Fishing Out On The Cayes | Island Expeditions

Fishing Out On The Cayes

Opportunities for fishing on the sea are exceptional.

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Barracuda, grouper, jacks, snapper, mackerel and tarpon are some of the more prized fish we catch with spin-casting gear or simple bait-trolling rigs.  Fly-fishing for bonefish (catch and release only, please!) is unmatched for light tackle challenge and excitement.  If you are planning on fly-fishing for bonefish, tarpon, permit, snook etc. you should talk to your local fly-fishing shop to find out the specific tackle needed and where you can get it in your area.

If you wish to fly-fish at Lighthouse Reef then you will need to bring along your own gear and rod storage.  If you wish to fly-fish at Glover's Reef then please check in with our office to confirm if there will be gear available or not at our Basecamp during your stay.
On the trip, there are usually a few extra "tow lines" (100 yds of 30 to 50 lb test on a stick with wire leader) available for trolling from your kayak or the motor skiff.

Please note that as Lighthouse Reef is a National Marine Reserve, there is no fishing allowed within a mile of the island shores.


The type of tackle that you bring with you will depend on what type of fish you want to catch and how serious you are about fishing.  They say in Belize that you don't go “ fishing”, you go "catching".  Popular wisdom states if you put your line into Belizean waters you will catch something!  With many hundreds of miles of unspoiled fishing grounds, Belize is a superb sport-fishing destination.  In Belize, bonefish, tarpon, barracuda, jacks and king mackerel are plentiful.  Permit are also a prime catch but can be very difficult to find.

If you are bringing your own equipment the following list of items may be useful:

 Small spin-casting rod and reel (6-12 1b test)

 100 yds of 20-50lb test fishing line for hand-   line fishing

 5-10 wire leaders

 A small assortment of single hooks and a very large hook for trolling bait

 Silver/pink/green trolling and casting spoons, large Rapalas, or Tomic plug.

 A variety of weights

 Thick gloves to use for handling fish 


Although our kayak adventures are not designed as exclusive sport-fishing trips, we are traveling through some of the richest bonefish and tarpon waters in the western hemisphere.  Often the best fishing is done right from where we are camping, particularly if there are accessible sand flats, mangroves or abrupt drop-offs.  When paddling or sailing your kayak you can troll a weight forward or sinking line. This is a good way to catch barracuda, grouper or snapper. You never know - you may even hook into a tarpon!

For bonefish you want to have a 7, 8 or 9 weight rod, nine foot or slightly longer depending on the size of the fish and the flies you are using.  A 5 or 6 weight stream fishing rod will do for smaller bonefish and can be great fun, but you will wish you had heavier gear if you hook into a 3 or 4 pound fish.  Effective bonefish flies are Crazy Charlies #4, #6, #8 in gold, tan & pink; Horror's # 4, 6, 8 in orange, and Snapping Shrimp # 4, 6 in tan.  A heavier tippet of 10-12 lb will hold up well in the shallow coral and rubble strewn waters.  The heavier rod weights will work for jacks and barracuda as well. If you plan to fish for tarpon we suggest 10, 11 or 12 weight rods.

Apart from matching the right reel to the type of fish you are going after, the most important thing is a reel that can handle the harsh saltwater conditions.  You need to be religious about washing your reel in fresh water each day, particularly if you are using the reel you bought for trout fishing at home.  Many of the fish you will hook are fast and unbelievably strong, therefore your reel should hold a minimum of 150 yards of backing, and 20 to 30 pounds test or more for tarpon.  A weight-forward tapered floating line is good for bonefish - you will want a sinking line as well for tarpon.  If you are serious about your fly-fishing you should bring an extra line with you.  Nine to twelve foot leaders are fine - heavier and shorter leaders are easier to use within the difficult, windy conditions that are often encountered on the Belize reef. 2X & 4X for calm conditions in shallow waters and 1X, 0X, or 02X are also okay. 

The preference of our Guest Flyfishing Instructor is to use the 'Gotcha' fly in the same sizes as the Crazy Charlie, mostly in tan and pink.

*NOTE:  Inside the Glover’s Reef Marine Reserve all fishing is catch and release only. The Reserve boundary is not far from our island Basecamp and guides will lead fishing trips outside of park boundaries where we can catch and keep our catch.  

South Water Caye Marine Reserve – Fishing Regulations and General Information:

There are 3 designated zones for fishing within the park boundary:

Zone 1: GZ - General Use Zone : Fishing is permitted with a license. Sport fishing. Recreational fishing for tourists to be consumed there. No spear fishing

Zone 2: CZ - Conservation Zone : Kayaking and snorkeling in this area is ok, but no fishing permitted

Zone 3: PZ - Preservation Zone : No boats, kayaks, snorkeling or fishing allowed 


Recreational fishing : Fishing for enjoyment with the intention to eat the caught fish but not for selling 

Sports fishing : Catch and release fishing


Websites with additional information: