Slowly but surely, Belize is climbing to the very top of Central America’s list of must-visit fisheries. Offering a wealth of fishing opportunities, this little Caribbean gem inspires anglers of all kinds.
Did you know that 5% of the country is taken up by inshore lagoons? It also boasts access to one of the biggest coral reefs in the world and deep offshore waters, too! It’s fair to say that a Belize fishing adventure could be one of the best things you ever experience!
In this guide, we’ll take you through the rich fisheries this small country has to offer. We’ll introduce you to some of the world-class species that call Belize’s waters home, let you know how to get the biggest bang for your buck, and tell you where to go and what you need. So, without further ado, let’s get going.
What fish can I catch in Belize?
We briefly mentioned that Belize’s fishing grounds are diverse. Therefore, you won’t be surprised to hear that there’s a wide array of species you can target. There are few places in the world that come close to offering up such a fishing feast – especially somewhere so small! From an inshore Super Grand Slam to big game species offshore, here’s our pick of the best.
Tarpon and Snook
Every inshore angler worth their salt has two species near the top of their to-catch list. The “Silver King,” Tarpon, and Snook are among the toughest fighters you can ever find on the end of your line. And they’re in abundance here. In fact, there’s even an island called Tarpon Caye!
Hit the shallow flats of the estuaries all the way up to the freshwater fishing grounds of the rivers and you’ll find these creatures biting away at your line, before making you work hard to reel ‘em in.
Fly fishing is a great way to do battle with these monsters, but it’s tough enough with conventional gear. Make sure to creep up gently so as not to spook the fish. But the good news is that, even if you do spook them, it won’t be long until another shows up, as there are simply so many of them about!
Permit and Bonefish
Usually, Permit and Bonefish would top the list of fish to catch inshore, but in Belize, they’re a worthy supporting cast. These prized, strong creatures complete the inshore Super Grand Slam – and this is one of just four places in the world where you can manage that feat! You’ll want to go after them along with Tarpon and Snook to etch your name into the record books.
Again, fly anglers will be in their element as they hit the flats for these beasts. While landing one may be easier than a Silver King, you’ll still need plenty of skill and strength to reel ‘em in. And again, one of these creatures has an area named after it! Permit Alley is the prime hunting ground for both these creatures, although pretty much anywhere you go inshore, you’ll have a good chance of entering into battle with them.
While that’s by no means the end of the inshore fish on offer here, we have to move out to the reefs, otherwise we’d be here all day! Thankfully, there are plenty of exciting creatures to target along the 200-mile Belize Barrier Reef.
The standout creatures here include Black, Cubera, and Caribbean Queen Snappers. Not only do they promise to put up a great fight, but they’re also among the most striking creatures in terms of looks. And they’re delicious to eat!
Bottom fish anywhere along the incredible coral structures nearshore, and chances are you’ll come across a Snapper. You’ll find Mutton and Yellowtail variants too, so you pretty much can’t go wrong. If you’re looking for a tasty treat to take home, then these are the creatures for you. What’s even better, anglers of all levels can join in the fun.
Marlin and Sailfish
If Tarpon and Snook take the inshore crown, there are two comparable species in the deep that deserve royal status, and both belong to the Billfish family. We’re talking, of course, about Marlin and Sailfish. Wherever you find these creatures, every angler wants a piece of the action, and Belize fishing aficionados are no different.
As soon as you get beyond the reef, the depth of the water drops to around 2,000 feet almost immediately. That makes it a prime hunting ground for some of the ocean’s most sought-after creatures. Marlin are renowned for their acrobatic instincts as they leap out of the water to get off the end of the line. Meanwhile, Sailfish will also make you work hard to get them to the boat, but their magnificence lies in their beauty.
And Many More!
If we wanted to cover all the fish on offer in Belize, we’d probably need a book. Even our list of top catches barely scratches the surface of what’s on offer in this angler’s paradise. Whether inshore, nearshore, or in the deep waters offshore, you won’t know where to begin when casting your line.
Jacks of all shapes and sizes can be found in the shallow waters, with Barracuda, Mackerel, Groupers, and more along the reefs. Head out beyond the drop, and a whole world of fishing opens up. Go after some delicious meat, as you target Wahoo, Mahi Mahi, and Tuna, alongside the breathtaking Marlin and Sailfish. You won’t be disappointed.
Belize Fishing: How?
So now you know what to catch and we’ve given you a brief outline of where these creatures live, the next step is deciding how to go about getting your fish on. Fortunately, locals have been fishing here for centuries, so they’re well geared-up to providing you with a true Belize fishing experience. Here are our recommendations on how to get the most out of your trip.
