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Belize is a mecca for those interested in fishing. An kinds of fishing spin, fly, trolling - can be experienced all year long, and the abundance of game fish guarantees excellent sport.

The estuaries, inlets and mouths to the many rivers are known for their tarpon, snook and jacks. The lagoons and grass flats are known for the bonefish, permit and barracuda. The coral reefs support grouper, snappper, jacks and barracuda while the deeper waters off the drop off are home to sailfish, marlin, bonito and pompano.

For more fishing information:
Caye Caulker Travel & Tour
Fishing is great all along the coast of Belize, from the Port Honduras and Punta Icacos lagoon of Toledo to Rocky Point on Caye Caulker. Any of the many rivers which empty into the Caribbean along Belize's coasts can guarantee a daily catch. Most of your guides and boatmen speak English so learning where and what to fish will be no problem.

The waters surrounding Caye Caulker abound with a great variety of saltwater fishing and the island boasts some of the best fishing guides in the country. Most types of fish, including bone fish and tarpon, can be caught year-round. Within 15 minutes of leaving the dock, you can be fishing in tidal flats or in blue water hundreds of feet deep.

Cost for charters depends on the type of fishing (reef, deep sea, or bone and tarpon), the size of the boat, number of anglers, time of year and current bank balance of the captain, but expect to pay around US$100 to $175 per person for a full day's reef and deep sea fishing trip, including bait and tackle, beer, soft drinks and lunch. The International Billfish Tournament is hosted by the Barrier Reef Hotel and Hustler Tours each spring.

FISHING ON Caye Caulker has remained one of the Caribbeans best-kept secrets until recently. The extensive flats, a twenty minute boat ride from the lodge, are picture perfect. Shallow (2-6 feet) and with a whiter than normal sand bottom, these tarpon feeding grounds stretch for over fifty miles and provide the dining room for almost unbelievable numbers of tarpon.

Peak periods on the local flats are the months of May through November, though there are fish around 355 days a year, and Winter/Spring months (February, March and April) provide excellent opportunities when the weather cooperates. More importantly, it is uncommon to encounter other anglers once you have left the harbor area. The immense size of these flats, and the lack of fishing pressure has left these tarpon with an very aggressive nature, and they move readily to almost any properly presented fly.

The guides are very flexible with respect to their schedule, and prefer to begin early or start late depending on the tides. Occasionally that means missing a hot breakfast, or returning at dark for just a quick shower before dinner.

Tarpon remain the primary attraction at in the area, although there all the reef species, barracuda, snook, snapper, grouper, and of course the ever-present bonefish and occasional permit. These are really a sidelight, though, because this is tarpon fishing the way everyone dreams that it should be! The flats are situated only a mile or so from the blue water and they are constantly being replenished with fish from the deep. White sand bottoms with occasional patches of turtle grass provide an unbelievable background to make these fish very visible in the shallow water. Schools of dozens of fish can be seen pushing water like bonefish from hundreds of yards distance.

The common denominator for success the Caye is the weather. Generally speaking, the dry season in Belize extends from March through May. Morning breezes are usually from the southeast during these months and directly from the east during the rest of the year. Since the vast tarpon flats that the flyfishermen are concerned with lie on the western shores of the Yucatan, this affords a protected "leeward" side much of the time.

Although the months of May through November are considered the prime time for flats fishing, the fish are present during the entire year and any days that are calm are considered ideal times to be on the water in search for tarpon.

When the wind does raise havoc with the tarpon fishing the protected and always sheltered coves and lagoons offer a safe and almost guaranteed shot at bonefish. Though the bonefish don't often run large here, there are lots of them and they provide plenty of entertainment.

Permit are frequently spotted in these lagoons also, as well as cruising along the inside coast of the Yucatan and on the tarpon flats themselves. It is a good idea for flyrodders to have a. spare rod always set up with their favorite permit pattern and an intermediate line in case they get a shot at one of fly fishing's most elusive gamefish!

