From shallow sea-grass beds and lush mangrove clusters to rolling sea outside the protective reef crest, the diverse habitats of offshore Belize provide an affluent breeding ground for a countless variety of tropical game fish. It is thus understandable that both sport fishing and leisurely catch and release activities are fast competing with dive and snorkel operations as a popular aquatic recreational activity. In fact, most dive and tour operators also provide a number of fishing charters to some of the country’s most popular venues including the northern mangrove flats and the open sea to the east of the majestic barrier reef while also providing expeditions to the renowned atolls of Turneffe, Lighthouse, and Glover’s Reef.
Although the generally calm tepid waters enable year-round fishing, there are peak periods for the capture of specific species in accordance to habitat and migratory routes. For instance the much coveted tarpon which formulate a mainstay of the area’s resident fish population are most abundant in the summer months amidst the inshore mangrove flats while the elusive yellowfin tuna are most prevalent in the earlier months and prefer the deeper waters which plummet several thousand feet just 200-300 feet from the reef crest.
Indeed, the species diversity varies greatly depending on the fishing grounds with the ever popular barracuda, tarpon, bonefish, jack, and grey snapper preferring the sheltered sanctuary of shallow sea-grass beds and sub-aquatic coastal mangrove forests while larger species of king mackerel, sailfish, marlin, and grouper prefer the deeper waters outside the reef.
Experienced operators can be found throughout the bustling tourist towns of San Pedro, Placencia, and Caye Caulker as well as the cruise ship hub of Belize City, most doubling a dive shop establishments. All guides are familiar with the ecology of the area and are thoroughly knowledgeable of the prime fishing venues whether close to shore or amidst the open blue. Most enterprises specialize in basic saltwater fly fishing in addition to deep sea fishing. All equipment including lines, rods, and tackle may be rented although most seasoned anglers prefer to bring their own.
Certainly, fishing is perhaps one of the most peaceful and relaxing recreational activities that Belize to offer and undoubtedly one of the best ways to interact with local wildlife while gaining an appreciation of the area’s scenic coastal splendor.