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The fly-fishing on the flats off the cayes east of the Placencia peninsula is some of Belize's best. This is one of the top areas in the world for permit. The area from Dangriga south to Gladden Caye is called "Permit Alley," and the mangrove lagoons off Punta Ycacos and other points south of Placencia are also terrific permit fisheries. You'll encounter plentiful tarpon—they flurry 10 deep in the water at times—as well as snook. You can also catch king mackerel, barracuda, wahoo, and cubera snapper. However, a lingering impact of Hurricane Iris in 2001 is that there are no longer any good bonefish flats close to shore at Placencia. Bonefish are still around, but they're now several miles away, off the cayes.
Most of the better hotels also can arrange guides, many of whom pair with specific hotels. For example, Arthur Vernon works almost exclusively for Turtle Inn. Fishing guides in Placencia are down-to-earth, self-taught guys who have fished these waters for years. They use small skiffs called pangas. The many excellent guides in Placencia include Wyatt Cabral, Julian Cabral, Egbert Cabral, Bruce Leslie, Eworth Garbutt, Daniel Cabral, Dermin Shivers, and Arthur Vernon. For more information and help matching a local guide to your specific needs, get in touch with Mary Toy at Destinations Belize (523/4018 www.destinationsbelize.com). You may also want to talk with Wyatt Cabral (523/3534 www.wyattsfishing.com). He's a native of Placencia who is considered one of the best fly-fishing guides. Another well-known fly-fishing guide is Julian Cabral (610/1068).
Expect to pay around BZ$500-BZ$750 for a full day of fly-fishing, spin casting, or trolling. That includes your guide, boat, and lunch. If you're on a budget, you can rent a canoe and try fishing the Placencia lagoon on your own, where you may catch snook, barracuda, and possibly other fish.
The guides usually provide trolling gear for free, but they charge about BZ$40 a day for light spin-casting tackle gear, and you may be happier with your own spinning gear. If you're serious about fly-fishing, of course you'll want to bring your own gear. Don't forget to bring polarized sunglasses, a good fishing hat, insect repellent, lots of sunscreen and lip salve, and, if you're wading, thick-soled flats boots.
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