Barracuda are a common sight in all the water surrounding Caye Caulker. They are difficult, but not impossible to take on a fly. Six or seven-inch long fish-hair flies with trailer hooks cast across and stripped back as rapidly as possible in front of the fish is the most successful way to latch on to these toothy monsters. For the spin fisherman armed with a fluorescent yellow tube lure, a strike and battle are guaranteed!

The Environmental Conditions which make Belize an Angler's Paradise: Belize has a unique combination of environmental factors which create the ideal habitat for a myriad of saltwater game fish. Its most outstanding attribute is the Belizean Barrier Reef, which is second in size only to the Great Barrier Reef in northeastern Australia. Ten to forty miles off the coast, an intricate chain of submerged islands and little cays provide the ideal habitat for a shallow-water coral -ecosystem. Shallow- water coral species demand a strict set of environmental criteria in order to flourish. If undeviating variables- including precise water temperature and specific water depth- are not present, the formation of a reef is impossible. This is why large barrier reefs are fairly uncommon.

From the air, you can see the reef as an unbroken chain of white surf that stretches north along the eastern shore. Inside the reef the water is shallow with a blue tinge; outside the reef the water is deep and from the air is a dark royal blue. On very clear days, the reef appears as a narrow strip of yellow dividing the two shades of blue. Only near Caye Caulker does the reef run anywhere near a populated coast. Offshore it is almost a solid wall of magnificent coral formations broken only by narrow channels called "quebradas". The reef is more than just decoration. Without it the island would not exist; as it serves as a breakwater protecting the beach from erosion and shelters the caye and its inhabitants. On the eastern side depths drop off rapidly to thousands of feet.

The complicated ecosystem of the reef supplies food and shelter to a huge variety of baitfish and small crustaceans that, in turn, attract larger predators. The reef also protects the shore-side protects the shore-sidefishery from the unmerciful wrath of the ocean. The-coral heads absorb the brunt of the pounding waves, which creates a tranquil setting in the flats even if the outside ocean is being pummeled by a storm.

Belize's second virtue is its series of fresh-water rivers and brackish estuaries. Tarpon, snook, snapper, jacks and other species utilize these fertile waters for feeding and spawning purposes. The nutrient-rich rivers also dump a wealth of biomass into the ocean which is utilized by zooplankton, crustaceans and baitfish, providing a veritable smorgasbord for game fish.

The reef and river/estuary system make an unbeatable combination.


Here's a few words from a long-time fisherman from Caye Caulker...

I started fishing since I was a kid 6 or 7 years old with my grandfather. They owned a big dugout boat which had a big live well. We use to seine the fish. The seine had a big bag in the middle with some smaller meshes. There was a lot of fish. Then we use to fill the live well in one or two days with snappers. It hold approximately 30 dozen and we sailed to Belize City to sell our catch. We use to net sometimes a lot of the famous bonefish and smoked them as it was a delicacy and brought us some income. I did this for quite a few years until I was a teenager. Then the lobster had a market. Our first buyer of lobster was an american that flew his amphibian plane from Miami. He use to buy our lobster for 2 cents a pound. We were very happy to see him as we could sell our catch. He use to take our lobster and paid us on his return trip. The last trip he made we lost our lobster as he never came back and never did pay us.

The lobster became the biggest money making as other companies came to Belize and bought our lobster. But we never got more than 50 cents a pound. Until in 1960's, we formed our own Coop and then we found out what was the real price of lobsters. We were still making some money because lobster was abundant. To give you an idea, our ice box used to hold lobster tails and we filled that box in 3 or 4 days with only 4 divers working.

In 1965, my sister in law built a 5 room hotel and they had to share a bathroom. We used to pump water by hand to fill the 55 gallon drum so the guest can have a shower. I had a 30 ft sail boat and we filled the cooler with ice drinks and food and we sailed to Belize to pick up our guests.

That is when I started guiding. Fishing was so great that you could catch any amount and almost any kind of fish by just going right close to the first break on the reef. Almost all our guest were fishermen and snorklers as there was no diving then.

