7 Reasons Why You Should Go Fishing in Belize
Jun 13, 2019 | 9 minute read Comments
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Reading Time: 9 minutes

The post you’re about to read could’ve just as easily been a list of 77 reasons to go fishing in Belize right now, as this small country in Central America offers incredible opportunities for anglers. But that would make for a quite a lengthy article and I don’t want to cut into any of your precious gear-packing, plane-ticket-to-Belize-booking time.

Belize bottom fishing: An angler holding a big Grouper

A quick overview of fishing regulations in Belize

You’re going to need a license before you can wet the line. Whether it’s casting from the docks, or trolling far offshore, you have to take it up with the Coastal Zone Management Authority first.

The sport fishing license sells for about 20$ for a week, 50$ per month, or just a hundred bucks if you want to fish the translucent Belizean waters all year round.

As far as specific species are concerned, you must release all Bonefish, Tarpon and Permit that you catch (and chances are, that’s going to be quite a number). Since most of the local guides support preservation efforts, they routinely practice catch and release for almost all species. You can purchase the fishing license here or call the CZMA at 223-0719/5739 for any additional questions.

Now, on to the good stuff! The perfect storm of elements bound to transform Belize into one of the hottest angling spots of the upcoming decade:

1. Unrivaled Geographical Features

Belizean fisheries are some of the most stunning spots in the world. Among the most important of these is the Belize Barrier Reef. This 300-kilometer subsection of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System is one of the largest coral structures in the entire world.

Fishing in Belize: Aerial view of the Belizan atolls and reefs

Now that’s really exciting news if you’re a geography major or a plankton, but why should an angler care about a big coral formation?

Well, this giant topographical marvel stretches along the entire coast of Belize, supplying both nutrients and shelter to a wide range of smaller baitfish and crustaceans.  These attract – you guessed it – the big and the hungry of the game fish world. The reef is home to more than 500 species of fish, and is the prime culprit behind the creation of an impressive variety of flats and lagoons. There are also more than 200 islands, or ‘Cayes’ located off the shores of mainland Belize.

The Famous Belize Blue Hole

By the way, did someone mention flats and lagoons? In fact, Belize is so lagoon-abundant that 5% of the entire country’s land area (22,960 sq. miles) is covered by lagoons running along the coastline, as well as its atolls and the northern interior. Now some of you may not be good at math, but I’m pretty sure that multiplying those two numbers equals ‘more lagoons than you could fish in a lifetime’.

Another one of Nature’s blessings to the country is its string of freshwater rivers and estuaries, all of them bustling with diverse freshwater and marine life. There are two reasons why these rivers should be relevant to you.

One, game fish like Snook, Snapper, Jack and yes, Tarpon, use these waters both as a buffet and a viable spawning ground. Two, the rivers dump an incredible amount of nutritious biomass into the ocean, a true feast for baitfish and crustaceans, which in turn…well, you know this part already.

Finally, the average temperatures range from 75 °F in the middle of January to 80 °F during the July ‘heat wave’. That probably takes the crown as the most laid back seasonal change in the world. So, although there may be some considerable differences in humidity and rainfall depending on the season, you’re never more than a couple of degrees shy from an optimal fishing experience.

2. The Fly-fishing Capital of The 21st Century

belize bonefish

More than 200 miles of coastline flats call Belize their home. The country is renowned for its bonefishing prospects and is quickly gaining tract as a laudable permit fishery. There’s more than enough opportunities to catch Tarpon in these waters as well. And Belize isn’t concerned with trying to be subtle about its angling opportunities either: there’s even an island called Tarpon Caye for crying out loud!

Snook is also a regular catch. In fact, want an extra challenge? Snatch all 4 of these in a day and achieve what’s known as a Super Slam around here. Yes, fly fishing in Belize is so good, they had to go and add more difficult challenges just to keep all of you guys busy.

Here’s a quick overview of some of the most popular fly-fishing spots in Belize:

Ambergris Caye

The western lagoon side of Belize’s largest island is particularly promising for the visiting angler. Bonefish, Permit, Tarpon: you name it, it’s here.

Caye Caulker

Again, check out the lagoons on the west side, or stroll down behind the nearby islands such as Caye Chapel. Bonefish and Tarpon bonanza ensues.

