Fishing on Your Caribbean Yacht Charter
Fishing is a popular activity for many charter guests who love being able to pursue this favorite pastime while out on the water. The Caribbean Sea abounds with fishing opportunities. The migration of species, as well as the natural abundance of fish means that something is always in season. Depending on the type of fishing you are interested in, certain destinations are preferable for fishing charters. There are other considerations to be aware of as well that should be considered as you begin planning your charter.
Types of Fishing Charters
Charter yachts that offer fishing range from those decked out with all possible amenities including top-of-the-line fishing gear for deep sea fishing, a fully rigged and powerful tender to get to the best spots quickly, and experienced crew who know the best places to go and can help land the “big one.” These types of charter yachts are most prevalent in the Bahamas.
On the other hand, there are many charter yachts that offer fishing on a more casual basis, with fishing rods, trolling lines and crew that are also fishing enthusiasts and happy to help guide you to the best spots. This type of fishing is available in most Caribbean destinations, with the greatest number of charter yachts that offer fishing based in the US Virgin Islands.
If you are interested in fishing on your yacht charter, be sure to discuss this with your charter broker who can help guide you to the best yacht and crew for the type of fishing you are interested in.
Fishing Permits & Regulations
One of the first considerations to be aware of is whether a fishing permit is required in the destination where you wish to charter. For example, the British Virgin Islands is very strict about fishing due to the close proximity of the islands, potential over-fishing, and other concerns. Guests age 18 and over who want to fish need to submit an application and pay a fee to receive a Pleasure Fishing License. In addition, charter yachts that offer fishing are required to have a Vessel Fishing License which must be renewed annually. Your charter broker can tell you whether or not a permit is required in your destination of choice. If a permit is required, they are happy to assist you with the application process.
In general, most destinations do not allow spearfishing, although the Bahamas allows use of a “Hawaiian” sling. It is never legal to use scuba gear to fish. Marine parks and preserves are always off-limits and there may be limits and/or seasons for particular species, i.e. conch and lobster.
Photo by Sean Cotton.
Can I Eat the Fish?
A frequent question that comes up is whether you can eat the fish you catch. Most ocean fish caught while trolling in deep water such as tuna or mahi mahi can be transformed by the chef into a fresh delectable meal onboard. However, many reef fish in the northern regions of the Caribbean - especially in the British Virgin Islands - are infected with ciguatera, a neurological toxin which can cause nausea, pain and neurological symptoms when ingested. Barracuda is particularly susceptible to this toxin. Cooking the fish does not destroy the toxin. For this reason, unless you know the fish you catch is safe to eat, “catch and release” is encouraged. Fortunately, crew aboard yachts that offer fishing are knowledgeable of which fish are safe to eat and which to release.
Here is an overview of fishing conditions in each of the popular Caribbean charter destinations.
Bahamas – Exumas
The Bahamas is one of the top destinations in the Caribbean for deep sea fishing in the deep waters of the Exuma Sound. A number of large motor yachts have their own fully rigged tender to go after marlin, wahoo, tuna, mahi mahi, and other sportfish. Inside the shallow waters of the Bahamas Banks, expect to catch Spanish mackerel, barracuda, small snappers, trigger fish, and blue runners. Bone fishing is said to be some of the best in the world. It’s strictly catch and release. Spearfishing with a Hawaiian sling around the stunning reefs can be visually amazing as well as rewarding.
Check out these luxury charter yachts that offer fishing charters in the Exumas:
- 114 Ft. Brandi-Wine: Full sport fishing set on the towed tender. Heavy and light gear.
- 138 Ft. Miss Stephanie: 2022 39’ yellowfin center console rigged for fishing with a dive door for easy water access. Offshore and light tackle. Hawaiian sling spearfishing gear.
- 83 Ft. Blue Gryphon: Fishing equipment including deep sea fishing rods.
US Virgin Islands
The US Virgin Islands are known for having some of the best game fishing in the world. In fact, over 21 world fishing records have been set here. Two well-known offshore fishing areas are the North Drop, about 20 miles north of St. Thomas; and the South Drop, 8 miles south of St. Thomas. Offshore fishing is in pursuit of Marlin, Sailfish, Mahi-Mahi, Wahoo and Tuna. Inshore fishing catches include Kingfish, Barracuda, Mackerel, Tarpon and Yellow Snapper.
Check out these luxury charter yachts that offer fishing in the USVI:
- 105 Ft. Outta Touch: Trolling and spinning rods.
- 64 Ft. Colette: Offshore/spin casting.
- 62 Ft. The Pursuit: Trolling and casting.
British Virgin Islands
The BVI also has world-class offshore sport fishing but it is located outside the charter cruising area, inside the island group. For offshore fishing, it is best to choose a yacht with a high-speed tender rigged for this type of fishing, or you can book a full or half day deep sea fishing charter with a local operator who specializes in these types of charters.
As noted earlier, there are strict regulations about fishing which include the requirement of a fishing license for anyone 18 years or older, as well as a fishing vessel permit required for the charter yacht.
For fishing enthusiasts visiting the BVIs, ideally your itinerary will include a visit to Anegada since this is a perfect opportunity to drag a line while on the open water to catch surface-feeding fish such as Spanish mackerel and kingfish. There is also excellent bone fishing around Anegada. Saltwater fly fishing is popular for permit and tarpon.
Check out these luxury charter yachts that offer fishing charters in the BVI:
- 64 Ft. Jan's FeLion: Rod and reels.
- 56 Ft. Altesse: Trolling and casting.
- 56 Ft. Ebb & Flow: Trolling, casting and fly.
A yacht charter itinerary around St. Martin, St. Barth’s, Antigua, Mustique and the other nearby Leeward islands, you will travel across deep water. The chance of catching larger fish means a great opportunity to catch your own dinner. Deep water begins just a few miles offshore and is good for wahoo and mahi mahi
The shallow reefs and rocky outcrops around St. Martin and St. Barts, are prime spots for snapper, grouper, and barracuda.
Here are some of the luxury charter yachts that offer fishing charters from St. Martin:
Southern Caribbean: St Lucia, Grenadines & Grenada
The southernmost cruising area of the Caribbean does not disappoint when it comes to great fishing opportunities. Some of the best places to fish include:
- St. Lucia: Deep water game fishing is within a few miles of the island. You can expect to catch Dorado, Wahoo, blue Marlin and Tuna.
- Bequia: It has an abundance of kingfish, barracuda, and sailfish.
- Mayreau: The waters that surround it are teeming with a variety of fish species including marlin, sailfish, and tuna.
- Canouan: Known for its excellent fly-fishing opportunities. The island's crystal-clear waters are home to bonefish, permit, and tarpon.
- Grenada: Its waters are home to a wide variety of game fish, including blue marlin, white marlin, sailfish, mahi-mahi, wahoo, and tuna. The Spice Island Billfish Tournament has been an annual event since 1964. Grenada is also known for its excellent fly fishing. The flats around the island offer ideal conditions particularly for bonefish and permit.
Check out these luxury charter yachts that offer fishing charters in this region:
If you are interested in fishing while on your yacht charter, our team of experts can help you find the most suitable yacht!