I am guiding for 35 years now and fishing is still good, not as good as when I started guiding but you never go out fishing without catching some fish.

I do reef fishing and flat fishing with fly rods or spinning.

We have a very big variety of fish, snappers - about 12 different kinds of snapper, grouppers - about 8 different kinds of grouper, Jacks - about 8 different kinds of Jacks, Tarpon, ladyfish, bonefish, permit, african pompana, kind mackerel, spanish mackerel, wahoo, sailfish, white strips and blue marlin, dolphin fish, rainbow runners, bonitos, tuna and the 170 miles of reef are cover with thousands of colorful fish of various species.

Belize offers the light-tackle saltwater fisherman one of the most diverse selections of game fish in the world. When conditions are right, the angler can cast to bonefish, tarpon, snook, permit, jacks, barracuda, cubera snapper, mutton snapper, sharks, and several different reef species in a single week of fishing. This is truly a unique angling opportunity found only in a limited number of locations worldwide.

Having the right equipment will ensure a comfortable and successful fishing adventure. Rods and reels are expensive and the average angler does not need a separate rod for each species. It makes sense to-try to choose your rod and reel combinations so that they can handle several types of fish bonefish, permit and snook for instance.

For the fly fisherman, a stiff 8 or 9 weight rod will certainly suffice for almost all possible conditions if you carry extra spools for your reel.(wound with floating I and intermediate sinking lines). For the spin fisherman, a long medium-action rod for bonefish and permit and a stiff heavy-action rod for tarpon and large reef species will do nicely. The equipment suggestions that follow are simply a guideline which we feel best suits each given situation.

Many fishermen are very serious about concentrating on one kind of fish, while others seem to enjoy catching as many different types as possible., What follows is a comprehensive look at each species. Please use this information according to what species you prefer. TV rest is up to you!

A Note to Novice Saltwater Fly Fishermen: The flats species you'll be fishing for are all extremely wary. The ability to make fairly long and (especially) accurate casts will play a vital role in your overall success. Try to develop a cast of about 70-80 feet. If you can cast 80 feet, you'll be able to make most casts effortlessly. Also, in saltwater, many casts are made into or across the wind, so the ability to make a longer cast becomes important. An 80-foot downwind cast might be only a 40-foot cast into a stiff breeze. Even if you feel fairly secure about your casting effectiveness, we strongly recommend that YOU take a few casting lessons to perfect the "double haul" as well as your accuracy and technique. Then practice casting (in the wind if possible) at least 10 minutes a day the week before you arrive.

Preparation for a rapid presentation is of utmost importance. Always have a reasonable amount of line out of your reel and ready to cast. Whether you're fishing from a skiff or wading, we r ecommend using a stripping basket, which facilitates shooting line and reduces line tangles. Since you usually won't know what direction the fish are coming from, keep the fly in your hand at all times and leave about 10 feet of fly line hanging out of the rod tip. This will help get the cast off quickly.


Flats/Bottom Substrate - The majority of the flats fished at Belize have soft bottoms: and therefore are not wadable.There are, however, several areas (especially flats adjacent to the central tidal channel) that are wadable.

Wind conditions - Due to the winds coming off the open ocean, there is not a single flats destination anywhere that is not subjected to daily breezes. At Belize, predominant wind conditions are north-south, and a good day will have winds at about 8 knots, ranging in gusts from 12 to 15 knots. It is not unlikely to experience some in the 20- knot range. Often the wind will be down in the Morning and through the middle of the day, but pick up in the afternoon towards the evening hours. Where there is a cloud buildup, there is usually wind. Watch the south and east for offshore cloud buildup. You will generally find that the wind will intensify with the approach of clouds.

Water quality: Seeing fish in all conditions - The water in Belize is usually clear. There are a few times during the year when a variety of of biological conditions cause slight discoloration. Under these conditions, it is more difficult to spot and follow fish. The windripple on the surface when the sun is at a low angle can also make fish sighting difficult. Grass and Submerged objects seem to be placed there to fool fishermen. There are times when you feel as if you've spent an eternity focusing on something grey on the bottorn that you thought was a fish but that turned out to be a pole mark or stick. Variations in water depth and color add to the problems of fish spotting.

