Best time for marlin fishing: Your Guide to Fishing for Marlin, Sailfish and other Florida Billfish
Your Guide to Fishing for Marlin, Sailfish and other Florida Billfish
By Lauren Tjaden
Legendary for their power and size, marlin, sailfish and other Florida billfish are elusive, grand creatures, the ultimate prize in high-octane offshore sport fishing. Epic adventure calls to those who dare to venture to the plunging, prolific waters off Florida’s coastlines in search of these spectacular trophy fish and unparalleled excitement.
With more coastline than any other state except Alaska, its proximity to the Gulf Stream, and geological features like ‘The Wall’ in the Florida Keys, where the ocean floor plunges suddenly from 950 to 2,000 feet, Florida offers some of the most spectacular billfishing in the world.
Here’s where to learn about each species and what makes it special as well as when, where and how to catch it. You’ll also find information on guide services and tournaments — so you can hook into this thrilling blockbuster escapade and your very own marlin, sailfish, swordfish or spearfish.
Marlin and Spearfish | Sailfish | Swordfish | Guide Services | Tournaments
At up to 16 feet and 1,400 pounds, the Blue Marlin is the largest Atlantic marlin species and is revered as the World’s supreme gamefish.
– Drambuie Key West Marlin Tournament
MARLIN AND SPEARFISH
At up to 16 feet and 1,400 pounds, the Blue Marlin is the largest Atlantic marlin species and is revered as the world’s supreme gamefish. Females are normally bigger than the males – up to four times bigger – but both sexes are inspired fighters and will make you earn every inch of the line. If you hook one of these monsters, you’d best be rigged heavy and be prepared to battle for four to six hours to land it. You’ll need skill, strength, and patience to persevere in this showdown of a lifetime.
American author Ernest Hemingway knew something about these grueling clashes; he was a fervent deep-sea fisherman who frequently spent more than half his year afloat on the Straits of Florida and held several records for catching marlin. Hemingway often featured these striking blue and silver beauties in his books, including The Old Man and the Sea, which chronicles a heroic struggle between an aging fisherman named Santiago and an enormous marlin. The book was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1953 and made Hemingway an international celebrity.
Blue Marlins have blue-black backs that blend into silver-white bellies, and the tips of their dorsal, pectoral and anal fins are pointed. Their upper jaw stretches into a spear shape.
These giants of the deep feed mostly on fish and squid, hunting alone and usually during the day, sometimes using their lengthy, sharp bills to pierce or stun their prey.
The Florida state record for a Blue Marlin is a whopping 1,046 pounds, caught near Panama City.
While it’s the smallest of the marlins, the White Marlin is still enormous, measuring up to nine and a half feet and weighing up to 180 pounds. Known for their feisty dispositions and jaw-dropping leaps, these native fish are dark blue to brown on their backs, which blends into silvery-white bellies.
If you haven’t fished for marlin before, you should consider getting your fins wet with a White Marlin before you rival a behemoth Blue.
White Marlins use their bills to daze squid and pelagic fishes before eating them, ranging throughout the Atlantic and Caribbean.
The Florida state record for a White Marlin is 161 pounds, caught near Miami Beach.
Often misidentified as White Marlin, Roundscale Spearfish are a separate species, though they’re a similar size, commonly 62 to 70 inches in length and 45 to 65 pounds.
How can you tell them apart? The individual scales of a Roundscale Spearfish are far more distinct than those of a White Marlin, which are barely noticeable.
Roundscale Spearfish feed mostly on squids, flying fish, and sardines.
Where to Go to Catch Marlin and Spearfish
If you venture far enough off of Florida’s coastlines, no matter which one, you can find marlin — but you have to be willing to take a longer boat ride to find the best spots in some places, because these trophy fish love deep water and the open ocean.
Two Florida areas always the top the list for catching marlin, time-proven grounds that have become legend.
The first is the Destin, Panama City Beach and Mexico Beach area of Northwest Florida, where the Panhandle begins its graceful curve to the south. It’s no coincidence a charter boat captain from Destin caught his record-breaking 1,046-pound Blue Marlin in those gorgeous, clear waters. Likewise, there are obvious reasons why the area is home to multiple prestigious billfish tournaments and why Destin’s nickname is the “World’s luckiest fishing village.”
The Florida Keys, and especially Key West, are equally renowned for reeling in these prized catches. One of the primary reasons is Woods Wall, located a mere 20 miles south of Key West. “The Wall,” as it’s known, marks the edge of the continental shelf, where the ocean plunges abruptly from 950 feet to 2000 feet, making it the perfect feeding ground for hungry Marlin.
