Marquesas is a magical word that conjures thoughts of tropical breezes, emerald green water surrounding a tropical island paradise. That may be true in the T.V. since of the word, however, to the avid sportfishing angler it means a ring (yes, a true atoll) of islands surrounded by acres and acres of pristine water and shallow flats where giant Tarpon, Permit, Bonefish, Mutton Snappers, great Barracudas and monster Sharks of all kinds prowl the flats.
Only a short distance away there are many ancient and modern wrecks where Cobia, Barracudas, Goliath Grouper and Jacks of several species await the presentation of a lure or bait. From here, it is only a few miles south to the Gulfstream or north to the many wrecks and towers of the Gulf of Mexico or west to the many shallow water wrecks of the “Quick Sands”.
As we have alluded to earlier, the Marquesas is a ring of islands measuring approximately 3.2 by 4.5 miles across surrounding a shallow lagoon. This meets the criteria of an atoll, thereby qualifying as the only true atoll in the western hemisphere. Most atolls are found in the Pacific Ocean and are the remnants of long extinct volcanoes. This is not the case with the Marquesas. It is a slightly elliptical circle whereby some amateur astronomy fans have speculated that it may have been an ancient meteor strike. It’s origin is of small consequence to the modern angler, it is a fishing mecca to the sport fisherman.
Permit and Bonefish in the Marquesas
As the water warms to the 70 degree levels of spring, the channels and undercut banks of the inner lagoon of these islands begin to fill with new tenets for the season, Snook, juvenile Tarpon and Mangrove Snapper are the main residents of this habitat. The inner lagoon begins hosting large numbers of school size Permit up about 15 pounds with small schools of Bonefish.
Tarpon Fishing in the Marquesas
May and June hosts the main target of the hard core fly fishermen; i.e. the “Silver King” rules. Tarpon move in and out of the lagoon on a tidal basis. They seem to favor the peaceful interior of the lagoon as a sanctuary from the large and numerous sharks of the outer ring. Here they may be found in singles doubles and small schools of fish, “laid up” or laying immobile at or near the surface. In the dark waters of the inner lagoon, the giant fish resemble black logs or alligator, laying motionless below the surface, except for an occasional tail or dorsal fin protruding above the mirrored surface.
When a fly is properly presented just in front of the fish and with great patience, allowed to sink to the fishes level, then, and only then, given life by an ever so slight twitch of the fly line, the silver king cannot resist the temptation. The jump is incidental to all that has transpired to that time. This is a memory that only those in that boat have locked into their memory for their lifetime. I know, I have been there many times and it never gets old.
Shark Fishing in the Marquesas
The outer ring of the Marquesas is the summer home of many giant Tarpon, world record Permit, great Barracudas and the greatest of all predators, the sharks. More world record sharks have been taken from these waters than any other place in the world. Here, Tiger Sharks over 1500 pounds, Hammerhead Sharks over 1000 pounds, Bull Sharks over 600 pounds, Lemon Sharks over 400 pounds, big Blacktip Sharks and many more species of sharks ply these waters on a regular basis. Check out our Shark Fishing page for more information on fishing for sharks.
The Marquesas may be seen by some anglers as just a midway point to their fishing destination, or a group of islands on the horizon to a sailboater, an adventure to a small boater, a tropical paradise to a romantic heart or, a sportsman. Beauty is indeed, in the eyes of the beholder.