This is for you, the angler interested in game fishing in the Bahamas.
Since my wife and I live on the Bahamian island of Eleuthera, I have created this page...
Official Bahamas Game Fishing Chart. It answers the question... "What are the best fishing months for one of the 20 listed game
Fishing in the Bahamas with its many islands is an angler's dream. Light tackle, heavy tackle, fly-fishing, deep-sea fishing, reef fishing, fishing for blue marlin, bonefishing - you name it.
When it comes to sports fishing, there are very few places in the world that can compare to the Bahamas. Anglers from all over the world visit the Bahamian islands year after year to experience tournament style offshore fishing at it's finest.
Fishing in Bahamian waters starts in Bimini, 50 miles east of the Florida coast. It ends at the southernmost island, Inagua, on the Caribbean's northern edge.
Game fishing in the Bahamas is a year round sport in the Bahamas. There is always something in season as you can see from the official game fishing chart below.
By the way, tournaments are held all over the Out-Islands of the Bahamas during the year.
I have simplified the chart above with numbers instead of colors so that you can easily spot the best times for fishing in the Bahamas any of the 20 types of fish listed above.
Each game fish is shown below together with its particularities and/or preferred bait. Here is the first one...
Allison or Yellowfin Tuna - Pound for pound it's one of the strongest fighters in the world. Tends to fight deep.
Fishing in the Bahamas for Allison is done by trollling artificial baits as well as kite fishing, chunking and fly lined live bait at anchor.
Amberjack - The greater amberjack of the tropical Atlantic is one of the largest members of the jack family, often attaining lengths of 6 ft. (1.8m), and weighing 150 pounds (70kg). Most are usually caught in the 20 to 50 pound (10 to 23 kg) range.
Amberjack is a strong, stubborn fighting fish. They will hit a lure near the surface. However, they will make a strong run for the bottom.
Barracuda - Occur both singly and in schools around reefs. Also appear in open seas.
Barracuda are voracious predators and hunt using a classic method of lie-in-wait or ambush. They have a particular love of needlefish. The red tube and swimming lures and flies that look like needlefish work the best.
Blackfin Tuna - A light-tackle species, the blackfin can be taken by trolling or casting small lures, flies, or natural baits, including ballyhoo, mullet, and other small fish. Also as strip baits, spoons, feathers, jigs, or plugs.
Bluefin Tuna - It's one of the largest bony fishes and can reach lengths of up to 10 ft. (3 m), although they are more commonly found from 2 to 7 ft. (0.5-2 m) in length.
Adult weights range from 300 to 1,500 pounds (136-680 kg), although the upper weight range is rare. Bluefin Tuna can dive as deep as 3,000 ft. (914 m), and are known to swim long distances as they are a highly migratory species.
Blue Marlin - Is an extremely strong fighter. Can fight deep below surface but also capable of long sizzling runs on the surface. Also head shaking jumps.
Catching method: Trolling with artificial baits including large plastics at 8-12 knots as well as fresh dead bait and live bait.
Bonefish - When young and small, they swim in schools of a few hundred. As adults they forage in small clusters usually of two to four.
Bonefish are swift and strong swimmers and prized by recreational fishers, but do not support commercial fisheries.
Broadbill - They are an iconic oceanic species and one of the fastest, most powerful types. When fishing in the Bahamas remember that they are not easy to catch.
Fish on moonless nights, when the broadbill come closer to the surface as they are deep dwelling fish.
Dorado a.k.a. Mahi-mahi - Are highly sought for sport fishing purposes. Sport fishermen seek Dorado due to their beauty, size, food quality, and healthy population.
Dorado are also known as dolphin fish. However, they are not at all related to dolphins. Dolphins are air-breathing mammals, whereas Dorado are water-breathing fish.
Grouper - Lives in coral and rocky reefs. Grouper mainly eat crabs and large mollusks.
The usual method of grouper fishing in the Bahamas entails bottom fishing with heavy tackle. Grouper are aggressive strikers. When they inhale the bait, they will normally go right into the structure surrounding them (rock).
Kingfish - Of the three mackerels common in the Bahamas, they are by far the biggest and fastest, and the most-admired among anglers.
