The Turks and Caicos is deservedly gaining an international reputation as an excellent bonefishing destination. This is largely due to the exquisite Caicos Banks, which is the extensive and shallow marine banks that are found off the south of the Caicos Islands, and its counterpart mangrove wetland Ramsar Nature Reserve, which serves as a nursery for a wide spectrum of marine life.
The flats in our archipelago aren’t quite as extensive as the sounds and shallows of the Andros Islands in the Bahamas, yet the waterways and wetlands on our untouched Caicos Banks offer just as spectacular conditions.
Bonefish of every size, permit, and the occasional tarpon and snook are found in the Caicos Islands, as well as many barracuda, which can be very responsive and exciting to hook. Most bonefish tend to be in the 4-8 pound range (1.8-3.6 kg), with the larger examples being around 10-11 pounds (4.5-5 kg). It’s quite common to encounter schools of them, both in crystal clear water and in the muds.
Atlantic tarpon isn’t as quite as common as bonefish in the Turks and Caicos, yet there are definitely some monsters lurking out in the flats, with over 100-pound (45 kg) specimens having been caught throughout the Caicos Islands. The Turks and Caicos doesn’t have any rivers or streams, so the tarpon here likely has made a long ocean journey to transit to get to the islands.
Great barracuda is of course very common here. Redfish (red drum) is not found in the Turks and Caicos. One thing to keep in mind about bonefishing and flat fishing in the Caribbean is the wind. The breeze is typically blowing in the 15-22 mph range (24-45 km/h, 13-19 knots). It’s best to keep this in mind when practicing your cast!
The Turks and Caicos offers a small yet select group of tour operators that cater to bonefishing and fly-fishing. Most of the bonefishing companies are based on the island of Providenciales, and a few operate out of the quiet islands of North Caicos or South Caicos.
Most bonefishing tour companies run flats boats or skiffs such as Egrets or Hewes. These vessels are outfitted with large outboards to allow for fast transits across the Caicos Banks, and are small enough for bottom polling.
Tours typically use small flats boats with a two-passenger capacity, so are consequently almost always private excursions.
On the low end, rates start at about $700 for an afternoon for a single fisherman, and range up to well over a thousand for a full day with multiple anglers.
Several charter companies offer overnight camping trips out in the uninhabited Caicos Cays. The cost will of course be a little higher than for day trips, yet such an adventure can be an unforgettable experience.
Great tidal flats are found across the Caicos Islands archipelago. As most fishing trips originate on the island of Providenciales, the shallows off Pine Cay, North Caicos, and Middle Caicos are the most popular destinations. Every captain has their own favorite spot, which they typically don’t want others to know about!
Bottle Creek at North Caicos is a very popular location, both by boat and for DIY fishing. There are several boutique vacation rentals at this picturesque settlement, and kayaks can be rented for those looking to hunt some of the wading spots.
Bell Sound near South Caicos is spectacularly flat, with exquisite channels and water color hues. South Caicos is quite a journey from Providenciales, so it makes sense to stay at one of the island’s accommodations if you’d like to fish those waters.
Guides will often choose the best locations for the current weather, as the wind may create subpar conditions at otherwise great sites.
DIY Shore Locations
See Providenciales Shore Fishing for more location information.
Decent fly-fishing spots are found at several regions on Providenciales, including the marine ponds at Turtle Tail, Discovery Bay, and Juba Sound. Several of the south coast beaches also offer great hunting during calm conditions.
The central islands of North Caicos and Middle Caicos, which are connected by a road causeway, are the richest region for DIY shore fishing in the Turks and Caicos. There are countless flats to explore, many of which are easily accessed by road.
South Caicos also offers convenient beach and shore wading spots in the Bell Sound lagoon and near the scenic Plandon Cay Cut.
Licenses and Regulations
All visitors and most residents must possess a valid fishing license when fishing in the Turks and Caicos. Daily, monthly, and annual licenses are available, and may be purchased at the National Environmental Centre in the Bight, or at many of the island’s marinas.
If you’re fishing with a charter, your guide will typically arrange any required licenses.
It’s illegal to fish in protected areas in the Turks and Caicos, which includes national parks and nature reserves. A large portion of the mangrove-lined waterways and flats near the islands of North Caicos, Middle Caicos, and East Caicos are part of the Ramsar Nature Reserve, an extensive protected wetland region.
If you fish on your own or from shore, it’s your responsibility to be aware of and follow any applicable regulations. Recent proposals have been made to allow for catch and release bonefishing inside of protected areas, yet these laws have not been put in place yet.
What to Bring
The fishing charter companies are happy to provide rods, reels, and flies. If you’d prefer to bring your own equipment, light tackle 7 to 9 weight rods are typically recommended for bonefish, and 10 to 11 for barracuda and tarpon.
As most saltwater anglers know, anyone planning to spend time on the water in the Turks and Caicos should bring polarized sunglasses.
Sufficient sun protection is also a must. We recommend a buff, wide-brimmed hat, long sleeves, and gloves. If you’re planning to camp overnight, we advise bringing insect repellent, and if heavy rains have occurred recently, mosquito nets.
Bone Fishing Packages
If flat fishing is a primary focus of your visit to the Turks and Caicos, it makes sense to consider a package vacation which includes accommodation and excursions.