Other popular fishing destinations in the Florida Keys include Key Largo, Big Pine Key, Little Torch Key and Marathon—and don’t forget Islamorada, aptly dubbed the ‘”Sport Fishing Capital of the World. “
When You Should Go to Catch Marlin and Spearfish
May to October is considered high season for Marlin fishing, and late July to October is ideal. The prime time for a rod-bending catch near The Wall is the latter part of August, when adult Marlin congregate there. Low season is January to March and October to December.
If you’re headed to Northwest Florida and the Panhandle, a bit later in the year is perfect, and October is rated as the most productive month.
How to Catch Marlin and Spearfish
Catching marlin isn’t a one-man or woman operation. Be aware that you’ll need at least two people – the captain, who handles the boat, and the angler, who focuses on the rod, reel and fish. If a mate is there to help, all the better for your chances of landing a billfish.
The most productive system for catching marlin is trolling lures and rigged baits at a vigorous pace from three to 20 miles offshore. It’s best to troll with 50 to 80-pound tackle, and use high-quality, large-volume wide reels with generous line capacity, just to have a fair chance if you hook into a big gamefish. If you hook a marlin of even 200 pounds, it can run away with 200 to 300 yards of line in only seconds. If you have a weak spot in your line, the fish will be sure to bring it to your attention in the worst possible way.
Good knot tying is a vital skill. Form your double line with a Bimini Twist. Rough guidelines are to use four feet of double line on 30- and 50-pound tackle, and six to eight feet on 80- and 130-pound tackle. Don’t even think about using snap swivels; heavy duty swivels are the way to go.
Remember, in big game fishing, big baits attract big fish, so 14 to 20-inch lures with large profiles are the rule when you’re aiming to reel in a jaw-dropping beast.
With bragging rights as Florida’s official saltwater fish, the iconic Sailfish is utterly unique, with an imposing, sail-like steel-blue dorsal fin that runs nearly the length of its back as well as a long, spear-like bill.
With bragging rights as Florida’s official saltwater fish, the iconic sailfish is utterly unique, with an imposing, sail-like, steel-blue dorsal fin that runs nearly the length of its back and a long, spear-like bill. Stunning to the eye, this prized fish has a dark violet-blue body that blends into lighter hues of blue-gray or blue-brown on its sides and a delicate silvery white on its belly. While these strong fighters can be up to 11 feet in length and as heavy as 220 pounds, they’re more commonly six or seven feet and closer to 50 pounds.
Unbelievably athletic, this fish can tail-walk some 50 feet across the surface of the water. Its speed — upwards of 60 mph — combined with its magnificent looks and acrobatic jumps make a sailfish fishing expedition irresistible for both seasoned anglers and novices.
Sailfish are a quickly growing species that reach four or five feet in a single year, feeding aggressively on small fish and squid. In the summer, off southeast Florida, Sailfish migrate inshore to shallow water and spawn close to the surface.
The Florida state record for a Sailfish is 126 pounds, caught near Big Pine Key.
Where to Go to Catch Sailfish
You’ll find prime sailfish fishing on Florida’s southern Atlantic coast and especially the Treasure Coast, home to the suitably named “Sailfish Alley. ’” This billfish thoroughfare is just three miles and half an hour from the coast, with Fort Pierce on its northern point and Miami on its southern point. Fort Pierce, Jupiter, West Palm Beach, Jensen Beach and Stuart, (the official Sailfish Capital of the World) are all superb choices for a Sailfish expedition.
The Gulf Stream moves further away from the coast the further north you go, and if you travel as far north as St. Augustine, you’ll need to boat 50 miles to access it.
Other notable areas include The Florida Keys, particularly Islamorada and the middle Keys, where you can hook into Sailfish only four miles offshore, and the Destin area of Northwest Florida.
When You Should Go to Catch Sailfish
The weather, and specifically cold fronts, determine Sailfish season in Florida. The fish appear en masse in Sailfish Alley soon after the first big cold front, typically in November, and stay until the last front blows through, which can range from February to late March.
The best months have proved to be January, February, July, November and December. The least productive months are April, May and October.
Check out this article for more information: Sailfish Season in Florida.
How to Catch Sailfish
Slender enough to fit into the sailfish’s small mouth, and abundant in winter, the ballyhoo is a popular choice for bait.
The most common method to hook a sailfish in Sailfish Alley is trolling, as you can cover a lot of water. Trolling usually includes using a dredge, which consists of umbrella shaped wires rigged with numerous live or dead baits. When pulled through the water, the dredge mimics a school of bait fish — which to a sailfish means a hearty meal. You don’t need to limit yourself to one dredge, but don’t use more than you can watch.
Keep your eyes peeled: When a sailfish spots your dredge and comes after it, the action begins in earnest.
