The Best Fishing Guides in Belize
Ah, Belize. It’s a destination that when spoken among even the most experienced fishermen earns wistful sighs and glimmers of excitement. It’s also home to some of the most experienced Grand Slam fishing guides in the world. What’s a Grand Slam? We’ll cover that and much more below.
Slightly south of Mexico, Belize is home to crystal clear waters, delicious Latin American cuisine, and some of the most sought after sports fish alive. Tarpon, bonefish, permit, amberjack, the list goes on and on of fierce tropical fish that are abundant in Belize. What makes the country even more enticing is that they passed a catch and release only law in the early 2000s. This law protects many of the sportfish in the region, including the Grand Slam: Bonefish, permit, and tarpon. This means that the Belizean fisheries have been steadily increasing over the years. This allows fishermen to catch more fish than ever before. The best fishing guides in the world are flocking to Belize. But how many different kinds of fish can you go for in Belize?
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Probably the most sought after fish in Belize, bonefish are extremely elusive and hard to catch. The only protection they have against predators is their eyesight and speed. This means when you finally catch one, they put up a ridiculous fight for their size. Often targetted by fly fisherman, bonefish can also be caught with a spinning rod equipped with a small shrimp jig.
Tarpon is the heaviest of the Grand Slam trio, sometimes reaching over 200 lbs in their migratory months of July and August. Tarpon are natural-born predators, feasting on mullet runs throughout the summer and fall. They also target small jacks and permit who get in their way. Tarpon can also be caught on the fly rod, but much heavier equipment is needed compared to bonefish. A heavy saltwater spinning reel equipped with a live mullet often works just as well.
The final member of the Grand Slam trio, permit are balls of muscle that can grow to over 40 lbs in the open ocean. Much like the bonefish, permit’s main form of defense against predators is their speed and agility. The only difference is that large permit become predators themselves after a few years. Bigger permit enjoy eating smaller jacks and crabs that don’t hide well in the sand. Much like tarpon, permits can be caught on both fly equipment and spinning bait. A common technique for large permits involves hooking a live crab by the side of its shell and casting it directly in front of a school.
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We self quarantined on the water this weekend and caught ourselves a bunch of MONSTERS 🙌🏼 Hello, spring time! . @lionstaleadventures @anglersinparadise . . #destinflorida #destinfloridafishing #amberjack #flexnriplips #destinfishing #todoindestin #offshoregirls #girlswhofish #girlsfishtoo
Amberjacks and other species of jacks are also abundant in Belize. They often hang out with the other sports fishing species in the sand shallows. While not as prestigious as the Grand Slam fish, jacks will still put up a solid fight when hooked. The same bait used for permit and bonefish can also attract jacks.
Deep Sea Fish
Belize is home to many of the big deep sea sports fish that can be found in Mexico and Costa Rica. Marlin, Wahoo, Sailfish, Mahi Mahi, and Kingfish can all be caught off the shores of Belize. The setups are much heavier than flats fishing gear as many deep-sea fish can reach 500 to 1,000 pounds.
Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker
Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker (which are both islands) are the mecca of sports fishing in Belize, and both have great options for guides. I stayed in San Pedro on Ambergris Caye which has more options than the smaller Caye Caulker. Here are the best guides for fishing in Belize I considered when visiting.
GoFishBelize is one of the oldest guide outfits on the island, with their master local guide Addie fishing the sand flats for over 25 years. 8-hour trips are $500 and are limited to two guests because of the small size of the boats and the nature of fly/spin casting. One of the most trusted fishing guides in Belize.
El Pescador is both a lodge and fishing guide outpost. There are various packages for guests who decide to stay at the lodge, but the daily rate is $533 for up to two people. They also feature free casting lessons on the dock after the guides come back from their trips in the afternoon. Also a heavily used fishing guide in Belize.
Tres Pescados Fly Shop
Tres Pescados Fly Shop has several guides that will take you flats fishing for bonefish, permit, and tarpon. Rates start at $500 for both Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker. This includes fishing equipment for up to two anglers, just like the other options.
Freedom Tours is another option if you want to go deep-sea fishing. They feature trips to the reef, deep-sea fishing for marlin, as well as more casual trips that can include snorkeling. Rates start at $450 for a half-day (4 hours) and $675 for a full day, both up to 5 people. Their deep-sea fishing boat is over 38 feet long which will ensure a smooth and safe ride out on the open water.
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I ended up going with Addie and GoFishBelize for a full day of guided flats fishing. Addie and his crew picked me up from our Hotel’s dock at 7 am, and we immediately headed north to “permit caye”, a hidden atoll that Addie liked fishing for large permit. It was especially windy that day, so it was difficult to sight the fish even with the super clear water. As the morning progressed the wind continued to pick up, so we headed to the protection of the “blue lagoon” another tucked away fishing spot Addie had found over the years.
Because the wind was blowing at +15 mph, we switched to spin casting with a small jig and a piece of fresh shrimp on the hook. As Addie’s crew manually pushed our small boat into the lagoon, I caught my first bonefish that was around 12 inches long. We took it as a good sign and anchored the boat overlooking the deep side of the lagoon. A few casts later and I hooked my first permit. It fought for several minutes and was a blast to reel in.
After a few more small jacks and bonefish, I finally hooked into what Addie called a “tournament bone”. It was a large bonefish that fought for well over 10 minutes. It clocked in at over 16 inches, which was my biggest catch of the day.
Fishing in Belize is unlike anywhere else in the world. It’s leading the charge on limiting the overfishing of tropical sports fishing and is a destination I can’t wait to return to. I hope this article helped you learn more about the best fishing guides in Belize!