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.
You will find general information about fishing grounds in the Virgin Islands, fish species, tournaments and fishing clubs in this section. For fishing charters and trips please select the island you will be vacationing on: St. Thomas, St. Croix, St. John.
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!
|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|
|Sailfish||STT North & South Drop, STX 100 Fathom drop off||October-March||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|
|Wahoo||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|
|Barracuda||reef & bank areas||All Year||Lures, spoons, ballyhoo|
|Hardnose||most inshore areas and around schools of bait fish and FADs||April-September||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|
|Kingfish||reefs, most mid-shelf areas and drop-offs||All year, best February-May||Ballyhoo, fry, skirts|
|Cero||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.
|Bonefish||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|
|Permit||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|
|Tarpon||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|
|Barracuda||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|
|Jacks||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|
|Snook||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.
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!
|ST. THOMAS||ST. CROIX|
Couples Tournament (February)
Golden Hook Challenge (February)
The Virgin Islands Game Fishing Club (VIGFC) on St. Thomas and the Golden Hook Fishing Club on St. Croix, are active clubs that schedule annual fishing events and tournaments. Many of the members are distinguished anglers, having set world records.
Note Information for this section was provided in part by Department of Planning and Natural Resources, Division of Fish and Wildlife.