Champion Fishing Withing Minutes From Shore
What Time of Year is Best?
Belize has many secrets, not the least of which is this: there are fish in Belize. Fish so big and so plentiful that even the most amateur angler can catch his limit in a few hours. Fish so anxious to impale themselves on a hook that they will rush toward a skiff, or toward a pair of human legs wading in the flats (so it seems).
Belize owes its fishing phenomenon to a remarkably diverse underwater world - its boasts one of the hemisphere's most healthy reef systems due to protected areas by the government as National Parks. Whether you fish in one of the many inland rivers or on the mangrove flats, along the barrier reef or out in deep blue water, it is likely you will not see another angler all day. Of course, as more people "discover" these wonders, the solitude and diversity will diminish (but in the meantime), if you love to fish, don't miss the chance to cast your line in Belize.
What Kind of Fish Can I Expect to Catch?
That's the question everyone asked, when they get on the boat (so let's discuss the answer). Belize has some of the best sport fishing around, and most of it can be enjoyed all year long. Some anglers tell us, it is virtually impossible to go fishing in Belize and not catch something. A distinct advantage you have here, is most all the tour operators speak English.
ESTUARIES & MOUTHS OF JUNGLE RIVERS
Are the best known places for their tarpon, black snapper, jack-revalle, cubera, and snook; lagoons and coral flats for their bonefish, permit, triggerfish, and barracuda.
Are best known for their king macherel, kingfish, jackfish, grouper, barracuda, and snapper.
DEEPER WATERS OFF THE OUTER REEFS & ATOLLS
Are best known for their amberjack, sailfish, shark, wahoo, pompano, blackfin tuna, yellowfin tuna, bonito, dolphinfish, mahi-mahi, and marlin.
Species availability varies considerably, depending on the depth and clarity of water, proximity to reefs and rivers, and time of year.
January is the middle of the dry season in North and Central Belize and is often considered to be the perfect time of year to visit. Tarpon are prolific, with up to 50–75 of the being spotted per day!
The dry season continues, although the weather can be changeable. Flats fishing is excellent as long as there isn’t too much wind, while reef fishing is consistently very good. Look out for huge Wahoo over the reefs.
March can be windy in Belize. There's plenty of Bonefish around, though, with Tarpon appearing on calmer days and a fair amount of Permit schooling up. Reef fishing remains excellent for Wahoo.
April is the beginning of the prime flats fishing season, which lasts until October. The water is calm and clear, while rising temperatures may be marked by brief rain showers. Look for King Mackerel on the reefs.
May is usually the hottest time of year in Belize, but that doesn’t stop the fish. This is a great time of year for enormous schools of Bonefish on the flats, with Tarpon present on the flats and the reefs.
Temperatures are high, with morning rain showers bringing a welcome relief. Bone fishing is at its peak, while Tarpon is still there to be caught on the flats and the reef. This makes for a summer holiday you won’t forget!
This is lobster season, and the numerous festivals along the coastline won’t let you forget it! With warm weather broken by showers and cool breezes, this is real summer. Flats and reef fishing are extremely good.
Don't miss the International Costa Maya Festival in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye. Escape the crowds and you’ll find that this is also peak season for Tarpon, with catches reaching over 100 lbs!\
The celebrations continue, with locals celebrating both the Battle of St George’s Caye day and Independence day. Will you be having your own little celebration by taming the biggest Tarpon of your angling career?
The fish on the flats are generally larger and more aggressive at this time of year. Permit fishing is heating up, while Tarpon and Bonefish are still breaking lines whenever they can. Jack Crevalle and Snook are also plentiful.
Deep sea fishing is as good as it gets in Belize in November, and the Belize Game Fish Association celebrates this with their annual Bluewater Classic. Look out for Marlin, Tuna, and Belize’s famously large Wahoo.
Peak tourist season means it can be hard to find accommodations. But secure your lodging, and we think you won’t be in your room for long — not with Bonefish, Tarpon, Jacks, Wahoo, Groupers, and Snappers all biting.
