Fishing In Jamaica: A Quality Family Experience Worth Planning Just Right!


Cast your line into the deep, blue waters of Jamaica and settle in for a bite as the gentle sea breeze blows. Whether you've signed up for a reef fishing excursion, deep sea, or any other type of fishing, you know for certain that you’re up for some excitement while fishing in Jamaica.

This island truly is a fisher’s dream as there are quite a few varieties of fish including saltwater and freshwater fish in the waters around Jamaica. Saltwater fish that you might be able to reel in during a fishing excursion on this island include kingfish, whiting, tuna, mackerel, bonito, and jack. Freshwater catches can include snook, mangrove snapper, jewfish, and mullets.

Whether you'll be traveling to Jamaica solo, with a group of friends, or with family, your fishing trip will definitely be one of your vacation highlights. On an annual basis, this island plays host to a number of major fishing tournaments and contests. Apart from that, there are lots of fishing tours and charters available throughout the year for seasoned anglers and beginners alike. The high season for fishing in Jamaica tends to be from June to November. Nevertheless, you’re bound to make a good catch no matter what time of year you go.

Before you start reeling them in, here’s what you need to know about fishing in Jamaica, including the best spots, tours, and charters!

Expert tip: Many private yachts from the U.S. make their way to Jamaica for the sake of fishing. At some times of the year, the waters are especially busy, particularly around September to October when fishing tournaments usually get underway.




Before you set off on your fishing trip:

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There are a few things you need to check off your to-do list before setting off on a fishing trip in Jamaica. One of these includes ensuring that all the necessary licenses are covered by your charter if you’ll be using one. If you plan on booking your fishing trip through a travel operator or resort, make sure you ask questions to ensure that your charter is fully licensed.

You won’t need a license to go spearfishing in Jamaica, but there are some places where spearfishing is prohibited. These areas include the Montego Bay Marine Park, which is a protected area. If you want to fish in the Montego Bay Marine Park, you will need to get a permission letter to do so. Generally, in non-protected parts of Jamaica, you won't need a license if you'll be fishing from shore (hook & line).

If you plan on going sport fishing, a personal license will do for the boat. This refers in particular to fishing for tuna or marlin by boat, an activity for which there is no legislation. For commercial fishing, you will need a special fishing license.




Types of fishing in Jamaica

Deep sea fishing

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Deep sea fishing is hugely popular in Jamaica. This is because of the vast number of fish species that populate the deep waters around this island. It won’t be hard to book a chartered boat to head out on a deep sea fishing adventure, and you won't even have to head out too far. There are quite a few big game species that can be found just a few miles offshore.

If you’ll be deep sea fishing for the first time, you might want to start off by reeling in mahi-mahi or tuna. While it can be challenging to catch these hard-fighting fish, it is even more difficult to catch white and blue marlin. More experienced anglers will stand a better chance of catching these!

With deep sea fishing in Jamaica, there's a little something for everyone. The sea floor has a major drop just offshore, so you might be able to reel in deep-water fish just a quarter-mile from shore. Still, it is worth venturing a little further out if you want to catch larger fish.




Reef fishing

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Image credit: Aerial-motion/Shutterstock.com

Reef fishing has become quite popular in Jamaica over the years; as a result, some reefs have suffered from overfishing. Luckily, there are still some great places to go reef fishing in Jamaica. This includes the coast of Port Royal, and Kingston, Jamaica (the capital). If you go reef fishing in the more shallow reefs in Jamaica, you're likely to catch snapper, barracuda, yellowtail, and rainbow runners. Farther out, you can reel in grouper and amberjack. Pedro Bank is great for reef or bottom fishing. This runs along the coast of Port Royal and Kingston. Buckner Bank (a bit further north) is another option worth trying.




Shallow water fishing

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Image credit: Susan Hunsberger/Shutterstock.com

If you've never tried shallow water fishing, Jamaica can be a great place to get your feet wet. You can choose to fish from the sand or from a small boat in shallow waters. There are a number of fish species that can be reeled in using this method of fishing including bonefish, wahoo, tarpon, and barracuda. This is an especially great option for travelers on a budget because renting a boat for this experience is optional.




Freshwater fishing

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Image credit: Damsea/Shutterstock.com

Though this island is most known for its saltwater fish, there are a variety of freshwater species that can be caught here as well. The rivers near the Negril River Bridge and the Black River are ideal spots if you want to try freshwater fishing in Jamaica. Black River is in St. Elizabeth Parish. Freshwater fish species you may catch in Jamaica include perch, killifish, gobies, and livebearers. Depending on where you fish, you might also reel in mangrove snapper, snook, jewfish, and mullet.




