Island Guides
Freedom Tours Fishing Unlimited
El Pescador Fishing Resort
BelizeFishFinder
Omar Arceo, "Doctor of The Flats."
Capt Jerry Beach BBQ and Fishing Adventures
Hotel del Rio
Amigos del Mar
San Pedro Holiday Hotel
Tanisha Tours, Daniel Nuñez
Elbert Greer
Portofino Fishing
Reef Adventures
SEAduced by Belize, Elito Arceo
Ramon's
Fishingsanpedro.com
Ocean Adventures Tours
Caye Casa
Aubisque
Belize Sailing Vacations
Belize Ocean Divers, Scuba Steve
Ecologic Divers
Boat Charters

THE FISHING IN BELIZE AND SAN PEDRO

Here's a few words from Abel Guerrero, long-time fisherman from San Pedro...

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 Celi Grief who was married to an american and living in Paducah, Kentucky decided to 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.

Click Below For Features
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Fishing Articles
Boats to Use
How to Build A Fish Trap
Bonefish        Permit
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Blue Water Tournament
Deep Water Fish
Other Flats Fish
Geography of Fishing
Commercial fishing in Belize
One Man's First Experience
Basic Guide to Saltwater Fly Fishing
Outside the reef we did a popular sport fishing called "garetiar". I believe the guides call it "drop line fishing." In this method one did not drop and anchor. The boat kept drifting westwards towards the reef while the hook sank 200 ft below. It was like sort of scraping the ocean floor and teasing the fish with a succulent bait, usually a fillet of a shad or a big silvery sardine. The popular catches were mackerel, large grouper, 20 pound snappers, and 30 pound Jewfish.

Most inexperienced boys did not like this style as it was sport fishing and required more patience that the others did. The boat kept rocking from side to side and pretty soon, guess what? Motion sickness stepped in and we got seasick.

Pretty soon one would be throwing up the mid-day meal or perhaps even the morning breakfast. "Drop line fishing is for machos" (real men) dad would say. But we knew the cure. Before we even started fishing we would suck a lime or two to avoid seasickness.

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.

FISHING CONDITIONS -GENERAL

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

 
JAN
FEB
MAR
APR
MAY
JUNE
JULY
AUG
SEP
OCT
NOV
DEC
Tarpon
G/F
G
G
E/G
E
E
E+
E+
E+
G
G
G/F
Bonefish
G
G
G
E/G
E
E
E
E
E
E
E/G
E
Permit
G
G/F
E
E
E
G
G
G
G
G
G
F
Reef
E/G
E/G
E/G
E
E
E
E
E/G
G
G/F
G/F
E
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, 165 pound tarpon was boated during this month. Reef fishing good. Usually calm and warm. Great fishing. Reef fishing good. Lots of bones, lots of tarpon well over 100 lbs. We consider this the best tarpon season of the year. The most and the largest tarpon have been caught in August and September.

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.

CLIMATE & CLOTHING

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
Optional
  • Scales and measuring tape
  • Adhesive tape
  • Golf glove
  • Stripping basket
  • Knot book
  • Fly tying equipment
Miscellaneous
  • 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.

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

ONE MORE OLD-TIME STORY....

I guess it's my recent trip to Belize, time on St. Georges Caye, and mention of Spanish Hogfish by John that has caused me to be a bit nostalgic. The hogfish, a fine eating fish, particulary when baked in a cream sauce, is a species not usually taken by line. Today you may find smaller ones taken by speargun, but back in the old days 2 1/2 foot specimens taken by harpoon were not uncommon.

I remember and old fisherman by the name of Joe Young, lived on St. Georges Caye and had a sailboat by the name of Linton - Neil will remember this guy. The Linton was a double ended lifeboat that Joe salvaged off the reef near Gallows Point during WWII. It was lost during Hattie and he built a Linton II after that. Joe used to take us drop fishing between St. Georges and Gallows point - be darned if I can remember the name of the Rock!!! Ahh Irish Bay Rock!!! No GPS in those days - he would line up landmarks and we would be right on it. What a thrill as a 6-8-10 year old to be given the tiller to the Linton and be told to, "Head it up lee bit or drap aff sum," as Joe would be dropping the anchor.

I guess where the Hogfish come in - is that Joe was deadly with a harpoon. He had a dory that was well founded and sleek. He kept a water glass in it and always had 3 harpoons of different size laying in the dory which was usually in tow behind the Linton. I guess it's funny how you remember some detail from years ago, but he also kept a big chunk of coral that was put in the stern of the dory when undertow to make sure it ran straight, a big piece of natural sponge, and when he was going harpooning there was a piece of coconut frond to keep the sun off the fish. On a few occasions I had the opportunity to see this master at work - I got to go in the dory with him as he went harpooning. Ahab and Queeqweg(sp) had nothing on this guy.

Back then there was dry reef just north of the Point of Reef in front of St. Georges and between the dry reef and point, was fertile harpooning grounds - inside, so it was calm and anywhere from say 5 to 25 feet of water. Joe would paddle softly, ghosting along in the dory with the water glass over the side, and he did not miss! He would take the fish that he needed, usually hogfish, mutton snappers, and sometimes parrot fish.

