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VACATION GUIDE TO BELIZE SALTWATER FLATS, REEF, RIVER & DEEP SEA FISHING
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THE FISHING IN BELIZE IS DIVERSE

The variety and quantity of fish in Belize is a result of the diversity of aquatic habitats that support them.  The Barrier Reef is the most important, providing shelter and food for a huge variety of reef fish which in turn attract larger predatory fish. The country’s second virtue is freshwater rivers and their brackish estuaries which are often used by fish to spawn before moving out into the sea.  Also, the sub-tropical climate is just right for literally hundreds of fish species.  This rich mixture of sandy beaches, barrier islands, intercoastal waterways, seagrass beds, mangrove-studded bays, salt marshes and estuaries is what makes fishing in Belize so diverse. 

Belize Bonefish
A bonefish caught on Belize's saltwater flats using a fly fishing rod.

Fly Fishing Belize's Saltwater Flats

Belize's saltwater flats form an extensive array of mangrove-lined bays, creeks, channels and lagoons that are popular for fly fishing. A day on the flats usually involves wading through shallow water or fishing from the casting deck of your boat, always with a sharp eye for your preferred species. With a lot of skill and a little bit of luck you can achieve the Grand Slam of fly-fishing: catching a tarpon, bonefish and permit all in one day! Bonefish are best known for their incredible strength in putting up a fight when being reeled in. They are the most plentiful game fish on Belize’s Flats and average around 5 lbs. If you are looking for a real fight and want to put your fishing skills to the ultimate test, then you need to go after a tarpon. This is by far the largest species on Belize’s saltwater flats ranging from 60–90 lbs but can even approach an amazing 200 lbs. They are nicknamed "saltwater torpedoes" because of their incredible strength. They are also infamous for jumping out of the water when hooked. If you want to catch a permit, be prepared to be very patient. These have become a popular game fish because it requires a great deal of skill to hook one on a fly-rod.  Permit have a very keen sense of smell, brilliant eyesight and display an uncanny intelligence.

Belize Barracuda
A barracuda caught on Belize's reef showing its teeth.

Fishing the Reef & Outer Wall

The Barrier Reef offers the greatest opportunity for landing a lot of fish because it harbors so many species such as barracudas, jacks, groupers and snappers.  Most reef fishing is done mainly with lines, hooks and live bait. This type of fishing is great year round since reef fishes feed on the small crabs and sardines that inhabit the reef.  The best time of the day for reef fishing is either early in the morning or late in the afternoon. You can find more than 12 species of snappers in Belize but the mutton snapper is the most abundant, ranging from 1 to 4 lbs.  Dropping a line into a productive "fishing hole" will often produce a lot of smaller snappers.  Trolling along the inside of the reef, at a depth of 60-80 feet, will also produce a lot a small fish as well. However, the most exciting fishing is along the outside of the reef, on the wall that drops to the deep depths of the sea. It is here that you will find the largest species of reef fish that will put up a big fight. For example, in waters 100–150 feet deep, you'll find the amazing kingfish.  The kingfish is of the mackerel family and is particularly known for their speed and agility in the water.  They feed on sardines, shrimps and squids but particularly favor jacks that are found closer to the reef. Just like the tarpon, the kingfish is also known for putting up a fight, gloriously jumping out of the water when hooked.  If you have ever caught a kingfish, you understand how gratifying they are to land.

Belize Dolphin Fish (Mahi Mahi)
A dolphin fish (mahi mahi) caught deep sea fishing in Belize.

Deep Sea Fishing

Moving outside the barrier reef into the depths of the open sea can yield dolphin fish, wahoo, tuna, sailfish and marlin.  The dolphin fish, also known as the dorado or mahi mahi, is one of the most beautiful fish in the the sea with its radiant blue, green, yellow and gold colors.  With a life span of only about 5 years the dolphin fish is a fast growing fish which makes it perfect for sports fishing.  Much like other deep sea game fish, it jumps out of the water when hooked.  They range about 10–50 lbs and are mostly present in the months of June and July feeding on bait fish, squids and sea horses around the drifting sea weed patches. Deep sea fishes need to be attracted to the surface and this is done by trolling brightly colored lures along the surface.  Most offshore fishing takes place during tournament time in February, June and October.  However, offshore fishing can be arranged year round.  Marlin is good all year, while sailfish is best in the spring and wahoo in the winter.  King mackerel is best in April, May and June. When it comes to deep sea fishing, you need to be patient because it may take a while trolling before you hook a fish. But when you land one of these big game fish, rest assured that it will have been worth the wait.

Belize Snook
A snook caught river fishing in one of Belize's many rivers.

Fishing Belize's Rivers & Estuaries

Belize has many rivers that offer excellent river fishing. The largest and best rivers for fishing in Belize are the New River, Belize River, Sibun River, Manatee River, Sittee River, Rio Grande River and Moho River. Most river fishing is done from the river mouth up to a few miles upstream for jacks, snappers, cuberas, snook and tarpon. You can use live bait with a spinning rod or use a fly fishing rod. Most of the fishing is done from the casting deck of your boat. Cuberas are best caught when the water is cool using deep running plugs as they tend to find cover in the deep holes along the middle of the river.  They are also called "river rhinos" because these hard-fighting fish are infamous for pulling hooks.  Snook are plentiful and are best caught along the mangrove edges at outgoing tide when the water is a little muddy.  Tarpon are good during the spring when they enter the rivers to spawn.  With a lot of skill and a little bit of luck you can can try and achieve the Jungle Slam of river fishing: catching a tarpon, cubera and snook all in one day.

Fishing in Belize with Noel Sommers Video Interview with Belize Fishing Guide, Noel Sommers
Noel Sommers has been guiding fishing excursions for over a decade. Based out of Belize City, you'll often find him chasing snook on the rivers or tarpon on the flats. He learned about fishing from his father, the legendary fishing guide, Captain Sommers.
Watch Belize Fishing Video >>>
We Offer Great Service! Don't just take our word for it, here is a Testimonial.
June 6, 08: Conley & Sarah Brown
"Alex - Sarah and I are home now and I wanted to let you know that aside from the foul weather the trip went great. We commented to each other several times during the trip as to how all the details were handled perfectly. We were greeted at the Belize City Airport and taken to the water taxi with our tickets in hand. Upon arriving at the dock in San Pedro there was a man waiting to take us to the Palms. We were greeted by the staff at the Palms and our room was beautiful and better than agreed. Abby the fishing guide was on time on Friday and the experience with him was very good. He was very good to place us in position to see and catch a lot of Bonefish. Our flight out of San Pedro was uneventful which is always a good thing and our return trip to the Carolinas went off without a hitch. Thanks again Alex and I do think we will return to Belize in the future. In the event that we do return you will be one of the first to know... Again many thanks. Your friend, Conley" Conley Brown: Arden, North Carolina - USA Read More Testimonials >>>

Contact us and let's start planning your dream fishing vacation to Belize!
BELIZE SALTWATER FLATS, REEF, RIVER & DEEP SEA FISHING RESOURCES
square Fishing in Belize Video, with Noel Sommers square Species Seasonal Chart (Scroll Down Page)
square Rainy's Flies for Fly Fishing    
WHERE TO GO FISHING IN BELIZE

Essentially you can drop a fishing line anywhere in Belize and you will catch something.  However, if you want to go after specific game fish then you must consider the types of fisheries around various destinations.  Below is a brief description of the fishing in these different destinations that should help you in choosing where to go.     