Fish to catch in Jamaica

Amberjack

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Image credit: Jaka Zvan/Shutterstock.com

This fish species tends to dwell in the northern waters of Jamaica in more remote areas. It is not that hard to get amberjack to bite, but getting them onto your boat is a little harder. They will swim against you with all of their strength and don't tire easily. If you're up for the challenge, you’ll definitely find just that in Jamaica. Amberjack fishing can be done throughout the year on this island.




Barracuda

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Image credit: Shane Gross/Shutterstock.com

Barracuda are often found near reefs in Jamaica. If you're planning a fishing trip to catch barracuda, then it is a good idea to set your sights on Montego Bay. It is possible to catch barracuda year-round in Jamaica. The best time to fish for barracuda is in the early morning or late evening.




Bonito

Also known as skipjack, the best time to fish for bonito in Jamaica is between the months of December and January, specifically during the early morning hours. As with many other fish species, bonito can be caught throughout the year as well. The best place to fish for bonito on the island of Jamaica is Montego Bay.

Good to know: Bonito can grow up to 30 inches, and you’re best off catching this type of fish with a shiny lure. The amount of vibration and noise your lure emits can help determine whether you're able to catch this type of fish successfully as well.



Bonefish

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Image credit: Apriadi Kurniawand/Shutterstock.com

Bonefish are quite elusive and catching them can pose a challenge to even the most skilled fisherman. Their silvery color blends easily with the sand, which doesn't make things any easier. If you’re up for a challenge, spend some time on the flats trying to catch some bonefish. Though these fishes can be found year-round, the best time to catch bonefish is between November to December.




Grouper

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Grouper is plentiful in the waters around Jamaica and you can catch this fish species all year round. Even with that said, the best time to catch grouper is between the months of May to October. If you're specifically interested in catching grouper, it is a good idea to book a deep sea fishing trip to Montego Bay. Be prepared for grouper to make a powerful ‘run’ when hooked!




Kingfish

Kingfish or king mackerel is another common catch in Jamaica. Even with that said, anglers do find that kingfish tend to be among the hardest-fighting fish. More experienced anglers might be able to reel in kingfish a lot easier than beginners. In Jamaica, kingfish can be caught throughout the year. Ocho Rios is one of the best places to catch kingfish on this island.

Expert tip: If you go fishing just before dusk, you’ll notice that’s when the kingfish start biting.



Mahi-mahi

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Also known as a dolphin (but not to be confused with the beloved sea mammal), the mahi-mahi has similar swimming habits to dolphins. This fish tends to swim in front of sailing ships, much in the same manner as dolphins.

Though highly sought after, it can be a challenge to catch mahi-mahi in Jamaica. A deep sea fishing trip is the best option to catch this kind of fish and your best bet might be fishing in the Montego Bay area. The best time to catch mahi-mahi in Jamaica is between February and June. If you want to catch mahi-mahi during your fishing trip, early morning or late evening is best.




Marlin

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A popular catch, marlin are fast and powerful fish that are sought after by more experienced anglers. Both blue and white marlins dwell in the waters of Jamaica. Port Antonio is one of the best places to settle in for a marlin fishing challenge. The best time to fish for white marlin in Jamaica is between the months of February and April. The peak season for blue marlin on the other hand is between August and October. Aside from Port Antonio, Montego Bay is also a good place for marlin fishing. The best time to fish for marlin is in the morning or afternoon.




Flounder

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Image credit: Franziska Reinhardt/Shutterstock.com

Flounders are fun to catch and by the account of some anglers, they’re relatively easy to lure on a fishing hook as well. In Jamaica, you'll have plenty of opportunities to put these theories to the test because it’s one of the best places to catch flounder in the Caribbean. Head to Falmouth if you want to target flounder during your fishing trip. Flounder fishing is most productive in the late summer up until early fall.




Tuna

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Tuna fishing is popular in the Caribbean and Jamaica is not excluded. There are various types of tuna that can be found in the waters off the coast of Jamaica including blackfin tuna, albacore tuna, skipjack tuna, and yellowfin tuna. The tuna season in Jamaica starts in March and extends to May. One of the best places to catch tuna in Jamaica is in the deep waters of the Cayman Trench.

Good to know: The best time to fish for tuna is between dusk and dawn when you're more likely to catch this species in larger numbers. Tuna can be quite feisty, so hold on tight!



Wahoo

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Setting your sights on catching wahoo while in Jamaica can be a fruitful endeavor. The high season for catching wahoo is from March to May and September to November (spring and fall). The low season tends to be from January to February. Wahoo is known to bite well at first light, so keep this in mind when planning your fishing excursion in Jamaica.




Fishing seasons in Jamaica

Although you can catch fish year-round in Jamaica, the best time to fish is between the months of June to November. This is because summer and fall tend to be quite conducive for fishing in this part of the world for a number of species. It is worth booking your fishing vacation during this time if you’re hoping for a great haul. Other that that, there are other times of year that can be good for a fishing trip too.

