Before tourism emerged as the number one industry in the Turks and Caicos, fishing was the lifeblood of the community. The industry was based largely around South Caicos and the Caicos Bank, where spiny lobster and conch fisheries provided jobs and food for locals. Today, The Turks and Caicos Islands are one of the prime fishing destinations in the Caribbean, and the clear azure waters provide fishers and anglers with huge choice.
Year round, tuna, wahoo, dorado, barracuda, snappers, groupers, jacks and bonefish populate the waters. From May until September, Blue Marlin populated Turks and Caicos waters. Deep-sea fishing, bottom fishing, bone-fishing, light tackle trolling, shark fishing and night fishing are just some of the options you can look forward to on these tropical islands.
Take care of your paperwork
The first thing to note before embarking on any fishing trip is to make sure you have all your paperwork in order and be aware of where the national parks lie. If you are going out on an organized tour, be sure your guide has a license. If you are fishing in a private boat, you can get a license from the Department for Environmental and Maritime Affairs (DEMA) on Providenciales.
Once the bureaucracy is out of the way, there are miles of sea waiting to be discovered. South Caicos has traditionally been the center of the Islands' fishing industry. Although it is not developed for touristic purpose, some small businesses offer custom trips to experience bone-fishing, reef-fishing, and deep-sea fishing here.
Caicos Bank fishing
To the west of South Caicos and directly south of Middle Caicos is Caicos Bank. This area can be difficult to visit as boats with little draft are required in order to avoid damaging the sea bed - in most places the water is less than 8 feet deep. The area is excellent to catch snapper, grouper and barracuda that hide in between the coral. It is possible to avail of either a guided fishing trip or to rent a boat and equipment. A few smaller companies also offer deep-sea and bone fishing in the less explored waters around North Caicos.
For slightly more convenient options, Grand Turk and Providenciales offer tourists multiple choices for guides and boat charters. For deep-sea fishing, a twenty minute boat journey from Grand Turk leaves fishers in water packed with wahoo, tuna, barracuda and dorado, mahi-mahi. Many companies offer trips leaving from Grand Turk and they usually include rods and reel, bait, tackle and the fishing license. Some trips include lunch. There are also ample opportunities for sport fishing, bottom reef fishing and bone fishing around Grand Turk. Many of the fishing packages organized by cruise ships can be to crowed reefs. For enthusiasts it is recommended to join a customized tour run by locals. You will get a real taste of island life that way and a chance to experience the more secret spots.
While Grand Turk offers some great opportunities for fishing Providenciales is really the center for sport and bone fishing in the Turks and Caicos. In the Caicos flats surrounding Providenciales schools of bonefish swarm by the hundred. Bonefish around the islands typically weigh between 6 and 10 lbs. and have developed a super quick swimming speed in order to avoid predators, like sharks and barracuda. Their speed is what makes bone fishing so challenging for fishermen. It takes skill and precision to catch these speedy fish and the islands "catch and release" bonefish program ensures the plentiful supply will continue.
Every year, Providenciales hosts a number of tournaments, including the Wine Cellar Fishing Tournament Extravaganza - a combined fishing and golfing event in March, the Caicos Classic Annual "Catch 'n Release" Tournament International fishing tournament in June, the Caicos Classic Deep Sea Billfishing event held at Turtle Cove Marina also in June and in August the Heineken Annual Game Fishing Tournament Calcutta. One year a prize of $100,000 was handed out for record setting 436lbs. Blue Marlin.
For experienced anglers, there are also a number of options for do-it-yourself fishing trips around the islands.