The Bahamas is an incredible place for saltwater fishing and is famous worldwide. The offshore waters of the many islands in the Bahamas are teaming with pelagic species, and the inshore flats are awash with some of the most prolific saltwater fly fishing species. It has played host to some of the most famous fishermen of our time, not least Ernest Hemingway.
With over 700 different islands to choose from, choosing where to go fishing in the Bahamas can be hit and miss unless you have some insider knowledge. I lived in the Bahamas for two years, managing a fly fishing lodge, and I am here to help guide you in the right direction.
Join me as we look at the species on offer in the Bahamas, where to catch them, how to catch them, and the best time of the year to catch them too.
By the end of the article, you’ll be able to book a fishing trip of a lifetime with the confidence that success is almost guaranteed.
Top Fish To Catch In The Bahamas
The saltwater fishing in the Bahamas is incredibly diverse. By being here at the right time of year, you’ll be able to target almost every prized saltwater species the Atlantic ocean offers.
To make things a little simpler, I’m going to split the top fish to catch in the Bahamas into two categories: offshore fish (that live outside the reef) and inshore fish (that live in shallow flats and mangroves).
Offshore Species To Catch In The Bahamas
The Bahamas see almost every offshore species you might want to catch migrating down its shoreline at some point during the year. Many of them arrive simultaneously, meaning you can have a fun day catching a mixed bag of fish.
The top offshore fish to catch in the Bahamas are:
You might be surprised to see bluefin tuna on the list, but it’s a fish that The Bahamas is famous for, especially on the island of Bimini, where Ernest Hemingway spent much of his time.
Inshore Species To Catch In The Bahamas
The inshore flats of the islands of The Bahamas are known for their bonefish, and thousands of fly anglers make the short hop over from the United States to fish them every year, but that’s not all they have to offer.
Here are the top flats fish to catch in the Bahamas:
The flats of the Bahamas are covered with bonefish. Suppose you’re in the right area at the right tide so you can see thousands of them in one school. Mutton snapper and barracuda are also very common and easy to find, whereas tarpon, permit, and triggerfish require a little more work to find and catch.
Tip: Permit fish have a lot of granular teeth, and their favorite foods are crustaceans, such as crabs, lobsters, and shrimp.
Where To Go Fishing In The Bahamas
With over eight hundred islands to choose from, picking the right Bahamian island for your fishing trip is key. Some islands will give you access to all the inshore fish species you’d like to catch but no offshore species, and vice versa.
But some islands have them all, meaning you can fish for inshore and offshore fish without changing your resting place.
Bimini is one of the most famous Bahamian islands for fishing and an old haunt of Ernest Hemingway’s. Bimini is a tiny island that sits due east of Miami,and it’s home to almost all the fish species on the list I mentioned above and is especially famous for its bluefin tuna fishing.
Every year, the bluefin tuna that live in the gulf stream migrate between Florida and The Bahamas, and they run straight past the island of Bimini, so if that’s a species you’ve been longing to catch, then Bimini is the place for you.
Bimini isn’t just home to bluefin tuna; you’ll also find blue marlin, sailfish, wahoo, white marlin, and all the other offshore species mentioned.
Another fish species Bimini is famous for is bonefish, with over 4 world record bonefish catches to its name. The flats of Bimini and unspoiled and protected, the guides are fantastic, the bonefish can be huge, pushing 10lbs often, and there is a chance of a permit or tarpon too.
The Bahamian island of Abaco is another great place to target the offshore and inshore species of The Bahamas. The joy of visiting Abaco is that it has its own international airport with direct flights from Florida, New York City, and other mainland US airports.
Abaco’s position in the ocean makes it a highly productive place for offshore fishing. It sits on the outer edge of the Bahamas bank (Baha mar means shallow water), right where the Atlantic Ocean comes to meet it, meaning you’re fishing in deep water within an hour of leaving the dock.
When offshore fishing from Abaco, your chances of catching blue marlin, white marlin, dorado, wahoo, and yellowfin tuna are high.
The inshore fishing in Abaco is also fantastic, as it’s home to an inshore flats area known as The Marls. The Marls is a seemingly neverending flats ground that is home to thousands of bonefish and good numbers of tarpon and permit too. Your chances of catching a grand slam (all 3 species in one day) are real.
The oceanside flats of Abaco are also very productive and home to the same species as the Marls, except the bonefish, which are usually bigger, and you’ll have the chance to target some triggerfish too.
The Berry Islands
The Berry Islands, like Abaco, offer all the offshore and inshore species you might want to catch in the Bahamas. The special thing about the Berry Islands is the huge quantity of permit fish it has on its flats and large numbers of bonefish.
If your dream has been to catch a permit on the fly, then The Berry Islands is one of the best places in the Bahamas to get it done.
When To Go Fishing In The Bahamas
The best time to go fishing in the Bahamas differs considerably depending on whether you want to target inshore or offshore species. There are a few months when their seasons overlap and this is the best time to be there if you want to go after them all.
Between the months of March and July, the Bahamas see all the offshore fish you want to catch as they enter their waters. It’s mainly because it’s the time of year when the sea begins to heat up after the colder fronts of January and February.
You can catch the inshore species all year round, but during the warmer months of June, July, and August, the water on the flats gets too hot, and the fish tend to hold in deeper water after a quick morning feed before the water warms up.
This means the best time to go fishing in the Bahamas is from March to May if you want to have the full range of all the inshore and offshore species at your fingertips.
Remember the weather, as I have had to evacuate guests and close the lodge during hurricanes in October. I have also had intense 20-knot winds for the months of December to early March, making fishing very difficult.
Best Methods To Catch Fish In The Bahamas
There are four main methods for catching fish in the Bahamas, and these include:
Trolling for offshore species
Deep dropping for broadbill swordfish
Fly fishing on the flats
Spinning on the flats
There is nothing quite like being punted around the flats on the front of a skiff by a Bahamian guide with a fly rod in hand. It’s as much fun as you can have on a boat, in my opinion. If you have never caught a bonefish on the fly, it’s a must in the Bahamas.
These fish swim at around 40 mph and are the 7th fastest on the planet, but you catch them with a fly rod in a few inches of water while sight fishing. Then you add tarpon and permit to the list, and you can have one of the best days of your life.
To learn more about fishing on a skiff, check out my in-depth experience on all you need to know about my favorite fishing method when inshore flats fishing.
How To Book Your Fishing Trip To The Bahamas
The tourism infrastructure in the Bahamas is world-class, and each of the islands I have mentioned has some amazing lodges to stay in and excellent guides.
If you want to head to Bimini to chase bluefin tuna and world-record bonefish, then get in touch with the Big game club Bimini, who will organize everything for you.
If you’re chartering an offshore game boat, all the licensing will have been taken care of for you by the operator, and the same goes for staying with a flats lodge. You need a fishing license to walk the flats in the Bahamas, which can be bought at the local government office.
Once you have your license, you can walk anywhere on the flats of the Bahamas and fish solo if you like.
I hope you enjoyed this article and now have all the tips and tricks to make your fishing trip to the Bahamas truly memorable. It truly is a magical group of islands with some of the most crystal clear blue-est waters you have ever seen, with the potential to serve up some of the best fishing days of your life.
Feel free to add a comment or ask any questions; we will be more than happy to answer any questions regarding any article.
Growing up fly fishing on trout streams in Kenya and the UK, Jamie has traveled the world in search of fly fishing nirvana. From his time managing bonefish lodges in the Bahamas and running fishing safaris in East Africa, all the way to guiding on the flats of Seychelles, there aren't many species or environments he hasn't experienced firsthand.