Little Cayman is very popular with serious fishermen (and the not too serious fishermen too). Many guests show up with their fly rod or spinning rod and have very good luck fishing right in front of their villa.
Fishing Excursions that can be booked ahead of time or on island include: Flats Fishing for (bonefish, permit, and reef fish), baby tarpon fishing at Tarpon Lake, and deep sea fishing for tuna, wahoo, mahi mahi, and marlin (if you are really lucky).
I have been lucky enough to saltwater fly fish in a lot of different places, from the Bahamas, to the Keys and Everglades in Florida and the bayous in Louisiana, to Belize and South Africa. From that perspective, fishing on Little Cayman is a unique experience. There are places where there might be more fish, or bigger fish, but what’s special about the waters of LC is the ease of access, the variety of options, and the almost total lack of fishing pressure. In the half dozen times I’ve fished there, I’ve never had to compete for space with another angler (other than my sons…), and you can’t say that about a whole lot of places on earth.
A typical Little Cayman fishing day starts before dawn, with a trip to Tarpon Lake, which is one of the island’s natural wonders. Guide Chris Gough will row you out in a small boat, and you’ll hear the tarpon gulping and splashing before the light hits the water. The bite lasts for three or four hours. The fish average around five pounds – so perfect for a six or seven weight fly rod or light spinning gear. If the conditions are right, they’ll take top water lures and flies, which is a thrill even for the most seasoned angler.
After that, you can have a nap in the hammock, and then head out in search of bonefish. If you want to do it on your own, there are fish to be found all along the beach, many of them in the 4-5 pound range. They’re wary, and very challenging to catch. Some of them cruise along the trough that’s only a foot or two from the sand, and often they’ll see you before you see them. Others can be spotted tailing in the grass flats between docks, especially on a rising tide.
If you want to go father afield, Chris will take you to Owen Island, which has a pristine white-sand flat that’s perfect for wading and sight fishing. The fish are always there, but you’ll have to make a good cast to catch one. For beginners who are looking for their first bonefish, there’s the option of cruising South Hole Sound in search of “muds” – huge schools of bonefish that kick up the sand on the bottom and turn the water milky. With a spinning rod or a fly rod, even a first-timer can cast into one of those schools and have a very good chance of hooking up and experiencing one of those famous bonefish runs.
Depending on wind conditions, there are a series of other wade-able flats on both sides of the island. That’s where you’re most likely to run into a bigger fish. You’ll probably have the flat all to yourself, and there’s no danger of running out of new water to explore.
For those who are hoping for a “Little Cayman Slam” – a bonefish, a Tarpon Lake tarpon, and a permit – the last part will be the toughest. There are permit in the waters around the island, but they’re elusive and always seem to turn up when you’re least prepared to cast for them.
In addition to the in shore fishing, if blue water is your thing – or you’d like to catch your dinner – it’s a very short stream through the reef to very deep and productive waters. Depending on the time of year, there are tuna and wahoo and mahi, plus if you’re lucky, shots at billfish. There aren’t many places where you can have a deep-sea line in the water ten minutes after leaving the dock.
I know most people come to LC to dive and snorkel – or just to relax. But even if that’s your primary goal, it’s well worth throwing a fly rod in your bag.
S. Brunt, March, 2015
Testimonial from Andy Norton:
Last November my wife Anita and I visited LCI for two weeks and we’re not even divers! We had read about LCI and it seemed like the perfect place to really get away from it all. Anita found Paradise Villas through the internet and I knew about LCI from the book Bonefishing by Randall Kauffman. LCI turned out to be exactly as billed. It’s as if the place is deserted.
The main reason people come to LCI is to dive, but the fishing is great and a real adventure.
I’m a fairly self sufficient fisherman, so I elected to do all my shore fishing un-guided. I caught bonefish, jacks, snappers, and barracuda. We found fish by car, bicycle, moped and on foot. Obviously the car and mopeds offer the greatest flexibility.
One of the best things about fishing LCI is that it seems as if you have the island to yourself, because everyone is out on a dive boat. Choose which shore to work (north or south, depending on the direction of the wind.
When we arrived it looked as if the north shore was just too rough to provide good wading whatsoever, so we concentrated on the south shore. However, the wind direction turned while we were there transforming the north shore into a place that really does feel remote – just a few houses and miles of great shoreline to fish. The bonefish we found were pretty tight to the shore, the jacks seemed to be everywhere and the snappers are around the few piers and in the reef that you can easily wade to in good weather.
There are at least two kinds of fishing you’ll need help with. Captain Chris Gough (from the Southern Cross Club) takes guests offshore fishing where you can catch some early morning tuna and maybe a wahoo or a Mahi Mahi. You can be into fish within minutes of passing through the reef since the water depth falls away so quickly. I’m sure there are other species that visit LCI as well.
But by far my favorite fishing on LCI was Tarpon Lake. This place is incredible. TL is jammed with baby tarpon. When you find the fish, sometimes you get a bump every cast! But these bumps aren’t like what you’re used to on a trout stream. Tarpon hit so hard, you wonder if you’re going lose your rod overboard. I call it the tarpon handshake. It’s an incredible jolt.
If you’re new to saltwater fly fishing this is a great place to test the waters. Anyone should be able to find some jacks and snappers, and maybe a bonefish or two. You’ll want some type of sturdy wading shoe to protect your feet. I fished a 7 weight for my shore fishing, an 8 weight for Tarpon Lake and a 10 weight for the small tuna we turned into sushi. If you only have room for one rod, make it an 8 weight. It is not too big for in shore and big enough if you get into a 15 pound tarpon – hang on!
I know this website has many great things to say about Paradise Villas – the clean rooms, helpful friendly staff, the Hungry Iguana, and I agree with it all. Paradise Villas and LCI is a fabulous place to get away from the bright lights and crowds.
I’d be happy to offer people some more detailed fishing advice for anybody heading to LCI. firstname.lastname@example.org