As the fish approaches, you need to remove the dredge from the water and straightaway substitute it with a Ballyhoo rig. A skilled captain can be instrumental in figuring out the right moment.
Kite fishing for sailfish is favored south of Jupiter, employing a kite to fly above the water while your bait is suspended below the surface. When the fish strikes, your line will pull free from the clips fastened to the kite line.
In the Florida Keys, watching for a “shower of Ballyhoo” is a time-honored method to catch Sailfish. When you see a school of bait fish – usually Wahoo or Ballyhoo – desperately leaping out of the water to avoid be eaten by sailfish, cast a line rigged with Ballyhoo into the frenzy.
As the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission points out, Sailfish tire easily and should be revived after a long fight to ensure their survival. Most anglers release these fish.
The hard-hitting Swordfish is known for feats like rocketing out of the water from a depth of 500 feet in a millisecond, and then immediately diving back down to the same depth, guaranteeing an adrenalin laden battle.
– Rick Sorensen at www.gophotofish.com
The swordfish is a behemoth, measuring up to 15 feet in length and weighing as much as 1,400 pounds, though the average is significantly less, ranging from 50 to 200 pounds. Found from the surface to below 2,000 feet, these deep-sea fish dive to staggering depths to feast on a smorgasbord of fish and squid, employing their swordlike bills to slash and stun their victims.
This prized fish is usually a deep brown to purple color, which fades to a lighter hue underside, and it doesn’t have pelvic fins, scales or teeth. One of the most coveted fish by anglers and foodies alike, it can be readily identified by its elongated, sword-like bill, purple hue, and cylindrical build. Its eyes are large, perfect for utilizing any sliver of light in the depths of the ocean.
More powerful than other members of the Billfish family, swordfish possess extra strength in the base of their tails.
This hard-hitting billfish is known for feats like rocketing out of the water from a depth of 500 feet in seconds, and then immediately diving back down to the same depth, guaranteeing an adrenalinize battle.
The Florida state record for a Swordfish is 612 pounds and 12 ounces, caught near Key Largo.
Where to Go to Catch Swordfish
The vast majority of swordfish caught in Florida are on the Atlantic coast. These giants gravitate to frigid, extremely deep water in the 1,000 to 1,500-foot range that can be found in the middle of the Gulf Stream and Straits of Florida. The Jupiter area down to Key West are your best bets.
When You Should Go to Catch Swordfish
You can reel in a Sword all year long in Florida.
How to Catch Swordfish
Be forewarned, fishing for swordfish isn’t for the fainthearted, and landing one of these marvelous monsters is not only thrilling but perilous.
In the daytime hours, swordfish stay in the depths of the ocean, and catching them requires an abundance of line and patience. But under the cover of darkness they’ll swim up to 500 feet, or even less in search of a meal, where anglers aim to catch them drift fishing. Fishing at night for swordfish many times involves lights as well as heavy hooks drifted with balloons to help you notice the strike.
Use your bottom finder to search for hills, valleys or other structure; that’s where your potential catch will be hunting for a meal. It’s best to use a few lines at multiple depths and drift with the Gulf Stream on a northerly crawl using a sea anchor to slow your speed. Anchoring isn’t possible with the extreme depths you’ll be fishing, and besides, you’ll want to cover some ground.
A big boat and gear to match are necessities to land an enormous swordfish. You’ll need 80-pound test line on trolling reels with heavy trolling rods, and downriggers or breakaway weights to sink your bait down to the fish. 9/0 J-hooks tied to 12-foot, 300-pound test mono leader tied to 80-pound mono line are recommended for success. If you’re fishing at night, attach a plastic glow stick to your leader to tempt bait fish, which in turn attract swords. Attaching safety lines to your rods is smart; they’ll stop the formidable swordfish from removing your gear from the boat while it performs aerobatics.
A chum line laden with live and dead baits, including Mullet, Herring, Bonito, Goggle-Eyes, Mackerel, Squid, Eels and Deepwater Hake can useful to tempt the Swordfish.
Substantial gloves and long gaffs are essential. You should tie your landing gaff or harpoon to a large poly ball or a cleat for easy retrieval.
Local fishing guides will have a wealth of knowledge and experience recognizing billfish migration patterns and where your potential catch is located. If it’s your first-time fishing in the Sunshine State or you haven’t fished for marlin, sailfish or swordfish before, then an experienced captain and competent crew will be invaluable. Charters ensure you’ll have an appropriate boat, suitable fishing equipment and fishing licenses. Check to see if food and drink are provided or you’ll need to supply your own.
You’ve got a wealth of trips and prices to choose from. You can expect to book an eight-hour excursion for about $1,000–$1,200. Longer expeditions from 10-18 hours are commonly in the $1,500–$2,700 price range. Multi-day excursions can run between $1,500–$6,000 per day for a group, depending on the charter and the specifics.
