Springtime in the Bahamas is a fisherman’s dream. From the mutton snapper spawn around Bimini; the blue marlin around the Abaco’s Walker’s Cay, San Salvador, Chub, and Bimini; the bluefin tuna giants around Walker’s Cay and Bimini; to the influx of yellowfin tuna north of the Isaacs and the big mahi that are mixed in with the winter wahoo; the Bahamas are a world class fishery where stories are made!
Let us take a ride from my home port of Islamorada and tell you what to expect.
Roughly 50 miles off our East Florida coast, Bimini is the first stop for most clearing customs. I love Bimini. I know Bimini and rarely venture past due to its extraordinary fishing. The spring mutton snapper spawn is amazing. We look for the spawn around the spring full moon. On one night, anchored not far from Bimini, an astonishing spawn was underway with fish on the sounder, from the bottom to near the surface, with some tremendous fish caught in little time. Daytime fishing can also bring you a great catch of these fish. Bring lots of lead, fresh bait, and chum and hold on. Muttons voraciously eat your bait as grouper and others compete for the morsels from above! During the day, venture out to the sharp drops and be ready for blue marlin averaging 250 pounds, with anything up to 800 pounds possible. We expect to raise a few fish per day with a possible catch of one to two fish per day. Last year, we had a great day of two raises and two releases. The blues are not as numerous here as other Bahamian islands, but, for proximity of Florida, you can’t beat the fishery. Large mahi begin to show up in the spring as well as the left over wahoo from winter.
A bit further down, near Cat Island, springtime means bluefin tuna in large dimensions. Often, these are caught by fishing in towers--spotting the fish as they cruise near the surface, or reported to the captain from an aircraft. They are amazing to witness due to their sheer size and brute strength. Should you want to tackle blues and bluefin, we generally use 80 wide reels on bent rods, with minimum 80 lb. line. Live speedos are the trick here, but often they are nearly impossible to keep alive in our crossing. Using rigged speedos or small mackerel is the next alternative to good success on either marlin or tuna.
From Bimini, north to the Isaacs, one can find excellent yellowfin and blackfin tuna fishing. In the New Providence Channel, north of the Isaacs, look for schooling bait and birds in deeper water and you will find the tuna. Hole in the Wall is another well known area where some bruiser mahi to 50 plus pounds exist. Early morning and late day with low light conditions can be explosive, but daytime tuna fishing can be extraordinary with moving tuna averaging about 20-60 lbs. We use tuna feathers and cedar plugs for these fish and troll the outskirts of the schools where the larger tuna exist. Most inexperienced tuna fishermen we have witnessed, cruise right into the school and begin to chunk, deep jig, or troll and may catch one or two, but seldom get the bigger tunas consistently.
Around the Isaacs, the bottom fishing is phenomenal for grouper, snapper and yellowtail. This is one of my favorite places to catch yellowtails. We use our traditional flourocarbon leader with chumming approach and often catch them consistently in the 5-7 pound class.
If you want Marlin in particular, plan on a trip of several days to a week to Boat Harbour or Marsh Harbour. Areas like Jurassic Park, Mushroom, Hopetown, Pocket, The Bridge, The Table Top, and a few secret areas, hold blue marlin to 500 lbs. and a few ”granders” historically released. This area holds huge schools of mahi and tuna that we try to avoid to not tear up our baits while pursuing marlin. This is big tackle country with 80 wides the standard set up. This area can be one of the greatest fisheries of medium to small sized marlin in the world, followed by La Guaira off Venezuela. Seldom is this area fished hard due to the travel time and logistics from Florida.
Closer than Boat Harbour is Chub Cay. In spring, with a good southeast wind, the tuna, mahi and marlin stack up here in a well know area known as The Pocket. We find larger concentrations of boats fishing these rich waters during the spring due to the ease of reach from the Florida coast and a long four day weekend to fish. Hence, the traffic.
Going to the Eastern Islands, like Cat Island, San Salvador, and Harbour Cay, the fishing is epic. Not only in numbers, but size of quarry is the reason for this long trek to this remote area of the Bahamas. San Salvador and Cat Island hold huge wahoo in the spring to 100 pounds, with a few of over 150 reported. This is not a fishery for less than 80 to 130 tackle. San Salvador is one of the premier blue marlin fisheries in the world. A few years back in the 1990’s, on a private 10 day trip, we raised 14 blues and caught and released one estimated at over 800 lbs., caught two small blues and one white on fly gear, as well as several more blues on conventional tackle. This area is worth the time and expense to fish for someone that does not count their pennies. The travel is at least six days roundtrip and then whatever time you want to fish, easily becoming a 10-14 day expedition.
Last but not least, is Cay Sal. An easy reach from the Keys, but beware of any charters going there without first checking into Bimini, then proceeding to Cay Sal. We are not talking fines--we are talking possible boat confiscation and Bahamian prison if caught and charged. The fishing is great for wahoo, deep dropping, and reef fishing. As of recent, the Dominican Pirate Fishing fleet has pretty much over fished the southern most part of Cay Sal’s reefs.
So, if you want to fish in the Bahamas, give us a call and fish Bimini, Walker’s Cay, Marsh Harbour or Chub in about a week long trip or plan an extended expedition to the “Jurassic Park” of offshore fishing in the Eastern Bahamian Islands of San Salvador, Cat or Harbour for world class fish!
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