Winter is the busiest month to travel to the Caribbean, particularly the month of January. This is a peak travel time for Jamaica with the demand for fishing being high as well. Prices can also be higher for fishing charters in the winter. If you're on a budget, you can also go fishing in Jamaica during the low season where your chances are higher of paying less for your charters and accommodation. You still stand a chance of making good catches in the low season as well.




Top Jamaica fishing locations

Ocho Rios

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Pictured: The pool and beach at Beaches Ocho Rios


Fishing is one of the most exciting things to do in Ocho Rios, Jamaica during a vacation. A fishing trip in this part of Jamaica can be quite the thrill because it will open you up to big catches, particularly with sport fishing. Some of the fish species you can expect to come across while sport fishing in Ocho Rios include kingfish, mahi-mahi, blue marlin, dolphin, snapper, jackfish, and more. As is the nature of sport fishing, these fishes would be caught and then released back into the ocean.

A deep sea fishing excursion in the coastal waters of Ocho Rios can last up to 8 hours (full day), but there are other options as well including half-day trips (about 4 hours). Deep sea fishing is popular year-round in Ocho Rios and there are several locations anglers can choose from for their fishing adventure.




Port Antonio

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Port Antonio, on the northeast coast of Jamaica, is ideal for deep sea fishing because it is not very commercialized and overfishing has not been a problem thus far. Sport fishing enthusiasts will love fishing in Portland, Port Antonio, where some of the biggest marlins in Jamaica are often found. In fact, there's a marlin fishing tournament held in Portland annually. Some of the best anglers in the world participate in this tournament, all in the name of catching the largest marlin. This is one of the biggest events held in this town.




Montego Bay

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Pictured: Just a short boat ride away from the pristine beach of Sandals Montego Bay lies one of Jamaica's most popular deep sea fishing spots.


Montego Bay is a top choice for deep sea fishing in Jamaica. One of the main areas many fishing charters or tours go to in Montego Bay for deep sea fishing is near Doctor’s Cave Beach. This spot is popular with anglers because there’s a drop-off of over 2000ft near the shoreline. This means you won’t have to venture very far out for deep sea catches (including huge marlin!). There are a number of fishing charters and tours that will happily take you around to explore the best of Montego Bay with a fishing trip. The Montego Bay International Marlin Tournament usually gets underway annually as well.

Expert tip: Want to try scuba dive vacations that include fishing while in Jamaica? Here’s our Jamaica packing list to get you started!



Negril

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Pictured: Seven Mile Beach, the home of Beaches Negril, is a great place to start if you plan to fish off the coast of Negril.


For a fun and exciting fishing adventure, Negril is a worthwhile option while in Jamaica. This location is quite unique for deep sea fishing because there’s a long, shallow bay that enables anglers to fish within 5-10 minutes from shore. The best place to go deep sea fishing off the Negril coast is on the western end. That area is relatively untouched and you’ll be able to find a wide variety of fish including mahi-mahi, yellowfin tuna, and blue marlin. For larger catches you will need to go farther out — another 8 miles should get you to the deeper waters.

Insider tip: Negril resorts are truly diverse and perfect for family and group fishing vacations. Once you book your trip you can start getting more familiar with some of the other amazing things to do in Negril Jamaica.



Cayman Trench

Cayman Trench is usually an area that comes up when anglers are talking about when they rave about fishing in Jamaica being truly world-class. This is a submarine trench that extends from Jamaica to the southeastern end of Cuba. It is also known as Bartlett Deep or Bartlett Trough. The deepest point of this trough is 25,216 feet (7,686 m). This is also the deepest point in the Caribbean Sea.

About a half mile off the coast of Montego Bay, the drop-off of Cayman Trench begins gradually from 400 ft and descends to 3,000 feet offshore. The water here is truly an angler's dream and lots of game fish can be found including white and blue marlin, mahi-mahi, yellowfin tuna, snapper, barracuda, and more. Fishing in the waters of the Cayman Trench can be quite productive in the summer months, depending on which fish species you’re hoping to reel in.




Banks

Bank fishing is popular in Jamaica as well. Along the south coast of Jamaica, you’ll find a few banks and cays. This includes Pedro Bank, which is the largest bank in this area. This is a preferred spot for anglers as there's usually a plethora of fish including red tail snapper, grouper, mutton, and yellowtail. You might also be able to reel in kingfish and wahoo while fishing along the banks.

On the north coast of Jamaica, the three main banks that attract anglers are off the coast of Port Antonio. These are Grappler, Henry Holms, and Shipwreck. In Montego Bay, Buckner Bank is also worth checking out. Buckner Bank is located about 15 miles off the coast and it is an ideal spot to fish for yellowtail, mutton, and red tail snapper.

