See Turks and Caicos Fishing for general information on seasons and fishing throughout the country.
Providenciales is the centre for the excellent sport fishing found in the Turks and Caicos. Every year, several tournaments take place here, from the international Caicos Classic deep-sea billfishing event to many smaller reef and bottom fishing contests. Amazing world-class bone fishing is also found on the Caicos flats surrounding Providenciales and the Caicos Islands.
A fishing adventure can be a great way to put some excitement into your Turks and Caicos vacation.
All those over 15 years old must be in possession of a valid fishing license before attempting to fish. Also, in many cases, non-fishing passengers on a fishing tour must also be in possession of a license.
When fishing with most of the local tour and water sport businesses, the license (and cost) is typically completely handled by the operator.
If you decide to fish on your own, licenses can be obtained at the Department for Environmental and Maritime Affairs (DEMA) at the National Environmental Centre (Providenciales) on Providenciales, or at some of the marinas.
For visitors, the fees are $10 for a one day and $30 for a monthly license.
There are many national parks and nature reserves on Providenciales, and it’s illegal and a criminal offence to fish, or collect conch or lobster in these regions. If you’re not fishing with a local tour business, it’s your duty to know what areas are off limits.
There’s a proposed change (2015) to the Turks and Caicos National Parks Ordinance that would allow for responsible catch-and-release bonefishing in protected areas. There appears to be no opposition to the changes, and it’s expected that the law will be enacted in 2017.
Reef and bottom fishing is a great water sport that the entire family can enjoy.
Comparatively little skill and strength is necessary for this type of fishing, and bites and catches are far more predictable than with deep sea sport and bonefishing.
Many of the common catches are great for eating (and make a perfect dinner to end the day!), and include red snapper, mutton snapper, grey snapper, Nassau grouper and yellowtail and jacks.
When reef fishing from a boat, it’s common to anchor near a viable site either near a reef on in one of the channels between cays and simply cast the lines overboard.
Fishing with one of the local and experienced tour companies definitely increases your likelihood of getting bites.
Generally, booking directly with a fishing company will offer the best rates. However, some resorts and hotels have arrangements with local water sports operators, and it may be possible to book a special through your accommodation. In any case, we advise doing a little online research so you’ll have an idea of the going rates.
Fishing tours tend to be half or a full day in duration. Many businesses are quite flexible with hours and groups. Both a private charter and shared excursions are available Due to the typical coastal reef fishing locations (and perhaps also the less-serious attitude compared to sport fishing!), other activities such as uninhabited cay visits and snorkelling may be part of the days activities..
Snacks, drinks and all necessary fishing equipment is usually included on tours. Lunch is often complimentary on trip over half a day. Some excursions include a beach BBQ on a secluded cay to roast the day’s catch!
Previous fishing experience is typically not required.
A wide range of watercrafts are used locally for reef and bottom fishing, and the particular choice for the day is often tailored for the size of the group and destination.
If required, complimentary transport to and from your hotel or resort is often included when you book.
It’s important to be aware of and not fish in the protected areas on Providenciales. Much of the north coast of the island is part of the Princess Alexandra National Park and is off-limits to fishing.
The Heaving Down Rock area is our only recommended shore fishing site on the island. It’s easily-accessible, no hiking is required, and there should be little confusion on the location. Here, the natural water movement in the channel between Providenciales and Mangrove Cay is a natural haven for fish.
Near to and on the full moon typically offers the best bites and fishing.
Fishing from the coast doesn’t always give the best results, regardless of the effort put in. In most cases, a fishing boat excursion with a professional guide will give the best experience.
Providenciales offers two fishing supply shops.
Tiny pieces of conch or squid is generally the most effect bait.
Deep sea sport fishing (also known as blue water or game fishing) is excellent off of Providenciales. Several local sport fishing businesses operate out of Blue Haven Marina and Turtle Cove Marina on Providenciales. This is the most popular (and exciting!) type of sport fishing in the Turks and Caicos.
The vivid blue of the deep ocean water begins only minutes away from the marinas and resorts. Unlike so many other Caribbean and tropical Atlantic locations, at Providenciales, you won’t have to waste time on a long journey out.
