May 26, 2024

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San Pedro, Belize fishing: the Complete Guide

Reading Time: 10 minutes

Did you know that San Pedro, on the beautiful island of Ambergris Caye, is where the magic happens? It’s true. This isn’t just another iconic tourist destination. Here, you can enjoy some world-class angling opportunities. “La Isla Bonita” is home to Shark Ray Alley, Hol Chan Marine Reserve, Bacalar Chico, and the Belize Barrier Reef. And that means one thing. Fishing in San Pedro, Belize, is, indeed, magical.

Angling is an integral part of San Pedrano culture, which you’ll immediately realize once you meet a local aficionado. Wherever you go, you can easily find the catch of a lifetime, or at least something to brag about. Plus, you’ll get a chance to explore the second largest reef in the world!

In this guide, we’ll talk about everything you need to know about fishing in San Pedro. You’ll learn about what makes the allure of San Pedro undeniable, including the most interesting fish species, spots, techniques, and much more. But let’s start with top catches…

What can I catch while fishing in San Pedro?

The Belize Barrier Reef, although exceptionally unique, is just a glimpse of what San Pedro’s fishing landscape has to offer. One brief journey from the dock can take you to either legendary flats or deep-sea honey holes, thanks to the drop-off right near the shoreline.

This setting affords a catch spectrum ranging from Bonefish, Permit, Tarpon, Snapper, and Grouper to Marlin, Tuna, Sailfish, and Mahi Mahi. Now, picture all this within just a single day. And the cherry on top? The majority of these remarkable species can be hooked throughout the year. Let’s discuss the top catches each area has to offer:

San Pedro, Belize Inshore Fishing

The pinnacle of inshore and flats fishing in San Pedro for many is casting for Tarpon in shallow waters (2–6 feet deep), along with the spawning season of Permit and Bonefish. These are the acclaimed stars of the bays, estuaries, creeks, and river mouths. The fly fishing “Grand Slam” aside, you can also get your hands on Snook, Jacks, and Barracuda. Note that the local fishing culture highly respects catch and release, which is mandatory for Bonefish, Permit, and Tarpon.

Permit and Tarpon

A closeup of a Tarpon being held by an angler wearing a light blue shirt, caught while flats fishing in San Pedro, Belize on a sunny day
Photo courtesy of Nano Guerrero

Permit and Tarpon are the heavyweight champions of Belize’s waters. The flats around San Pedro are renowned for their Permit populations, making this area a hotspot for anglers seeking to achieve the Grand Slam we mentioned earlier. That means catching a Permit, Tarpon, and Bonefish all in one day.

Permit are most active during high tides, and their favorite spots include the sandy flats and seagrass beds. Casting a crab imitation fly towards feeding Permit is a tried and tested method among many locals.

Then there are Tarpon – the “Silver Kings” – in the mangroves and flats. There are many proven techniques to land these acrobatic fish, and the best method to catch them is to head out with a local guide. Just like Permit, Tarpon bite year-round, but the peak season for the Silver King runs from May to September, coinciding with their annual migration.

Bonefish and Snook

A woman in sunglasses and a yellow baseball cap holds her Bonefish, along with a fly fishing rod, aboard a fishing boat in the flats of San Pedro, Belize
Photo courtesy of Nano Guerrero

The “Ghost of the Flats” (Bonefish) and Snook, an elusive ambush predator, are other exciting targets for anglers in San Pedro. Bonefish hang out in the sandy flats and seagrass beds, where they feed on shrimp and crabs. Light tackle and small flies are highly effective in San Pedro, especially when you cast in Bonefish’s feeding paths.

Snook prefer the sheltered mangrove habitats. Anglers lure them out with a variety of bait, including shrimp and minnows. Similar to the previous species we’ve mentioned, Snook and Bonefish are year-round residents, but the best time for Snook is during the warm summer months when they move into the open waters to spawn.

San Pedro, Belize Reef Fishing

It’s hard to name a more iconic place to fish for Snapper, Grouper, Barracuda, Wahoo, Jack Crevalle, and Amberjack than the Belize Barrier Reef. Here, you can go fishing, scuba diving, and snorkeling, as well as hunting for Conch and Lobster. And, there are also three atolls in the San Pedro area – Glover’s Reef, Turneffe Atoll, and Lighthouse Reef, home of the famous Great Blue Hole. All offer for incredible fishing opportunities.

Snapper and Grouper

A closeup of a woman in a one-piece swimsuit and sunglasses holding a Snapper by a fishing pole with the water behind her on a sunny day in Belize
Photo courtesy of GoFish Belize

As far as reef fishing goes, Snapper and Grouper are species that every angler in the world knows. When it comes to San Pedro, it’s quite easy to remember when’s the best time to catch each: spring is for Snappers, while winter is for Groupers.