Ambergris Caye: The Barrier Reef is visible from the shore of the island and offers good reef fishing for barracuda, snapper, groupers, jacks and the mighty kingfish.  Offshore fishing will take you well outside the reef for the best chances at big deep sea game fish like wahoo, sailfish, tuna and mahi mahi.  There are many saltwater flats around the island especially on the western lagoon side. These flats are known for good tarpon fishing where you can site cast for them during most of the year.  They are also excellent for bonefish. They are quite forgiving fisheries good for novice to experienced anglers.  

Caye Caulker: Caye Caulker is a couple of miles south of Ambergris Caye.  The reef fishing is good for barracuda, snapper, groupers, jacks and the mighty kingfish.  The offshore deep sea fishing is also good, but is not offered as much by local guides.  There are many saltwater flats on the western lagoon side of the island as well as behind nearby islands like Caye Chapel.  These flats are known for good bonefish and tarpon fishing as well.  You generally get better rates for boats and guides here than in Ambergris Caye. 

Coral Atolls: Of the 3 atolls, Turneffe Islands Atoll is the best for fishing.  Turneffe has many mangrove islands and vast saltwater flats in its central lagoon.  This makes it a popular destination for saltwater fly-fishing.  These flats are particularly good for bonefish. The tarpon fishing is also excellent.  

Belize City: Belize has a good variety of fisheries to choose from.  Probably the best known are the rivers. The Belize and Sibun Rivers offer excellent river fishing.  They are plentiful in snook and other river game fish like cubera and seasonal tarpon.  Just off the coast are many small mangrove islands that can yield good catches by casting along the mangrove edges.  The barrier reef is just 30 minutes offshore and offers good reef fishing.  Moving past the reef into offshore waters offers good deep sea fishing. The leeward side of nearby Turneffe Islands Atoll offers abundant deep sea game fish. Many annual fishing tournaments are held from here.

Punta Gorda: Punta Gorda offers a wide variety of fisheries to choose from.  The rivers are great for river fishing and are good for snook and seasonal tarpon.  However, the biggest attraction here is the saltwater flats along the coast. These flats are comprised of an extensive network mangrove islands, channels and lagoons. They are particularly known for offering some of the best chances to catch a permit on a fly-rod. These flats are seldom fished and so are quite abundant in fish. However, these fisheries are not very forgiving and are best appreciated by experienced anglers.

Placencia: There are many many mangrove and coral islands, lined by inner reefs, between Placencia's coastline and the Barrier Reef. These form extensive saltwater flats that are renowned for permit. The area south of Dangriga all the way south to Gladden Caye, which is just east of Placencia, is often called "Permit Alley". As you can imagine, it's one of the best places to land a permit in Belize. The tarpon fishing is also ggod, in fact there is a small island called Tarpon Caye because they are often found around it. The inner reefs and the Barrier Reef are great for reef fishing. The Placencia Lagoon has mangrove lined flats and creeks good for tarpon and snook.  

Dangriga: One of the primary fisheries here are the saltwater flats that stretch all the way south to Gladden Caye, which is just east of Placencia. This area is often called "Permit Alley". As you can imagine, it's one of the best places to land a permit in Belize. Bonefish can also be found in the shallower flats. The Barrier Reef is just 10 miles offshore and offers excellent reef fishing, particularly around Tobacco Caye and South Water Caye. The leeward side of Glover'sd Reef atoll is just nearby and offers abundant deep sea game fish as well.

We work hard to make your Vacation Perfect. Here is another Testimonial.
May 9, 07: Belize Fishing Trip
"Alex provided excellent service.  The trip was very well organized and he was very helpful through out the planning process.  We had a great time and Dilzon is a great guide.  Even though it was windy (could have been in Kansas) Dilzon put us on fish and we caught a  lot of nice fish.  To me, when the weather was rough is when you need a good agent and fishing guide.  Alex made a great choice in selecting Dilzon.  All the vouchers worked flawlessly." Hugh Mowery: Ft. Collins, Colorado - USA Read More Testimonials >>>

Contact us and let's start planning your dream fishing vacation to Belize!