Title: Recreational fishing in the U.S. Virgin Islands
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Title: Recreational fishing in the U.S. Virgin Islands
Physical Description: Archival
Language: English
Creator: Division of Fish and Wildlife, Department of Planning and Natural Resources
Publisher: Division of Fish and Wildlife, Department of Planning and Natural Resources
Place of Publication: St. Croix, USVI
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: CA01300938
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of the Virgin Islands
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.

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GAMEFISH SEASON LOCATION BAIT/ LURES FLY FISHING

All year, best Near shore, shallow Live shrimp, small Various small flies
late March Near shore, shal jigs often baited tied to imitate
late March seagrass and sand
through flats, mangroves with shrimp or shrimp, crabs, and
Albula vulpes September flats, mangrovescrab worms
Bonefish*



All year, best Shallow seagrass, Small live crabs,
April through sand flats and back pieces of crab, Crab patterns
October reefs small sea urchins
Trachinotus falcatus
Permit

Mangrove lagoons, Large streamers
"- { All year, best bays, harbors, deeper Silver spoons, ea ers,
S March through water adjacent to white jigs, live various taon"
Megalops atlanticus October shallow flats, around baitfish flies
Tarpon* offshore cays
Mangrove lagoons,
bays, harbors, along Live shrimp, small
All year beaches with sharp fish, baitfish Baitfish imitations
Centropomus undecimalis drop-offs and imitation lures
Snook submerged structures
Around reefs, channels Live fish, baitfish Baitfish imitations,
All year adjacent to shallow imitations, silver needlefish
Sphyraena barracuda wageros angd ba spoons, feathers imitations
Barracuda lagoons and bays

Around reefs, channels
adjacent to shallow Squid, shrimp, cut Small streamers,
All year water, mangrove bait, small spoons, clousers, shrimp
lagoons and bays, spinners, jigs imitations
Carangidae back reef flats
Jacks


r*F l Around reefs, channels
< All year adjacent to shallow Baitfish (squid, fry)
Lutjanus mahogoni water. or cut bait, squid
Mahogany Snapper
* Only Catch and Release Allowed


HELPFUL HINTS:
1. Use barbless hooks barbless hooks reduce
the time needed to handle a fish before
releasing and may be removed from you
should you get hooked.
2. Use stainless steel hooks stainless steel
hooks left in fish will not rust and will likely be
thrown, while steel hooks that rust can cause
a toxic shock response in some fishes.
3. Use artificial lures natural baits are more
likely to be swallowed, causing extreme
damage to the fish.
4. Reduce fight time energetic fish recover
faster.
5. Keep the fish in the water try to remove the
hook and release the fish without removing
the fish from the water.
6. Use a 'dehooking device' try not to handle
the fish, use a dehooking device instead.
7. Be gentle if you handle the fish, wet your
hand first to minimize the amount of
protective coating of 'slime' removed from the
fish by handling.
8. Help the fish when releasing a fish, hold the
fish in the water in an upright (swimming)
position. Hold the fish loosely by the base of
the tail and under the stomach until it is
strong enough to swim away.

ETHICAL ANGLING
Help fish stocks increase through catch and
release.
Limit your take, don't always take your limit.
Observe regulations and report violations.
Bring all garbage in, don't teach it to swim.
CaDtain vour boat. Practice safety afloat.


For more information on Recreational
Sportfishing contact:
Department of Planning and Natural Resources
Division of Fish and Wildlife
St. Thomas / St. John (340) 775-6762
St. Croix (340) 772-1955

10


Shallow Water Game Fish

RECREATIONAL FISHING
IN THE U.S VIRGIN ISLANDS


DEPARTMENT OF PLANNING AND
NATURAL RESOURCES


-"-*
o- *s





Division of Fish and Wildlife
45 Mars Hill
Frederiksted
St. Croix, V.I. 00841









THE HISTORY OF GAME FISHING
Shallow water game fishing became
popular in the Virgin Islands in the 1950s.
The primary target then was the bonefish,
locally known as "ten-pounders". Bonefish
are not as abundant in the Virgin Islands as
they once were, but they can still be caught
by anglers who take the time to search the
flats. Permit and tarpon are now at the top
of the list for shallow water gamefish
enthusiasts in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Catching a bonefish, permit and tarpon is
the flats version of the "Grand Slam".
Barracuda and jacks are the most common
shallow water gamefish and provide great
sport. Snook are caught occasionally.
Shallow water game fish can only
be caught in unrestricted areas. They can
not be caught in areas, such as marine
reserves, which are restricted.

