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Whether you’re a seasoned angler or a first-timer, the Bahamas offers more than a tropical paradise for just swimming, kayaking, and diving. With more than 1,101 miles of waterfront, the crystal-clear Bahamian waters are great if you want to test or expound your angling skills.
There are a lot of enigmatic thrills that keeps anglers coming back. Whether you’re looking for a guided fishing excursion or have your own boat, the shallow and crystal-clear waters of the Bahamas are ideal for any fishing trip.
This article, therefore, offers a brief but definitive guide on how to go about a fishing excursion in the Bahamas.
Why Fish in the Bahamas?
One of the main reasons why you should consider fishing in the Bahamas is the plethora of fishing species at your disposal. This island nation is home to hundreds of fish species including the Marlin, Wahoo, Yellowtail, the grouper, Tuna, Snapper, the barracuda and many more. So if you’ve been looking to lure a weird-looking fish species to your dinner table, the Bahamas offers you plenty of options. From Bimini, which is rightfully known as the “Big Game Fishing Capital of the World,” to Andros the best destination of bonefishing in the world, Bahamas offers more than you’d ever want.
Sportfishing brings to the island nation an incredible $500 million. This simply shows how fishing is taken seriously in this part of the world.
You’re probably not a Bahamian and that’s why you’re reading this. For this reason, it’s important to keep in mind that the Bahamas has its own set of laws that you have to abide by if you want your fishing trip to go as smoothly as possible. While the fishing laws in the Bahamas are almost the same in the United States and Canada, they can vary greatly, especially if you’re not Bahamian.
Some of the fishing regulations include:
- If you’re not a Bahamian citizen, you need a permit to fish from a vessel that is not registered in the Bahamas.
- No turtles are allowed aboard a vessel at any time.
- Vessels are allowed to carry up to 60 pounds or up to 20 demersal fish species.
- No spearfishing within 200 yards of any Out Island
- Visitors are not allowed to sell any fishery products
- Sharks are protected and must be released unharmed
Keep in mind that Bahamians are generally friendly so you should ask someone about local laws and rules before doing anything that might land you in trouble. More importantly, follow this link and learn a thing or two about fishing regulations.
Getting to the Bahamas
Now that you know some of the laws, you can now start planning for the trip. Some of the easiest ways to travel to the Bahamas from the U.S. is by boat or plane. The West End, which is the northwestern-most point of Bahamas is less than 70 miles from West Palm Beach, Florida. As such, any fishing boat that can perfectly handle offshore fishing can definitively make this trip. You can also ride a ferry or board a plane to the Bahamas.
While it’s possible to travel to the Bahamas without necessarily having a passport, it’s not advisable to do so. U.S. citizens can enter the Bahamas without a passport but you cannot legally reenter the U.S. without proper documentation. For this reason, it’s recommended that you get a valid passport before embarking on a fishing trip to the Bahamas.
Again, you should keep in mind that traveling to the Bahamas on a private boat requires different clearance forms from those used for a plane or a ferry. Here’s all you need to know. You’ll also need to have:
- A Bahamas customs clearance form (The fees you pay customs covers the boat and the fishing permit)
- A passport
- A yellow quarantine flag
- Proof of the owner of the boat
You should also remember that guns, fresh fruits, vegetables, and dairy products are prohibited.
It’s important to check with your charter if you’re planning to bring traditional fishing gear. Most fishing charters in the Bahamas have all the fishing gear that you might need. You should, however, talk to your guide if you want to bring with you a special rig.
If you are fishing from a boat owned by a Bahamian, you’ll not have to pay for further fishing permits as they’re generally covered by their license. On the contrary, you’ll have to have fishing permits if you’re using a boat that’s not registered in the Bahamas. Fishing the flats or fly fishing has more regulations. Flat fishing involves going after cobia, bonefish, tarpon, and snook.
As we noted earlier, you are not allowed to sell any fish in the Bahamas if you are not a Bahamian. As such, you may want to bring you trophy catch with you back into the U.S. You should remember to abide by the specific regulations regarding how to bring fish back to the U.S.
Essentially, you can bring most fish species back to the U.S. as whole except the dolphin, reef fish, and Wahoo that can be brought back as fillets with skin on. Again, fish species that are not found with the U.S. waters such as goliath grouper are not allowed in the country.
The Bahamas is, without a doubt a world-class fishing destination. This idyllic island may be known for its tropical beaches, exquisite cuisines, and gorgeous people but it arguably the best place to fish. In short, never has a nation been perfectly created to offer fabulous fishing at the backdrop of an ultimate paradise as the Bahamas.