Offshore fishing is one of the most popular sports in the world. Apart from running and jogging, more people go fishing than do any other sport. Living or retiring overseas comes with many benefits. One of the biggest is a chance to follow your passions. Offshore fishing in the U.S. can be expensive, cold, or both. In some of the countries we will look at below it is highly affordable and done in tropical waters. Here we look at some of the best places for offshore fishing. Countries you can easily move to, and spend more time doing what you love.
The History Of Fishing
Moby Dick versus the whale. Roy Scheider versus Jaws. For millennia, man has been engaged in mortal combat with creatures of the sea. Whether in the clear blue waters of the Caribbean, or the icy depths of the North Sea, man has fought the good fight. The goal? To provide food for themselves and their tribe. Today however, for some people, the battle has become a sport. One of the most popular sports in the world.
Fly-fishermen will tell you that theirs is the most skillful way to catch a fish. Carp fishermen preach the virtues of sitting quietly and taking in the surroundings. But the most thrilling has to be deep sea fishing. Battling with huge fish on the open sea is a test of endurance, skill, and character.
What Are The Most Popular Deep Sea Fish?
Themarlin is the most highly prized fish and one of the most exhilarating to catch. Marlin are agile, powerful, and can grow to monsterous size. Marlin put up a real fight on the line, and will dive deep and also jump out of the water.
There are 4 different types of marlin, blue, black, white, and striped. Black marlin are the biggest and have been known to weigh in at over 1,000 lbs. Known as the “Bull of the Sea”, Black marlin will fight for hours at a time. White marlin are the smallest marlin and the most difficult to catch. Fast and agile, they are tricky to get onto the hook and are a big prize. The striped marlin are migratory fish and famous for leaping out of the ocean at every opportunity. You need to take great care bringing these fish close to the boat. The blue marlin is perhaps the most commonly caught fish. They can weigh over 250lbs and are distinguishable thanks to their bright blue back.
Tuna are another popular game fish. Some fishermen prize them even more highly than the marlin. Bluefin and yellowfin tuna can reach over 300lbs. Bluefin tuna very valuable too, especially in Japan where big Bluefin have sold for over US$1 million.
Costa Rica is famous for marlin. The country gained the attention of fishing and scientific communities in 2014, when a fisherman caught (and released) an albino marlin. The fish was caught by Karen Weaver and estimated to be about 300lbs.
On the Pacific Coast you can fish for both marlin and sailfish. Costa Rica likes to call itself “the billfish capital of the world”. This is partly due to the volume of billfish during the peak season, but also because you can find billfish here all year. Other fish include dorado, yellowfin tuna, and wahoo.
The Caribbean coast doesn’t attract the same number of tourists as the Pacific, but there’s still good fishing to be had. Big snook, and tarpon patrol the coastal waters and river mouths. There are also mackerel, snappers and sharks. Be warned, there are also monster crocs, especially around river mouths. These are ambush predators, so keep your wits about you.
The whole Pacific side offers great fishing, but there are a few that are especially good. In the north, Tamarindo has a well-developed infrastructure and lots of experienced fishermen who can take you out to sea.
Quepos, in the centre of Costa Rica, is the country’s fishing capital. Each year it hosts the Offshore World Championships, the biggest offshore fishing competition in the world.
Best Season To Fish
Costa Rica offers year round offshore fishing. If you’re travelling on a budget, then you can arrive during the rainy season (October and November) and make big savings.
If you are looking to catch sailfish then you should head to the Quepos between December and April. This is when the numbers are at their highest.
Panama is coming alive as an offshore fishing destination. The country has a major international airport, and great infrastructure making it easy to access. Once you get there, the waters are teeming with fish.
Black marlín draw many people to Panama. The fierce fish can reach giant sizes with 800, and upwards, a possibility.
Much of the best fishing is on the Pacific coast. In addition to the marlin you can find yellowfin tuna, blue marlin, snappers, and even some striped marlin.
The Atlantic side, with deep water trenches close to the shore offer some great game fishing opportunities. Tarpon, grouper, kingfish, barracuda, and snook are all plentiful. The sea can get rough quickly, and with little warning, on the Atlantic side, so be sure to go with an experienced captain in a suitable boat.
It’s possible to fish offshore from Panama City. However, you need to head a long way offshore to reach the deep waters. Most of the renowned fishing spots start further west. From Pedasi, along the Azeuro Coast, to David, is where most of the best fishing can be had.
There are tour companies across the Pacific coast catering exclusively to fishing parties. The Atlantic coast is much less developed and you will need to make your own arrangements.
Best Season To Fish
If you have access to a big enough boat you can fish year round. The dry season between January and May is the least popular season. During this time of year most days come with a strong sea breeze. This causes a lot of chop on the sea, making the fishing less fun. If you are planning to use a smaller boat, this chop can make the waters too rough.
The seas are calmer during the rainy season, and there are more fish to be had too. August is the start of the bill fish season on the Pacific coast. The tuna arrive during September and the season reaches its peak during November and early December, with the highest numbers of fish.
Mexico has long been a popular haunt with U.S. based fishermen. Make a short flight over the border, and you can save hundreds, if not thousands, on the cost of your fishing trip. What’s more the weather is better too.