CORAL FLAT FISHING
All Year Long
Many saltwater fly-fishers come to Belize to stalk the elusive bonefish, an almost transparent fish known for its feisty spirit and crafty ways. As the name implies, the creature is too bony to make a decent meal. Although the bonefish is relatively small - averaging 2 to 6 pounds - ounce for ounce it is considered the toughest fighter in the sea. This predator is often found in knee-deep, crystal clear coral flats, abundant all year round, but particularly from September through January, where it attacks smaller fish with lightening speed. The bonefish is taken on both fly and lure. The shallow, grassy, hard-sand coral flats in and around the Cayes are a particularly fine habitat for bonefish - so bring your waders!
Permit are also found throughout the year. Other common species are barracuda, snook, jacks, several types of grouper, and varieties of snapper, including mutton, mangrove, black, yellowtail and red.
BARRIER REEF FISHING
Tarpon Fishing best from (Oct.-Dec. & June-July)
Barrier Reef fishing tends to be the most popular type of fishing here in Belize. Tarpon, barracuda, and cubera snapper are equally plentiful near Belizean reefs. Forty-pound or larger tarpon are fairly common here, sometimes in the same coral flats where you'll find permit and bonefish (although they are not considered good eating). A large tarpon can easily take 90 minutes to subdue with a 10-weight fly rod. Tarpon can be fished year-round, but are most plentiful from October through mid-December and again in June and July.
Good-size snook are reported all winter, both in rivers and estuaries. These species can be found around reefs, flats, and mangrove cayes the rest of the year. The aggressive barracuda are notorious for breaking leaders in the water or, once landed, snapping at fishers feet. Mutton snapper, ladyfish, and crevalle jack also frequent the coral flats, along with the occasional grouper and red snapper. Trolling and bottom fishing along the reef can yield grouper, king macherel, jackcobia, kingfish, snapper, wahoo, bonito, and tuna, depending on the season and water depth.
DEEP WATER FISHING
Best time to catch Marline (Feb.-April & Sept.-Nov.)
The much deeper, ocean side of the barrier reef, fishing is said to be excellent for king and Spanish mackerel, grouper, snapper (several varieties), bonito, blackfin tuna, and wahoo, along with sailfish and marlin. Farther out, deep sea fish include swordfish, tuna, shark, porpoise, and dolphin.
The warmest months often offer the best chance to hook grouper, mutton snapper, tarpon, sailfish, and mangrove snapper. Deep-sea fishing is not particularly popular in Belize, although spring and fall are good times to catch marlin and sailfish. White and blue marlin and sailfish pass through Belizean waters from February through April and September through November.
(March 15th to July 14th)
You can only catch-gather lobster during lobster season here in Belize. These spiny crustaceans (lacking the large claws of the cold-water species off the Maine coast) are taken by local fishers, who also commercially harvest conch, shrimp, snapper, and other species. You won't see many Maine-size lobsters here due to many past years of over-harvesting.
Saltwater fly-fishing is best in the southern part of Belize, where the presence of divers, snorkelers, and Belizean fishers has been felt the least. Anything south of Dangriga is likely to be especially promising. It's not unusual to go for days at a time without seeing another rod or line.
If you're into angling's hottest trend, saltwater fly-fishing, you'll find it in Belize, where bonefish, tarpon and permit churn up the flats everywhere. Belize's most renowned flats are those around the Turneffe Islands, where the bottom is a mix of hard-packed sand and sea grass, and the water is virtually always wadable. Turneffe's popularity means it is more crowded than other spots around Belize, though for those used to fishing in Florida or other "discovered" areas, it will no doubt seem secluded.
Also popular are the flats off Ambergris Caye, famed as one of the world's most lucrative tarpon spots. Year-round, you can count on at least a small tarpon (20 to 50 pounds), though 100-pounders also abound in these waters. Schools of scrappy ladyfish, jack crevalle, permit, bonefish and barracuda are plentiful here. The waters off Placencia are famous for permit, who thrive on the crystalline coral and mangrove "ocean flats" that emerge from deep water. The best time to try for them is at the end of an incoming tide, when tailing permit swarm the flats looking for food. Then even this most elusive of fish is inclined to strike your fly. Other superb places to cast your fly include the flats at St. George's Caye, Hickes Caye, Tobacco Reef, South Water Caye and Glover's Caye, Hickes Caye, Tobacco Reef, South Water Caye and Glover's Reef. If you're just learning to fly fish, most lodges offer instructions.
Peak fly-fishing seasons vary from place to place, but generally you'll find that tarpon are most plentiful from October to mid-December and in June and July; bonefishing is best from September through January; and permit fishing peaks from August through October and March through June. Be aware that March can be windy with scattered storm bursts, and July and August are usually rainy and buggy.
FISHING INTERIOR RIVERS
Because of the unique conditions and high quality of the country's offshore waters, freshwater fishing in the interior receives scant attention from visitors.
Take a spinning rod up a jungle river and you're liable to hook a tarpon, snook, jack, or snapper. River fish are easiest to snag when the water is clear and low, from February through May. Some of the better inland waterways for fishing are the Sitee, Monkey, Belize and New Rivers.
If it's too windy to fly fish, or if you feel more comfortable with a spinning rod, Belize's rivers offer snook, snapper, jack and tarpon fishing in an incomparable jungle setting. One of the most scenic and prolific inland waterways is the Belize River, which climbs in an easterly direction across western Belize to empty into the Caribbean near Ladyville. Here along placid waters, walls of bamboo and troops of monkeys decorate the shore and tarpon roll across the surface like a pack of piranhas thrashing at a hapless victim. Cast your lure into a pack of these tarpon and you can't help but catch one, though don't be surprised when he rears up out of the water - several times.
South of Placencia, the deep Monkey River is similarly striking, framed with massive vines and sugar cane and teeming with tarpon and snook. Southern Belize's inland backwater lagoons - pockets of shallow, muddy water between the Caribbean Sea and the Maya Mountains - are ideal for permit fishing since they are sheltered from wind.
Remember that during the rainy season, from June through October, rivers often flood and drive the fish (and fisherman) out to sea. The best time to river fish is from February through May, when the water is low and clear and the fish most plentiful.
The ribbon of coral reef paralleling the Belize coast glints with healthy schools of big fish. Whether you're trolling or fishing the bottom, you're apt to catch big grouper, cobia, kingfish, wahoo, king macherel, jack crevalles, and prize snapper, including the ubiquitous yellowtail and the brawling cubera. The barrier reef is so warm year-round, and the food so abundant, that reef fish do not migrate. Hence, expect good fishing here at any time.
Belize is not known for its blue water fishing. In fact, few charter boats are available for deeper waters. However, during the spring and fall, sailfish and marlin are occasionally caught along the seaward side of the reef.
Also known locally as macabi. No person shall buy or sell any bone fish.
Shell length should exceed seven inches, and market clean weight should exceed three ounces, no diced or fillet. The season is closed July 1 to September 30th.
No person shall have in his possession more than three, or transport on any vehicle more than five such turtles, or fish for female hickatee that are greater than 43 centimeters (17.2 inches) or smaller than 38 centimeters (15.2 inches). The season is closed May 1-31st.
Minimum cape length is three inches, minimum tail weight is four ounces; no diced or fillet. The season is closed February 15th to June 14th.
No person should interfere with any turtle nest. No person may take any turtle unless with a license from the Fisheries Administrator (traditional use only). No person shall buy, sell, or have in his possession any articles made of turtle shell.
No person shall take in the waters of Belize, or buy, sell, or have in his possession, any Nassau Grouper between December 1 and March 31, except from Maugre Caye at Turneffe Islands and Norhthern Two Caye at Lighthouse Reef. At these two places a special license is granted to traditional fishers.
Trawling: the season is closed April 15th to August 14th. No one should fish using scuba gear except under license from the Fisheries Administrator.