Fly Fishing Beautiful Belize!
If I had to pick one tropical place to fish the rest of my life, the charming country of Belize would certainly sit high on my bucket list.
Belize is a fly fishing paradise, abounding with some of the world’s most prolific waters that are loaded with bonefish, permit and tarpon.
Like many developing countries, Belize has undergone some big changes in the last century, and its vast natural resources have been heavily promoted to a disturbing trend: commercial fishing was on the rise and was becoming a problem in the fisheries associated with the country’s flats. The Belize government thankfully moved to protect these valuable fisheries with proposed legislation that would make any kind of harvest of bonefish, tarpon and permit illegal. It is now catch and release only, and the results can be seen in the quality of the fishing experience there.
If you’ve never traveled to Belize, I highly recommend it! Last year I had the pleasure of flying to shoot a film there for Abel Reels along with 7 other ladies who make up the team “Able Women”. We had a fantastic time! I my self caught countless bone fish on shrimp pattern flies.
I flew into San Pedro and stayed in a beautiful lodge overlooking the ocean. I spent the first night tossing and turning dreaming of endless white sand flats, coral reefs and vast schools of bonefish eager to take a fly. The next morning I could hardly wait to get started. I walked out onto the docks I spotted a huge bone fish perusing the sandy bottom for shrimp and crabs. If that wasn’t a good sign I don’t know what is! I certainly felt like I was in paradise.
San Pedro is a town on the southern part of the island of Ambergris Caye. Ambergris has a great range to fish. The eastern flats stretch from the main land to the reef the famous Belize Reef: The Belize Barrier Reef is a 300-kilometer (190 mi) long section of the 900-kilometer (560 mi) Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, which is continuous from Cancún on the north-eastern tip of the Yucatán Peninsula through the Riviera Maya and up to Honduras, making it the second largest coral reef system in the world after the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. The flats hard bottomed and run plentiful with bonefish and permit, while excellent sight fishing can be had for various other species through out the waters. Belizian bones are noted for numbers more than size. We didn’t see many trophy size fish, but we caught our fill of small and medium sized bonefish. This is a good place for a novice fly angler because you get lots of shots, however I would highly recommend learning how to double haul into the wind!
If you are after a bigger challenge, the fishery in this area is wonderfully diverse, and perhaps one of the best places in the world to fish for big migrating tarpon! For tarpon, the flats of Cayo Frances offers beautiful sight casting opportunity for resident tarpon up to 90 lbs, and come June to September the big migrating tarpon push in, attracting many anglers seeking a big trophy fish. Casting to these big fish is best done with intermediate sinking lines and streamer flies. These tarpon can be extraordinarily huge; 200 pounders have been caught here.
Lets go over gear:
Rods: The basic outfits that will do well in Belize are: a 7 or 8 weight for bone fish, 9 – 10 weight for permit and (other fish of the same size/ power) and an 11-12 weight for adult tarpon.
Reels: High quality salt water models built by reputable manufactures such as Abel reels.
Lines: Outfit your lighter rigs with weighted forward floating lines for shallow water bonefish and permit. Floating might work for tarpon on the flats, although intermediate sink tips are typically better. Use an intermediate sink tip for tarpon that are in deeper water.
Leaders: Typical 10- 12 foot tapered leader ranging from 10 to 16 pound test. A 14 foot leader is recommended for spooky permit.
60 pound bit tippet material for the tarpon.
Flies : Bonefish : use Gotchas and crazy charlies. Permit: a variety of crab patterns.
Tarpon : Black Death, several Cockroach patterns and bunny streamers
Belize is truly an anglers dream to fish and visit. The visions of schooling permit and silver, ghostly bone fish will forever be in my memories. I’m already planning my next trip! You better Belize it!
Link to Abel Women site: