Special thanks to Panoply Charters for the photographs used in this article.
Fishing in the Turks and Caicos Islands is considered to be some of the best in the world. We have the third largest barrier reef in the world (leading to great reef fishing). The extensive Caicos Banks results in excellent flats fishing (bone fishing) and is quick and easy to get to from the Caicos Islands. Finally, the ocean-wall is found just a few miles off the coasts of our islands, resulting in quick and plentiful big-game fishing (deep-sea fishing).
Anyone can fish and our local companies cater to both pros and amateurs. Depending on your group size, you may have the entire boat to yourself.
There are three main types of fishing, each with different equipment, locations and types of fish.
Common Species: Tuna, Wahoo, Marlin, Mahi-Mahi (Dolphinfish, Dorado)
Deep-sea Fishing is about catching the big game fish, such as sailfish, tuna and marlin. There’s a short 20 minute ride to the deep-sea, where there’s catch-and-release tuna, wahoo, blue marlin, and mahi-mahi.
Common Species: Bonefish, Barracuda
Local companies offer both guided fishing trips and some offer self-drive rental boats and equipment (commonly a Rigid-Hull-Inflatible-Boat, or RHIB). Unless you’re a pro, take the guided option.
Bonefishing is a common type of gamefishing as these are the strongest and fastest moving salt-water marine animals. Quite simply, they put up a good fight when you try to catch them.
Bonefish are members of the Albulidae family, although there are several other species of fish found in the flats. They commonly weight up to around 20lbs (10kg)
Bonefish are generally not considered to be ‘good-eating’ fishing, although they are consumed.
Common Species: Grouper, Snapper
Reef fishing is the easiest and one of the most common types of fishing in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
Much of the conch stocks in the Turks and Caicos Islands have been depleted. A few years ago, it was possible to simply swim-out in the Bight Beach and Long Bay Beach areas and see live conch. Now, it’s rare. Lobster and conch fishing is primarily done by commercial businesses.
You must be in possession of a valid fishing licences before attempting to fish (not necessarily actually catching anything). These are usually arranged by your fishing charter and the price is commonly included in their package cost. If you're fishing on your own, you can obtain a licence from the Department for Environmental and Maritime Affairs (DEMA) on Providenciales.
Some restaurants, such as a few of the local restaurants in the Blue Hills area, allow you to swim out and collect your conch. Whereas we haven’t heard of any prosecutions, this is technically illegal (unless the fisher holds a fishing licence).
Fishing Licence Fees
It is a criminal offence to fish or collect conch, lobsters or shells in a National Park. Large parts of the coasts of Providenciales are National Parks. If you are fishing on your own, we highly recommend you refer to our Provienciales National Parks. Persons (especially foreigners) caught fishing in a National Park will face significant fines and incarceration.
Imported fish has a rather high duty rate of around 40%. Many of the truly local restaurants, such as Daniel's Cafe on Middle Caicos, pride themselves in their use of freshly caught seafood.
However, despite the high duty rate, local fish can be more expensive than imported fish. Some restaurants thus serve imported fish instead of the (possibly) more expensive freshly caught local fish.
Wahoo, Mahi Mahi/Dolphin/Dorado, Black Fin Tuna, Yellowfin Tuna, Tapon, Blue Marlin, White Marlin, Sailfish, Oceanic Sharks, Reef Sharks, Cero Mackerel, Horse-eye Jacks, Grouper, Snapper, Triggerfish, Barracuda, Bone Fish, Crevelle Jacks, Permit, Pompano, Stingray