“He can’t be that big” is what you’ll think of the monster making your line tight enough to snap as a hundred-pound tarpon comes into focus through the crystalline water along the coast of Belize. Brace your feet and hold onto your rod with all you’ve got — it’s these huge, fighting fish that make sportfishing in Belize an unforgettable experience.
Belize is renowned for being a place to dive deep under the sea, but comfortable temperatures year-round, an abundance of game fish, and unique fishing locations also make Belize one of the best places in the world for passionate anglers to cast their rod.
Spin fishing, fly-fishing, trolling… pick your pleasure in Belize’s beautiful turquoise waters. The Belize Barrier Reef, the longest barrier reef in the western hemisphere, stretches 180 miles along the Belizean coastline. A diverse population of reef fish including snapper, grouper, jacks, and barracuda populate this area in healthy numbers. You lose sight of the reef as it drops off into the deep; here you’ll begin to find marlin and sailfish. For a shot at a man-sized tarpon, travel to inlets and estuaries where freshwater and saltwater mingle. Permit and bonefish can be found near tarpon, particularly in shallow lagoons.
Where to Start
Looking for the best sportfishing spot near the reef? Here are two established favorites:
- Turneffe Atoll: This set of cayes, located 25 miles from the mainland, offers you your best chance at hitting a grand slam: catching a bonefish, a tarpon, and a permit, all in one day. Anglers from all over the world visit Belize’s Turneffe Atoll to attempt this feat. For fishing enthusiasts who plan to vacation in Belize, Turneffe offers one of the Caribbean’s best sportfishing spots.
- Ambergris Caye: Largest of the cayes (25 miles in length, 1 mile wide), and one of the most accessible, Ambergris Caye is one of the most popular fishing spots in Belize. Located less than a mile west of the Belize Barrier Reef, you can fish this caye from both boat and shore. You’ll find particularly good fly-fishing opportunities here. San Pedro, the largest city on Ambergris Caye, offers a comfortable, relaxed atmosphere, colored by its hospitable residents. Your non-angling friends won’t mind kicking their shoes off in San Pedro while you cast your line around Ambergris Caye.
Year Round Sportfishing
Migratory fish visit the waters of Belize between April and July, providing greater opportunities for a big catch or a grand slam. Tarpon, permit, and bonefish abound all summer long. If you visit any time between May and September, expect temperatures in the low-to-mid nineties, tempered by the cooling trade winds.
Sustaining the Sport
Eco-conscious travelers who enjoy the thrill of the catch, as well as the release, applaud Belize’s Catch and Release legislation, passed in 2008. A national commitment to the preservation of Belize’s wild marine life gave rise to these regulations.
All anglers must possess a valid fishing license, and no individuals or establishments are permitted to possess bonefish, tarpon, or permit at any time. So, if prompted for your permit, remember to flash your fishing license, not the catch of the day.
These measures ensure that healthy populations of these fish continue thriving as vital members of Belize’s complex aquatic ecosystems. Part of the incomparable fishing experience to be found in Belize is the unspoiled beauty of the environment. That cerulean blue water, a Crayola crayon color you never saw in nature until now, the mangrove jungle gyms on the edge of the reef, and the expansive sky and ocean views put you in a mood to compete, to play. So if your craving for adventure travel tastes a little like fish, Belize’s prime sportfishing spots are guaranteed to satisfy.
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