Fishing on Bonaire
Most of the fishes you hear about on Bonaire are the reef fish which snorkelers and SCUBA divers see regularly. But, in the deeper water lurk the big game fish–Marlin, Sailfish, Yellowfin Tuna and more.
Fishermen: welcome to the waters of Bonaire and Klein Bonaire!
Local fishermen catch the “Fresh Fish of the Day” that you find in almost every restaurant. Usually, the fish is Dorado or Wahoo. Dorado is also known as Mahi Mahi or dolphinfish (no relation at all to the porpoise family). You can try your skill and luck on one of the several sport fishing boats available for charter trips on Bonaire. Check prices carefully for fishing trips. A trip price may seem quite high because the price is usually for the whole boat, not per person. If you have several interested friends, trips can be quite reasonable.
Fishing, as anywhere, starts in the wee hours before dawn. The fishermen catch bait fish with hand lines or small nets. The live bait fish are then used to try for the big game fish. A large range of fishing tackle and lures are available, so if the fish aren’t biting you can try something new. The sport fishing boats may go out several miles in search of the game fish. Although catching a fish is never guaranteed, a pleasant day out to sea will be part of your fishing experience. Check out Piscatur for big game fishing.
Most fishing by visitors is sports fishing, with a catch-and-release policy. Please note that Marlin fishing is only catch-and-release due to the shrinking fish stocks. The fish that you release today will continue to reproduce for the future. Although you may keep your catch on most boats, confirm this with the boat captain prior to making your reservation. Also, fresh fish, as like most meats, cannot be imported into many countries including Holland and the USA. It is also against Bonaire law for any non-resident to profit from fishing so you are not allowed to “sell” your catch either. Fishing licenses are not required for non-commercial fishing.
Snorkel fishing is only allowed in two areas on Bonaire, as noted by the areas marked in green on the maps below.
One of the biggest thrills a person who enjoys fishing can experience is to match wits with an elusive, feisty, bonefish. There are a number of “secret” spots the local guides have staked out on the island and are willing to share with visiting fishermen.
Charter boats for deep sea fishing
In addition to bonefishing, there are a number of charter boats that will take anglers sports fishing in the waters off the coast of Bonaire. Sailfish, marlin, tuna, and tarpon are the most likely to be caught, however, it is not uncommon to catch wahoo, dorado, and other edible species.
Fishing or Boat Charters:
+599 717-8774, +599 780-8774, or +599 780-0833
|Blue Bay Rentals
|Bonaire Boat Rental
|Fishing Adventures Bonaire
|Fish Tales Bonaire
+599 700-3994 or +599 782-1966
|Le Grand Bleu Fishing Charters & Boat Rentals
Names of local fish
|Dolphinfish (Mahi Mahi)||Dradu|
|Blue Marlin||Balau Blanku|
|White Marlin||Balau Baster|
|Red Snapper||Piská Kòrá|
|Yellowtail Snapper||Gristelchi piedra|
|Flounder||Sobrá di Dios|
|Green Moray||Kolebra Bèrdè|
|Sharptail Eel||Kolebra Rosario|
|Tiger Grouper & Yellowfin Grouper||Gramèl|
|Rainbow Parrotfish, terminal phase||Gutu Kedébe|
|Stoplight Parrotfish, terminal phase||Gutu Rab'i Guy|
|Stoplight Parrotfish, initial phase||Gutu Domenika|
|Princess Parrotfish, terminal phase||Gutu Raton|
|Princess Parrotfish, initial phase||Gutu Promènte|
|Queen Parrotfish, terminal phase||Gutu Bok'i Lora|
|Redband Parrotfish, initial phase||Gutu Martin|
|Back-fin Tuna||Buní Pretu|
|Yelllow-fin Tuna||Buní Rabu Hél|
|Black Jack||Korkobá Pretu|
|Rainbow Runner||Gristelchi Laman A'fó|
|Striped and Smallmouth Grunts||Traki Traki|
|Bluestriped Grunts and some of the other larger grunts||Gròns|
|Lizardfish/Sand Diver||Yuan'i Awa|
|African Pampano||Kar'i Kabai|
|Flat Needlefish||Guepi Machéte|
|Almaco Jack & Greater Amberjack||Kabriou (Kabiyou)|
All fish names are supplied by local fishermen. Special thanks to Ellen Muller and Papi Anton for collecting and sorting the local fishes’ names in Papiamentu. Note that some Bonaire fishermen may call these fish by other names, and many fish have other local names even on our sister islands.
And finally, it must be mentioned that the island is trying to control the invasive Pacific Lionfish, a predatory fish expanding territories within the Caribbean. Check with your dive operator to see if they offer a lionfish hunting course. Once you have caught your lionfish, try out some of the recipes provided by InfoBonaire readers on ideas for how to best prepare them!
Bonaire also hosts a number of local and International fishing tournaments during the year, with catches recorded, tagged, and then released back into the sea for future tournaments. The edible species are generally donated to various charitable organizations.
The fringing reef which surrounds Bonaire is a National Marine Park from the high water mark down to a depth of 200 feet/60m. Every diver who has not dived on Bonaire within the last calendar year must attend a diver orientation dealing with Bonaire Marine Park regulations and information. These orientation sessions are usually held at around 9:00 AM the morning after you arrive on Bonaire, and you are required to attend and to obtain your Marine Park tag, which is necessary to legally dive in Bonaire’s waters. The cost of the tag is US$45.00, and proceeds help support park management and services. Those who are utilizing the Marine Park, but are not diving, will be required to purchase a Nature Tag for $25.00. The nature tag can be purchased online.