Coral Atolls

Of the 3, Turneffe atoll is your go-to fly fishing destination. Plenty of mangrove islands and saltwater flats, where Bonefish and Tarpon bite like crazy.

Punta Gorda

The flats around here are some of your safest shots at nailing a Permit. The best part? These areas are particularly uninhabited with residents and anglers alike, so you can enjoy a quiet day at sea next to your full bucket.

Placencia and Dangriga

The area east of Placencia is often referred to as the ‘Permit Alley’. Need we say more? Dangriga’s shallower flats are teeming with bonefish, and just as serendipity would have it, the infamous Tarpon Caye is close by as well.

An angler holding a Permit he caught while fishing in Belize

Keep in mind that a number of flats in Belize have soft bottoms, so most of your fly-fishing will be done via boat. Still, if you pride yourself on being a wader first, there are plenty of bountiful turtle grass flats located in and around Ambergris Caye and Turneffe Atoll. These flats are just sandy and sturdy enough for you to get close and personal with the infinite Permit and Bonefish schools.

The area just around Tarpon Caye is home to hundreds of square miles of wade-able flats as well. In general, Belize flats can vary greatly in their composition. Depending on where you find yourself along the country’s shores, you may encounter anything from white sand and coral patches to eelgrass bottoms.

The flats surrounding Tarpon Caye, however, have firm and solid bottoms, making them a prime wading area, and a pretty solid Grand Slam opportunity at that. You can either cast from the boat as your guide poles the flats, or simply hop out of the vessel to get an optimal casting position.

3. Under-Tapped Deep Sea Fishing Potential

Thanks to the sheer number and size of its flats and lagoons, most tourists swarm to the Belizean coast searching primarily for a fly-fishing experience of a lifetime. This narrow vision of what the country actually has to offer to a serious sport angler has left its offshore game fish supplies vast and relatively unspoiled. At least when you compare Belize to its northern neighbor, Mexico, or the mighty Bahamas.

Once you get past the mother of all reefs, you are greeted with the variety of big game species parallel to any of the hottest deep sea destinations in the Western Hemisphere. You can start trolling for Sailfish right along the drop-off, or go out a bit further and have a go at Marlin or Blackfin Tuna. The familiar offshore lineup of Wahoo, Mahi Mahi and King Mackerel are all here, too.

   Big game fishing in Belize: Anglers holding a Sailfish

You can find most big game fish as deep as 650 feet, and getting to the hot spots usually takes no longer than half an hour. Take a look at our fish chart to see when you can target a specific species:

fishing calendar belize

4. A Wealth of Niche Fishing Opportunities – Reef and Inland River Fishing!

You didn’t think Belize’s Barrier reef is just for show, now did you? About 500 species inhabit its waters, so if you’re looking for quantity and quality combined, consider anchoring on the reef’s side and trying your luck (although really, luck has little to do with it here). Jacks, Groupers, Snappers, Barracudas and the powerful Kingfish all use these corals to their advantage, and so can you! Apart from genuinely being a fly fishing hotspot of the Caribbean, many see Belize’s translucent waters doubling as the real-life utopia for spin fishermen as well. With that in mind, don’t forget to bring a favorite rod of each kind; all of them are more than likely to find themselves engaged in some quality sea battles ’round here.

Reef fishing in Belize: An angler and a boat mate holding Snapper they caught on their fishing trip

Most islands are located in close proximity to the reef system (5-30 minutes boat ride), so expect to cast your lines in no time. Also, feel like doing some philanthropic work while fishing as well?

Ever since the Lionfish was accidentally introduced to the area, it’s jeopardized much of the delicate ecosystem that is the Barrier reef. The fish has no natural predators in these waters, and the authorities are trying their best to systematically reduce its population. How about giving them a hand? Hey, if the girls seem unimpressed with your fishing tales, you can at least try following with: ‘Yep, I was actually saving the country’s environment. No biggie’.

Ok, one last amazing type of fishing in Belize, I promise: there are many inland rivers worthy of checking out as well. Bring your fly or spinning rod to hook up on Jacks, Snappers, Snooks, Tarpon and the mighty Cubera (a.k.a the ‘river rhino’). Catch a Tarpon, Snook and a Cubera all in one day, and add a “Jungle Slam” to your list of fishing achievements.

