What are vacations without some fun activities or learning new skills! Travelling is a wonderful time to discover something novel, especially if it’s a local speciality. Fishing is a leisure activity that can only be performed in water bodies with a sizeable population of fish. Maldives fishing tours offer exciting platforms to catch trophy fish that look fabulous on your holiday photo album.
For a country with an enviable coastline spread across more than a thousand tiny islands, The Maldives comes as no surprise that it is a fishing destination. While this archipelago is better known for its luxury private island resorts, all-inclusive Maldives’ water villas are only a small part of the larger picture.
Families and honeymooners who throng here in large numbers swear by the thoughtfully designed Maldives vacation packages that let them enjoy exclusive pampering on a private island. Many visitors go the extra mile to also understand The Maldives’ history and culture through specially drawn itineraries that offer interactions with Maldivian villagers, exposure to Dhivehi – local language of The Maldives, and a whole gamut of other activities.
Whether it is a thorough exploration of the underwater on a scuba diving tour, or an appreciation of house reef corals on a guided snorkelling trip, or sighting of friendly dolphins during a sunset cruise on dhonis – traditional Maldivian wooden boats, the country makes good use of its location in the Indian Ocean to provide memorable experiences. The 1,200 islands in The Maldives are grouped into 26 atolls, spread across the equator.
The 200 odd public islands in this Asian favourite are home to unique activities such as BoduBeru dancing, sandbank picnics, island hopping trips and fishing excursions. Maldives day tours also include eco-walks and dining with the locals, provided the Maldives’ weather doesn’t play spoilsport. The best time of the year to visit The Maldives is November to January, but the country is attractive almost round the year.
Types of Fishing Possible in The Maldives
Fishing comes naturally to the average Maldivian. It is not hard to find skilled fishermen on any island as the country’s trade is largely fuelled by seafood exports, apart from tourism, of course. Not many are aware, however, that this essential means of livelihood is also a popular tourist activity. Maldives fishing tours offer valuable insights into different types of fish that can be caught in the Indian Ocean. You will also get to know about various fishing locations that aid in the size of the catch.
#1 Fishing among Coral Reefs
It is no secret that The Maldives Islands is home to some of the most stunning corals on the planet. From hard blocks to soft coral columns, the barrier reefs are undeniably alluring. The reef ecosystem is a supporter of a variety of marine life, especially different types of fish.
The most commonly caught fish near the corals are snappers, 4 types of which are found in The Maldives. Next, come groupers. Maldivian fishermen are quite fond of catching the 10 kinds of groupers found in this part of the Indian Ocean. Other types of reef fish are moray eels and reef sharks. Although corals are heavily populated by fish, some of the species can also be poisonous. It takes an experienced fisherman to avoid the dangerous catches.
#2 Trophy Fishing
Those who are new to fishing may not be familiar with terms such as “trophy fish”. Nevertheless it is pictures with trophy fish that tourists generally long for on Maldives fishing tours. Trophy-size fish are very large fish, usually reaching at least 80% of the length of the largest fish in the species that is documented to have set the world record.
It takes a lot of strength and a bit of skill to catch trophy fish such as barracuda, marlin or caranx. Other trophy-size fish that can be caught in The Maldivian archipelago are sailfish, dorado, wahoo and tuna. It is advisable to listen to the recommendation of the fishing tour guide on how to hold the fish when taking pictures with it. Otherwise, there are chances of fracturing the fish.
#3 Mangrove Forest Fishing
It is hard to imagine tropical forests in a country that is famous for its snow white beaches and crystal clear lagoons. However, The Maldives is home to some well preserved mangroves with dense tree cover. Some of these mangroves also have freshwater lakes, almost unthinkable in a beach destination!
It is possible to go fishing in the mangrove forests, especially for sweet water fish that you will not find in other parts of the saline ocean. These fish are generally small in size, similar to what you might catch during boat fishing in the high seas.
Fishing Techniques Popular in The Maldives
Right when you land in Malé, the capital city of The Maldives, you will be able to see how traditional patterns coexist with modern facilities in the country. This is true not only for the construction styles, clothing and cuisine but also for fishing, the activity that contributes a big portion to the national GDP. Some of the fishing styles commonly used in the archipelago, especially on fishing tours, are given below.
Not to be confused with trawling, which is used for commercial fishing, trolling happens without the use of net. In fact, nets are not permitted for leisure fishing in The Maldives. Trolling is a type of angling which involves the use of baits which are lowered into the sea through fishing lines.
Generally practised in the open ocean, trolling is used to catch fish that migrate. You can look forward to catching tuna, marlin or sailfish with this technique. You should be able to choose from a number of morning and evening fishing tours in The Maldives to try out some trolling with the rest of the group on the boat.
#2 Bottom Fishing
If you are fascinated by the corals and would like to get near them even for fishing, bottom fishing would be a great way to get some good catch. Since you are looking to hit the seafloor, you will need patience and a heavy lead sinker for your fishing line to be able to reach deeper into the sea.
Alternatively, spin fishing can also be used to catch the snappers and groupers which swim near the sea floor. But remember to use a heavy bait. The hook is the last element that follows the sinker and the bait on a fishing line.
#3 Spin Fishing
For angling beginners, spinning is a great way to catch fish. Since the open faced or closed face reel does most of the hard work, you need not worry much about cranking up your catch. Spin fishing is ideal for small sized fish which are mainly found near the mangrove forests of The Maldives. However, if you are after trophy fish, remember that you are better off with bait casting and using a bit of muscle to pull your catch aboard.
#4 Fly Fishing
To catch fly eaters, you should give fly fishing a chance. Bait your fishing line with a lightweight lure such as an artificial fly and wait till you catch one of the small fish in the open sea. Fly fishing can also be tried at mangroves. Ask for some help from the fishing tour guide since it requires a bit of skill to cast the bait using the weighted line.
The Best Time to Go Fishing in The Maldives
Since the archipelago is blessed with a summery weather round the year, Maldives fishing tours operate in almost all seasons. If fishing in the coral reefs or the mangrove forests are your cup of tea, you need not time your vacation so carefully. In fact, even some trophy fish such as caranx, barracuda and tuna can be caught at any time of the year.
However, if you do not want to miss any type of fish, target to take a Maldives vacation package between January and February. This will maximize your chances of catching almost every type of trophy fish, including dorado, marlin and wahoo, which can only be found in these two months. The attractive sailfish with its protruding dorsal fin, however, can also be caught from November to March.
Things to Keep in Mind While Fishing in The Maldives
Angling can help you relax throughout your Maldives trip, however, there are some rules you must abide by when indulging in this activity:
1. The use of nets is reserved only for commercial fishermen. Also, you must adhere to responsible fishing, without using explosives, any type of poison or even spearing.
2. Malé allows fishing on its reef. Apart from angling on other reefs, fishing can be enjoyed on sandbanks and uninhabited islands.
3. Public islands, which are inhabited by local Maldivians, are off limits for tourists unless they procure special permission to fish there. Also, killing a shark is considered a crime.
If you’re not into fishing, there are many other activities to do in Maldives. Culinary trips, sunset cruises, island hopping tours and various cultural excursions are sure to liven up your tropical island holiday!