The stars of the San Pedro reef show are Red and Yellowtail Snapper, as well as Nassau and Black Grouper. Head to the reefs and underwater caves and get ready for some bottom fishing action with cut bait or live bait, such as squid or sardines.

San Pedro, Belize Deep Sea Fishing

Just a couple of miles from the coast, beyond the reef’s offshore edge, the seabed drops from 600 to 2,000 feet. That means that you literally need less than 20 minutes to reach the offshore spots where the real adventure begins.

The bluewater has its own Grand Slam – monster Sailfish, White and Blue Marlin. But there are many other species that patrol the local waters, such as Mahi Mahi, Tuna, and Wahoo. Each one deserves a mention…

Mahi Mahi and Wahoo

A man and a woman lean on the back of a fishing boat, as they struggle to hold a large Wahoo caught while deep sea fishing in San Pedro, Belize on a clear day
Photo courtesy of In 2 Deep Charters Belize

Both Mahi Mahi and Wahoo are pelagic species that prefer the open ocean and areas with floating debris, weed lines, and areas with temperature breaks. Trolling is the name of the game to land both species, with squid and ballyhoo working for Mahi, and high-speed lures for Wahoo.

While both species can be caught year-round, they tend to be more plentiful during specific seasons. Mahi Mahi are most abundant in late spring and early summer, while Wahoo peak during the winter months.

Billfish and Tuna

A youth and a man hold a large Sailfish from either end aboard a sportfishing boat offshore from San Pedro, Belize on a sunny day, with the water behind them
Photo courtesy of Freedom Tours

As you venture further into the deep offshore waters of San Pedro, you’ll find yourself in the realm of Billfish. During the summer, you can get your hands on Sailfish, the speed demons of the oceans, Blue Marlin – one of the biggest fish in the world – and White Marlin, some of the most agile creatures around.

Last, but certainly not least, are Tuna. Yellowfin Tuna and Blackfin Tuna are the most common species in the waters around San Pedro. Similar to Billfish, Tuna respond well to trolling, although you can also go for chunking, especially during the summer months. And, of course, we don’t need to remind you of their meat qualities!

When to Go Fishing in San Pedro

We mentioned a little about when you can go fishing in San Padro. And the short answer to that question is: anytime! There’s a myriad of fishing opportunities year-round, thanks to the tropical climate and fertile waters. However, understanding the flow of the fishing seasons can give you an edge and help you target specific species at their most active periods.

Bonefish fishing is active in the clear, shallow waters of the flats around Ambergris Caye and Rocky Point throughout the year. They’re particularly active during the warmer months, from April to October, when the water temperature is just right. The same goes for Permit, although they bite best during their spawning season, which runs from February to May. Tarpon are most plentiful from May to September. There are, however, some available all year round.

If you’re planning to fish the reefs around San Pedro, especially if you’re after Grouper and Snapper, consider heading out during their spawning season. It usually takes place around the full moon of the warmer months. Barracuda, on the other hand, can be caught year-round, although it’s important to consider local regulations during the spawning seasons.

Deep sea fishing enthusiasts can target Mahi Mahi in the spring, especially in April and May. meanwhile, November to January is the best time to fish for Wahoo. The summer months are best for Yellowfin and Blackfin Tuna, as well as Sailfish and Marlin, so you’re always sure of landing a catch or two!

San Pedro, Belize Fishing Spots

An aerial view of the barrier reef around Ambergris Caye, Belize, with turquoise waters on the left of the image and darker blue waters on the right

Now that you have your list of potential catches ready and you know when to come, it’s time to discuss where you can find the fish. San Pedro is a real fishing utopia, with a variety of unique locations. There’s a spot to suit any fishing desire, from deep sea action to reef fishing, castling lines in the mangroves, and fly fishing on the flats.

Let’s explore some of the must-visit fishing locations in and around San Pedro:

