Call it Offshore Fishing, Big Game Fishing or Deep Sea Fishing, Bottom line… Get Ready For the Time of Your Life!To 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
Although 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.
Various world records in fishing have been set in the Virgin Islands including the still-standing IGFA Women’s ‘All-Tackle’ world record for blue marlin; a 1073 pounder reeled in by Annette Maudi Dallimor on July 6, 1982. These historic catches, some 21 records over the years, are a testament to the great fishing opportunities that exist in the Virgin Islands for anglers of all ages and experience levels.
The Virgin Islands are perched at the edge of the six mile deep Puerto Rico Trench, an area known for having some of the hardiest game fish in the world. Two well known fishing areas off of St. Thomas are the North Drop, about 20 miles north of St. Thomas; and the South Drop, 8 miles south of St. Thomas. St. Croix is surrounded by a drop which is .5 to 4 miles north or south. Migrating schools of small fish gather in these areas, and this attracts larger pelagics such as billfish, Tuna, Wahoo and Dolphin fish (Mahi-Mahi). “Working the drop” consists of trolling back and forth across the 50-100 fathom depth contour.
Classic flats fishing are a rarity in the Virgin Islands; though exceptions such as the Leinster Bay area on St. John do exist. On St. Croix, which has a narrow under-water shelf off its shores; fishing from small boats very close to the shoreline can be very rewarding. Some recreational fishers have success fishing from shore despite difficulties due to windy conditions, deep drop offs and coral snags.
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!
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.
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.
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.
ST. THOMAS Fishing Events
Avid fishers take note; there are several fishing tournaments in the Virgin Islands throughout the year! Come join in the fun as a spectator or as a participant!
- Couples Tournament (February)
- Dolphin Derby (April)
- Memorial Day (May)
- July Open Kids Tournament (July)
- July Open Marlin Tournament (July)
- Bastille Day Kingfish Tournament (July)
- USVI Open/Atlantic Blue Marlin Tournament (August)
- Wahoo Windup (November)