While most people have heard of offshore or deep sea fishing, the concept of inshore fishing may be unfamiliar. Both types of fishing can be found here on St. Croix, but inshore fishing is done in shallow waters near (or even from) the shorelines. These inshore areas are mostly protected from large waves by the islands barrier reefs and are therefore commonly called ‘the flats’. Inshore fishing allows you to catch a whole different variety of fish than its offshore counterpart, but it is definitely still sport fishing…so be prepared to work for your catch!
Personally, my husband and I had the opportunity to go inshore fishing with Carter at Silver Kings Kayak Charters. The beauty of going kayak fishing is that it’s eco-friendly, and you can get into some very shallow areas and up into the mangroves. Our guide, Carter, explained that there are lots of game-fish species that inhabit the Caribbean flats including sharks, crevalle jack, permit, several species of snapper, mackerel and Barracuda; but, the most prized are tarpon, bonefish, and snook. Carter gave us a quick lesson in operating the Hobie pedal kayak (which was very easy) and we shoved off from Molasses Pier. Once we pedaled across the inlet, he showed us the gear we would be using and taught us how to properly cast.
Once we had our casting down, we pedaled our kayaks over to the mangroves and started fishing. As we continued to cast and watch for fish in the extremely clear waters over the seagrass beds, Carter told us more about inshore fishing, the difference between the types of fish and their behaviors. We also got to enjoy the unique view of the South Shore of the island, which many visitors never get a chance to see. After striking out there, we pedaled south to Shell Island.
Shell Island is a very small, uninhabited barrier island just south of the Molasses Pier. Once we had pulled our kayaks ashore in the shallow bay we walked over to the island to do a little exploring and, of course, some fishing. In addition to birds, the island is inhabited by a couple of fun ground dwellers – hermit crabs and the elusive St. Croix ground lizard. So, we watched for them as we made our way across to the flats to fish from shore, and we actually saw both! We hit on some bonefish in the flats, but still weren’t able to land anything. However, Carter is very passionate about teaching responsible fishing and educating his guests about St. Croix’s wildlife and local environment, so we had a great time learning from him. We made our way back towards shore and made one last ditch effort to catch some tarpon right at Molasses Pier, but still had no luck. We could see them swimming below us, but they just weren’t biting. Maybe next time!
I can honestly say that my day of inshore fishing was one of the most fun excursions I’ve done here on St. Croix. We had the chance to pedal our kayak right up to the mangroves, get up close and personal with huge green sea turtles swimming along the South Shore, visit Shell Island, and see the South Shore from a whole new perspective. We basically spent a day fishing, floating on the Caribbean, laughing and telling stories, learning new things, seeing a variety of wildlife, and enjoying so much of what St. Croix has to offer. Although we didn’t catch anything, that is a rare occurrence on Silver Kings Kayak Charters, so you’ll likely get to text your skills against at least one of the many sport fish species. I highly recommend that you try inshore fishing, it’s a fun activity for the whole family. Not only will you have a great time, but you’ll undoubtedly have some great fishing stories to tell for the rest of your life!
– Jennie Ogden, Editor