Big Game Fishing Destinations in the Indian Ocean – Pt I – The Maldives
Another piece of the Indian Ocean’s paradise on earth and a salt water Anglers dream destination are the islands of Maldives. It is the smallest Asian country by land area (Just about 300 square kilometers) which is however spread across more than 90,000 square kilometers of the Indian Ocean. Maldives is a quaint Archipelago (group of islands) situated just off the south western tip of India’s Lakshadweep Islands and the south Asian country of Sri Lanka. In fact the Maldives and Lakshadweep Islands together form the tops of a single vast undersea mountain range called the Chagos-Laccadive Ridge, and all these islands fall in what is called as the “Giant Trevally triangle” of the Indian Ocean. Maldives is one of the most popular destinations worldwide for big game, open sea - salt water fishing and attracts a lot of pro and recreational Anglers from around the world all year long. Its game fishing options are numerous and available at all different budgets. Maldives is an angler’s paradise which will definitely leave its mark upon you when you experience the thrill of Big Game Fishing out here.
Lying just about 700 Km off India’s Mainland, Maldives is a cluster of more than 1190 small corals and islands which are grouped into 26 Atolls (An Atoll is a ring-shaped coral reefs, island, or series of islets). Maldievs stretches from Ihavandhippolhu Atoll in the north to Addu Atoll in the south, both of which lie on either side of the equator. This white-sand paradise which has just about 5.5 Lakh inhabitants, is habitat to a number of marine species including Reef Sharks, Manta Rays, Whale Sharks, Sea Turtles, numerous Corals species and a number of Pelagic Fish (Pelagic are fish inhabiting the upper parts of the open Sea) and other big Game fish which reside among the coral reefs that dot this country. At a maximum mean height of just about 1.5 meters above sea level, the Maldives are at an incredibly high risk of getting submerged due to rising sea levels caused by global warming. The official and common language of Maldives is Dhivehi however English is widely spoken and understood by most people. Thirty-one protected areas exist in the country which is at the forefront of taking up a number of coral and sea life restoration projects to protect its natural heritage.https://youtu.be/z1yVuup_iRo
Arriving here is rather easy, it being well connected by flight to most of the mainland countries. You can arrive in Male, which is the capital city, by ship or flight from any major airports of the world, however most preferred connecting destinations are Dubai, Singapore and Colombo (Sri Lanka). It takes about 1.5 to 3 hours by flight to reach here from any of these destinations and you will love the site of the airstrip of Velana airport as you touch down, which is the principal gateway to Male and is surrounded by crystal clear waters on all sides. There are various airports on the different islands and people can chose between using boats and even Sea Planes to travel between destinations (sea planes are a well-developed mode of travel). Anglers will love to know that unlike at the Andamans and the Lakshadweep islands, the tourism, reaction and Game Angling infrastructure in Maldives is comparatively very well developed.
Maldives is known to be one of the biggest game fishing destinations in the world having a number of charters operating off from a lot of different islands lying within its territory. Game fishing is a craze out here and a big industry that attracts a number of reputed big game anglers from world over. There are vessel options for all different budgets with fishing carried out off big yachts, liveaboard crafts, midsized vessels and also in traditional “dhonis” which are boats used by locals for fishing.
As in most Game fishing havens around the world where game fish thrive and are found in abundance, in the Maldives too the locals contribute to preserving the industry in a way by putting into practice measures that curb large scale fishing of gamefish beyond limits that put pressure on their numbers. Locals catch pelagic fish like Skipjack Tuna and Yellow Fin Tuna using mainly the pole and line fishing method and avoid mechanized fishing and large nets to catch these species. This one-fish-at-a-time method helps keep the numbers of these fish high. Visiting Anglers too can try their hand at pole and line fishing as some charters are happy to offer this experience.
Much like in the Andamans and the Laccadive (Lakshadweep Islands) off India, GT or Giant Trevally is one of the most sort after game fish in these parts providing the most thrilling Game. However, Maldives has all the big game fish worth its reputation that make it one big Game fishing destination which includes the likes of huge Barracudas, Wahoo, Mahi Mahi (Dolphin Fish/Dorado), Sailfish, Marlins, Bluefin Trevally, Yellowfin Tuna, Skipjack Tuna, dogtooth Tuna, Sea Bass and more.
While serious anglers focus on angling, some charters also offer peripheral activities like scuba diving, free diving, surfing and other such activities to indulge your other friends who may not like fishing as much as you do. As far as we understand however, spearfishing is not allowed in Maldieves though you will find a number of people posting pictures of spearfishing catches from Maldives, we advise you to stay away from the activities that are not legally permitted. (Do check the latest updates on the official government site).
If you plan a Maldivian Fishing excursion, it is always best to check up on the weather forecast for the period when you book and also the day before you head out to sea. Here is where you can keep track of the weather https://www.meteorology.gov.mv/marineweather . Being in the middle of the ocean, the rains can be furious and can hit you hard. The rainy season is usually from May to August in its full glory but rains can hit you even in the months of April and between September to December. That being said, Maldives being so close to the equator, the summers are also harsh and the can really beat down upon you in the open ocean so it is recommended to take all precautions to cover up and stay hydrated and well equipped when you are out in the ocean.
Along with open sea fishing, reef fishing too is an adventure of its own out here with the reefs teeming with a variety of fish, some of them so exotic, it will take your breath away. You could easily land Groupers, Red Snappers, Sweet lip Emperor, Jobfish, Bream, Squirrelfish, Mackerel, Jacks and Dogtooth or Yellowfin Tuna when fishing the reefs and if you are lucky enough, you could also land a fish that has never been caught before even by the locals.
