Sport Fishing in the Caribbean
When you think of fishing in the Caribbean what comes to mind? A sport fishing boat with a tuna tower, two fighting chairs and a giant billfish leaping into the air? A MahiMahi flashing its rainbow colors as it is reeled out of the water? Game fishing in the Caribbean is exciting and fun, but there is a big difference in the kind of fishing one can do from a sport-fishing boat, and the kind of fishing that can be enjoyed aboard a sailing yacht charter.
Crewed yacht charters offer a wide range of amenities and water sports for their guests to enjoy during a week-long all-inclusive Caribbean sailing vacation. But, unless you are chartering a large motor yacht that uses a 25 foot power boat as a water sports tender, the sort of game fishing you are envisioning will not be available on board.
For guests looking for a day of serious sport and game fishing during their crewed sailing charter, rendezvous fishing can be pre-arranged with a sport fishing boat. This is a convenient option because the guests who want to fish will be picked up from the charter yacht and boats come out to the charter yacht to pick up the guests for a day of fishing at the famed North Drop – an area about a mile off the Eastern end of St. Thomas where the deepest portion of the Puerto Rican Trench runs. Migrating schools of small fish gather in this area, and this attracts larger species such as Billfish, Tuna, Wahoo and Dolphin fish (Mahi-Mahi).
The weeks right before or after the full moon are considered to be the best time to catch fish here, but many local sport fisherman will agree that anytime you can fish the summer months from June to September you are likely to catch fish,. Marlin here average in the 300 pound range, although 500-pounders are not uncommon. St. Thomas even held the all-tackle world record for many years with a 1,282 lb Marlin caught in 1977 by Larry Martin.
The sort of fishing offered aboard a crewed yacht charter on a catamaran or sailboat is primarily light tackle trolling where a baited line is dropped off the back of the boat and trailed along while the boat is underway. Inshore game fish include Barracuda, Bonefish, Kingfish, Mackerel, Snook and Tarpon. Fly-fishing for Bonefish can be arranged with a guide in Leincester Bay, St. John and in the shallows around Anegada. But these fish are a bit trickier to catch as they hide around corals making for an easy snag of the hook and line.
To fish in the BVI – where the majority of a Caribbean yacht charter’s itinerary takes place – a BVI fishing license is required. The BVI Fishing License Application can be filled out online and, with a color passport scan and $45, the license is easily obtained. Children (under 12 years old) do not need a fishing license.
Spearfishing is illegal in the BVI as well as the taking of any lobster or conch. In the USVI, as long as the boat is not in a National Park (St. John), then spearfishing is legal and lobster and conch can be taken in season.
An exception to the spearfishing ban in the BVI is made for Lionfish in an effort to combat this invasive predator that is threatening the local species. While these fish are very beautiful, they contain dangerous, venom in their spines and should not be handled. So, let your charter captain know if you see one. The meat of the Lionfish is considered to be excellent eating, so you could end up protecting the marine environment and enjoying a tasty dinner at the same time!
If fishing is an activity you would like to pursue during your Caribbean charter yacht vacation make sure to alert the broker who books your trip as well as your yacht crew. They will make sure to obtain the necessary fishing licenses and either arrange a rendezvous trip for you, or ready the necessary light tackle equipment for you to fish on board.
Contact iYachtClub to set up your next Caribbean fishing experience!