Remember that the waters can be choppy in the open ocean, so pack sea sickness medicine if you’re not accustomed to the bounce.
To get started, check out our list of Florida Fishing Charters.
The Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic in Sandestin is one of several prestigious area events.
Whether you’re looking for a tournament with immense marlin, robust competition, rich payoffs or great parties, you’re bound to find it in Florida. Check out a few of these favorite tournaments…
PENSACOLA INTERNATIONAL BILLFISH TOURNAMENT, PENSACOLA: Held the final weekend of June at the celebrated Palafox Pier in Pensacola, this long running event is dedicated to offering a highly affordable and family friendly tournament on the Gulf Coast. Brimming with superb fishing, generous crowds and award celebrations laden with cash and prizes, it has a limit of eight different types of fish, which include swordfish, sailfish, wahoo, tuna, and dolphin.
OLD SALT LOOP TOURNAMENT, MADEIRA BEACH: Nicknamed the ‘Iron Man of Billfishing Tournaments,’ this annual August event has been a celebrated highlight on the circuit for close to 50 years. This prestigious, all-release billfish tournament is rich in tradition, promising intense competition and rivalry as well as superb fishing.
EMERALD COAST BLUE MARLIN CLASSIC, SANDESTIN: Purses topping well over one-million dollars, a mind-blowing Sunday morning brunch and a stunning location on a white-sand beach combine to make this June event a must-do for some of the best teams in sport-fishing.
KEY WEST MARLIN TOURNAMENT, KEY WEST: Billed as ‘A World Class Fishing Extravaganza’ this tournament lives up to the hype, offering substantial prizes and action on and off the water. It runs simultaneously with Hemingway Days and delivers nightly fun that includes a fish fry, a pig roast and awards banquet.
Florida Billfish Tournament Calendar
To discover what will be happening when you splash into town, take a peek at this calendar:
Florida East Coast
Lenny Schelin Memorial Tournament, Fort Pierce
Gold Cup Invitational Fishing Tournament, Palm Beach, Marlin Madness Qualifying Event
Fish for Holly Sailfish Tournament, Islamorada
Silver Sailfish Derby, West Palm Beach, Marlin Madness Qualifying Event
Operation Sailfish, Singer Island, Marlin Madness Qualifying Event
Reef Cup Invitational Sailfish Tournament, Key Largo
Islamorada Fishing Club Captain’s Cup Sailfish Tournament, Islamorada, Marlin Madness Qualifying Event
Buccaneeer Cup, Singer Island, Marlin Madness Qualifying Event
Cheeca Lodge Presidential, Islamorada, Marlin Madness Qualifying Event
Islamorada Women’s Sailfish Tournament, Date TBD, Islamorada
Emeril Lagasse Foundation’s Line, Vine and Dine, Fort Lauderdale,
IGFA Light Tackle Open, Palm Beach Shores
Sailfish Challenge, Ft. Lauderdale, Marlin Madness Qualifying Event
Jimmy Johnson National Billfish Champ., Key Largo, Marlin Madness Qualifying Event
Ocean Reef Sailfish Classic, Key Largo
Viking Yachts Key West Challenge, Key West, Marlin Madness Qualifying Event
Final Sail, Miami Beach, Marlin Madness Qualifying Event
Northeast Florida Marlin Association Bluewater Tournament, St. Augustine, Offshore World Championship Qualifying Event
Key West Marlin Tournament, Key West, Marlin Madness Qualifying Event
Hope Town United Sailfish Tournament, Singer Island
Saltwater Sisters Ladies Tournament, Date: TBD, Stuart
Bluewater Babes Fish for a Cure, Date: TBD, Jupiter, Marlin Madness Qualifying Event
Pirate’s Cove Sailfish Classic, Date: TBD, Stuart
Islamorada Sailfish Tournament, Date: TBD, Islamorada, Marlin Madness Qualifying Event
Stuart Sailfish Club Light Tackle Tournament, Date: TBD, Stuart, Marlin Madness Qualifying Event
Florida’s Gulf Coast
Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic, Sandestin, Marlin Madness Qualifying Event
Pensacola International Billfish Tournament, Pensacola, Marlin Madness Qualifying Event
White Marlin Shootout, Date: TBD, Pensacola, Marlin Madness Qualifying Event
Old Salt LOOP Tournament, Madeira Beach, Marlin Madness and Offshore World Championship Qualifying Event
When Is the Best Time to Catch Marlin?
Marlin fish offer some of the best sport fishing experiences that any fishing enthusiast could ever hope for. This type of fish is often considered the “holy grail” of sport fishing because of how large, powerful, and challenging these fish are to catch.
