Deep Sea Fishing St Maarten

Coconut Reef offers private deep sea fishing charters for all levels of experience. Whether you’re a rank amateur or a seasoned pro, we can put you on the bite at a price that won’t break the bank.

Ours is not a multi-million dollar, luxury fishing boat with a lot of fancy high-tech equipment. We’ll leave that to the charters that charge the cost of a new family sedan. We run a minimal ship with all that we need to catch fish – Depth Sounder, GPS, Outriggers with 22-foot poles, professional-level rod/reel combos, and a healthy stash of tackle, lures, baits, etc.

We do have a nice, comfortable boat with enough bells and whistles to get the job done. Besides, functionality, she’s not too hard on the eyes either.

Fishing Techniques

Fishing Charters - Trolling Rig illustration

Trolling

Hunting the top-most level of the water column yields mostly the bigger, faster predators like Wahoo, Mahi-Mahi (Dorado or Dolphinfish), Barracuda, Spanish Mackeral, Kingfish, Tuna and Billfish. Trolling involves running the boat between 6 to 14 knots (high-speed) while we drag behind several lines fitted with lures with or without fresh bait. Most days, we’ll just run 3 or 4 lines off the back of the boat without the use of our outriggers since we have a 14foot beam. The only time the outriggers really come out is when we need the maximum spread on our lines.

Most of the surface action around St Maarten is Wahoo in the winter (but can be found year-round), Mahi-Mahi in the spring/Summer, and Tuna pretty much year round. We tend to use fairly heavy gear and nearly always wire on the top end. Wahoo have teeth that will rip through mono-filament like butter, so anything less than wire is a risk.

Fishing Charters - Bottom Rig illustration

Bottom Fish (shallow)

Using the traditional hand-line, spinning or casting reel, we fish the ocean floor. The bottom surface could be rock, sand, weed or a combination of all three. There are lots of ways to fish the bottom but usually, we stick to a typical  2 or 3 hook dropper rig with 2 to 12oz sinkers. Most of the best shallow bottom fishing occurs within a mile off the shore in about 35 to 200 feet of water. Sometimes we’ll go deeper but more often than not by the third drop your arms will be so tired you’ll be ready to call it a day.

Fishing Charters - Jigging Rig illustration

Jigging

Some species are best caught by jigging. Basically, hanging a specialized lure off the end of your line, dropping it to the bottom then ripping it up bit by bit to make it look like a wounded baitfish. Works great for some species but it’s a lot of work.

Fishing Charters - Deep Dropping Rig illustration

Deep Dropping

When I say ‘deep’, I mean water from 400 feet to 1,200 feet in depth. At this depth, we switch up to electric reels. It can be done with more traditional, hand-cranked gear but the most effective method is using power-assist reels. Trust me when I tell you that reeling in 1,000 feet of line while hand-cranking is a herculean effort and not for the faint of heart.

Deep-dropping allows us to go after deepwater species that are not typically accessible to most local fisheries and we’re more likely to get some nice specimens into the boat. It also helps reduce the likelihood that the fish we catch will be prone to ciguatera, which is quite common in these waters (see our FAQ section on this subject). The most caught species we get while deep dropping are Snapper (Silk, Queen, Gray, and Reds), Grouper, and Tilefish.

Using electric reels at this depth is a completely new experience for most anglers who are used to the immediate feedback on their line while fishing shallow. Because we are fishing deep, we typically have between 4 to 8 pounds of lead on the end of the line. The weight, added to the depth of line out means that any ‘bite’ by the fish below has a very, very subtle effect on our rod tip.  Determining the difference between a bite and the effects of the typical motion of the boat, swell, and engine vibration takes a trained eye and a delicate feel. Don’t feel bad if you don’t ‘get it’ straight away. Like any skill worth learning, it takes time and practice.

Charter Options

We have 3 different length day charters to choose from. You can fish for 5, 7, or 9 hours. Regardless of the duration you choose, deep water is never far away. Just one mile off our southern coast, the bottom drops away from 200 feet to over 1,200 feet and deeper.

5 Hour Charter

Our shorter, 5 Hour charter typically departs at 10:00 a.m. and returns by around 3:30 p.m. With only a few hours (it goes quicker than you think!) to kill, we tend to stick close to the shore, ranging no more than 2 to 5 miles out from shore.

Trolling is always an option but unless we get really lucky, the best action is on the bottom. Don’t get me wrong, the fish are out there and we’ve hit the odd Wahoo just 15 minutes out but it tends to be the exception rather than the norm. During the Spring/Summer months, we have a little more luck with Mahi but they are usually smaller ‘schoolies’ around the 6 to 15 pound size.