The practices of deep sea sport fishing are a little different to reef and bonefishing. Instead of simply casting and waiting, lines from 4 to 10 separate heavy rods and reels are fed out 50 to 100 feet and are kept apart with outrigger booms.
A cruising speed of about 10 knots is maintained and the trolling back and forth off the northern Caicos barrier reef begins.
There’s a constant lookout by the captain, crew and guests for indicators of game fish. The most common are flocks of sea birds, who feed on schools of small pelagic fish. The birds are not the only ones looking for dinner, as game fish are preying on the schools from below.
Once there’s a hit, a mad rush begins to get the other lines in and an angler takes the fighting chair and starts the long battle to reel in the catch.
Depending on the species, it can take hours to land the fish. It takes a lot of energy and stamina to fight a large game fish and bring it in, so anglers may take turns during the fight.
Sailfish, blue marlin, white marlin, swordfish, shark, yellowfin tuna, blackfin tuna, bigeye tuna, skipjack tuna, mahi mahi, and wahoo are all found in our waters. There is a bit of a season for some species, so consult our chart.
Although a bit less-desirable, barracuda is a common game fish caught.
Edible fish such as tuna, wahoo, mahi mahi and mackerel are usually kept and preserved in coolers, so you’ll have the option of cooking your catch, or having one of our excellent local restaurants prepare it.
Billfish are typically tagged and released.
Providenciales offers several tour operators fishing business to choose from. Rates tend to be relatively similar.
There’s relatively few deep sea sport fishing companies in the Turks and Caicos, so to ensure availability, we advise that any excursion be reserved well in advance of your arrival date.
Refreshments and snacks are typically included on excursions, along with lunch for trips longer than half a day.
40 to 50 foot sport fishing boat (manufactured by such companies as Bertram, Viking and Hatteras) are the common choice for deep sea sport fishing. These vessels often have fully-equipped cabins and lavatories, and some are suitable for overnight adventures. Some businesses offer deep sea fishing excursions on smaller open boats, but we recommend the full sport fishing boats for full day trips and when conditions aren’t optimal.
There are several sport fishing events that take place in the Turks and Caicos many of which are smaller local competitions.
The primary billfish and game fish tournaments are the annual Caicos Classic IGFA Billfish Release, and the Grand Turk Fishing Tournament. Both of these are multiple day events.
The Caicos Islands are ideally suited for bonefishing. Beautiful and expansive crystal-clear shallows line the southern coasts of Providenciales, Pine Cay, North Caicos, Middle Caicos and East Caicos, and the vast majority of these regions see very little human intrusion.
Many interior and sheltered sites are also found on the main islands. Along with bonefish, barracuda is also very common throughout the shallows of the country.
5-12 pound (2.25- 5.45 kg) is the common size range of bonefish.
It’s very easy to get to these scenic sites. Simply drive to the regions shown above and stop wherever it looks promising.
Many of the local fishing tour businesses offer bonefishing excursions. Flats boats and skiffs (suitable for poling) with spotting platforms are the typical watercraft used, but transport to wading sites is also common.
Another fishing genre that’s increasing in popularity in the Turk and Caicos is lionfish hunting.
The lionfish is a venomous and invasive fish from the Indo-Pacific that’s taking hold in the warmer Atlantic waters. The lionfish preys on smaller reef fish and has an insatiable appetite, which can damage and change existing food chains, and ultimately result in reef deterioration.
The spines on the lionfish are capable of causing an extremely painful sting to humans, which in rare cases can cause temporary paralysis.
The most common method for catching lionfish both in the Turks and Caicos and globally is by spear or pole spear, and in fact the lionfish is the only species in the country that may be collected in nature reserves and national parks, be speared, and be harvested with scuba diving equipment.
Lionfish are actually excellent and safe eating, with a white flaky texture and a taste similar to grouper. They also have one of the highest percentage of fillet to total weight ratios – with up to 33% of weight being edible and clean fillet. To hunt lionfish, a license must be obtained from the Department of Environment and Coastal Resources (DECR). On Providenciales, their offices are located in the National Environmental Centre in the Bight. Before fishing, it’s important to learn about safely hunting and cleaning lionfish from someone experienced before attempting to do so on your own.