Ambergris Caye first came into the spotlight as a dream destination for sport fishing and this is still the predominant tourist attraction. A reason that it is able to have this fishing notoriety is the fact that it is in such proximity to the Belize Barrier Reef, the 2nd largest reef system worldwide. The reef shelters a huge variety of bait fish and small crustaceans, consequently attracting larger predators to the area. Its unique climate allows fishing throughout the year although the peak period is from May through November. Fishing in Ambergris Caye is possible year-round due to its steady temperature of around 85 degrees Fahrenheit (around 29 degrees Celsius), varying within 10 degrees only.
The monthly schedule
Warm, crystal clear waters allow for flats, reef, and deep-sea fishing throughout the year which is why the fishing calendar is always full. In general, a good fishing season for the big game species like blue and white marlin is from November through June but for tuna and red snapper, the good season is year-round.
Here is a quick list on what to expect depending on the month you find yourself on the Caye:
January's calm days are good for tarpon and bonefish. Snook and wahoo fishing in January are excellent, as well as the reef fishing if the weather allows it.
Fishing in February depends on the wind. If it is calm enough, flats are full of fish. While grouper, wahoo, and snook fishing is excellent, February is good for everything else except for mahi-mahi and kingfish.
March is a good time for bonefish, tarpon in the 20-90-pound range, and excellent for permit and reef fishing.
In April, larger, more aggressive tarpon (40-100 pounds) are migrating onto the reef. An excellent month for a permit, sailfish, and bonito, as well.
May is an excellent time for fishing on Ambergris Caye for bonefish, permit, sailfish, and tarpon which is now both on the flats and the reef.
June brings mahi-mahi fishing into the spotlight. The excellent season for bonefish remains until October. Plenty of tarpon on the reef and flats.
The period from July through September is the best season for tarpon which can get over 100 pounds. There is plenty of bonefish and some of the largest permits.
October brings larger and more aggressive bonefish, tarpon, and larger permits. Also, there are bigger schools of jack crevalle in the flats, as well as snook if it rains on the mainland.
November flats are full of heavy tarpon, but also bonefish and jack crevalle. It is an excellent time for wahoo.
December is a good time for barracuda fishing, as well as bonefish, jack crevalle, tarpon, and ladyfish. It is an excellent period for wahoo and snook fishing.
The fish are plentiful year-round
Licenses & legalities
In the waters of Belize, there are quite a few protected areas and seasons where certain fishing cannot take place. More than that, in the areas you are able to fish there are rules in place in order to ensure fishing practices are done in a safe, smart, and sustainable manner so that generations to come will be able to take part and benefit from this practice. That being said, even with the rules being in place, you won't feel held back while following them as the legal fish are plentiful.
In terms of licenses, regardless of the fishing you are doing, be that from a boat or from a shore, you need to obtain a fishing license. This is easy enough to do by following this link to the Coastal Zone Management Authority & Institute. Not a hard task by any means and the Sport Fishing license that would be required is available for $20 BZ for one day or $50 BZ for one week. From there you can start your Caribbean fishing adventure!
In general, only techniques and gear deemed non-destructive are allowed, simply to ensure overfishing and unnecessary harm does not occur to the area. A specific form of fishing that is prohibited is any with the use of spearguns unless you are free diving. Meaning that it is completely illegal to use spear guns with scuba gear or any other type of fishing equipment, and it is punishable for up to 5 years in prison. Even when you are freediving and allowed to use a spear gun, tanks of any sort are prohibited. At the end of the day, once you are on the island, fishing alone, or with a specific charter, the norms and regulations will make themselves apparent.
Types of fishing
Generally, there are 3 types of fishing you can partake in during your time in Belize: reef, deep sea, and flat fishing. There are charters that can take you to experience all 3 and you can either bring your own gear or have some provided for you for a fee. With different fishing types comes a different catch and a different difficulty level.
Reef fishing brings a chance for snapper, grouper, jack, and barracuda. This tends to be the easiest type of fishing on Ambergris with the fish here so plentiful. During this guided tour, you will be inside a reef right next to the magnificent Belize Barrier Reef.
If you go deep-sea fishing just a short trip past the reef, you can find blue marlin, white marlin, dolphinfish, tuna, king mackerel, black grouper, and wahoo. This type of fishing can range from easy to a more moderate difficulty level.
Flat fishing is at the top of the difficulty level with chances of catching bonefish, permit tarpon, and snook in the shallow, calm waters. If you are more experienced you can try your hand at barracuda and jack, as well as the aforementioned tarpon and snook.
Now get fishing!
La Isla Bonita is known for its fishing and it contributes largely to the tourism industry that is 1/3 of the GDP; there is obviously a reason for this. Not only is the island abundant in fish and beautiful views to be seen during your excursion, but also regulations have been put in place to ensure that fishing can and will continue to be an activity on the island for years and generations to come. Don’t forget, many restaurants on the island will only charge you a small fee to cook up your catch for you to eat!
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