Fishing in Bermuda
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Bermuda's proximity to the deep ocean makes it one of the best places in the world for deep-sea fishing. Many of the International Fishing Association's world-record catches were hauled in a few miles off the Bermuda coastline. July and August is marlin season, and anglers from all over the world come to the island in a bid to try and hook monster blue marlin in excess of 1,000 pounds. Deep-sea fishing is not just for the experts, though. Most charter companies are happy to teach amateurs how to hook and reel in a catch—whether it's tuna, wahoo, or even marlin. Some of the charter fishermen let you keep your catch but they're not obliged to do so. Many of the fishermen rely on sales to restaurants to bolster their businesses, so unless it's a good day they might not give much away. And don't be surprised to find fish you pulled out of the ocean that day on the menu in one of Bermuda's many restaurants that evening. As well as deep-sea fishing, shore fishing is also popular, while some fishermen trawl inside the reefs. If you've got the cash there's no substitute for the thrill of the open ocean. Scores of operators are on the island, about 20 of which are regularly out on the water. A full list is available at www.bermudatourism.com. Prices vary depending on the size and quality of the boat.
Reef and Offshore Fishing
Three major reef bands lie at various distances from the island. The first is anywhere from ½ to 5 mi offshore. The second, the Challenger Bank, is about 12 mi offshore. The third, the Argus Bank, is about 30 mi offshore. As a rule, the farther out you go, the larger the fish—and the more expensive the charter.
Most charter-fishing captains go to the reefs and deep water to the southwest and northwest of the island, where the fishing is best. Catches over the reefs include snapper, amberjack, grouper, and barracuda. Of the most sought-after deepwater fish—marlin, tuna, wahoo, and dolphinfish—wahoo is the most common, dolphinfish the least. Trawling is the usual method of deepwater fishing, and charter-boat operators offer various tackle setups, with test-line weights ranging from 20 pounds to 130 pounds. The boats, which range from 31 feet to 55 feet long, are fitted with gear and electronics to track fish, including depth sounders, global-positioning systems, loran systems, video fish finders, radar, and computer scanners.
Half-day and full-day charters are offered by most operators, but full-day trips offer the best chance for a big catch because the boat has time to reach waters that are less often fished. Rates are about $900 per boat for half a day (four hours), $1,200 per day (eight hours). For more information about chartering a fishing boat, you can request or pick up a copy of What to Do: Information and Prices at the Bermuda Department of Tourism.
Atlantic Spray Charters. Half-day and full-day year-round charters are available on Atlantic's 40-foot Tenacious. Rates are $850 for the four-hour half day, $1,050 for six hours, and $1,250 for the eight-hour full day, including all the equipment you need, soda and water, and, most important, the knowledge you need to catch the big fish. St. George's, GE04. 441/735–9444.
Fish Bermuda. Allen DeSilva, one of Bermuda's most knowledgeable skippers, guarantees a fun day of fishing whether you're a complete beginner or a serious angler. His 56-foot Mako boat, based out of Mill's Creek near Hamilton, is one of the best for a safe, comfortable, and exciting cruise. It costs $2,200 to charter the boat for nine-hours and $1,800 for six hours. Allen's website is a great source of information on local fishing conditions, reports, and much more. Check out the site for tasty recipes on how to cook up your fresh catch. 11 Abri Lane, Spanish Point, Pembroke, HM02. 441/295–0835. www.fishbermuda.com.
Messaround Charters. With charters of varying lengths available from Messaround Charters, it's easy to get to some of the prime offshore fishing grounds. Skipper Willard 'Joe' Kelly can show you the ropes aboard the 40-foot Downeast boat. The cost (for up to 6 people) is $650 for four hours, $850 for six hours, and $1,050 for eight hours; beverages, bait, and tackle are included. 441/297–8093 or 441/334–8953. www.fishandfun.bm.
Overproof. Skipper Peter Rans is a regular in the big-game classic and a master at hooking monster marlin. He navigates a fully-equipped 42-foot vessel to the very best spots to help you reel in whatever game fish is in season. His rates vary from $1,000 for half a day to $1,400 for eight hours of serious marlin hunting. Inshore fly and spinner fishing is available for upwards of $450 (4 hours). 136 Somerset Rd., Somerset, MA 06. 441/238–5663 or 441/335–9850. www.overprooffishing.com.
Playmate Fishing Charters. With Kevin Winter's 30 years of experience fishing Bermuda's waters you're guaranteed excitement, action, and results aboard the 43-foot, smooth-sailing Playmate. Rates go from $1,000 for half a day to $1,350 for the full day with extra costs for tournament fishing. 4 Mills Point Lane, Pembroke, HM05. 441/292–7131. www.playmatefishing.com.
The principal catches for shore fishers are pompano, bonefish, and snapper. Excellent sport for saltwater fly-fishing is the wily and strong bonefish, which hovers in coves, harbors, and bays. Among the more popular spots for bonefish are West Whale Bay and Spring Benny's Bay, which have large expanses of clear, shallow water protected by reefs close to shore. Good fishing holes are plentiful along the south shore, too. Fishing in the Great Sound and St. George's Harbour can be rewarding, but enclosed Harrington Sound is less promising. Ask at local tackle shops about the latest hot spots and the best baits. You can also make rental arrangements through your hotel or contact Windjammer Watersports.
Outcast. Not quite sure about your sea legs? Try Outcast for the ideal fishing trip for beginners. An experienced guide will teach you the ins and outs of inshore fishing on the 21-foot bay-boat Outcast; you'll more than likely catch bonefish, hogfish, and barracuda. It's also much more affordable than offshore fishing at $450 for half a day and $700 for the full day. 16 Somerset Rd., Sandys Parish, MA06. 441/238–5663. www.overprooffishing.com/flyfishing.html.
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