To improve your odds of catching one, you’ll want to work with our experienced local captain and plan your trip at the right time of year. Here are some tips for the best time to catch Marlin!
Types of Marlin in Panama
The Gulf of Chiriquí is home to both Black Marlin and Blue Marlin. These are distinctly different types of fish that vary in terms of speed, size, appearance, and location. Black Marlin fish are slower swimmers, have shorter dorsal fins, and are usually found closer to the surface of the water. Meanwhile, Blue Marlin fish are more difficult to catch, have thinner bills, and prefer to be in deep water.
Where to Fish for Marlin in Our Area
The Gulf of Chiriquí is an ideal place to look for Marlin fish and many other species of fish because of the undersea structure, currents, and nutrient-rich waters here. One of our favorite places to take people for Marlin fishing is Hannibal Bank, which is one of the top spots on the planet to catch both Marlin and Tuna. We’ll often see Black Marlin on the surface feeding at Hannibal Bank in this region, which is perfect for all your big game aspirations.
Timing Your Trip
Fortunately, there really is no “bad” time of the year to fish for Marlin. We catch Marlin during every month!
However, a lot of the Marlin we catch are between November and February and then again between July through September. November through February is a great time because of the high bait concentrations around Hannibal Bank and Isla Montuosa. Here in Panama, we experience our wet season around July through September, which is a great time to fish for Marlin too because it’s when the females come to spawn and when there’s less boat traffic.
Best Conditions to Catch Marlin
Marlin fish gravitate toward water that is between 70 and 85 degrees. This is why we are able to run fishing trips all throughout the year here in Panama. These are aggressive and predatory fish that we are often successful in catching with artificial lures. However, we also use live bait in small fishing areas while trolling where fish congregate. We know all the best tips and tricks for catching Marlin in various conditions and can’t wait to show you!
Book Your Marlin Fishing Trip
Sport fishing in Panama is unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before. To make trip planning easy and fun, we also offer lodge accommodations that are secluded, modern, and luxurious. When you stay with us, you’ll have everything from hot water showers to air conditioning, Wi-Fi, stocked beverage refrigerators, and daily laundry service.
Contact us to schedule your Marlin fishing adventure today!
Marlin fishing – tricks and tips
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Marlin is a large and strong fish , which is a coveted trophy in saltwater sport fishing. On the fight, it resists extremely actively and gives the angler an unforgettable experience, so marlin fishing is very popular.
The first place in the list of coveted trophies is blue marlin. This fish often reaches a weight of half a ton with a length of 4-5 meters, although specimens weighing up to 250 kilograms are more common. The world record held by the International Anglers Association is 637 kg.
In addition to the impressive size of , blue marlin is distinguished by strength and endurance. During the fight, he behaves aggressively and fights to the end. Close to the blue marlin both in size and combat qualities, its closest relative is the black marlin.
The other two species that anglers often have to deal with are the white marlin and the striped marlin. They cannot boast of impressive dimensions; specimens that are caught on hooks usually weigh up to 50 kg.
However, playing them is also a very exciting and spectacular process: candles, tail dances and “long swims”, when the fish in a desperate struggle unwinds hundreds of meters of line from the reel, are provided.
Place and time of fishing
Fishing for marlin is most common off the coast of the United States, in the region of Bermuda and the Bahamas, in the Caribbean Sea, off the coast of Venezuela and Brazil.
Sometimes marlin can be caught close to the shore – with such fishing, the boat goes out into the ocean, but does not lose sight of the land. However, mainly bluefish, mackerel, yellowtail and other relatively small predators are caught directly along the coast.
And marlin spend most of their lives away from the coast, in the open ocean. It is here that they hunt, and it is in the open sea that you can get a real trophy. Experienced captains of fishing yachts know which days are the best for catching marlin and where to look for this fish. They can always choose the best place and time to fish.
The marlin fishing season in the Gulf Stream starts in April and lasts until October. Fishing yachts usually go out into the ocean at 6 am and surf the sea until 4-5 pm.
Marlin fishing requires first class tackle. Uses special powerful sea rods and reels for fishing in the ocean, the spools of which can hold up to 1.5 km of strong fishing line with a diameter of 3-4 mm. Tackle must confidently withstand the resistance of fish weighing several hundred kilograms /
An important element of sea trolling fishing are devices that provide the bait in the desired horizon – sinkers and gliders.
Special yachts with powerful engines are used for catching marlin . Boats are equipped with special mounts that can hold up to a dozen rods.
Marlin is caught with artificial lures or dead fish rigs. To determine which bait is the best today, you usually have to try different options.
Artificial lures are wobblers, octopuses, streamers. Small soft headed flies are often used to catch white or striped marlin.