It takes a lot of work and practice to focus continuously on the bottom in varying water conditions. Remember that, except for barracuda or big tarpon lying stationary on the bottom, generally speaking, the fish are always moving. Scan laterally, slowly, as the boat moves. And if you're having a tough time, try to look through the bottom or top of your polarized glasses to increase their polarizing effect. If something on the bottom is changing, keep an eye on it as you approach. With practice you will soon be spotting the fish as quickly as the guide.

Although there are many species for the sport fisherman in Belize, the area is best known for its bonefish, permit, tarpon, barracuda, and snook. Bonefish range from around 2 to 8 pounds, the 8-pound being the exception. Permit will vary in size from around 3 to 35 pounds. Tarpon will range from about 2 to over 100 pounds in the lagoon. The barracuda will range from about 2 to 25 pounds. Snook are often taken at around 5 or 6 pounds but maybe taken at Belize River Lodge in the 20 pound range. You will have plenty of opportunity for smaller fish, such as snapper, and occasionally catch a jack of 5 to 20 pounds.

Fishing Guide
Here is a list of general species and the times of the year they are most abundant.
King Mackerel- April, May, and June
Sail Fish- Best in spring
Grouper- December - February
Barracuda- All months
Marlin- All months
Wahoo- Winter best
Snapper- All months

Action: E=Excellent G=Good F=Fair

January: On calm days you should see as many as 50-75 tarpon, 20-90 pound range. Generally bone and tarpon fishing are good; reef fishing good to excellent.

February: Fish are plentiful on the flats if the wind isn't too strong. Tarpon in the 20-90 pound range. Bone and tarpon fishing are good but weather dependent. Reef fishing is excellent.

March: Plenty of 20-90 pound tarpon on the calmer days. Plenty of bonefish. Tarpon in lagoons. Reef fishing good to excellent.

April: Lots of tarpon, 40-100 pounds, and they are more aggressive. Migrating tarpon start coming onto the reef. Its a good month for permit too. Usually large schools of small permit and plenty of bones. Reef fishing excellent

May: Generally our hottest month, but with only calm-to-light breezes. Its not uncommon to see huge schools of 200-300 bones. Tarpon on both flats and the reef. Reef fishing is good to excellent.

June: Bone fishing is excellent as it always is from April through October. Tarpon on both the flats and reef. Reef fishing good to excellent.

July & August: Usually calm and warm. Great fishing. Lots of bones, lots of tarpon to well over 100 pounds. We consider these the best two tarpon fishing months of the year The most and the largest tarpon have been caught in August. Reef fishing good to excellent.

September: Lots of big fish, the lodge record, 165 pound tarpon was boated during this month. Reef fishing good.

October: Lots of fish (tarpon), large and aggressive. Bones are larger and more aggressive too. Big schools of jack crevelle are also on the flats now and it is a good month for the larger permit. Reef fishing fair to good.

November: There are plenty of 60-100 pound tarpon on the flats. Jack crevelle and bone fishing are also good. Reef fishing good to excellent.

December: If the sun stays out there are plenty of barracuda, bones, and tarpon (40-80 pounds), on the flats. Jacks and ladyfish too. Full moon brings grouper and snappers to the reef to spawn. Reef fishing good to excellent.


