St. Barts (Saint Barthélemy) Fishing
Saint Barthelemy, or St. Barts (also called St. Barths), is an island that was formerly a French commune. Currently, it is a part of the French West Indies alongside Saint Martin, Guadeloupe, and Martinique. It is a volcanic island known for its many reefs. It has a population of only about 10,000 locals. Much of the tourism to the island comes in the wintertime.
The island offers little to no sources of fresh water, thus most fishing opportunities come the way of saltwater fishing. Perhaps the greatest fishing opportunity near St. Barts is the Marine Reserve, or the Reserve Naturelle. Here there are five protected zones or “sanctuary zones” that protect marine life while also allowing for scuba, boating, and fishing under regulation.
Fishing St. Barts: An Island Rich in Fishing Opportunity
Fishing the Reserve can be done from the shore or on a boat in a drift fishing style. It requires a fishing license and fishing for conch and lobster and spearfishing are all prohibited on the Reserve. For a map that includes where fishing is prohibited and where you’re permitted to have a boat up to 15 meters and up to 25 meters, visit the Reserve’s site to see a map provided that specifies all of these things.
The site also has a lot of other interesting information, such as recent whale and dolphin sightings, in case you’re interested in seeing some large marine animals while you fish.
Additionally, the site includes a brochure that specifies each species of fish that you might catch in the Reserve, and how big it must be to keep or if you can keep it at all. Much of the brochure is in French since that is their native language, so it may require some translation, but many of the graphics include pictures and informative charts to help you make sense of much of the brochure without needing to translate.
If you plan on boating in the Reserve, also keep in mind that this is a heavily protected area and you should also be aware of those regulations as well. For example, it is prohibited to anchor in the Nature Reserve, you can’t feed any of the wildlife, and you must stay under a 5-knot speed limit in certain areas. Many boating regulations are in place to protect the sea turtle population around the island.
Beyond the Nature Reserve, the island of St. Barts is rich with fishing heritage. For example, places such as Anse des Flamands and Corossol are fishing villages that are culturally centered around not only the sport of fishing but the livelihood of it.
Now, in the village of Corossol, you can experience the true St. Barths, disconnected from the more tourist-centered areas of the island. Here you can do things such as buy straw crafts and view ancestral costumes. Anse des Flamands, on the other hand, is known for its seclusion and having the largest beach on the island, also bordered by the Nature Reserve, so you can relax on the beach after a long day on the water.
Since St. Barths is such a small island, it can be difficult to track down real-time fishing information. There are many opportunities for offshore fishing charter excursions that boast catches of bull-nosed dolphin (mahi-mahi), wahoo, tuna, barracuda, marlin, and more.
Perhaps, these are your best bet for finding someone who knows the ins and outs of fishing the island. And of course, a good idea is to always talk to the local fishermen (which there are a lot of on St. Barts) and see if they’ll divulge any of their secrets. Either way, you can’t beat a relaxing vacation on this Caribbean jewel.