This tiny Caribbean island, located just 15 miles off the coast of Venezuela, is big on tourism, water activities and creative ways of having fun. In fact, one of the first things I noticed upon arrival is that their vehicle license plates proclaim “OneHappyIsland”, indicating a “tourism first” mentality. Driving around the island, which is only 19 miles in length and less than 6 miles wide, I saw lots of cactus, shrubs and rocky shoreline mixed with powdery white sand beaches. Aruba is a desert. You won’t see rainforest vegetation here even though it’s only 12 degrees north of the equator. If you like warm air temperatures averaging 82 to 86 degrees, dry tradewinds, sunny skies and clear water then this island is for you. Most tourists flock to the high-rise hotels lining the lee side of the island where wind surfing, swimming, parasailing, diving, golf and other activities balance the casino nightlife scene.
For anglers, the fall months offer a break in the stiff 20 to 30 knot tradewinds that makeArubaa world class windsurfing destination. Gamefish such as blue marlin, sailfish, wahoo, yellowfin tuna and dolphin are caught year-round but the charter fleet can venture further offshore when sea conditions are calm from September to early November. The roughest seas and maximum winds occur from February to August with a peak in June. Aruba’s neighbor,Venezuela, is famous for its “grand slam” billfishing where blue and white marlin, sailfish and swordfish can be caught in one day with most action taking place at the La Guaira Bank. In calm conditions theArubafleet will fish the offshore banks rising out of 7,000 feet depths 12 to 25 miles east of the island to record some great catches as well.
Most of the sportfishing boats available for charter out of Seaport Marina atOranjestadHarborrange between 30 to 40 feet in length and are well equipped with the latest electronics. Some of the captains have over 30 years of experience fishing these waters which is an advantage in reading and adjusting to changing sea conditions. Crews generally prefer ballyhoo rigged naturally or combined with trolling jigs as a basic fishing technique. When blue marlin fishing live bonito or frigate mackerel may be caught on the fishing grounds and slow-trolled over a seamount where the blues often feed. Deep jigging or using cut bait on these banks often produce fast action with amberjack and red snapper. Other gamefish include kingfish (king mackerel), great barracuda, shark, short-bill spearfish and blackfin tuna. Once you’ve landed a good eating fish such as wahoo or tuna have it put on ice because many restaurants will be happy to prepare it for you. The good news is that fishing inArubais a bargain. A full day of fishing, including lunch, bait and tackle, varies from $450 to $600 (U.S.) which is about half the charter rates commonly charged in many other destinations.
There are direct flights to Aruba from Miami, New Yorkand other major cities. Visitors will find that English is widely spoken even though its population of 100,000 is comprised of over 40 different nationalities with Dutch and Arawak Indian having the greatest cultural influence. Oranjestad has been the capital city since 1797 and a focal point for shipping, museums, dining and fishing. Dutch-style architecture with pastel-painted buildings and formal landscaping adds a unique touch to a quaint atmosphere. The lasting images I have are of a charming place with friendly people, great scenery, fun dining in a variety of restaurants and good fishing (when the tradewinds allow). For more information search the web including: www.aruba.com.
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The Roving Angler