Cubera Snapper (source: http://cubera-snapper.blogspot.com/)

Cubera Snapper (source: http://cubera-snapper.blogspot.com/)

5. Some of the Most Breathtaking Fishing Locations in the World

Now we’re sure most of you reading this are concerned with fishing first, and leave the sightseeing and admiring the scenery to those not trying to snatch a record-breaking game fish. But Belize knows you better than that, and it refuses to let you have to choose between the two ever again.

Fishing in Belize: An angler holding a Mahi Mahi

The islands just off the mainland are divine, and the transparent, pristine waters make for some excellent sight casting. The Barrier Reef is famous for its scuba diving and snorkeling prospects, responsible for more than half of all the country’s visitors. You can also check with your charter or lodge for booking a sunset cruise. Furthermore, the country has one of the least dense mainland populations of entire Central America, and is still nowhere close to a tourist haven compared to the rest of its Caribbean competition.

Beach fishing is a treat as well. Although most charter operators will probably say you need to be on a boat in order to fish, there are more than a few limestone bottom flats you can easily wade in. Also, there’s no chance you can be fishing on private property: the country has a so-called Queen’s law, meaning the first sixty-six feet of the shore belongs to the Queen, and is entirely free for public use.

6. Preservation Efforts Make Both Fish and Fishermen Very Happy

Belize is one of the countries in the Americas most seriously committed to protecting its natural resources and biodiversity, both marine and terrestrial. About a third of the entire land territory is currently under some form of protection, and there are many wildlife sanctuaries serving as shelter for endangered species.

As far as fishing is concerned, many policies have been put in place to address the dwindling numbers of various species. Belize is the first country ever to ban bottom trawling completely. Places like Hol Chan Marine Reserve are designed to preserve the sensitive marine habitat as well as the imperiled coral structures. Bonefish, Tarpon, and Permit are all catch-and-release only.

7. Loads of Low-cost Charters

All of this AND only at the fraction of a cost? Now someone other than a prying Permit must be yanking your leader, right? But it’s true: the competition among charters out here is progressively stiff, leading to many businesses slashing their prices dramatically in order to appeal to an increasingly curious angling demographic. After all, how often do you hear of going on a charter with a Grand Slam opportunity, starting at only 250 bucks? Well, you have now.

If you have any additional questions and comments, be sure to let us know in the comment section below! We always love hearing from you. Now off you go, that plane ticket isn’t going to book itself.

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Comments (19)
  • united21kanha

    May 20, 2014

    Nice post for fisherman and traveler, after reading interesting post we get idea about fishing and traveling can be best for combination for next step.
    Thanks
    United-21 Kanha

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  • Belize

    Aug 4, 2014

    Belize is a mecca for fishing thanks to its beautiful and diverse Belize Barrier Reef.

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  • My Country Belize

    Nov 3, 2015

    Sorry, but Belize is off limits to deep sea fishing and trawling of any sort. You can go to Prison for a long time. Let’s preserve Belize’s fish.

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    • Reply icon

      Xavier

      Nov 24, 2015

      Hi, thank you for the comment! As far as we’re informed (according to many online sources and our local guides), deep sea fishing is ok. Billfish are, of course, catch and release, but tuna, wahoo, mahi and the likes are not protected. If you have a source, we’ll gladly revise!

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  • Make Punta Cana Your Next Fishing Destination

    Dec 14, 2015

    […] your line here an exceptionally rewarding experience. If you need extra info click this link https://fishingbooker.com/blog/7-reasons-belize-fishing/ here. The crewcaptain know all the right spots to find big game fish, and so they have all the […]

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  • Patrick Knight

    May 18, 2016

    Hello I’m coming to Belize Feb 22:2017 I’m looking for a deep jungle river guide ,I’m very experienced fisherman,,would be me fishing,my wife along for the fun,,I’m bringing my rods,artifical baits,,needs to be affordable of I can’t do it at all. Thanks so much. Patrick Knight

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    • Reply icon

      Cat

      May 19, 2016

      Hi Patrick,

      That sounds like an amazing trip! We will take a look into the options and see what we can do for you. We’ll be in touch!

      Thanks, Catherine

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  • Mike Bingham

    Jun 11, 2016

    I’m 63, an avid, experienced fisherman who has guided some in the U.S. I’m looking to retire in Belize. Is there a possibility of me being able to guide there? I’m more interested in inshore and river fishing. Thanks.