Kings are traveling the band of water between the beaches and the indigo depths of the continental shelf. Preferred depths seem to be anything from 20 to 250 ft. (6 to 80 meters). Some big ones found at times on the deep edge of the continental shelf and over deepwater wrecks.
Mackerel - An open ocean fish with voracious feeding habits. It travels in schools that often contain thousands of fish.
The swift swimming mackerel has a streamlined body and swims at high speeds for extended periods of time searching for food. All individuals within a specific school tend to be the same size.
Oceanic Bonito - Fishing in the Bahamas the common tunas are the little tunny, skipjack tuna a.k.a. bonito, blackfin tuna, and yellowfin tuna.
While it’s true that a bonito on a twenty or thirty pound trolling line means nothing but a strenuous workout, that same little bundle of energy takes on a starring role when you challenge it with fly or light spinning tackle.
Permit - A burly, crab eating fish. Catching a permit on fly or live crab in shallow water is one of the greatest accomplishment in all of angling.
Once hooked, a permit will flee the flats at the speed of lightening. It digs in with a tenacity that makes a bonefish seem like a wimp.
Sailfish - This beautiful billfish is noted for its fighting ability and often spends as much time out of the water dancing and grey-hounding as it does pulling away from the boat in the water.
While fishing in the Bahamas you will see many shades of blues and purples as this amazing fish dances through the sea. Fish primarily for Sailfish while trolling using "dredge" and "daisy chain" teasers and carefully rigged swimming baits at crawling slow speeds.
Shark - Spend a day fishing for many different species of sharks. The hammerhead shark is a great fighter and will run back several times before you win the fight.
Other sharks you might catch include tiger sharks, lemon sharks, black-tip sharks, bull sharks, and Caribbean reef sharks. Any of these is available year-round. The average size shark you might catch is 5 to 10 ft. (1.5 to 3 meters).
Snapper - You will notice that one of the most popular of the snapper species, the yellowtail snapper are in greatest abundance when fishing in the Bahamas.
During days around the full moon, you will have excellent catches of the mutton snappers. Typical catches of yellowtail range from 10-12 pound (= 4.5 to 5.5 kg) size. There is a 12-inch (30 cm) minimum size limit and 10 snapper aggregate bag limit.
Tarpon - Can be caught casting or live bait fishing from boats or shore. The fish rips off line at incredible speeds and explodes the surface like a rocket from a submarine.
Tarpon announce a bite with an easily read flashing side and sometimes a huge boil. There is no doubt when a fish responds, but a mouth offers little resistance if the fish are not properly pointed before you attempt to set the hook.
White Marlin - A great light tackle gamester, a finicky feeder that will try the patience of the most ardent angler. Will sometimes seize the most unlikely bait.
The white marlin is very similar to the blue marlin. It can be differentiated based on fin morphology. The white marlin has a rounded dorsal fin at the front end, a rounded tip on the pectoral and anal fins, and spots on the dorsal fin.
Fishing in the Bahamas for blue marlin you'll discover that it has pointed dorsal, pectoral, and anal fins and no spots on the dorsal fin.
Wahoo - They are the most ferocious, fastest and largest mackerel found anywhere in the Atlantic, reaching weights exceeding the 100-pound mark ( = 45 kg). Extremely effective hunters reaching speeds over 50 mph (80 km/h). Wahoo are notorious head-shakers and are masters of escape. Focus your wahoo efforts just prior to or just after full moon.
What does light tackle fishing mean? It's easier to tell you what isn't part of this style of fishing. There are no fighting chairs on the boats and no full harnesses. The captain does not "gun the engine" in order to set the hook. Boats have no tuna towers. They are single storey with no skyscraper in sight.
Obviously you don't use the same tackle for all styles of fishing. In light tackle fishing tackle is balanced to the fish that you are likely to hook. Thus you might use 10 pound (4.5 kg) leader when fishing for Yellowtails whereas you have 50 pound (23 kg) leader for Tarpon.
One of the most exciting styles of fishing in the Bahamas is where you put a live pilchard or threadfin herring on the hook. Then let it drift behind the boat with no weights on the line. You have no idea what might come along next. It could be a cobia, kingfish, tuna, sailfish, shark, snapper. You just can't be sure what is going to bite next.