  • Ambergris Caye Flats. It’s hard to picture a better place for fly fishing in Belize than the flats surrounding Ambergris Caye. These shallow, clear waters are home to Permit, Tarpon, and Bonefish – the best of the best.
  • The Mangroves. The mangrove ecosystems around San Pedro are not only vital for the local marine life but are also excellent for inshore fishing. Light tackle and fly fishing enthusiasts will especially appreciate the hunt for Snook, various types of Snapper, and juvenile Tarpon.
  • The Barrier Reef. Fishing in the second largest barrier reef in the world is something every angler should experience at least once in their life. This is especially true if you happen to be in San Pedro. Here, you’ll find excellent spots to target Snapper, Grouper, Barracuda, and other reef species.
  • The Blue Hole. Apart from being a world-renowned diving site, the Blue Hole is a great spot to target pelagics, such as Mahi Mahi, Wahoo, Tuna, and Billfish. This underwater sinkhole is located about 60 miles from San Pedro. But trust us, it’s worth the ride.
  • Turneffe Atoll. A bit further from San Pedro lies the Turneffe Atoll. This is a pretty versatile fishing spot, with a mix of deep waters, reefs, and flats that teem with Bonefish, Billfish, Tuna, Permit, and who knows what else.
  • Mexico Rocks. Located just north of San Pedro, Mexico Rocks is a marine reserve known for its patch reefs and light tackle fishing opportunities. Note that since it’s a protected area, all the fish you catch must be released back into the water safe and unharmed.
  • Hol Chan Marine Reserve. This is another protected reserve based 4 miles south of San Pedro. The Hol Chan is split into various zones, including the reef, seagrass beds, mangroves, and Shark Ray Alley. It’s a fantastic place for catch-and-release fishing for Snapper, Grouper, Barracuda, and more.
  • Rocky Point. Rocky Point is where the reef meets the island on the northern part of Ambergris Caye. Its beautiful waters offer the chance for a Grand Slam, perfect for fly fishing and light tackle angling.
  • Bacalar Chico. Another national park and marine reserve, extending along the northern part of the Caye. While this is a pretty remote location, you can enjoy the tranquility of fly fishing and reef fishing away from the crowds.

How to Go Fishing in San Pedro

So, the sea is calling, and it’s time to answer. The only thing left is to figure out how fishing is done here. One of the most important things to keep in mind is that San Pedranos take their fishing seriously. A fishing license is a must, whether you’re fishing from shore or a boat. You can easily get your permit from Belize’s Coastal Zone Management Authority (CZMA).

Regulations aside, there’s a multitude of styles and types of fishing available in this Caribbean paradise. Let’s go through the most popular ones:

San Pedro, Belize Fly Fishing

A closeup of an angler casting a fly fishing rod with one hand and holding his line in the other hand on a clear day in the clear flats of San Pedro, Belize
Photo courtesy of V Land & Holding

Fly fishing on San Pedro’s flats is a dream come true, that’s for sure. Acrobatic Tarpon, spooky Bonefish, and elusive Permit are the top three catches across Ambergris Caye’s flats, and San Pedro is no exception. Explore the serene waters on the outskirts of Bacalar Chico in particular for a successful outing.

In general, a good fly box includes flies such as the Crazy Charlie for Bonefish, a variety of streamers for Tarpon, and Merkin Crab for Permit. As for gear, locals typically use a 7–9 wt fly rod and a saltwater-proof fly reel loaded with a tropical floating line. As usual, you’re welcome to experiment!

San Pedro, Belize Reef Fishing

A rearview image of an angler casting a net along the reefs from the front of a fishing boat in turquoise waters on a clear day
Photo courtesy of In 2 Deep Charters Belize

As we mentioned earlier, the vibrant reefs of San Pedro teem with species like Snapper, Grouper, and Barracuda. To tackle these creatures, you’ll need a medium-to-heavy spinning rod and reel setup with a 20–30 lb test line, paired with live or cut bait. Local anglers prefer to use circle hooks to avoid harming the fish.

Arguably the best place for reef fishing in the area is the Barrier Reef. Alternatively, you can explore the patch reefs of Mexico Rocks, a local marine reserve. Naturally, the list of potential catches remains the same.

San Pedro, Belize Deep Sea Fishing

A view out of the back of a fishing boat in San Pedro, Belize, with two fishing rods trolling and one angler trying to hook a Mahi Mahi aboard, while a woman sits in a fighting chair
Photo courtesy of In 2 Deep Charters Belize

An offshore adventure in San Pedro takes you into the thrilling world of big game fishing. It goes without saying that you’ll need some heavy-duty gear. A sturdy 30–50 lb class rod and a strong reel loaded with a test line between 50–80 pounds are local standards.

Your captain will take you trolling with lures or live bait in the deep waters around the Great Blue Hole and Turneffe Atoll, to name a few. Here, you’ll be hunting for anything from Mahi Mahi in spring, to Wahoo in winter, and Tuna and various types of Billfish during the summer months.

Fishing in San Pedro, Belize: A True Caribbean Getaway

A view out towards a small, wooden fishing pier at sunset in San Padro, Belize, with the sun behind the clouds in the distance

As you might have already guessed, San Pedro is much more than just a beautiful Caribbean holiday destination. It’s an angler’s dream brought to life, leaving everyone with fish stories and memories for years to come. From the serene flats with the elusive Grand Slam, productive reefs, and impressive bluewaters where Billfish rule the waves, fishing in San Pedro is as much about the journey as it is about the catch. Now it’s time for you to experience it.

Have you ever been fishing in San Pedro, Belize? What’s your favorite fish species to target? Let us know in the comments below!

The post San Pedro, Belize Fishing: The Complete Guide appeared first on FishingBooker Blog.

By: Lisa
Title: San Pedro, Belize Fishing: The Complete Guide
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Published Date: Sat, 22 Jul 2023 15:46:43 +0000

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