Just because it’s winter, it doesn’t mean you have to fish in the cold. There’s a wealth of fly fishing destinations that are warm while we’re wrapped up in layers of fishing gear.
We’ve taken a month by month look at some of the best winter fly fishing destinations. Take a trip, stay warm, and check out some of the most exciting fly fishing on the planet.
November in the Bahamas
The Bahamas are paradise on Earth. Just ask any of the six million holidaymakers who flock there for the year-round summer and the postcard-perfect beaches.
It’s also a major draw for fly fishers. The world’s most famous bonefishing flats are in the Abacos, a group of 120 islands in the north. From November onwards you can also expect healthy hauls of barracuda, wahoo and snapper.
If you like the idea of a technical, yet rewarding challenge, the bonefish off the islands of Andros, swim right up to you. But when they’re hooked, they can swim off at up to 30mph. That’s when you’ll need to use your skills.
There are limits on the quantities of certain species. Bahamian fishing regulations require you to obtain a permit to fish, and there are bag limits on wahoo, kingfish and other species.
Fish on as many of the Abacos islands as possible with a chartered boat from Cruise Abaco. They hop from place to place and remain moored overnight, so you get to fish in different waters each day, and wake up in a different cove every morning.
December in the Antipodes
Giant black marlin are a tremendously prized catch. There’s no better place to nab one than the stunning Australian Great Barrier Reef in Cairns at the start of the Antipodean summer. These behemoths can weigh in at a massive 750kg.
If you prefer a more remote getaway, head to Cape York. These uninhabited islands have pristine beaches that are excellent for cod and salmon. You’ll need a 4×4 to reach them, but this can only add to the sense of adventure!
A third of New Zealand households once owned a fishing boat, writes Thomas Petch in Angler’s Mail. River fly fishing is just as important as sea fishing. The waters teem with trout at this time of year.
There’s plenty of accessible freshwater fishing in New Zealand. But if you’re after more of an adventure, the North Island is home to creeks and rivers that hold brown and rainbow trout. A count of the creeks in the Central region tallied around 900 fish per kilometre.
You need a license to fish in New Zealand. Applying online is very simple.
Giant marlin are the dinosaurs of fish. If you’re new to fly fishing, you’ll need an extra pair of hands and expert knowledge from a captain.
Your usual flies may not do the job on the other side of the world. Check out what’s likely to work south of the equator, and get your gotcha ready!
January in Cuba
In Cuba’s Cayo Largo there really are “plenty more fish in the sea”. The catch-and-release fly fishing rule means there’s an almost limitless supply of permit, tarpon and barracuda. Guided fishing trips are the best way to experience these stunning waters, as beach fishing is prohibited.
It’s the country’s top resort, but you’re unlikely to spot other anglers along the island’s remarkably peaceful 25km of saltwater flats, as there are only a few boats that take anglers out each day. Its protected status means the sea is replete with coral, and on land you’ll see iguanas and pelicans.
Cayo Largo is just 30 minutes away by plane from the bustling cultural hub of Havana, so you can double up your fishing trip with some full-on tourism, too.
Avalon’s Fishing Centres provide chartered boats six days a week. They helpfully divide the vast marine park into six areas, taking you to a different one each day.
You’ll need a visa to visit Cuba.
Mosquitos can be voracious in this area. Pack plenty of repellent, or make sure you eat your Marmite before you go!
February in Kenya
Kenya’s Malindi coastline is one of the only places where it’s possible to achieve a fantasy slam – that’s hooking five types of billfish in one day, including swordfish and marlin.
The undisturbed beaches are stunning. Early in the year is peak billfish season. It’s also when the weather is at its warmest and driest. February’s the peak time for marlin in this area, and sailfish are in plentiful supply. Further north in Lamu, billfish thrive, and you can pick a fight with a yellowfin tuna in reasonably shallow water.
The town of Malindi merges Italian, Muslim and African influences into its food, architecture and art, so you get a brilliant fly fishing and cultural winter sun break rolled into one.
Pack a waterproof camera. Whales, dolphins and turtles inhabit these waters. You’ll want to record these images to show everybody back home.
There are over a dozen clubs with boats and crew to accompany you out to sea. It’s a world class fishing destination, so you’ll find it easy to find experienced guides here.
Winter months in Panama and the Florida Keys
Hanging off the southern tip of Florida is Key West. Much of the fly fishing here is done on the flats, which are areas of sea where fish congregate to feed. Think of them like jungle clearings – underwater.
Bonefish, tarpon, redfish and snook are all in abundance during our winter months, and there’s no shortage of experienced guides to take you to the best flats for fishing.
Heading further south? In the local language, Panama means ‘abundance of fish.’ Dorado, fierce deep red cubera snapper and the striking mahi mahi, are all ready to be caught in this Central American country. You can fish from rocky coastlines or sandy beaches.
Gatun Lake in the North of Panama offers amazing freshwater fly fishing for peacock bass and tropical bluegill along with a myriad of tropical species. Protected for over 100 years, the lake is also host to land species like howler monkeys, anteaters and three-toed sloths, making it a nature-lover’s paradise.
Almost entirely surrounded by sea, Panama’s just two and a half hours by plane from Miami.
In Florida you don’t need a license if you’re fly fishing from a charter boat, this is covered by the company.
If you’re going solo you need to buy one online from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation‘s website or from a local tackle shop.
Yellowfin tuna are at lower numbers in January and February, but this is the peak period for black and blue marlin at up to 600lbs.
There’s a huge fishing world out there beyond the northern hemisphere. Where has your pursuit of winter fishing in the sun taken you? Share your stories on our Facebook page.