Anglers visiting the Maldives now are pioneering sportfishing in the country and they are unlikely to come across other tourists fishing. Most Maldivian fishing boats go after tuna using a time-honoured hook-and-line technique - net fishing is banned in Maldivian waters. If you have the chance to go tuna fishing in the traditional Maldivian way, don't miss it. The Maldivian government has strict regulations to conserve the country's marine resources, and visitors should observe these carefully, especially the tag-and-release policy that applies to all big game billfish.
The types of fish caught include wahoo, barracuda, sail-fish, yellow-fin tuna, dogtooth tuna, red snapper, grouper, giant trevally, jack, marlin, dorado and very small numbers of bonefish.
Three main types of fishing are possible:
You don't need a fast big-game fishing boat. A typical live aboard is suitable for trolling for sailfish, marlin, dogtooth tuna and dorado using lures or flies. (Note that billfish are subject to a tag-and-release policy.) Skill and care are needed to avoid snagging the line in coral reefs. The best lures for trolling are islanders (in various colours and types), rapala and manz.
This technique is especially suited to Maldives reef fishing. The angler casts towards a coral reef over distances of at least 60m with poppers of 3oz or more, then reels in fast using a sturdy high-speed fixed spool reel. The main catch is the giant trevally, an extremely strong reef fish up to 80lbs. The trevally strike dramatically at the lure, then dive and run, and the angler has to work hard to bring the fish in. Bluefin jack, rainbow runner, barracuda and grouper are also caught.
The most suitable gear is a stiff rod, no longer than 10ft, with top action and 30-50lbs braided lines. Giant trevally have a powerful bite - 5x strong 2/0 and 3/0 treble hooks will often get bent, squashed or straightened.
The best places for fly fishing are the shallow sand flats adjacent to many Maldivian islands. These can be very extensive - several km long and 500m to 1000m wide. Note that fishing from resort islands is not permitted so you'll need a boat to access suitable areas. Local people have little experience or knowledge of fly fishing, so you rely on your own judgement to find the best places.
The best lures for bonefish and trevally resemble the sea-worms that live in Maldivian waters. An imitation bait-fish fly can work well at high tides. Stick to natural colors with a little sparkle - olive greens, tan, beige, and off-white. At low tide try small Crazy Charlies.
Fishing in the middle of the ocean at night is a peaceful kind of activity, a time to relax, look up at the stars and enjoy the company of your partner after a day underwater or in the sun. You will be back at the resort for dinner and can ask the chef to prepare your catch.
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