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Expert tip: Before or after your fishing trip, head out and enjoy the outdoors with a trip to Dunn's River Falls, the most popular waterfall in Jamaica. Not only will you be able to climb the falls as part of the wet or dry climb, but you’ll also be able to dip into refreshing natural pools and relax on Dunn’s River Falls Beach.



Booking a charter or tour

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When booking a fishing charter or tour in Jamaica, you’ll first need to decide the sort of excursion you're looking for. Do you want your fishing trip to last for a half day, full day, or even several days? Keep in mind that half-day trips tend to pass by really quickly, especially since it can take a few hours to get to the more remote fishing locations. If you're an experienced angler and anticipate spending more time out on the water, go for a full-day trip. This way you’ll have enough time to get around to the best spots and really enjoy your day out fishing. Full-day tours are more costly than half-day tours, but the price can be worth it. Multi-day charters are best for anglers who want to reel in trophy fish.

You should also think about who you’ll be going with. Are you going solo, or will you be going fishing with friends or family? These details are important and can help you pick the ideal fishing experience. The sort of trip you’re looking for will help determine which fishing charter or tour would be best for you.

Deep sea fishing tours in particular tend to get booked quickly. The earlier you book your tour the better. When it comes to booking, it is best to go with a reputable company. There are a number of Jamaica-based charters that have received rave reviews over the years from anglers. Some Jamaica fishing charters with good reviews include Just Hook It Charters Ltd., Island Dog - Whaler One, and Luminous Lagoon Tours LTD. We’ve listed these and other options below.




Recommended fishing charters in Jamaica

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Here’s a list of the Jamaica-based charters that stand out for their services. All of these received favorable reviews from families who booked Jamaica fishing trips. The captains of these charters are knowledgeable and friendly and are sure to help you meet your fishing goals:

Just Hook It Charters Ltd.

Reel Magic Sports Fishing

Jamaica Sailing Adventures

Island Dog – Lady White

Island Dog – Whaler One

Island Dog – Lady Verr

Luminous Lagoon Tours LTD

Expert tip: It is possible to book fishing trips or charters through your resort, particularly if you'll be staying at an all-inclusive resort. Booking through your resort means you may be able to get some insight on local charters and tours from staff and you also won’t have to plan your fishing trip before you get there. Still, the earlier you book your fishing tour, the better!



What to bring on your tour:

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If you're planning on heading out on a fishing tour or charter in Jamaica, there are a few essentials you won't want to leave behind. For most fishing excursions (depending on the duration), this list will exclude things like fishing equipment, food and snacks. Here’s what you'll need to bring:

  • Sunscreen - this will most certainly will come in handy as fishing trips usually mean you'll be spending quite a bit of time in the sun. Apply sunscreen generously before sun exposure, and reapply when necessary.

  • Sun hat - A good fishing hat, preferably a wide brimmed sun hat, will be a life saver on a fishing trip in the Caribbean. Focus on both on style and effectiveness to find the right one for you.

  • Sunglasses - Many anglers opt for polarized sunglasses which are ideal for sun protection out on the water.. Shop around for a good pair if you don't already have one ahead of your fishing trip to Jamaica. If you don't specifically have one of these, a regular pair of sunglasses should work just fine.




Make the best of your vacation by fishing in Jamaica

There are many places to go if you want a quality fishing experience in Jamaica. There's a lot to look forward to with a fishing experience on this island as well! Whether you’re a skilled and experienced angler or just starting off, you can find a fishing tour that suits you on this island. Even if you don't catch anything, the views from out on the ocean looking back at the island are fantastic. You might also spot turtles and dolphins frolicking out in the deep waters.

As fishing trips are about relaxation just as much as they are about reeling in amazing catches, it will definitely matter where you stay in Jamaica. For a fishing vacation, go for an all-inclusive resort in Jamaica so you won’t have to think about anything else but making the most of your vacation. Since everything will be paid for in advance, you can eat and drink to your heart's content. This is an especially appealing feature for parents with kids, or anyone looking for all-inclusive group vacations.

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Beaches Resorts in Jamaica offer water sports vacations that’ll be quite the interesting mix with your fishing vacation. There’s something for every member of your family to do and lots of quality inclusions to help make your vacation in Jamaica everything you hoped it would be, and more.

Insider tip: Ocho Rios resorts have a lot to offer and are perfectly positioned for you to enjoy the best Ocho Rios excursions and other things Jamaica is known for.




Kylie Morrow

About Kylie Morrow

Writing for 13-years, Kylie discovered that experiences tell the best stories. As a Caribbean mother who wrote for newspapers, magazines, and blogs, she believes inspiration is even found in our kids!