Fishing The Dream In Belize

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    Oct 14, 2012
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As lifelong anglers from Britain, my husband and I chose Belize as our perfect fishing location after a career of world travel. Southern Belize in particular has an amazing diversity of fishing, from blue water out beyond the reef, to gullies and drop offs around the reef itself, to inshore marks, miles of mangrove lined shallows, flats, river estuaries, saltwater creeks and lagoons.

The diversity of fish is quite incredible, and the best bit is that it's still mostly unexplored. Many of the areas here do not see a fisherman from one month to the next. That's the reason we chose our location in Englishtown, just north of Monkey River. Fewer boats tend to come this way from the main holiday centres of Placencia, Maya Beach and Seine Bight further north, because of the traveling time involved. From Steppingstones, the longest boat run to great fishing would be 50 minutes (out beyond the reef) and the nearest of the rivers, inshore cayes and mangroves are only minutes away.

The fishing tends to be pretty much constant all year round. The main variant is the rainy season. When the rivers flood, tarpon and snook are attracted down river into the estuaries by masses of baitfish and shrimp. Mostly though, the main species - kingfish and grouper offshore, permit and bonefish on the flats, snappers, jacks and barracuda etc, which are pretty well everywhere, remain all year round.

The other unique advantage Steppingstones has is that when we get the north east winds preventing a deep sea trip, there are always mangroves and rivers close at hand where you can fish in comfort. And if all else fails, a short walk down our jungle path to Black Creek behind Steppingstones and you have great light tackle fishing for smallish tarpon (up to 15lbs or so) snapper, jacks,snook and blue runners. This continuous availability of good fishing options makes Steppingstones the ideal place for a fishing resort – which is of course one of the reasons we chose to come and build here.

For a more laid back fishing experience, a few hours bottom fishing on the end of our dock can be very rewarding. Snappers, jacks, and a vast variety of inshore species are usually ready to oblige. And if a change of pace is needed, a big chunk of pinfish will often produce a sting ray (best so far around 40lbs) or a nurse shark (best so far around 70lbs). There is also a large grouper lurking off our dock. He comes in from time to time usually around dusk, especially if fish scraps have been thrown in. He has been hooked at least twice, but has easily broken free on both occasions!

From our beach, it's a short paddle in our fishing kayaks out to Greater Monkey Caye which is about half a mile dead in front of Steppingstones. All around this caye, there is great light tackle fishing. On the north side of the caye there is a small flat which can be waded and which yields all kinds of species, even the odd permit. The west side has a lot of submerged mangrove roots and has some very large tarpon in residence The whole area is great fun to explore and the superb snorkeling there amongst the coral reefs comes as a welcome relief after fishing in the hot sun. There are several large patches of rock and coral, including a mini reef about 150yds off our dock where lobsters can be dived for. The bottom fishing there too can be very rewarding with light tackle. Also resident around the caye are dolphins and manatee, which we often spot on calm mornings.

Finally our shore fishing. We make a point of watching for baitfish shoaling close in as this may indicate an approaching attack by jacks and blue runners. When this occurs, all hell breaks loose, and a short but frantic period of light tackle spincasting can be had. This is also a good time to be thinking nurse sharks and sting rays as they usually lurk in the background picking up wounded baitfish in the melee.

So whether you are a fly fisherman, a bottom fisherman or a light tackle fanatic, fishing is never really off limits at our home, Steppingstones.

For the cook, the silk snappers are probably our most prized inshore eating fish, with tuna and (naturally) grouper being also considered very tasty. The most popular eating fish locally however is barracuda. We usually reckon to bring back a couple of 10-15lb fish after a day out at the reef. These can be barbequed, or filleted and home smoked (delicious) or just fried. Battered grouper is a dead ringer for a nice piece of cod, and forms the basis of many a good meal of old fashioned English fish 'n chips – complete with traditional malt vinegar now available in Belize, and home made pickled onions.

For a more tropical flavour, the local guys will supply lobster, crab and conch (in season) delivered to our dock and the prices are pretty reasonable.

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