Fishing trips are easy to find, and people here are used to English-speaking tourists, another benefit to fishing in Mexico.
In Mexico you will need to get a fishing license before you can fish. This is a straightforward process, but it’s worth getting your license in advance. The queues before the boats leave in the morning can eat into your fishing time.
You can fish in both the Atlantic and Pacific. Basically, take a boat out to see and you will find fish.
Cancun, on the Caribbean coast, is where most tourists go to. The infrastructure is well-developed here and there is easy access from the USA. If you are just looking for a day’s fishing, you can combine a vacation in Cancun with a day out at sea.
On the Pacific Coast, Cabo San Lucas is worth a look. Like Cancun, there is an established infrastructure. More importantly the fishing is great.
Best Season To Fish
The best time to fish in Cabo San Lucas is October and November. During October, professionals arrive in the area to compete in the big money marlin tournaments. As well as huge marlin, big tuna and dorado are arriving in the warm waters. The tournaments and good fishing continue through November. Boats can be difficult to hire during these peak months. Book ahead to avoid disappointment.
October and November are also the best months for fishing in Cancun. The warm Caribbean waters are at their fullest, and all the big fish are in the area. March and April are the months to avoid in Cancun, wahoo, marlin, kingfish, and sailfish are all elsewhere during these months.
Belize is quite possibly the most stunning location for offshore fishing. The waters are warm and clear. The coral reef is amongst the largest on earth and teeming with little fish. These little fish attract bigger fish, and the big fish is what attracts the fishermen.
As well as offshore fishing, it’s worth mentioning that Belize is the world’s top destinations for fly-fishing. There are hundreds of miles of flat coastline that makes for great fishing in the clear blue waters. Experienced fly fishermen can try to complete something called the Super Slam or Grand Slam. This is where you catch a tarpon, a bonefish, and a permit in the same day.
The fly-fishing is so good that most of the fishermen who come here do so for fly-fishing. This means that the offshore fishing has been comparatively overlooked. On the other side of the coral reefs are deep waters, and an array of big fish. You can find the deep water in an hour or so, no need for a long journey out to sea.
Ambergris Caye is the hub for most of Belize’s offshore fishing. There are lots of reputable captains who can take you out to sea. There is ample accommodation and you won’t have any problems getting here. Some of the roads in Belize are not the best, so this is not something you should overlook.
Smaller towns like Placencia are much cheaper than Amebergris Caye. The deep water is closer to the shore too, meaning you can be fishing in almost no time.
Best Season To Fish
From December until March, the wind can make fishing difficult in Belize. If the weathers calm these months can be good for big tarpon fishing. The marlin season is between November and June, while wahoo are most active between November and March. Sailfish peak in April and May and dorado between May and October.
Sicily, and the small islands around are one of the best places for offshore fishing in Europe. Seabass, Amberjack, swordfish and Bluefin tuna all call the warm Mediterranean waters home.
The 100-mile channel between Sicily and Tunisia is known as the Straits of Sicily. This is where you will find the best fishing. The waters offer a surprising variety of fish and you will need to use different bait and techniques to catch them. Recently some invasive species have arrived, much to the happiness of fishermen. Yellowmouth barracuda are a favorite and if you’re fishing during sunrise, or sunset, you might get a bite.
Night fishing, especially for squid, is one of Sicily’s big attractions. Giant squids can reach over 35lbs and put up a tremendous fight. It’s definitely worth the effort though, fried squid rings are delicious and the basis of many great meals.
Another interesting fish you can find in these waters is the conger eel. These giant eels can reach up to 3 meters in length. They are also a real delicacy and very expensive. A chance to catch and cook your own should not be overlooked.
There are fishing charters to be found throughout Sicily. Palermo is the biggest city on the island and home to the most charter companies.
Best Season To Fish
For Bluefin tuna the season lasts from the end of March through to the November. Certain months are better than others though. May, August, and October are when the season is at its peak.
Big game fishing is thriving in Portugal, and at the heart of it is the Algarve region. As well as being the blue-flag beach capital of the world, the waters are teeming with big fish. Off the Algarve coast you can find marlin, swordfish, tuna and different species of shark.
There is an impressive range of fish that pass through the waters close to Portugal. Prices are also cheap. Although other destinations are cheaper, when compared with the prices in the USA, fishing in Portugal is highly affordable.
The Algarve region has a well-developed tourist infrastructure. Popular with expats and tourists, you won’t be short of accommodation options. When you’re on land you will find lots to see and do.
You can fish all along the Algarve coast. Sardines are a specialty of the region and you should be able to fill your bags here.
Offshore, Madeira offers great fishing and warm waters. The other option is the Azores. This is home to a lot of the big game fish, but is a two day journey by boat get here. A special mention goes out Alqueva. This is the biggest artificial lake in Europe. You can fish here for bass and carp. It’s a good backup option to have incase the seas is too rough for fishing.
Best Season To Fish
May is probably the best month, but you can fish all year. The blue marlin season starts in July and they stay in the waters until November. The tuna season is between June and August.
During the winter months the seas are prone to getting stormy. It can also get cold out at sea. Even fishing during the high season can be cold in the early morning. Only the hardiest souls go out during the winter. In general most people choose to fish between April and October.