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      Cat

      Jun 17, 2016

      Hi Mike,

      That sounds like a great plan! Starting a business in Belize isn’t as easy as just turning up and offering fishing trips – you will have to get a trade license and a work permit, then register your company with social security and tax. You should definitely look into working with a local lawyer to make sure everything goes ahead smoothly. It will take some time and effort but it is important to follow your dreams! Good luck. You can find more information here.

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  • Steve Skevington

    Oct 7, 2016

    My wife and I are seriously considering moving to Belize and moving our fishing charter business there as well…
    That being said what credentials does a offshore Capt/guide need to operate there??

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      Cat

      Oct 21, 2016

      Hi Steve,

      I’ve looked into this, and you need to either own property in Belize or be a resident there to become a licensed captain. You would then need to register as self employed and pay duty on your boat, environmental tax and GST which comes to 30% of the value of the vessel as determined by customs. You would also need a BTB Tour Operator’s license and full liability insurance, as well as having a licensed tour guide on board during all trips.

      I hope this helps!

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  • Steven Paglierani

    Mar 26, 2017

    I’ll be in San Pedro the last 2 weeks of May. Should I get my license before I get there? Also, can I legally keep reef fish for personal consumption other than the catch and release species (bones, tarpon and permit)?

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    • Reply icon

      Cat

      Mar 28, 2017

      Hi Steven,

      It is very easy to purchase a sport fishing license online – you can do so here. If you would rather purchase your license in person, you can do so at the Coastal Zone Management Authority and Institute in Belize City, Go Fish Belize in Boca del Rio San Pedro, the Placencia Tourism Center, or the Sittee River Marina at Sittee Point, Dangriga. Licenses cost $20 BZD for a day or $50 BZD for a week ($10 or $25 USD respectively).

      Reef fish such as Snappers are not subject to the strict catch-and-release policy that affects Bonefish etc.

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  • Forest

    Sep 19, 2017

    Can someone help me? I would like to go to Belize for an extended stay and fish , saltwater , marlin, snook, tuna….. can anyone direct me to an area in the country where I can rent a house for a month or more? I am very flexible with a timeframe ,

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  • Joe Rap

    Nov 11, 2017

    After reading these posts, I am changing my plans and will go to Belize. I am an experienced fisherman but since I do not know the lay of the land, I am looking for a guide for surf fishing.

    Where can I locate them?
    Thanks
    Joe

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  • Andrew cooper

    Aug 5, 2018

    Looking at next Feb, I will be with my girlfriend. So, I need a nice hotel or more than one and wish to fish every other day for 2 weeks.

    Would like to try it all: reef, inshore, inshore flats, river and deep water for the big game, also shark fishing over reefs.

    Can you suggest a couple of hotels and guides that can accommodate this? We will bring some gear but won’t be equipped for heavy stuff.

    Many thanks
    Andy

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    • Reply icon

      Stefan

      Aug 10, 2018

      Hi, Andy, thanks for reading the blog.

      February is a great time to fish these waters. You will find big Wahoo over the reefs and numerous fish on the flats.

      There are several guides in the area who offer a variety of fishing techniques and types:

      Waata Daag Fishing Adventures. Captain Grayson fishes for game fish such as Mahi and Wahoo, and he also offers flats fishing.
      Freedom Tours – Trolling Passion. The crew specializes in offshore and reef fishing trips.

      If you would like some more help about a specific place, or type of fishing, just let me know.
      Most of the local charters and guides provide all the gear, but you can always check that with them.

      If you’d like to talk to a captain, you can do that via the ‘Contact the Captain’ button.
      Once you open a page of a charter you like, just scroll down and click on the blue button.

      Hope this helps.

      Feel free to reach out if you need any more help.

      Tight lines,
      Stefan

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  • T Clark Wood

    Apr 22, 2019

    Been down the last 3 years to the Placencia area. Do you know the best places to catch snook? I catch them in Florida all the time and I’ve seen 1 or 2 but have not seen very many at all. Any help is appreciated. Thanks!

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    • Reply icon

      Sean

      Apr 25, 2019

      Hello Clark,

      Thanks for reading.

      The best snook fishing off Placencia would be along “Permit Alley”. These flats are should give you a good variety of other species as well, and local captains often say that this is their favorite spot.

      I hope you’ll find this helpful.

      Have a great day!

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