Fishing is a popular pastime in the Cayman Islands and there are plenty of tour operators that can take you out for reef or deep sea fishing trips. Read on to find out more about fishing in the Cayman Islands as well as the rules and regulations.
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Spending all day on the water can be very rewarding as fresh fish is always a local favorite.
Before you begin fishing you need to be aware of the fishing restrictions in the Cayman Islands. Fishing restrictions are used to prevent overfishing, and to conserve and improve healthy fish populations. This also ensures that they are around for future generations.
Restrictions on Fishing
Anyone can fish from the shore or from a boat in deep water but there are very strict rules on the size of fish you can catch and there are some fish you must immediately release if you catch one by mistake. The rules are as follows:
Jew fish (goliath grouper), tilefish (whities), filefish (pipers) and angelfish, including Grey, French and Queen angels (old monks) are protected and not allowed to be taken from Cayman waters at any time.
Of the fish that you can catch, there is an eight-inch minimum size on all other fish except goggle eyes, herrings (including sprats), anchovies and silversides (including loggerhead and fine fry). However, there are different rules for Nassau groupers: There is a 16 inch minimum catch size throughout all of the Cayman Islands, year round, and no Nassau groupers can be caught using a speargun. No one may take Nassau grouper from December 1st to April 30th. Outside of this there is a catch limit of five per person or five per boat per day, whichever is less. No one may take Nassau Grouper from a Designated Grouper Spawning Area and no fishing (by line or speargun) can be done within a mile radius of a Designated Spawning Area. The same applies to fish pots. If you see any fishing taking place in or around a Grouper Spawning Area please call 911 immediately and a police boat will be sent out to investigate.
Designated Grouper Spawning Areas
In accordance with DoE regulations, the designated areas are: Coxswain Bank and South West Point in Grand Cayman, the east and west end of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, and the Twelve Mile Bank. We discourage you from catching or eating grouper as they have been over-fishes and the population has been severely depleted.
Read the Marine Rules & Regulations page for other important fishing restrictions.
Deep Sea & Reef Fishing Charters
Numerous companies offer deep sea and fishing trips and guests will have the opportunity to catch blue marlin, white marlin, sailfish wahoo, mahi-mahi and tuna.
Y-Knot (Tel: (345) 926 2224) offers customisable half and full day reef and deep sea fishing adventures. Prepare to catch a broad range of fish, such as wahoo, mahi-mahi, marlin, tuna, barracuda and many other species of bottom fish.
Cayman Islands Sailing Charters (Tel: (345) 525 1222) offers half and full day private charters which can incorporate reef fishing.
Cayman Luxury Charters (Tel: (345) 938 2525) offers luxury private charters aboard their stunning boats, also with a reef fishing option.
Light Tackle Game Fishing
Bonefish, Tarpon and Permit can be caught in all three islands, but Little Cayman is renowned for in-shore gamefish and there are some spectacular fishing opportunities for those that are into the sport.
Bonefish can be found on the “flats”; these are inshore waters that are typically shallow and covered in turtle grass. In many areas of Little Cayman you can find these flats right along the edge of the coastline but there are also good flats in Grand Cayman and in Cayman Brac. Bonefish are usually less than 12 pounds and they are known as the “grey ghost” or “phantom” fish. Pound for pound they are one of the fastest and strongest of all the salt-water fish species. They are considered to be among the world’s premier gamefish and are highly sought after by anglers.
On the south side of Little Cayman there is an inland pond called Tarpon Lake that is literally teaming with Tarpon, otherwise known as ‘Silver King’. These particular fish (in the Tarpon Lake) never seem to grow above 15 pounds but they can be taken both on the flyrod and with spinning tackle. It is not possible to access the fish in the lake without a guide because you really need to use one of the little boats and row around; the bottom of the lake is not suitable for wading because the mud is deep, and the perimeter of the lake is a dense thicket of red mangrove – don’t even think of trying to fight your way through the mangroves with a rod in your hands!
Early in the morning is usually the best time to go and if you get there shortly after sunrise it is possible you may witness what is known as the ‘tarpon frenzy’; basically the Gambusia minnows (a small bait fish) get pinned against the edge of the pond by a large number of tarpon, and the minnows are unable to shelter in the roots of the mangroves because waiting along the banks are hundreds of herons and egrets. The birds crowd the edge of the mangroves and strike at any minnow within reach. It is an awesome spectacle with a constant roar of tarpon hitting the surface as they gorge themselves on the bait fish. The birds are also a sight to behold as they frantically jab their beaks into the water and jockey for position on the branches. During this frenzy it is almost impossible to avoid catching a fish if you present the fly or lure anywhere even close to the action.
For more info visit www.fishcayman.com/fishing_cayman.html
There are a number of places on the Island that sell fishing equipment. All of the companies below sell fishing equipment and specialty angling supplies though the brands and options available vary considerably from store to store.
Cayman’s annual fishing tournaments are hugely popular. The Cayman Islands Angling Club puts on five tournaments during the year, including the annual Cayman Islands International Fishing Tournament, held every year in April or May. Exact dates depend on the moon.
Visit www.fishcayman.com for more information.
Fish Pots & Spearguns
All fish pots and spearguns must be licensed by the National Conservation Council and only Caymanians over the age of 18 may be granted a licence. Spearfishing or laying a fish pot trap within a one–mile radius of a designated conservation area or from November 1st to March 31st is prohibited. When entering the country, you must declare all spearguns.
Lionfish Hunts & Culling Licences
Lionfish are an invasive species and a significant threat to our marine ecosystem. Lionfish consume the majority of small fish on a reef within a relatively short amount of time, and have no natural predators in the Caribbean Sea. Lionfish are venomous. Divers, snorkellers and fishermen can obtain training and a license from the DoE to cull them. Do not attempt to catch one without proper training.