Saltwater fly fishing the flats of Belize is a wonderful activity for anyone with interest in the sport. Bonefish, permit, tarpon, snook, and other prime gamefish are found in Central America’s least populous nation, which lies just below Mexico on the Caribbean coast, and just inland from the second largest barrier reef in the world. Following is some information about two of Belize’s finest fly fishing vacation destinations.
Turneffe Islands Fly Fishing in Belize
The waters off of Belize’s coast are dotted with small islands and cays, many of which have some of the best saltwater fly fishing in the world. The Turneffe Islands, which are part of an atoll that lies east of Belize City in the sea is one remarkable spot for flats fishing in Central America. Bonefish, permit, tarpon, and snook all abound there. Bonefish are found in the waters covering the vast, sandy flats of the islands, and permit are generally found in deeper waters with turtle grass, but they too will venture into the shallows. Both of these fish feed upon shrimp, crabs, small fish, and other invertebrates. Try gotchas, mini puffs, and long tailed shrimp flies for bonefish, and standard crab patterns such as the merkin for permit.
Tarpon and snook occur in mangrove-lined channels and creeks, where they wait to ambush unsuspecting prey. They primarily feed on baitfish, but they will also take crustaceans. Tarpon patterns such as the black death and the cockroach are great, and larger baitfish flies like Enrico Puglisi’s peanut butter are spectacular for both fish. Guides are available on the islands, and a couple of lodges that cater to flats fly fishers are also located on the Turneffe atoll.
Southern Belize Fly Fishing
In the Punta Gorda area of Southern Belize, permit, tarpon, and snook thrive just minutes from the docks. Permit are usually seen on the flats that surround the small islands just off of the coast. These islands have mangroves, but their flats are devoid of bonefish, tarpon and snook; all that they have are small flats that surround the patches of land like rings, and then, off of these, it drops off, and the water is very deep, and the small shallow areas are where permit are found.
Tarpon, however, are found in the area: the coastal rivers that surround Punta Gorda are loaded with them, and in the early morning and late afternoon, when the tide is right, these waters, which are very murky (but still very fishable) in the rainy season, are filled with rolling and jumping fish. Snook are also caught in the mangrove areas along these rivers’ banks.
Bonefish are found further out, closer to the reef in Southern Belize. Although the small islands have flats that are seemingly ideal for these top flats gamefish, only permit are found around them, making the area a better spot for anyone targeting permit, tarpon, and snook.
The above spots are two of the best saltwater fly fishing vacation destinations in Belize, and likely in the world. There is no shortage of fish at either spot, and even novices seldom return empty handed. Be sure to bring the right rods and reels (7-10 weight), appropriate flies, lines, and leaders, and plenty of sunscreen if you are planning on traveling to Belize for saltwater fly fishing.