Temperatures can range from the low 70s up to the mid 90s. You should consider taking:

  • Slacks/shorts: 2 or 3 pairs in lightweight cotton
  • Long-sleeved shirts (for sun protection) - light color/fabric * Cotton sweater, sweatshirt or jacket for cool mornings and evenings (Jan.-April)
  • Shoes: I pair rubber-soled, non-slip boat shoes; canvas sneakers. Frontiers and the lodge management highly recommend that all those who plan to wade wear neoprene wading shoes with a rigid, puncture-resistant sole. Some areas in the Belize region have saltwater lice that can be bothersome. Long pants tucked into wading shoes will alleviate problems with sea lice (they're really harmless).
  • Fishing hat: should have long front visor with black underbill (enhances polarizing qualities of sunglasses) and it must shade face, neck, and ears, It is very important that waterproof sunscreen with a SPF of at least 15 be applied to every square inch of exposed skin. Remember that the sun will reflect off the water and can bum your face even if you wear a widebrimmed hat.
  • Lightweight rain gear for the occasional shower
Fishing Accessories Checklist
  • Polarized sunglasses: two pair with amber lenses (avoid green) indispensable for seeing fish.
  • Clippers for cutting monofilament
  • Hook sharpener
  • Reel grease/WD-40 - apply to reels each evening
  • Pocketknife
  • Fly line dressing
  • Needlenose pliers
  • Fanny pack
  • Zip-loc bags - large and small
  • Nail knot tool
  • Zap-a-Gap (super glue)
  • Neoprene reel covers
  • Tape measure
  • Forceps
  • Scales and measuring tape
  • Adhesive tape
  • Golf glove
  • Stripping basket
  • Knot book
  • Fly tying equipment
  • Camera gear: film shield bag (to avoid airport x-rays), Kuban hitch (if you plan to wade with camera), waterproof bag, camera body/lens/film, polarizing filter, lens tissue/cleaner, flash attachment; start with fresh batteries, take extras.
  • sunscreen, chapstick and face cream - Very important
  • insect repellent
  • small waterproof bag for stowing camera; etc., in boat
  • snorkel, mask, and fins (May-July)
  • medications you may require
  • water bottle
  • first aid kit
  • flashlight
GRATUITIES: Tipping is at the individual's discretion. We suggest, only as a guideline, that you give him $20/day per boat for one or two anglers. Please tip the guides directly.

FINAL NOTE: You will be visiting a beautiful, off-the-beaten track part of the world where the people are warm, friendly and eager to please. However, you may encounter & bit of "manana" attitude, a late departure, or an equipment failure. Parts are often hard to get and maintenance is slow. The pace of Belize is different than ours, but if you approach it with the right frame of mind, it adds a relaxing element. Be assured that our outfitters in Belize will try their best to keep everything on schedule.

Aside from being one of the best values in the saltwater fishing world, Belize's best attribute is that it offers the visiting angler a great variety of species. Salt water fishing, however, is not easy and can be somewhat unpredictable. The weather can play an important part in your fishing success. Unfortunately, the guides cannot control the weather. The guides, however, will make every effort to insure angling success under prevailing water and weather conditions. Relax and enjoy your stay in Belize.

For more information on Fishing off the Cayes, including specific information for many kinds of fish, click here.

Here is some of the island fishing vocabulary. Check these out:
Taciste - The cleaned and scraped palmetto wood used to make the wooden lobster traps.

Rama - An artificial reef created out of debris.

Bolas - The rocks used to hold down the lobster traps at the bottom of the sea.

Balisa - Sticks stuck in the seabed used to identify one's "zone" and lobster traps.

Balice - Weights used to steady the sailing sloops.

Shed - Just like its name, a shed in the middle of the water where the fishermen clean fish.

Nasas - the lobster traps

Sombra - Sombra is a spanish word meaning shade. The fishermen's reference to "sombra" is zinc roofing dropped to the bottom of the ocean creating a "shade" to which lobsters migrate. It is a fishing tool.

Tambos - Tambos is a spanish word meaning "drums". Same concept as above, except that this involves 55 gal. metal drums with the mouths pounded together and with hole punctures to allow water flow. Used as a trap for fishes, crabs and lobsters.

Llantas - Llantas means "tires". Rubber tires dropped into the bottom of the ocean to also lure and trap lobsters and crabs.

Trampas - Beach traps which involves stringing chicken wire in a straight line from the beach out to sea. The fish swim alongside the chicken wire eventually getting trapped when the enter a heart shaped area at the tip of the trap.

Siene or Red - Gill net

Taraya - net

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