Marlin rig is usually used for mullet, mackerel or tuna, as well as squid. These fairly large baits are used when hunting blue and black marlin. To catch white marlin, smaller bait is used – fish trimmings or a small fish like a fingerfish.
Also, when hunting for marlin , an artificial bait with a fish planted on it is often used.
Marlin is sometimes caught with bait bait from an anchored drifting boat, but more often trolling is used: the bait is carried by being towed by a moving boat.
During baiting, the rods are usually kept in special holders. The bite of marlin is strong and always happens unexpectedly, so it would be dangerous to hold the spinning rod in your hands – the fish can easily pull the fisherman out of the boat.
When the boat reaches the fishing point , the lures are lowered into the water, enough line is released from the reels (usually at least 100 meters). The baits are deepened, and the boat plows the sea until one of the rods bites.
After a bite and successful hooking, the boat stops and the fight begins. The fish is pumped out with a rod, and then the line is reeled up with a reel. Marlin behaves very actively on the hook and fights to the last, he rushes from side to side, abruptly goes into the depths, and then jumps out of the water with lightning speed and dances on his tail, giving the angler an unforgettable experience.
Playing a marlin is a long process, and it requires not only good tackle technique, but also stamina. In the Seychelles, fishermen say that every hundred kilograms of marlin’s weight corresponds to one hour of struggle with it, and this is usually true: a three hundred kilogram fish, for example, will have to be fought for at least three hours.
In recent years, marlin fishing has become widespread using the catch-and-release principle. In this case, after the fish is brought to the side of the boat, a tag is attached to it with information about where, by whom and when it was caught. The gills then ventilate the marlin and release it.
Truly trophy specimens are often taken ashore to be weighed. Information about them is entered in the IGFA Book of Record Fish of the World.
Marlin hunting is not cheap, but incredibly exciting and reckless. This is a dynamic, interesting and exciting fishing. Everyone who has ever managed to hold a strong and swift sea giant weighing a hundred or two kilograms on the hook will surely remember this amazing adventure for the rest of their lives.
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what to catch, when, places, prices, tips
Maldives – for many, the fishing capital. Marlin, tuna, sailfish, sea bream, barracuda and many other fish are caught here.
The underwater world of the Indian Ocean is rich and diverse: what you need to know about fishing in the Maldives if you want to return with a catch?
Book hotels in the Maldives and go fishing!
Hurawalhi Island Resort
What kind of fish is caught in the Maldives
The Maldives consist of 26 atolls, and those, in turn, consist of almost 1200 coral islands. Since ancient times, the inhabitants of the archipelago survived thanks to fishing, because in the Maldives practically nothing grows except coconuts. The bountiful Indian Ocean is home to over 1,100 species of fish, from small reef fish to huge tuna. If you fish near the shore, you can catch colorful exotic fish. And fishing excursions deep into the ocean help to return with real trophies.
The fishing industry dominates the Maldives. Mainly they fish tuna. Until the 90s, when tourism came to the Maldives, it was fishing that was the main source of income. And now it is bread for 20% of the population. In the Maldives, there is an industrial fishery company that controls the processing and export of tuna, and also provides boats for catching fish.
Most often, recreational fishermen catch yellowfin tuna, barracuda, sea bass, wahoo, sailfish, some species of sharks, blue and black marlin, swordfish and other inhabitants of the underwater world.
The best time for fishing Maldives
The Maldives attracts many tourists every year for sport trophy fishing. Many people just want to fish for their own pleasure. There are two seasons in the Maldives: summer and winter. They differ in weather conditions: currents, visibility, temperature change. The best time for fishing is the dry season, from November to March. At this time, the ocean is calm and the sea does not storm. In October, a lot of plankton appears, and then even large fish swim very close to the shore. Although now, due to global warming, it is becoming increasingly difficult to accurately determine the time of successful fishing.
Fishing in the Maldives all year round: it all depends on who the fishermen plan to catch in their nets.
- In January-April, the northeast monsoon comes and the water becomes more transparent on the eastern atolls: visibility is 30 m. Stronger currents come in February, but the sea surface is calm, and the temperature is over +30°. Tuna is best fished from October to March. The sea is calm until March-April, and then the weather changes. There are a lot of plankton.
- The southwest monsoon occurs from May to November. Excellent visibility, but the water temperature drops slightly. It is best to fish on the eastern side of the atolls, at a distance of 10-20 km from the islands. However, weather conditions are unpredictable: the sun is quickly replaced by rain and vice versa. This is the rainiest period in the Maldives.
Hideaway Beach Resort & Spa Maldives
Maldives Fishing Monthly
- January-February is the height of the dry season and the perfect time to hunt yellowfin tuna.