FISHING THE FLATS
The most popular method for pursuing
shallow water gamefish is "sight-fishing".
When fishing around reefs or offshore,
anglers will often cast, troll, or drift baits
without seeing the fish prior to hooking a
fish. When sight-fishing, no baits, lures or
flies are cast until a fish is spotted. Once a
fish is spotted the chosen bait, lure or fly is
then cast to the fish. Accurate casting and
correct presentation of the bait are
essential.
Fish can also be attracted by chumming
with pieces of fish, shrimp, squid, etc.
Casting in "fishy" water may yield a tarpon,
snook, barracuda or jack. Anglers often troll
for barracuda and jacks, and occasionally
tarpon. Other anglers fish baits on the
bottom for bonefish and permit, or near the
surface for tarpon, snook, barracuda, and
jacks.


WHAT TO LOOK FOR
As bonefish and permit dig their mouths
into the bottom rooting for food, their tails
often come out of the water. Occasionally,
bonefish and permit pass through water so
shallow that their dorsal fins and backs are
exposed. Trails of mud or other bottom
sediments may indicate bonefish digging in
the bottom in search of prey. Bonefish can
be spotted in water just a few inches deep,
while permit prefer water deeper than 16
inches.
Tarpon can be seen at the water
surface gulping air; they are able to utilize
oxygen from the air via a lung-like bladder.
They can be spotted rolling on the surface
as they feed on smaller fish. Tarpon
occasionally swim just below the water
surface with their dorsal fin exposed. An
experienced angler with polarized
sunglasses may be able to spot tarpon in
the shade of mangrove branches during the
middle of the day.
Snook can be seen swimming just
below the water surface, often with their
dorsal fin exposed. They spend a lot of
time among the prop roots of the
mangroves, waiting for prey to pass within
striking distance. Their dark shapes can be
spotted in the shadows of submerged
structures such as rocks, coral or mangrove
roots. Snook can often be found close to
sandy shorelines that have a trough or deep
area close to shore especially when the
water is turbid.
Barracuda are often seen suspended
motionless in the water, waiting for the
chance to attack unsuspecting prey.
Smaller fish can be found in water just a few
inches deep. Larger fish can be found just
about anywhere it is deep enough for them
to pass.


Although large barracuda prefer the
deeper waters around reefs and in lagoons,
they can also be spotted cruising the flats in
search of prey. A school of baitfish jumping
from the water as they flee a predator may
indicate a feeding barracuda.
Jacks can be seen cruising the fore-reef
and back reef in search of food. They also
feed in lagoons, over seagrass beds, along
beaches, and even on shallow seagrasses
and sand flats. Small jacks may be seen in
small groups while feeding. Larger jacks
become more solitary. Jacks can be seen
feeding on schooling baitfish at the surface
when in deeper water. When on the flats,
jacks often leave a wake as they pass
through the shallow water in search of food,
and can be seen splashing as they chase
prey.

MOON AND TIDES
In general, fishing the shallow water
flats is best during the few days before and
during the full moon. This is a period when
the highest tides of the month allow the fish
to access areas which are normally too
shallow in search of food. The last half of
the incoming tide, high tide, and the first of
the outgoing tide are best. This is
especially true for bonefish and permit.
Even in deeper water, such as fore-reefs
and lagoons, feeding activity appears to
increase during this time of the month.

CATCH AND RELEASE
Fishing the saltwater flats in the
Caribbean provides a unique experience for
both experienced and inexperienced
anglers. Because these fish are limited in
numbers due to their dependence on a
limited habitat they are especially
susceptible to overfishing. When practiced


properly, catch and release fishing helps to
provide a sustainable source of enjoyment
for anglers.

ACCESSING THE SHALLOWS
Many of the shallow water fishing areas
can be accessed from land. However,
much of this land is privately owned.
Please secure the permission of the land
owner prior to accessing their land, and
respect the rights of the landowners.
Always close all fences and gates behind
you and leave only footprints.
When fishing the shallow areas by
boat watch for coral and shallow areas.
Use a push-pole or paddles to move
through the flats rather than the motor; prop
damage can cause permanent destruction
of seagrass beds and coral reefs.

POTENTIAL HAZARDS
WATCH YOUR STEP!
Stingrays often cruise the shallows
looking for food (clams, crabs, shrimp, etc.)
and often lie motionless on the bottom.
Although they will swim away if they see
you coming, if stepped on they can inflict a
very painful wound with the bony spine
located at the base of their tail.
Sea urchins graze on the seagrass and
algae found in the shallows, and their
spines can cause painful injuries.
Scorpion fish are able to camouflage
themselves perfectly in almost any
surroundings and often lie motionless on
the rocks and coral. Their dorsal spine
contains venom which can cause severe
pain and swelling.




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