure is a nice way to spend the day.
Montego Bay
Based on 9459 reviews by FishingBooker anglers

Montego Bay Fishing Seasons

The big game bite may not be at its best in January but you can catch some great bottom fish like Grouper and Amberjack then head to the Air Jamaica Jazz & Blues Festival for some awesome live music.

Montego Bay is home to some of the world's most beautiful sailboats in February, as the Pineapple Cup stops off on its way to Havana. As if that enough, this is also peak White Marlin season!

The Montego Bay Yacht Club's Easter Regatta brings pleasure cruisers from all over and the White Marlin are still biting hard, making March an awesome time to visit.

There's a lot going on in Montego Bay in April. Carnival fever hits the town in a whirlwind of color and music. It's easy to escape the crowds if you choose to, though, with plenty of big Mahi Mahi waiting offshore.

Offshore you have Mahi Mahi, Wahoo, and Yellowfin Tuna, as well as a variety of weird and wonderful bottom fish. The tourist high season is over, too, so you won't have to fight for fishing space.

Although the biggest numbers of Blue Marlin arrive later on, the largest fish are said to be caught in June. With a bit of luck, you could find yourself hooked on a 300-pounder. Are you up for the gamble?

July is the calm before the storm when it comes to big game fishing. The Reggae Sumfest provides plenty of action on land though, commonly heralded as "the greatest reggae show on earth" and certainly great fun.

August kick off the Blue Marlin season, with huge numbers of fish flocking to the area to breed. They may be no bigger than 150lbs but they still put up a serious fight, making this a great month offshore.

September is tournament season in Montego Bay, with the Montego Bay Yacht Club International Marlin Tournament and Jamaica International Blue Marlin Team Tournament drawing huge crowds to the area.

Although September is peak time for tournament fishing, October is often actually more productive for Blue Marlin. This is no secret, though, and you will want to book well in advance this time of year.

The Blue Marlin bite winds down in November but you can still get in some good catches offshore. Otherwise, you can drop some lines down into the deep for the chance of some tasty bottom fish.

Montego Bay is a great destination for the holiday season. Warm weather, a relaxed atmosphere, and plenty of tasty reef fish lurking in the deep. Even if you don't catch anything it will be a wat to spend the day.

Montego Bay Fishing Calendar

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What People Are Saying About Montego Bay

"Half Day Trip with Captain Craig"

Paul G. fished with Reel Magic Sports Fishing on February 13, 2019

REEL MAGIC. They are a great group of guys.

"6 hours"

Chase G. fished with Marlin Madness on July 24, 2018

Pay for the 4 hour and upgrade based on action.

"Marlin Madness derinetly boat to take"

Randy R. fished with Marlin Madness on June 19, 2018

Marlin madness takes care of everything Might want to bring gloves to reel in the big one!

"Fishing with Craig"

Stefan A. L. fished with Reel Magic Sports Fishing on March 27, 2018

Don’t go with a low budget outfit under $600 for 1/2 day. Make sure you are clear on what you want: trolling vs deep dive. If you want to keep the fish, make sure that is allowed and that the crew will clean it. Avoid outfits that offer snorkeling and drinking if you really want to catch fish.

Top Fishing Techniques in Montego Bay

  1. Deep Sea Fishing

Top Targeted Species in Montego Bay

Dolphin (Mahi Mahi)

Tuna (Yellowfin)

King Mackerel (Kingfish)

Marlin (Blue)