Joe also made his own harpoons and taught me how to forge the points from old 3 corner files. Heating them until cherry red, holding them at that temp for awhile and then letting them cool slowly. We would then cut the the barbs into the corners of the now anealed metal and and use a hammer and file to forge them into fine harpoon points. The next step was to again heat them up to red hot and then quench to harden them by tempering. The point then had to to be attached to a very straight shaft, he swore by straight grain pine. As I recall he used a couple of diferent means of attachment. Some were fastened by line to the shaft, and others, Bob Staffs, were set so that the point would come loose from the shaft and the point would remain attached to a line leading back to the boat. He seemed to use them selectively on different types and sizes of fish.

In many respects, I probably learned more from Joe than I did in school, a lot of appreciation of nature, names of different fish and marine animals, basic sailing and boat handling skills, and just plain old character.

Brian Keating

FISHING GUIDES:

 
Island Guides
Freedom Tours Fishing Unlimited
El Pescador Fishing Resort
BelizeFishFinder
Omar Arceo, "Doctor of The Flats."
Capt Jerry Beach BBQ and Fishing Adventures
Hotel del Rio
Amigos del Mar
San Pedro Holiday Hotel
Tanisha Tours, Daniel Nuñez
Elbert Greer
Portofino Fishing
Reef Adventures
SEAduced by Belize, Elito Arceo
Ramon's
Fishingsanpedro.com
Ocean Adventures Tours
Caye Casa
Aubisque
Belize Sailing Vacations
Belize Ocean Divers, Scuba Steve
Ecologic Divers
Boat Charters
There are many tremendous fishing guides in San Pedro, the ones with websites are listed at the right, others are listed below.

The Bradleys are incredible guides, George Bradley does the flats, Geraldo Bradley does reef fishing as well as flats fishing, and Roberto Bradley also does the flats as well as reef fishing. Contact them by telephone in the San Pedro Telephone book.

Gilberto Lara, better known as “Hilly Boo,” owner of Freedom Tours Fishing Unlimited, at 226-3308 or 665-7106, is personal, and you go by yourselves... You can reach him when you get to the islands at Freedom Tours, or for his website CLICK HERE.

Omar Arceo "Doctor of The Flats." Specializes on fly fishing for Permit, Tarpon & Bone Fish using fly rods and spin tackle, in the wade able and sandy bottom flats as well as our surrounding grass and muddy bottoms, in the beautiful island of San Pedro Ambergris Caye. I have fished all my life, I was a commercial fisherman before and my Hawaiian sling and hook stick I have turned them into fly rod and spin tackle. I have all the answers while I am fishing as long as we are fishing. Click here for his website.

The Guerrero brothers (Severo Guerrero, 226-2324; cell phone 608-2136, and Ramon Guerrero, 226-2325. Deep sea fishing guide who is a multi-time winner of fall billfish tournament) I've spent time with and know they have an environmental attitude. They give value while still leaving some fish for others. Everyone raves about their beach BBQ. Either one can give you a great day of fishing. They have been doing honest, reef friendly fishing for many years. They can also take you and your family on a full-day fish/snorkel trip for $275US...one of the best bargains on the island when you figure in the beach BBQ w/ your catch. You won't find a better value in San Pedro. Price is for the boat for the day, I think up to 4 people. They also do bonefishing and tarpon. The price for a full day of fishing is $275US.The Guerrero brothers live next door to each other. If one is booked, ask for the other one. Good luck! Remember, take some and leave some. You can email them at servero@btl.net

Some don't advise you about catch and release. Some will let you fish all day without regard to limit (although there is none, common sense should take over). Some charge too much for too little.

Omar Arceo, does a heck of a job. Gilberto or Tomas arranged by Amigo's de Mar...

Another favorite fishing guide is Geraldo Badillo and Justo. I have used his services for 21 years, and no problems at all. He is a great guy, and he is a real aquaman ! He lives down on the lagoon. Tel #226-2264.

A great guide and very pleasant individual is Luis Caliz in San Pedro, phone number 011-501-226-2785. Best time to catch him by phone is after 6 PM

Nesto Gomez { a very good guide}-- one of the best tarpon and bonefish flyfisherman! He works out of El Pescador.

For flat fishing call Eloy Gonzalez at 226-2337

Pete Graniel, 226-2584 - also one of the most reasonably priced deep sea guides. First rate equipment, including boats, and does both offshore, reef and inshore (tarpon, etc.) Keeps his boat just south of town. Ask anyone how to contact him. He's well known.

A friend went with Vince Dawson, and their bonefishing and reef fishing experience was "legendary", according to them. They saved enough for a barbecue the next day (grouper and snapper) and it was possibly the best tasting fish we had ever experienced. You can make contact with him thru Rubys. He is magical on the reef fishing. He knows what is on the line as soon as it hits. Kind of fish, size, first name.

Tulu is one of the best, you could usually find him at the Spindrift dock or at Coconuts and if he is not there just ask someone at Coconuts to call him.

Dilzon Miurcia works with Island Ferry, and he is AWESOME!!! Actually, we highly recommend him. To get ahold of him, you need to call Phone: 011-501-620-6118, E-mail:info@dilzoncharters.com Best thing to do is to call The Island Ferry at 226-3231

CLICK HERE for more general information on fishing in Belize and San Pedro.

CLICK HERE for a list of articles on fishing in Belize and off Ambergris Caye from magazines and sent in by our readers. They are full of excellent information, photographs, and tips.

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