- In March the time of the barracuda and the sailboat comes.
- April – the end of the dry season and the beginning of the rainy season.
- May is suitable for catching barracuda. But the big fish are harder to catch.
- June – reef fishing for giant trevally. Fish are caught on poppers and jig baits.
- July – the time of severe storms. Fishermen are offered only safe fishing on the reef.
- August, September . If you’re lucky, you can catch tuna, mahi-mahi, wahoo.
- October ends the rainy season. At this time, it is better to catch mahi-mahi, yellowfin tuna, barracuda.
- November and December are ideal months to catch marlin and take photos with them.
Meeru Island Resort & Spa
Types of fishing in the Maldives
Fishing in the Maldives is varied. Here you can fish for spinning, you can go trolling, hunt sailfish, use poppers and sliders to catch a giant trevally. Fly fishing enthusiasts will take their souls: they arrange tours in shallow water, where there is a lot of albula .
- Boat fishing in the Maldives . Small traditional boats are the best suited for morning and evening fishing near the coastal zone. This is the most accessible type of fishing: rather, a group excursion offered by hotels. Suitable for those who want to go fishing, but at the same time, too lazy to spend the whole day fishing. Ideal for non-professional fishermen and anyone who wants to diversify their leisure time. Such fishing is easy to order at any hotel. But at the same time, you should not count on a big catch: as a rule, small fish are caught. From gear, they use fishing line, cargo, a hook baited with fish and squid.
- Night fishing is popular . She is often chosen by travelers, so night fishing is often called “female”. After all, how much romance in the night expedition! It’s not just catching nocturnal predators like emperor, barracuda or grouper. Even sharks and moray eels come across, which go out to fish at night. At night, it is especially difficult to pull large fish out of the water on board the vessel. In any case, the crew will come to your aid. And the fish will be prepared by local culinary experts, after which you can enjoy fish dishes under the glow of the moon. But everything that could not be eaten will have to be released back into the ocean.
- Deep Sea Fishing or Big Game Fishing . Will melt the heart of any fishing trip. Deep-sea trolling from an equipped vessel is why professionals go to the Maldives. There is an opportunity to catch a large marine predator. Of course, this is an activity for more experienced professional anglers. This type of fishing is not cheap. And a good trolling boat is not so easy to find: not all hotels have it. The boat must be specially equipped for trolling. It goes far into the Indian Ocean. Immediately specify the possibility of deep sea fishing when booking a hotel. They catch sailfish, wahoo, swordfish, barracuda, black and blue marlin, hammerhead fish, yellowfin tuna and other predators. The best option is to go on such fishing in the early morning, be sure to choose a vessel with an experienced captain who knows the most fishing spots. Fishing is carried out outside the atoll.
- Spinning . You can try your luck with large marine predators on a popper or a surface wobbler. For this, a boat on the outer side of the reefs is enough. They use powerful heavy tackle that can withstand large fish. This justifies itself: large predators are often caught, for example, the giant trevally.
- Fly fishing . This is fishing in shallow water, which is allowed only on uninhabited islands: such fishing is taboo on the coastal territory of hotels. Therefore, it is necessary to order a boat that will take you to a desert island. Some hotels provide such services to their guests, but you need to pay for the rental of the boat. Each hotel has its own price. It is best to bring equipment and tackle for this type of fishing with you or immediately check with the hotel for the possibility of renting.
- Tuna fishing . Tuna fishing is the main fishery of the Maldives. It is caught for export. The most common way of fishing is longline fishing, 90% of fish are caught this way. To do this, use bamboo or plastic rods. The bait is small forage fish or bait. So they get fish weighing up to 20 kg.
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Types of fishing
- Casting fishing with poppers and sliders. In this way they catch a giant trevally. Its average weight is 20 kg, but there are individuals under 40 kg.
- Vertical jig fishing. Get ready for fierce battles with yellowfin tuna. The average weight of such predators is 10-40 kg.
- Trolling. Predators swim to the edge of the reef because they are attracted by small fish that live along its edge. For example, a sailboat, marlin, barracuda, tuna may appear. You can catch several fish with an average weight of 30-50 kg!
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Maldivians use unusual lures. For example, marlin is caught on wooden lures that imitate the flight of a fish. In order for the bait to really attract a predator, a towing technique is used. Also, multi-colored realistic baits in the form of small fish or shellfish have become popular. Artificial bait is used when the fish are not visible. But if the fish has already shown itself, it is better to use live bait. The fish pecks at its natural food, for example, mackerel or horse mackerel. Therefore, the main thing is to find the fish itself in order to attract it with treats. By the way, many boats are equipped with echo sounders, so finding fishing spots is not difficult. It is worth throwing an edible bait to the fish and we can assume that the catch is already in the boat. For predators such as sailfish, marlin or swordfish, squid are thrown as bait.
