Belize Fishing: Everything You Need to Know
Apr 20, 2021 | 9 minute read Comments
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Reading Time: 9 minutes

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!

A view of Belize City's old buildings from the water with boats in the foreground

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

An angler holds a Tarpon caught fishing in Belize

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

An angler holds a Permit caught inshore fishing in Belize

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.

Snappers

A female angler holds a Caribbean Queen Snapper caught on the reefs

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

Two anglers hold a large Sailfish caught in Belize

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!

Two anglers hold a Mahi Mahi and Mackerel caught on a Belize fishing trip

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 

An angler casts from the shore in Belize

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

A man stands on the front of a fishing charter in Belize

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.

Belize Spearfishing

A Lionfish with a spear through it in Belize

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

A large pier leads out into the water from a golden beach in Belize

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

A blue badge that has "fishing license" written on it

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!

A small pier leads out into the green-blue waters in Ambergris Caye

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.

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Comments (31)
  • Debbie Cattouse

    May 12, 2021

    What an awesome feature. This is a well put together blog. I’m a Belizean (you’re actually using one of my photos lol) and I mainly do offshore fishing. For an angler looking to get hooked up to some sea tigers the ideal months to visit Belize would be late October/early November to January. Mahis and tunas in the summer time and sails March-April!!

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      Rhys

      May 13, 2021

      Hi Debbie,

      Thanks for reading and your kind comments – not forgetting the cool pic we used! These are great tips right from the horse’s mouth. I hope I managed to do your beautiful country and its incredible angling scene justice!

      Tight lines,

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  • mark l Krauk

    Feb 5, 2021

    Great read. Looking to book a trip early August. Would love some options on offshore fishing and some inshore options. Do the captains charge per person for by boat. I may have a few friends join me as well. Thanks

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      Sean

      Feb 9, 2021

      Hi Mark,

      Thanks for reading.

      The majority of captains charge you for the entire boat. Some captains have additional charges if you’re bringing more than a certain number of people, but in most cases, the price is fixed.

      I’ve forwarded your inquiry to our Customer Service team, and they’ll be reaching out to you shortly to help you find the best option for inshore and offshore fishing.

      Thanks again, and have a great day!

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  • Jakob Glud Borberg

    Feb 1, 2021

    Hello Belize
    I am hopeing to visit your Great country in april? If i want the Deepseefishing what is the chances of catching a solid fish😀?
    And what is the price
    Best regards
    Jakob

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      Sean

      Feb 2, 2021

      Hi Jakob,

      Thanks for reading.

      April is a great month for fishing in Belize because the temperatures start to go up, and the winds tend to die down.

      While offshore fishing isn’t as great as it is during the summer months, there’s still plenty of fish you can catch. You can expect a good chance of catching Wahoo, and perhaps Mahi Mahi and Sailfish. Most charters charge between $500 and $600 for a full day of offshore fishing.

      I just informed our customer service about your inquiry, so they’ll be in touch with you soon to help you choose the right captain.

      Thanks again for reading, and tight lines!

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  • Natasha Stuart

    Feb 28, 2020

    This was a pretty solid read! I am a Belizean from Ambergris Caye. my family and I love to fish and I really appreciate this blog, Thank you for sharing!

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      Sean

      Mar 2, 2020

      Hi Natasha,

      Wow, lucky you!

      I’m really glad to hear that you liked the blog. Belize sure is one of the best fisheries in the Caribbean, and we’re happy to bring it some well deserved attention.

      Tight lines!

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      Taylor Thompson

      Mar 31, 2021

      I’ll be up there in a week or two. We’ll be staying on one of the islands near Ambergris Caye. Any suggestion on tackle to fish the island would be greatly appreciated.

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      Rhys

      Apr 1, 2021

      Hi Taylor,

      Thanks for reading and for posing a good question. First of all, let me say that I’m very jealous of you getting to fish near Ambergris Caye this month. You’re sure to get your hands on plenty of Bonefish, Permit, and Jack Crevalle! For these creatures, light tackle is fine and adds to the fun. A 10–12 lb line should do the trick. But, of course, if you fancy yourself in a fly, this is an opportunity not to be missed.

      Tight lines,

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  • Jim

    Feb 24, 2020

    Will be staying in Hopkins in early May and would like to do a 1/2 day or full day trip. Would love to bring back some mahi mahi to eat. Wondering how to go about planning.

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      Albert

      Feb 24, 2020

      Hi Jim,

      Lucky you, you’re in for a great time!

      I’d recommend contacting our Customer Service team and talking through your trip with them. They can then hook you up with an experienced local captain.

      In terms of bringing fish back, we’ve got an article on transporting your catch which might be useful.

      I hope that helps. Be sure to let us know how you get on.

      Tight lines!

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  • Aldo

    Jan 5, 2020

    My friends and I are going fishing in late April early May. Where should we stay?

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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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      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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  • 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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      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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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      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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  • 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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  • 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.

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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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      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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  • 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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      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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  • Belize

    Aug 4, 2014

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

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  • 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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