International Billfish Tournament, LAM
In 1493 Columbus’ fleet of ships first anchored in a natural harbor off the west coast. From that time until today, Puerto Rico and boating have gone hand in hand.
Island visitors who want to explore the Caribbean on the South, the Atlantic on the North or the passages on the East (Vieques Passage and Vieques Sound) and West (Mona Passage) have a wide range of choices. It all depends on what you are looking for and your favorite mode of seagoing transportation. If deep-sea fishing is your passion, then you are in for a powerboat trip (Hatteras and the like). If you prefer shallow water skiff-fishing for tarpon, you will find it in the Metro area. If you are looking for a bit of combined sailing and snorkeling, then you have a choice of the large stable sailing catamarans or smaller, intimate single hulled sailboats or perhaps even a kayak excursion.
This is a high-tech sport. You need to be in the right place at the right time with the right equipment.
If you brought your own boat, say to participate in the San Juan International Billfish Tournament at the San Juan Club Náutico or the Blue Marlin Caribbean Inter-Club Tournament at the Cangrejos Yacht Club, you will find major marinas in San Juan, Fajardo and Ponce. There are smaller marinas in La Parguera and some of the communities along the coastline. Since stuff is always breaking on boats, you should know that available marine stores and supplies run from massive international operations to small personalized fishing and tackle shops. (For more information on these tournaments, check the Metro section, for more information on the marine supplies, check the shopping section.)
If you are chartering a boat for deep-sea fishing, most charters are either half day or full day and take 1 to 6 passengers. The cost is based on length of the charter, not the number of passengers and the charter normally provides all the necessary fishing gear and crew. Some charters provide food and drinks, but not all, so be sure to ask.
Now that you are equipped, what is the right place and time? In general, the charters operate out of three areas: San Juan and Fajardo (both fishing the Puerto Rico Trench in the Atlantic to the north) and La Parguera.
San Juan and Fajardo lie mere minutes from Blue Marlin Alley, named for the size and numbers of blue marlin found in its waters, particularly in the months of August and September. Today, most of the blue marlin that are caught are not hauled in and hung on walls; instead, they are tagged and released back into the ocean. In this way, the fisherman gets to experience the challenge of the catch; the scientist gets important migratory data; and the fish gets to live, a winning situation all around.
Other regions around Puerto Rico also provide excellent fishing. The deep waters off Humacao hold large numbers of wahoo. Arecibo on the north coast makes the most of its proximity to the deep trenches, and boats docked in Rincón, Mayagüez, Cabo Rojo and La Parguera on the west and southwest coasts head out to the traditional tuna grounds of the Mona Passage. In September, Cabo Rojo hosts the International Light Tackle Tournament.
Different fish run at different times of the year and phases of the moon. Depending on the season, you find yellow and blackfin tuna, mahi mahi, sailfish, wahoo, bonito and the legendary blue marlin. Based on when and where you will be in Puerto Rico, and what you are looking for, the local operators can tell you what to expect on your excursion.
Skiff-fishing for tarpon
This is done right in the metro area in and among the mangrove areas of Piñones and the San Juan Bay. The fact that there is excellent tarpon fishing in Puerto Rico is a bit of a recent discovery and has started to receive wide coverage by the likes of Saltwater Sportsman Magazine.