Equipment and boats in the Maldives
Everything you need for fishing is easy to rent in the Maldives. It is not necessary to bring fishing equipment with you to exotic islands, unless you have exclusive gear.
- It is better to use not trolling, but sea spinning: this way fishing will be more productive. The main thing is to throw the bait so that it is right in front of the fish.
- For fishing, the Maldives offer modern speed boats. They have powerful motors that help to pick up speed sharply, as well as quickly extinguish it. As we mentioned, modern boats use echo sounders. When a marlin, sailfish, swordfish or other noteworthy individual appears nearby, you will be informed by the captain of the vessel.
- 5-7 rods are mounted on the central posts and along the sides. They are thrown in different directions along the course of the vessel in order to completely block the entire area of \u200b\u200bthe movement of the boat. There are safety straps for rods on board. The equipment is suitable for catching fish weighing up to 150 kg.
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Rules for handling fish
To keep your gear from getting lost in the Indian Ocean, you should remember some simple rules. The fish in the ocean are strong and will easily win back the rod. She can simply snatch fishing equipment out of her hands. Therefore, you need to keep the coil free, only slightly holding it. So the fish will swim for several seconds with the bait in its mouth. And as soon as the speed of the predator increases, the fish needs to be hooked. Swordfish don’t give up. As soon as the marlin realizes that the matter is unclean, he begins to rush from side to side at great speed. Sailfish arrange amazing dances for life on the crest of a wave, waving a huge fin. Therefore, many people are more interested in the process of fishing than in catching fish. As a rule, fish that are armed with a “sword” are immediately set free. In fishing, barbed hooks are used so as not to injure the fish. And if the bait touched it, the fish is raised to inspect the damage.
And by the way: everything that cannot be eaten at dinner must be released back into the ocean.
Fishing spots in the Maldives
- Male. The starting point of a fishing adventure. The capital of the Maldives, Male, is the most accessible atoll. Fish can be fished in the surrounding waters or travel to nearby less populated islands.
- This is the easternmost inhabited island in the Maldives. You can stay at one of the resorts on the island or just come here for a day fishing trip by ferry from Male. Night fishing, sea fishing for big fish and coastal fishing: everything is available on the island.
- If you’re looking for a budget option, try Keyodhoo Island. It is a small fishing village where most of the locals make their living from fishing. It offers affordable guest houses and fishermen’s lodges. Local captains are happy to take tourists fishing both on the reef and on the sea.
- An excellent option for budget anglers. Like most of the island, it has beautiful beaches, crystal clear waters and great fishing. Stay at a fishing lodge or one of the guest houses and spend a few days looking for big fish and reef fishing.
Maldives fish records
- Black marlin – 707.61 kg
- Atlantic marlin – 581.51 kg
- Pacific marlin – 624.14 kg
- Pacific sailboat – 100.24 kg
- Swordfish – 536.15 kg
Rules and prohibitions of fishing in the Maldives
The authorities of the Maldives have set their limits on fishing.
- Fishing is prohibited in the coastal zone and near corals.
- Fishing is prohibited in reserves.
- Do not use for fishing traumatic hooks and harpoons, as well as gear that can injure the caught fish.
- Fishing in the Maldives has a sporting and trophy character. Caught fish should be released, and only such a catch that can be eaten at dinner should be left for yourself.
- Spearfishing is prohibited, as is the use of electricity, explosives and poisonous substances.
- Dolphin and whale shark fishing is prohibited.
- It is forbidden to use nets for catching fry, as well as reef fish in the lagoons of local islands.
- Fishing in the lagoon is only allowed with the permission of the hotel itself.
- If the distance from the beach to the edge of the reef on the local island is more than 1000 km, then fishing is allowed at a distance of 700 m from the edge of the reef.
- Fishing is permitted on reefs that are not part of an inhabited island or hotel. It is forbidden to fish less than 200 m from the coral reefs. The fine is $5000.
Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru
- It is better not to use expensive lures, because the catch can spoil them with their powerful jaws. And the bait can easily catch on the coral.
- There are charter fishing tours in the Maldives. Fishing enthusiasts from Male are taken to other atolls, where their vacation will be connected specifically with fishing.
- The most accessible for fishing – Male atoll.
- Please note that the Indian Ocean can surprise with waves even in calm. And during strong waves, it is not advised to go out into the open ocean.
- Don’t forget your motion sickness remedy if you’re having trouble rocking.
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The cost of fishing in the Maldives
- Traditional Maldivian dhoni fishing costs about $15 per person. These are group excursions and take 10-12 tourists on board. And the time spent at sea is 2-3 hours.