Fishing in Aruba

The action can sometimes be amazing, especially with dolphin.

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Fishing in Aruba

Many charter boats are available for deep sea fishing off Aruba, and the variety of fish is vast; sailfish, white and blue marlin, wahoo, dolphin, shark, barracuda, amberjack, kingfish, bonito, and blackfin and yellowfin tuna are abundant.  Spearfish are an occasional catch.
Giant marlin swim the waters of Aruba.  The island record for blue marlin was caught by a local commercial fisherman and weighed in at about 1000 pounds

Sportfishermen with rod and reel have caught blues over 500 pounds and white marlin over 150 pounds. 

The yellowfin tuna grows to 200 pounds in these waters, and dolphin attain weights of over 80 pounds, according to the local captains. 

The biggest wahoo caught by sport fishermen reportedly weighed over 100 pounds.
The island's charter boats normally fish for blue marlin off the east end between 2 and 12 miles out.  The hot spot there is an area that is about 4.5 miles square, according to one captain who has been sportfishing around the island of Aruba for over 30 years.
"Waters coming from 7,000 feet up to 250 bring up plankton, baitfish, and everything," he says.  "That's where we do very well with blue marlin and other billfish.  In one week last year, we released a blue marlin, a white marlin, a spearfish, and a sailfish in that spot.  We also caught several 30-pound dolphin and a couple of nice yellowfin tuna!"

You can catch bluewater species year round off Aruba. January, February and March are top months for wahoo, yellowfin tuna and blackfin tuna. 

February is an excellent month for big dolphin, and both blue and white marlin.  You never know what you're going to catch in April.  The fishing then can be very slow or very good. 

May catches are mostly dolphin and blackfin tuna with a few wahoo and yellowfin tuna sprinkled in.
In the month of June, bonito, yellowfins and wahoo are usually available off Aruba, and in August, you can virtually catch anything. 

Sailfish start to show up in August or early September with the months of October and November being highlights.
Most sailfish are caught about seven to 15 miles southwest of the island.  While a good size sail will run close to 80 pounds, the average is between 50 and 60 pounds.  On a good half-day charter today, you could raise 20 and maybe catch five or six.  You used to be able to catch 20 a day, but commercial longlining has hurt that a lot, according to locals.
October through December are good months to catch kingfish up to 70 pounds.  They are generally taken from an area about eight miles south of the island. 

The top action in November and December is provided by wahoos.  December is also the best month to catch amberjack in the 80 to 90 pound range, in addition to good-sized barracuda. 

The big amberjack are caught about 12 miles offshore from Aruba's capital city and off the north side of the island.  The latter area is tops for numbers of amberjack.
Tuna are most abundant in the months of February, June, August, and part of September.  A super day on tuna would find a boat amassing 30 to 40 that average between 12 and 15 pounds each.  The "up to" fish might have a maximum weight of 25 pounds. 

Most tuna are caught west of the island just 2.5-3 three miles offshore in depths between 90 and 400 feet.  The sharp drop occurs within a distance of just 50 yards, according to island charter captains.
The big schools of fish that the charter boats normally locate are tuna, dolphin, wahoo, or bonito.  On one 4-hour trip, one captain caught 72 fish including 14 wahoo, 11 dolphin, 9 barracuda, a shark and the rest tuna, yellowtail and bonito. 

While such a trip is usually one of those "once in a lifetime" trips, a good dolphin catch can range from 12 to 15 fish per day.
If you catch 30 dolphin, they are usually small fish, but if you catch only six or seven dolphin, they may average 14 or 15 pounds. 

In the months of September and October, charters normally catch 15 to 20 dolphin each day, and their average weight may be 16 to 18 pounds!
The roughest seas, about three to five feet, usually occur between February and August.  The maximum seas, however, may approach eight feet.  Charter boats can fish year-round, however, because they can fish very close to shore, and still catch fish.  The rougher the seas, the closer to shore they fish. 

The calmer the sea, the farther they wander off.  In the months of September, October, and part of November, the seas are mostly like a mirror.
When seas are calm in the fall, the charters often fish for sailfish about 25 miles off the east end of Aruba at a location half way to Curacao, or off the north end of the island. 

When the seas are flat, the charter boats can also run along the Venezuelan coast just 15 miles south of the island.  Aruba's charter boats normally fish between seven and 12 miles out.
Local fishermen and charter captains normally use natural bait.  They catch small tuna and bottom fish with the baits.  Those going after marlin will use mostly dead bait, such as ballyhoo or flying fish

The charter captains use ballyhoo about 80 percent of the time, and tuna strips the remainder.  They seldom fish with artificial baits around the island.
There are around 15 sport fishing charter boats on Aruba, and 8 or 9 run constantly.  The typical charter rate is around $300 for half a day, and double that price for a full day. 

Adapted with permission from Larsen Outdoors

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