Fishing in Belize

If you’re serious about saltwater fishing, you can’t miss Belize. Flats fishing, reef fishing, deep sea fishing - the small Caribbean nation has it all, any time of the year, and bigger and better than most.
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About Belize

Belize, nestled between Mexico and Guatemala on Central America's Caribbean coast, offers a unique and diverse angling experience. To begin with, a 185-mile stretch of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the second-largest barrier reef system in the world, is found in Belize coastal waters. This vast reef system, along with three major offshore atolls - Turneffe Islands, Lighthouse Reef, and Glover’s Reef - provides a habitat for an abundant array of marine life. Beyond the reef, the waters drop off into deeper trenches, offering thrilling deep-sea fishing opportunities. Between the reef and the mainland, Belize has some of the largest flats to fish on, as well as numerous lagoons and expansive mangrove systems , which serve as crucial fish nurseries. Belize's numerous rivers that flow into the Caribbean Sea create unique brackish water environments, rich in biodiversity and a fertile environment for a variety of fish species, that are either popular targets for recreational fishing, or serve as food for the more popular species. . Belize enjoys a subtropical climate with distinct wet and dry seasons, which affects some fish behavior. Tarpon fishing, for example, is somewhat slow in December to February, and peaks in July - August, while it’s the other way round for snook. But overall there is no such thing as a bad month for fishing in Belize, which is partly due to the country’s commitment to marine conservation. There are protected areas, mandatory catch-and-release for the “Big Three”: bonefish, permit, and tarpon, and fishing licenses are required for anyone on the boat if there’s at least one rod in it. For the recreational angler, Belize offers a unique blend of geographical features and ecosystems, making it a versatile and exciting fishing destination. Whether you’re wading the flats for the coveted Grand Slam, exploring the mangroves for snook, or heading offshore for marlin, Belize’s geography provides a picturesque backdrop for an unforgettable fishing adventure.

Fishing Types

Most anglers come to Belize for flats fishing. Accessible by small boats, kayaks, or simply by wading, the shallows and crystal clear waters of Belize’s flats are perfect for fishing by sight, casting the fly or lure where you notice a shadow of a bonefish or permit. Once you’ve experienced that, you wouldn’t want to miss it ever again. However, fishing in Belize is not only about the flats. Enthusiasts of fishing in the mangroves will find abundant and untouched habitat of this type in Belize. And offshore, deep-sea adventures, although not as widely known as flats fishing, are also on the table. Finally, river and lake fishing, especially in estuaries, will give you an opportunity to catch one of Central America’s unique freshwater species.

Targeted Fish Species

Belize's diverse ecosystems, from its world-renowned barrier reef to its expansive network of rivers and mangroves, host an impressive array of fish species. The ones that make Belize a legendary fishing destination are the Big Three: bonefish, permit, and tarpon. All the three species are typically found in the flats and other shallow waters, and are the main objects for saltwater fly-fishing. Another important species, found mostly in the mangroves, is the snook. Belize’s deeper offshore waters are home to these prestigious marlin and sailfish, making the country a notable destination for those seeking a big game fishing experience. While not as abundant as in some other regions, the presence of these species still provides thrilling opportunities for trophy fishing. Other offshore species include dolphin (mahi-mahi), wahoo, yellowfin and blackfin tuna. Belize is also home to a number of unique freshwater fishes, most notably the bay snook (Petenia splendida).

Fishing Techniques

Flats fishing in Belize calls for light tackle. You can, of course, use spinning gear, with poppers appearing to be the doctor’s orders for fishing on the flats, but it is saltwater fly fishing that dominates angling in Belize. And for a good reason - being able to observe all the motions of the fish, from the moment you just notice its presence, and send your fly in just the right spot, then as it strikes the fly and all the way through the fight, including acrobatic leaps, gives one a thrill that leaves nothing to hooking a monster marlin or sailfish. Speaking of which, trolling is of course the fishing technique for heavy tackle deep sea outings. Fishing on the reefs, a variety of methods can be used, from trolling and drifting to jigging and bottom fishing. And spinning is the best tool for fishing in the mangroves.