Fishing is a popular pastime in Bermuda for both residents and tourists. Visitors can go deep sea fishing, reef fishing, or shore fishing. To go spearfishing or lobster diving you need a licence and they’re currently only issued to residents.
Deep Sea Fishing
May to October is the best time for deep sea fishing. Marlin, tuna, and wahoo can all be caught during this period. The table below shows the best times for catching white and blue marlin, wahoo, and yellowfin tuna.
Captains take their boats out to Argus Bank and Challenger Bank. These are, like Bermuda, volcanic peaks. However they don’t rise above sea level. Challenger is closest and lies 13 miles southwest of the Bermuda. Argus lies around 20 miles southwest of the island.
Chartering is boat is fairly expensive anywhere in the world, but the high cost of fuel in Bermuda raises prices even further. Expect to pay up to around $2000 to charter a boat for a full day.
Fish caught are usually kept by the boat and sold to offset running costs. The captain will usually give you some to take if you wish.
Deep-sea charter operations include:
Reef fishing offers a more affordable option for visitors interested in going fishing. The reefs are closer so boats use less fuel and get there quicker. Shorter trips are viable and rewarding. Potential catch include snapper, triggerfish, barracuda, chub, and rockfish.
The Island Tour Centre offers reef fishing trips from Royal Naval Dockyard. It’s a good choice for passengers of the cruise ships docked at King’s Wharf and Heritage Wharf. The cost is reasonable and tackle and bait are included.
Baxter’s Reef Fishing is another operation offering reef fishing. Captain Michael Baxter offers two trips every day of the week. The Ellen B departs from dock at Mangrove Bay in Sandys Parish (easily reached from Dockyard).
Visitors can also rent a small boat. Various operators hire out boats that are simple to operate; usually Boston Whalers. They all have restrictions on where you can take the boat though.
Shore fishing is more popular with locals than visitors. Nevertheless, it’s an option open to tourists. There’s no need for any permit but you’ll need your own tackle (many just use lines).
Good fishing spots can be found all over the island. Just look for a group of locals fishing and it’s almost certainly a good spot. Popular places include Watford Bridge (just east of the Somerset Country Squire), Kindley Field Park (next to LF Wade International Airport), Watch Hill Park (just west of John Smith’s Bay), Flatts (near BAMZ), Admiralty Park, Albuoy’s Point, and Somerset Long Bay.
Typical catch include bonefish, pompano, grey snapper, hogfish, and jacks.
Spearfishing & Lobster Diving
Bermuda is one of the best places in the world for spearfishing. Huge rockfish can be found around the reefs. It’s restricted to residents only and a licence from the Department of Environmental Protection is required. A licence is also needed to go lobster diving.
The following list summarises key points from Bermuda’s fishing laws and regulations:
- Protected species cannot be taken. They include parrotfish, Nassau grouper, red grouper, yellowfin grouper, and tiger grouper.
- Minimum sizes and bag limits apply for certain species. They include black grouper/rockfish (37 inches, 1 per day), yellowmouth grouper (20 inches, 1 per day), lane snapper (10 inches, 30 per day), yellowtail snapper (12 inches), and hogfish (18 inches).
- Fixed fishing gear of any type (pots, traps etc.) is prohibited.
- It’s illegal for recreational fishermen to sell their catch. Only licensed commercial fishermen can sell fish. It’s also illegal to buy fish from anybody that isn’t licensed.
- A licence is needed to dive for lobster, even recreationally. They’re issued by the Department of Environmental Protection to residents only. The lobster season runs from September 1 to March 31. Lobsters can only be taken with a noose/snare; not by spearing. Scuba equipment cannot be used.
- Spearfishing also requires a licence and is not allowed within one mile of the coast or in protected areas (e.g. North Rock). Only pole spears are allowed (no spear guns) and no scuba diving equipment can be used. Participants must adhere to a limit of two fish of any one species per day (in addition to the minimum/size bag limits previously noted).
Fishing Shops & Supplies
Fly Bridge Tackle is a good place to buy fishing tackle and bait. It’s situated on Church Street in Hamilton (opposite the Central Terminal). You can also buy bait and equipment from some waterfront gas stations (e.g. RUBiS Robinson’s Marina – next to Somerset Bridge).