The best action is usually to be found deep-dropping for Snapper out in the 800 to 1,200 feet depth. Still, there are plenty of good opportunities for local reef fish like Grouper (Hind), Jacks, Yellow-tail snapper, African Pompano and the like. Most of the reef fish can’t be eaten due to ciguatera but there are a few exceptions if we can get them plate-size or less.

Our shorter fishing charter is great for mixed groups (i.e. non-anglers/anglers), family groups with kids on-board or those trying salt-water fishing for the first time. The fishing is still fun but just don’t expect that big exotic trophy catch. For that we need to get further off-shore. 

Book our 5 Hour, short day Fishing Charter

Departs at 10 a.m. returns at 3:30 p.m. Water, Sodas, Beer provided. No Experience necessary.

7 Hour Charter

Actually, it’s 7.5 hours but who’s counting? We can depart at either 8:00 a.m. and be back by 3:30 p.m. or depart at 10:00 a.m. and be back in by 5:30 p.m. If you’re flexible, we can always pick the best departure option based on the prevailing tides. 

With a couple of more hours up our sleeve, we can range a bit further to find the best available fishing. Travel time can range from 60 to 90 minutes at full speed until we get where we need to be. South to Saba, South-East over near St Barth’s or south-west over towards Anguilla.

Trolling is quite a bit more productive on our longer trips. Each of the regions outlined above produces a different likelihood of hooking a nice sized game fish. Most of the good pelagics like Wahoo, Mahi and Tuna eliminate the need to worry about Ciguatera due to the transitory nature of the fish and the fact they tend to prey on top dwellers like flying fish, ballyhoo and smaller varieties of their own species.

 

Book our 7 Hour, Off-Shore Fishing Charter

Departures:

8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

or

10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Water, Sodas, Beer provided. No Experience necessary.

9 Hour Charter

Again, it’s 9.5 hours to be precise. We depart at 8:00 a.m. and return by 5:30 p.m. .

Our full-day, 9hr charter gives us more time for fishing. You really need to be a dedicated angler to need to spend this amount of time out on the water. Not a trip I would suggest you drag along that reluctant significant other. 

Not much I can say here that I haven’t said already apart from why fish 7 hours when you can fish 9 hours…?

Go ahead, you know you want to…!

Book our 9 Hour, Off-Shore Fishing Charter

Departures:

8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

 

Water, Sodas, Beer provided. No Experience necessary.

Why choose Coconut Reef Fishing Charters…?

You get to keep your catch!

You caught it, you keep it. We definitely want you to enjoy the fish you catch. There is nothing better (in our opinion) than the freshest seafood pulled straight from the ocean.

While we allow our guests to take home their hard-won catch, we do have a few basic conditions…

  • First off, CIGUATERA (or CFP) is a problem in our region. There are certain species that are just not fit for consumption. Your crew will advise which fish can be kept and which should be released (see our Fishing FAQ for more information). Even though we do our best to ensure if we give you the best advice possible; there are no guarantees. You eat the fish at your own risk.
  • We ask our guests to please only request the fish that they can personally consume for a single, family meal. We will always give you the best of the catch for your personal needs. Many of the local hotels and resorts are only too happy to cook up your fresh fish on request. If you’re staying in a place with a barbeque then all the better! Our crew will prepare your catch at the end of the day for transportation back to your hotel, resort, or home.
  • Any fish that is leftover, we generally try to sell to local consumers. The funds we receive are distributed amongst the crew, while a small percentage goes to the boat – this helps us offset our operational costs and keep our tours affordable.

We fish sustainably

  • We do our absolute best to release any fish that we do not intend to harvest for food or bait. By-catch is unavoidable but we do our best to mitigate this in any way we can.  
  • We do not use FADs (Fish Accumulation Device). We take our chances on the open seas. It’s not that we disagree with the basic principle of a FAD, it’s more that we disagree with the materials that local fishermen use to build FADs. We just don’t feel it’s appropriate to dump a few hundred pounds of nylon and/or plastic into the ocean for the sake of a few extra dollars. If we could find a way to use all-biodegradable materials then we might reconsider.
  • We never plunder a productive spot. We try never to fish any single spot dry. We take a few good specimens and then move on. Especially deep-dropping as it can take at least 6 months for stocks to replenish if you fish any one spot too hard.
  • Unless we absolutely have to keep it, any small fry are returned to the sea.