The Bahamas fishing scene is world-renowned for the rich history it carries and the incredibly diverse marine life that populates its waters to this day. Of all the 700 islands that encompass the archipelago of the Bahamas, Bimini is the one destination that attracts sports fishermen from around the world, firmly holding its title as the Big Game Fishing Capital of the World. Sitting on the edge of the Gulfstream and the westernmost edge of the Bahamas, Bimini is the perfect location for access to the tropical north-flowing current of warm waters, replete with fish of all varieties. Conditions for fishing in Bimini are perfect year-round, making it a highly popular destination for fishing tournaments and events. More than 50 record-setting catches have been made in the waters that surround Bimini, not to mention the 1993 record tuna weighing a staggering 971 pounds.
Bimini’s vibrant marine life has always been a major attraction for visitors, including the revered American novelist, Ernest Hemingway. He spent many seasons of the 1930s exploring Bimini and finding inspiration for his novels within the deep blue waters that surround the island. Hemingway spent his days sailing the waters on his boat, the Pilar, searching for the perfect catch of marlin, tuna, and swordfish. Many of his most famous works were taken from his experiences out on Bimini’s waters, including To Have and Have Not, The Old Man and the Sea, and Islands in the Stream.
Both amateur and avid fishermen will find their slice of heaven within the enchantingly colorful marine life that rushes through Bimini’s warm currents. The list of fish that can be sought is truly endless: blue and white marlin, sailfish, swordfish, wahoo, kingfish, mackerel, tuna of all kind, Oceanic Bonito, bonefish, permit, tarpon, amberjack, grouper, snapper, barracuda, and more.
There’s no better source of fishing wisdom than from locals who are immersed in the waters of Bimini daily; that’s why we’ve reached out to Jonah Hepburn III, a local fisherman, to find what makes the island of Bimini his most prized fishing paradise.
Resorts World Bimini: How many years have you been a fisherman, and would you say that Bimini is a top-rank destination for fishing?
Jonah Hepburn: I’ve been fishing for the past ten years; 3 years ago I put down my rod and reel, picked up a spear and never looked back! Yes, Bimini definitely is a top-ranked destination for fishermen of all experience levels.
RWB: What has been your greatest catch in Bimini, and do you have a particular fish that you are still chasing?
JH: My biggest catch would have to be a 23.6 lb mutton snapper that I shot in 20 ft of water less than two miles west of the island. As far as hunting a particular type of fish goes, I am after the species that offers me the greatest challenge. Whether it be big groupers hiding in deep ledges and caves or the elusive mutton snappers that push your breath holds to the very limit.
RWB: What sets Bimini apart from any other place for fishing?
JH: The one thing Bimini has over all other fishing destinations is its location. Having the Great Bahama Banks to the east and the Gulfstream to the west, the waters of Bimini are nutrient rich. The waters provide not only numerous reef structures for fish to live, but also excellent feeding grounds. Having the deep waters of the Gulf Stream so close to its shores means that large schools of pelagic fish are not very far away. These factors and a few others help to create an angler’s utopia.
RWB: In your opinion, what is the tastiest fish you have ever tried and how do you prefer your fish cooked?
JH: Hands down the tastiest fish I have ever tried would be the Hog Snapper. Ceviche would be my favorite way to prepare freshly caught fish.
RWB: What is the most interesting story that you can share of your time out there in the Atlantic Ocean, and what advice can you give to anyone that is interested in a fishing excursion in Bimini?
JH: Two years ago I shot my very first Nassau Grouper in a small cave two atmospheres deep. On the surface as I began preparations to go back and retrieve my catch, I had the misfortune of watching an 8ft green moray eel devour my grouper in the most vicious of ways, leaving me with a broken heart and a bent shaft. The best advice I can offer to anyone looking for a fishing excursion or any nautical experience in Bimini is to get out and make it happen! Find a guide that’s knowledgeable and experienced who can offer a safe and fulfilling trip. Moreover [and] most importantly, enjoy every moment of paradise.