From above, the cobalt blue water of the Gulf Stream quickly gives way to the gin-clear flats of North Bimini and South Bimini islands. Located a scant 49 miles from Miami, Bimini has a rich heritage in big-game fishing dating back to the 1930s, when the likes of Zane Grey, Tommy Gifford, Howard Hughes and Michael Lerner ventured there to battle giant blue marlin and huge schools of bluefin tuna that prowled its western shores beyond the reef. Ernest Hemmingway's love of Bimini began in 1935, thanks to his friendship with Lerner, and it was there he wrote many of his famous novels in between fishing trips and drinking binges. It is also where Hemingway, aboard his beloved Pilar, is said to have developed his aggressive fishing techniques while pursuing blue marlin and bluefin tuna in an effort to land them before the area's plentiful shark population could devour his catch. The Bimini twist, the haywire twist and the first ballyhoo rigs are said to have been developed there by pioneering mates and captains, and world-class tackle company Fin-Nor field-tested the sport's first lever drag reels there.
Often called the birthplace of Atlantic big-game fishing, Bimini's reputation quickly gathered the attention of anglers the world over, and soon big-game tournaments were a regular occurrence. The eastern edge of the Gulf Stream laps at the islands, where in a matter of a few boat lengths depths plunge from 60 feet to 600 feet, and the 100-fathom curve is just two miles offshore. All of the Atlantic's billfish species including blue marlin, white marlin, sailfish, and swordfish can be found here, and in between billfish bites look for wahoo, dolphin (mahi mahi) and yellowfin tuna to provide action offshore. Although numbers of the species are down dramatically worldwide, giant bluefin tuna are always a possibility. Along the reefs, wrecks and irregular bottom, various species of snapper, grouper, and jacks can provide an alternative to the offshore action. Flats anglers are in their glory here as bonefish reign supreme, and several International Game Fish Association world records, including one dating to 1961 and another to 1971, have been set there. Permit are also found along the flats, and barracuda and sharks are always available to provide drag-searing action.
The fishing calendar on and around Bimini spans the entire year, and there are always several species willing to cooperate. November through March offer the best shot at big wahoo, but winter's winds provide a sporty day offshore. March through July offers the best chance at white marlin, blue marlin, sailfish and dolphin. Look for swordfish from June through September. Bonefish and permit can be found year-round, although March through May is the best time for both as the flats warm quickly in the summer months, sending both species to cooler, deeper water. Sharks, barracuda and near-shore species including jacks, snapper, and grouper are plentiful year-round.
No visit would be complete without a stay at the world-famous Bimini Big Game Club on North Bimini Island. Opened in 1936 as a formal dinner club, where tuxedos and evening gowns were the dress of the day, the club moved to its current location in 1954 with the completion of six guest cottages and a marina. In 1963, the main hotel opened. The Bacardi family acquired the club and invested heavily into the property until its sale in 2000. Today, after several brief ownership changes, the Bimini Big Game Club has re-emerged as a popular fishing destination, thanks to the Guy Harvey Outpost team. A short walk from Government Dock, the Bimini Big Game Club is located in the center of historic Alice Town, where its ceremonial stone gate and overhead sign signal a fishing paradise. Among its 3.5 acres are 51 rooms, and tastefully decorated with Guy Harvey's artwork and dÃ©cor to reflect the theme of the resort and its history.
On-sight activities include a Dolphin Discovery and Shark Encounters, and nearby activities include diving, snorkeling, as well as shopping at the Bimini Craft Center, which offers authentic Bahamian clothing and other gifts and products. The Bimini Big Game Club also has enlisted the services of several inshore guides and offshore captains, including the legendary Billy Black aboard his custom 53-foot Rybovich sportfisherman El Viejo, who can help you catch the fish of a lifetime.Also located on North Bimini, is Bimini Bay Resort & Marina, which can accommodate vessels up to 200 feet. Visitors can access resort amenities including multiple restaurants, an infinity pool, private beach, a fitness center and more. Their staff can also arrange guides for bone fishing, deep sea fishing and big game fishing.
Whether your goal is to catch your first blue marlin or a world-record bonefish, Bimini offers an excellent shot at both and a chance to look back at big-game fishing's exciting and colorful history.