For those who love the sea under the moonlight, some charters also offer a night fishing trip and you should certainly enquire in case you are game for some night fishing adventures. The moonlit landscape can be a breathtaking, once in a lifetime experience which will remain etched in your memory forever.
Male the capital of Maldives is a big Atoll which has a large number of tourists coming in from world over for recreation. You can even book a live aboard fishing charter (Where you charter the whole boat for your group or book specific seats on an available charter – You can practically live out your whole vacation on the boat with everything made available for you – check here). Maldives is also a prime hub for Diving enthusiasts worldwide with the Ari Atoll, one of the most famous ones around having some of the most beautiful volcano-shaped pinnacles underwater which happen to attract a variety of unique marine lifeforms. Diving in and around Ari Atoll can bring you face to face with the mighty manta rays, Sea Turtles, majestic whale sharks and even hammerhead sharks (Rasdhoo Atoll to the northeast). Within Ari Atoll's 40 km length and 105 small islands, dive sites like the premier Maaya Thila and Donkalo Thila, which is one of multiple manta cleaning stations in the country, are only accessible to live aboard charters. The most dependable Maldives dive sites for whale sharks and Manta rays are located in this area where you could very likely get site of them.
Baa Atoll, in the Northern Atolls area, offers an array of lovely underwater landscapes which are teeming with exotic marine life. At Maavaru Kandu, you can dive below huge rocky overhangs which have luminous pastel gardens of blue, yellow, and green soft corals. Dhonfanu Thila and Dhigali Haa dive sites are underwater pinnacles known for their scenic whip corals, bushy black corals, and sea fans, as well as schools of snapper and manta rays some of which are regulars around these areas and easily identified by regular divers. Hanifaru Bay even enjoys world-famous manta and whale shark aggregations during the plankton-rich months from August through November every year.
To throw in another attractive option on to your fishing adventures, fly fishing for GT, Permit, Bonefish and many other fish is also slowly becoming a thing in the Maldives. The Coral Reefs and Sandy Flats offer good opportunity to fish out these top water predators though Trolling and Jigging still remain the method of choice like in most of the Indian Ocean. Fishing can be done from the islands of Male, Fulidhoo, Hulhumale, Ukulhas, Kudahuvadhoo, Addu City, Guraidhoo, Meedhoo in vessels ranging from size 20 ft to 34 Feet.
So, if you are an Angler looking to combine a Family Trip along with a serious Game Fishing adventure or just the serious Angler out on the quest to get that big fish that you can brag about on social media and with all your friends, you have to book your ticket to Maldives. It’s a place which will help you fulfill all your fishing dreams and at the same time let your family enjoy a vacation which will certainly leave them refreshed.
All you need to know about Game fishing in Maldives
Season – August - March
Getting Here – There are a number of flights coming to Maldives throughout the year from all Countries and all major and minor airports of the world. Most preferred connecting destinations are Dubai, Singapore and Colombo (Sri Lanka). Average fly in time is 1.5 to 3 hours from these destinations.
What is Required - A free 30-day visa is issued on arrival to all tourists in the Maldives. A valid passport is a must. All visitors must have a valid outbound ticket and either a reservation confirmation in a hotel or enough funds to cover expenses for the duration of their stay. No compulsory vaccinations are required before coming here unless you have been in a country with increased yellow fever risk in the nine days prior to arrival. In such cases, you must have proof of a yellow fever vaccination. There is no endemic malaria risk in the Maldives. However, the rainy season (May through September) there is elevated risk of dengue fever which is caused by Mosquitoes. Covid Vaccination may now be a must .We request you to check the country rules for latest updates and changes before you book a flight to Maldives. You can keep updated here - https://visitmaldives.com/en https://www.tourism.gov.mv/
Other Things to Do – Live board Diving Trips. The temperatures around here are 26 to 30 degrees Celsius (80 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit) with visibility from 20 meters (65 feet). Well that more than enough for you to see the whole ocean. You can charter a liveboard which can be anything in the range of Rs. 15,000 a day to Rs. 40,000/- ($.208 – 555) a day. Hiring diving equipment may be a bit more in the range of 40 USD per person. Learn all about liveboard and diving hires in Maldieves over here . https://www.liveaboard.com/diving/maldives
Tackle Requirement – Much like Lakshadweep or Andamans, we recommend you carry your own tackle though in Maldives there are a number if good Tackle Shops where you can pick up any piece you do not wish or forget to carry.
Fish to look out for – Barracudas, Wahoo, Mahi Mahi (Dolphin Fish/Dorado), Sailfish, Marlins, Giant Trevally, Bluefin Trevally, Yellowfin Tuna, Skipjack Tuna, dogtooth Tuna, Sea Bass, Groupers, Red Snappers, Sweet lip Emperor, Jobfish, Bream, Squirrelfish, Mackerel, Jacks and Dogtooth or Yellowfin Tuna and many more.
Fishing Techniques – Popping, Jigging, Spinning, Fly Fishing
Tackle – Rod Casting Weight – 180 Gm, keeping in mind the travel and the need to be portable, a 3 Piece fishing rod is best. 7 to 8 Ft. would be ideal for Trolling whereas 8 to 9 Ft would be great for far casting. Long lines help get better casts so you may have to compromise on your braid strength. 60 LBS braid achieves a good balance between long casts and being able to land satisfactory fish size but 80 - 110 LBS is the recommended strength. For lures, Skipjacks, Splashers and Dumbell Poppers work best here though any poppers and stickbaits of 20 cm and up can also be put to good use. (Recos – Heru Cubera, Dumbells, Paro Paro, Sebile Splasher, Heru Skipjack). Jigging can be done with 200 to 300 gm Jigs.
Pics Courtesy https://pxhere.com/
Video - https://www.gtfishers.com/faq-fishing-maldives/