Most people think of summertime as the “off” season for beach destinations such as Hawaii, Los Cabos, and St Barths. If, however, you are one of over 50 million licensed anglers dreaming of your next catch, summertime is when you turn “on”. Summertime is the season for the world’s most popular sport fishing tournaments, with millions of dollars in prize money going to the teams who bring in the best catches.
“Fishing Fever” sweeps over Hawaii like a tsunami during the summer, and people come from all over the world to participate in and celebrate this fun yet challenging sport. Big game fish such as ahi, ono, mahi mahi, swordfish, and some of the biggest marlin in the world taunt even the most skilled fisherman from June through September. You can participate by chartering a private boat and joining in the fun, or assembling your own team and registering for one of the many competitions.
Be sure to attend the awards party when the competition is over. The atmosphere is playful and energetic, but relaxed in true Hawaiian style. Day activities on land include an Opening Ceremonies party on the pier, a parade featuring Miss Billfish, craft vendors and food trucks, and free musical entertainment.
Hawaiian Fishing Tournaments:
- June – Rock N Reel Tournament | Friday & Saturday, June 13 – 14
- June – Kona Kickoff | June 23 – 25
- July – Firecracker Open | July 1 – 2
- July – Blue Marlin World Cup (International) | July 4
- July – Kona Throw Down | July 4, 5 & 6
- July – Skins Marlin Derby | July 7, 8 & 9
- July – Hawaii Lure Makers Challenge | July 13 – 16
- July – Huggo’s Wahine Open | July 29
- August – Kona Shootout Hawaiian Billfish Series | August 3 – 6
- August – Big Island Marlin Tournament | August 23 – 27
- September – Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament | September 9 – 17
- September – It’s A Wrap Tournament | September 22 – 24
Los Cabos draws attention year round for its plentiful fishing grounds. Summer brings in big marlin, sailfish, tuna dorado, snapper, sierra, and roosterfish, and all will put up a terrific fight. Typical fishing for the waters of the Baja Penninsula is done by trolling, though some say you can’t really call yourself a fisherman until you’ve reeled in a roosterfish from the shore.
Some of the biggest purses in the world are won here, especially as part of the Bisbee Tournaments, which started in the 80’s with purses of $10,000, and which now routinely award millions of dollars in prizes to hundreds of teams. The biggest event is the Black and Blue Marlin Tournament, taking place over five days, with fishing teams arriving several days in advance to swap stories and do some laid back fishing before the big show begins. Even if you’re not participating in the tournament, join the crowds at the Marina to watch the fish being weighed in the Puerto Paraiso Entertainment Plaza.
Los Cabos and More Baja Tournaments:
- June – PELAGIC Triple Crown of Fishing Summer Slam | June 8 – 10
- June – Annual Stars & Stripes Fishing and Golf Tournament | June 22 – 25
- July – East Cape Dorado Shootout | July 15
- August – Bisbee’s East Cape Offshore Tournament | August 1 – 5
- October – Annual Los Cabos Billfish Tournament | October 15 – 19
- October – Bisbee’s Los Cabos Offshore Tournament | October 19 – 22
- October – Bisbee’s Black and Blue Marlin Tournament | October 24 – 28
- November – Western Outdoor News Tuna Jackpot Tournament | November 1 – 4
As you might expect from any Caribbean island, fishing is a part of daily life on St. Barths. Surfcasting and shore fishing are both popular activities among visiting anglers, or you can charter a fishing boat and a guide and head past the reefs for the larger sport fish. Most fishing is done north of Lorient, Corossol, and Flamands, with typical catches including tuna, barracuda, marlin, wahoo, bonito, and dorado.
The village of Lorient on St Barths hosts the annual Windward Fete in August, a event that is part dragnet fishing tournament and part regatta. Land events during the Fete include games, music, beach sports, and dancing.
More Caribbean Fishing Tournaments:
- August – Windward Fete | August 5 – 6
- August – St. Louis Fete | August 25
What to take with you: Sunblock, preferably waterproof, a good hat, a long sleeve shirt or jacket for cold mornings and to protect you from the sun, and some form of legal ID. Your concierge and charter captain will help you make arrangements for a fishing license, the necessary bait and equipment, and any filleting or freezing services should you wish to eat your catch or ship it home.
Cheers to tight lines and screaming reels!