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Maldives-Fishing in honeymoon paradise

Updated: Nov 2, 2021

Most people probably have heard of the Maldives as a typical honeymoon destination, but it also offers some amazing fishing opportunities, with palm trees and snow-white coral sand.

I visited the Maldives in 2013, when a new fishing lodge had just recently opened it's gates. And it should also be my first real contact with tropical game fish...


Driftwood at a sandbank

Where are the Maldives?


The Maldives are a group of almost 1,200 tropical, mostly uninhabited islands in the Indian Ocean, south of India. Most Islands are just about 1m above sea-level and sheltered by coral reefs.


Time to go fishing


I went on this holiday by myself and after almost two days of traveling, I arrived on Keyodhoo, a 700m small island in the Vaavu atoll. I had more than two weeks in an amazing fishing lodge. I shared the lodge with an Italian and German family, who- luckily- were almost as crazy about fishing, as I was. Which meant sharing boat charters aka more fishing for everybody. Back then, the lodge did not have fancy speedboats, but some traditional wooden boats. Well, at least with plenty of space for everyone to fish and store the tackle.




Traditional Maldivian "Dhoni" boat

On my first day, there was hardly enough time to change clothes and put on sunscreen. I had just gotten there, when we already left for a little trip with the boat. I hadn't even had time to unpack my gear, so i just quickly packed my pike rod and some super light lures. When I hooked a small dogtooth tuna on my 12g jig, which nearly spooled me with my pike outfit, I had already learned the first lesson: Tropical fish fight HARD. I had started fishing in Egypt, when I was 7 or 8 years old and had a few little fishing trips during our family holidays and I did a little fishing holiday in Norway, when I was 18. But a real fishing holiday to a place, where you find Dogtooth Tunas and GT? Nope. This was the first time.



Sunrise: Time to get the lures in the water

In the next two weeks we would typically fish from sunrise to sunset. Some trolling on the way out, then popping or bottomfishing. I did not bring a lot of experience on this trip and so some fish showed me and my tackle who's boss. A lot of times sharks would also take their toll on hooked fish and often get hooked themselves, resulting in ridiculous runs after a small fish was hooked. But I managed to catch my first tropical game fish and I gained a lot of experience in the process. Also regarding jigging and popping technique.



This fish (whatever it was) ripped about 300m of line off my reel, after a heavy bite on my jig, so the captain gave me some hold. Sadly I didn't manage to land the fish

Whitetip shark

Dogtooth tuna

Not much line left...


A nice mahi mahi



grouper

One of the most impressive fish we caught during this trip- aside from trevallies, groupers, snappers, tunas and more was a very nice sailfish. Which was caught with a hook-less "friendly" sailfish lure, handcrafted by our captain.


The genius "friendly" sailfish lure



Nice sailfish, that was caught with the friendly sailfish lure


At late afternoon, when we were always on our way back from a day of fishing at a random point- Well at least to me it seemed random... our captain, an old Maldivian fisherman, always stopped the boat. We were above blue water, with no visible structure whatsoever and I still can't tell, how he knew where to stop. But this was always the place to catch some yellowfin tunas and bonitos on jig before heading back. Usually we would get a strike within the first few drops.



One of the many yellowfin tunas we caught at the "random" spot

Luckily, on the Island shore fishing was permitted, so we could enjoy fishing from the beach and catch some sharks on bait and, after a heavy fight on my popping outfit, I could also land a stingray with about 40kg/80lbs. If I wouldn't have been out at sea during the days, I would have tried spinning from the beaches, as well.



Little whitetip sharky caught at the islands beach

Casting lures from a random sandbank in the middle of the Indian Ocean


This stingray was a heavy test for my gear


Tackle and tipps:


As this was my first trip to a tropical fishing destination, I used pretty cheap tackle: A Penn Ocean Fighter* rod with Penn Battle 8000* reel and 80lbs line for popping and a Graphite Expert Alexander PE 2-5* with the same reel (But a different spool) for jigging. Then I had my pike setup from home, which was a 2.40m 80g CW pike rod with a Okuma Cedros 55S* reel.

I had a broad range of jigs between 80 and 250g and poppers and stickbaits between 80 and 150g. Especially the smaller stickbaits in the 100g range worked well and most GT that I saw were no monsters. However there can always the surprise fish. We had sharks on jig and there was the surprise fish giving intense runs every so often (probably dogtooth tuna)


Generally, a PE 6 Jigging and Popping outfit with a 65lbs line should be enough for most situations on the Maldives. Single wire was helpful to avoid getting cut off, especially when fishing with bait. Using wire assist hooks on the jigs is also worth considering, I had a lot of jigs and hooks stolen. Mostly it was when a fish was hooked and then inhaled by a shark, but there were some intense runs after a hard strike on jig.


*unpaid referral


What else is there to do?


On the Maldives one usually stays on a small sandy island. This of course limits the activities to water sports and whatever is available in the lodge/hotel you are staying. I focused on fishing and did a few dives/snorkeling sessions during my trip.



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