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March 19, 2010

Dominican Republic Best Bets

The Dominican Republic's eastern shore is an offshore fishing paradise

The Dominican Republic (commonly called simply "the D.R." by visitors) occupies the eastern portion of the island of Hispaniola, with Haiti occupying the west, and the D.R.'s eastern shoreline defines the western edge of the Mona Passage, one of the major thoroughfares between the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Puerto Rico sits 65 nm to the east of Hispaniola and defines the eastern side of the passage.

Major currents flow through the deep channel between the two islands, and the near-constant presence of fresh tropical trade winds can make the passage a rough place, but its proximity to two major bodies of water also makes it an incredible spot for intercepting pelagic game fish. Just as boats cruise through the Mona headed to or from South America, so do dolphin, wahoo, tuna and every species of Atlantic billfish. Geography makes the eastern shore of the D.R. a natural hot spot.

Over the past few years, a strong white marlin fishery has emerged each spring, beginning in March and lasting into July. After the whites move on in the dead of summer, the blues arrive, and the blue marlin fishing gets stronger as the season wears on. Many folks believe that the blues found in such great numbers in the U.S. Virgin Islands' St. Thomas each August migrate west to the D.R. in September. And the dolphin fishing begins in December and stays great throughout the spring and summer, providing reliable action on most days.

Natural Fish Attractors
The area benefits from natural reef formations that create incredible eddies, upwellings and current edges. A jagged piece of natural bottom juts 25 nm to the east of Cabo Engaño, the easternmost point of the D.R., and major rips form as the currents in the passage flow across the reef. A series of large seamounts also adorns the southern edge of the reef, providing many potentially great fishing spots where bait could be trapped in eddies or tidal convergences, and where predators would likely gather.

Looking at the vast, thumb-shaped tract of reef on a chart is enough to arouse any offshore angler's curiosity, and the area has attracted some of the top captains in the world to give it a try. Even though knowledgeable skippers have been talking about the D.R. for years, many others pass it by, preferring better-known destinations like St. Thomas, Puerto Rico or Venezuela. But more and more of them are stopping in, and quite a few are now choosing to spend a substantial part of the year fishing here.