Belize Shore Fishing
With a star-studded lineup of inshore fish, it’s no surprise that fishing from shore is a popular pastime in Belize. Hit the banks of the rivers, head to the estuaries, or even explore the coasts of some of the islands, and you can cast your line for the prizes on offer. Fly anglers can hone their skills over the course of the day, and you can even bring some waders to get closer as you peruse the flats.
We’re not exaggerating when we say that shore fishing along the flats in Belize is among the best in the world. Whether you’re up in Ambergris Caye, out on Turneffe Atoll or Tarpon Caye, or even in Belize City, there’s always the chance to land a legendary Belize Tarpon, Permit, and much more.
Belize Charter Fishing
If you want to make the most of the diversity of fisheries in Belize, though, you’ll want a fishing charter. Of course, you’ll need a boat to go deep sea fishing, and they also come in handy inshore and on the reefs. If the fish aren’t biting, you can just move to another spot where they are.
Whether on a light vessel along the flats, a medium-sized boat on the reefs, or a yacht-like structure in the deep, you can’t go wrong. With the assistance of an experienced captain, you’ll have that added edge over your target species – and all the gear you’ll need will be provided! Spend as little or as long as you want on board, and you’re sure to catch exactly what you want.
Wherever there are reefs, there’s the potential for spearfishing. And the gin-clear waters of Belize are no different. In fact, this is considered to be one of the best places in the world for face-to-gills combat! Get up close and personal to all the dazzling fish that call the Belize Barrier Reef home, and you’ll be left with memories you can scarcely get elsewhere.
But that’s not all. Along with catching a tasty treat for dinner, spearfishing in Belize can also help the environment. The invasive Lionfish has been plaguing the reefs for decades and has no natural predator here. While the government is trying its best to solve the problem, you can give them a hand by spearing one or two. And they taste delicious, so it’s a win-win-win!
Belize Fishing Spots
You know what you can target and how to go about it, now it’s time to find out where to go. The good news is, you can barely go wrong when choosing a fishing destination in Belize. But we’ve managed to narrow it down to some of our favorite spots:
- Ambergris Caye: “La Isla Bonita.” Belize’s largest island is actually a part of the Belize Barrier Reef and boasts incredible Tarpon and Snook fishing inshore, as well as bottom fishing just a stone’s throw away.
- Tarpon Caye: Out in the heart of the reef, Tarpon Caye richly deserves its name. This is one of the best spots to go wading, thanks to the solid sands, and the Tarpon grow to incredible sizes here.
- Permit Alley: Located between Placencia and Dangriga, this 30-mile stretch of flats is among the best areas in the world for targeting Permit and Bonefish. You’ll want a boat, though, as the flats can get very soft.
- Turneffe Atoll: Possibly the best spot for fly fishing in Belize, this is one for the aficionados. Hit the mangroves or salt flats and you could catch a monster Tarpon and Snapper in the same day.
- Punta Gorda: This small town in southern Belize was once the country’s best-kept secret. Don’t worry, though, it’s still quiet enough for you to escape and focus your attention on the fish.
- Belize City: While it may be the largest city in the country, it’s still the gateway to some incredible fishing grounds. Hit the rivers and flats inshore, or head out just a few miles and explore the reefs.
- The Drop: Beyond the Belize Barrier Reef, the waters drop deep very quickly. Here’s where you’ll find the pick of the big game fishing and your chance to land a record.
Anything else to know?
Before you start searching for your ideal Belize fishing charter, there are just a couple more things you should know. First of all, when to come? With the average temperature shifting from 75 degrees in the “cold” seasons to 80 in the summer, there’s never a bad time to visit.
When it comes to the fish, there’s always the chance to land a trophy, it just depends on what you’re looking for. Billfish tend to go away in summer, but that’s peak Tarpon season inshore and Tuna offshore. When they’re out of season in winter, there’s still plenty of Snook to go around. And don’t forget about the year-round Snapper, Bonefish, and Permit populations!
Belize Fishing Regulations
Other than that, you’ll also want to make sure you’re fishing within the law. Whether you’re casting from the docks or trolling offshore, you’ll need a fishing license. A daily license costs BZ$20, while a weekly permit will set you back BZ$50. You can get these online.
If you plan on making regular visits to Belize (which we highly recommend), you can purchase an annual license for BZ$100. For this permit, however, you’ll need to apply at the Coastal Zone Management Authority and Institute in person.
Belize is also one of the leading countries in Central America when it comes to conservation. All Bonefish, Tarpon, and Permit are catch-and-release only, so you’ll have to let these creatures go to fight another day.
And You’re Good to Go!
That pretty much covers the essentials when it comes to fishing in Belize, but there’s plenty more you can only find out by experiencing it yourself. Trust us, a fishing trip to this tropical paradise is something every angler should experience at least once. The problem is, you’ll always want to come back for more!
Have you ever been fishing in Belize? How was it? Let us know or ask any questions you may have in the comments below.