Ambergris Caye and San Pedro Travel Guide
Although southern Belize, especially Placencia, is the main sportfishing center in Belize, Ambergris Caye also has good opportunities for flats, reef, and deep-sea fishing. Expect to pay about BZ$500–BZ$700 for one or two people for a day of flats fishing for bonefish, permit, or tarpon, including a guide and a boat. May to September is the best time for catching tarpon off Ambergris Caye; April to October is the best time for bonefish; and March through May is best for permit. Reef fishing for snapper, grouper, barracuda, and other reef fish runs BZ$600 or more a day, including a guide and a powerboat. Deep-sea fishing outside the reef for billfish, sailfish, wahoo, and tuna costs around BZ$1,200–BZ$1,500 a day, depending on the number in your party and the size of the boat. Although there’s still a lot of confusion about it, a sportfishing license (catch and release only) is now required for fishing in Belize waters, except for fishing off piers or from shore. Licenses for visitors are BZ$20 a day or BZ$50 a week. You can buy a license online from the Belize Coastal Zone Management Authority and Institute (www.coastalzonebelize.org) or your fishing guide or hotel may be able to help you get it.
For fishing that's easier on the pocketbook, you can fish for snapper, barracuda, and other fish from piers and docks on the island. No license is required. Bring your own gear or buy tackle at local hardware stores and ask local anglers about bait. Small sardines work well. For fly-fishing aficionados, there’s a fly-fishing shop at El Pescador. You can also wade out in the flats near shore on North Ambergris, north of the river channel on the back (west) side, and try your luck with bonefish. Keep an eye out for the occasional crocodile. You'll catch more with a guide and boat, but fishing on your own is inexpensive fun.
El Pescador. Established in 1974, El Pescador is the leading fishing lodge on Ambergris Caye, and one of the top in Belize. Located about 2 mi (3 km) north of San Pedro, it works with around 20 fishing guides. It offers bonefish, permit, and tarpon fishing packages including upscale room, meals, boat, and guide, starting at around BZ$3,550 per person, double occupancy, for three nights (two days of fishing). Rate does not include flights to Belize, fishing equipment, or tips to guides. El Pescador, Ambergris Caye. 226/2398; 800/242–2017 in U.S. and Canada. www.elpescador.com.
Fishing San Pedro. A fishing service run by Steve DeMaio, Fishing San Pedro works with about a half-dozen guides on the island. You call Steve, tell him what kind of fishing you want to do, and he will arrange a guide and boat for you and your party for spin or fly-fishing. Rates for a half-day of flats or reef fishing are around BZ$450 for two persons, including boat, guide, and tackle; full-day flats fishing runs around BZ$650 for two. A full day of fishing on the 38-foot Reef Lady is BZ$1,300 for up to six people. Tips to guides are extra. A beach barbecue with fish, lobster (in-season) and chicken is BZ$100 for the boat. San Pedro. 607/9967. www.fishingsanpedro.com.
George Bradley. Long-time local guide George Bradley specializes in fly-fishing for bonefish. Pescador Dr., San Pedro. 226/2179.
Go Fish Belize. Local fishing guide Abbie Marin arranges flats, reef, and deep-sea fishing charters. A full day of fly or spin flats fishing is BZ$700 for one or two persons. 7 Boca Del Rio Dr., San Pedro. 226/3121. www.gofishbelize.com.
Pete Graniel. Local guide Captain Pedro "Pete" Graniel does both deep sea and reef trips and has a 38-ft boat, Reel Lady, that's good for trolling. He and the boat can be booked through Fishing San Pedro. Almond St., San Pedro. 226/2584; 607/9967 Fishing San Pedro.