Virgin Islands Fishing


Virgin Islands Fishing

Call it Offshore Fishing, Big Game Fishing or Deep Sea Fishing!

mixed-bag-sportfishing-caribbean-sea-3To big game anglers, nothing beats the thrill of landing a blue marlin. One of the most sought-after marlin species, the blue marlin continues to inspire sports-fishing enthusiasts around the world. The big game fish in the waters surrounding the Virgin Islands are known to put up quite a fight, so be prepared to put some muscle into it when you’re reeling in the day’s catch. Head to the North and South Drops for optimal fishing, though you are sure to get a bite elsewhere.

Common catches include Atlantic Blue Marlin, Blackfin Tuna, Mahi-Mahi, Sailfish, Skipjack Tuna, White Marlin, and Yellowfin Tuna.

Offshore Deep Sea Fishing Catch – Blue Marin Fishing in St. Thomas

mixed-bag-sportfishing-caribbean-sea-2Although blue marlin can be found in select areas around the globe, the island of St Thomas in the US Virgin Islands is one of the most renowned Atlantic blue marlin destinations. Lure fishing, trolling natural baits and bait and switch are all popular blue marlin fishing techniques. The former all-tackle world record for Atlantic blue of 1,282 lb was set in St. Thomas.

The Virgin Islands are perched at the edge of the six mile deep Puerto Rico Trench, an area known for having some of the best game fishing in the world. Two famous offshore fishing areas in the Virgin Islands are the North Drop and the South Drop. The North Drop, about 20 miles north of St. Thomas, is unparallelled for its blue marlin fishing. It is said to produce more blue marlin bites per boat than any other place in the world.

Although Marlin fishing is fine year round in St. Thomas, in the most optimum months of May to October it is not unusual to have five, six, seven even ten strikes every day.

Other offshore gamefish around St. Thomas include sailfish, wahoo, kingfish, yellowfin and blackfin tuna, and dolphin (mahi mahi). The South Drop, 8 miles south of St. Thomas, can reach depths of 12,000 feet; its warmer Caribbean Sea waters are the perfect fishing location for dolphin (mahi-mahi), sailfish, kingfish, and wahoo.

Inshore Fishing

mixed-bag-sportfishing-caribbean-sea-1Inshore game fish include barracuda, bonefish, kingfish, mackerel, snook and tarpon. There are lots of tarpon around the islands and your catch will generally average around 25 pounds, however catching a 40 or 50 pounder is not unlikely!

Inshore fishing is great for people who want to stay around the islands and target kingfish, snapper, barracuda, shark and reef fish. Inshore fishing is not always favorable in the Virgin Islands, due to the coral snags, deep drop offs, and often windy conditions. Even so it is a popular pastime, and there are plenty of places for you to drop a line without heading far from shore. Methods for inshore fishing include top water bait, trolling, and fly rod.

The type of fish you catch inshore depends on when you visit the islands. Kingfish, Pampano, and Bonito are abundant in the spring, Hardnose, and Rainbow Runner are commonly caught throughout the summer and into early fall, and Barracuda, Cero, Yellowtail Snapper, and Bar Jack can be found regardless of season.

There are many premier locations in St. Thomas for inshore fishing, particularly fishing for tarpon and kingfish. Tarpon over 100 pounds are regularly caught right from the beach, as its clear, sandy bottom makes them easy to spot and provides an unlimited supply of baitfish and crustaceans for them to feed on.

Tarpon present no danger to humans as they have no teeth, yet they are one of the most prized gamefish in the world and put up an acrobatic fight second to none when hooked.

Offshore Game Fishing

Offshore game fish include Blue and White Marlin, Sailfish, Yellowfin Tuna and Wahoo among others. Most of these game fish strike with little warning and they are all known to give quite a fight. Marlin will fight for hours and are said to become more aggressive the week before and after the full moon. Tuna are also strong fish. Wahoo are known to attack bait ferociously and then swim away from the boat; they can race up to 50 miles an hour!





Atlantic Blue Marlin

STT North & South Drop, STX 100 Fathom drop off, FADs

All year, best May-October

Lures, Ballyhoo, Belly strips, Mackerel

White Marlin

STT North & South Drop, STX 100 Fathom drop off, FADs

All year, best April-May

Lures, Ballyhoo, Bellystrips


STT North & South Drop, STX 100 Fathom drop off


Lures, Ballyhoo, Bellystrips

Yellowfin Tuna

STT North & South Drop, STX 100 Fathom drop off and all shelf areas, FADs

August – February

Lures, Ballyhoo Feathers

Blackfin Tuna

shelf areas on all islands, FADs

All Year

Lures, Feathers

Skipjack Tuna

shelf areas on all islands, FADs

All Year

Lures, Ballyhoo

Dolphin Fish (mahi-mahi)

STT North & South Drop, shelf areas on all islands, FADs

October-January (peak season) May, July

Lures, Ballyhoo, Flying Fish


shelf areas on all islands, FADs

All year, best September-May

Lures, Ballyhoo

Inshore Game Fishing

Inshore game fishing is the mainstay of recreational fishing for visitors and residents alike and is a tradition in the Virgin Islands. Inshore game fish include Barracuda, Bonefish, Kingfish, Mackerel, Snook and Tarpon. Methods for inshore fishing include fly rod, top water bait and trolling. Bonefish are a bit trickier to catch as they hide around corals making for an easy snag of your hook/line.





Bonito (Little Tunny)

most inshore areas, drop-offs and around schools of bait fish

All year, best January-May

Fry, feathers


reef & bank areas

All Year

Lures, spoons, ballyhoo


most inshore areas and around schools of bait fish and FADs


Fry, small feathers

Bar Jack

most inshore areas and around schools of bait fish

All Year

Fry, squid, ballyhoo, feathers

Crevalle Jack

STX 100 Fathom drop off, most inshore areas and around schools of bait fish

All Year

Fry, squid

Rainbow Runner

STT North and South Drops, reefs & banks, FADs

April – September

Fry, squid, ballyhoo, feathers

Yellowtail Snapper

near reefs & bank areas

All Year

Fry, cut bait


reefs, most mid-shelf areas and drop-offs

All year, best February-May

Ballyhoo, fry, skirts


Near shore, reefs

All Year

Lures, feathers, fry, ballyhoo

The primary target of shallow water fishing and flat fishing in the Virgin Islands include Barracuda, Jacks and Permit. Bonefish and Tarpon are also popular catches in shallow waters, but they are catch and release only. Snook are caught occasionally.





Fly Fishing


near shore, shallow areas, sea grass & sand flats, bays, mangrove lagoons

All year, best late March- September

Live shrimp, small jigs often baited with shrimp or crab

Small flies tied to imitate shrimp, crabs


shallow sea grass & sand flats, bays, lagoons, back reefs

All year, best April-October

Small live crabs, pieces of crab, small sea urchins

Crab patterns


mangrove lagoons, bays, harbors, deeper water adjacent to shallow flats, around offshore cays

All year, best March-October

Silver spoons, white jigs, live bait fish

Large streamers, various ‘tarpon’ flies


around reefs, channels adjacent to shallow water, mangrove lagoons and bays

All Year

Live fish, bait fish imitations, silver spoons, feathers

Bait fish imitations, needlefish imitations


around reefs, channels adjacent to shallow water, mangrove lagoons and bays, back reef flats

All Year

Squid, shrimp, cut bait, small spoons, spinners, jigs

Small streamers, shrimp imitations


mangrove lagoons, bays, harbors, along beaches with sharp drop-offs and submerged structures

All Year

Live shrimp, small fish, bait fish imitation lures, jigs

Bait fish imitations

Mahogany Snapper

around reefs, channels, adjacent to shallow water

All Year

Batifish, squid, fry


Fishing in the U.S. Virgin Islands is regulated by both territorial and federal restrictions regarding fishing licenses, protected areas where fishing is limited or not allowed, protected species, size restrictions, catch restrictions and other rules that seek to manage fisheries and protect their sustainability. Visit Recreational Fishing Regulations for more information.

[Source: VI Now ]