Virgin Islands Activities: Fishing Guide

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, Water Island.

Fishing Grounds

Bastille Day Kingfish Tournament, 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 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!

Gamefish Location Season Bait/Lures

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.

Gamefish Location Season Bait/Lures

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.

Gamefish Location Season Bait/Lures 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.

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!

St. Thomas St. Croix

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)

Golden Hook Challenge (February)
Dolphin Tournament (March)
Guy/Gal Reel Challenge (September)
Wahoooo Tournament (November)

Fishing Clubs

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.

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