Belize Sport Fish

Belize was a favorite haunt of sportsfishermen long before it became popular with scuba divers and ecotourists. Two of the best known of these fishermen were Zane Grey, the Western writer, and Baron Bliss, a slightly unusual character who died shortly after arriving in Belize, but who is still remembered today with a national holiday, because of the size of the financial legacy he left to his newly adopted country.

Today the fishermen still come, but the fish now have some respite in the marine reserves which have been set aside for them. All of the photographs on this page were taken in the Hol Chan marine reserve, 10 minutes from San Pedro on Ambergris Caye.

school of permit

A sight sure to make anyone interested in fishing start slobbering with excitement.  These fish are called "permit", they're one of the two premium sportfish in Belize, there's even an area within the barrier reef called "Permit Flat".   These ones are in a school of about 60 individuals, they're probably about 2 1/2 feet long, and they can get a little bigger than that.   They can get to a weight of 45 lbs.

fish rushing towards me

There are so many large fish here, you can't even swim around without having them come rushing at you!

This is a horse-eye jack.

horse-eyed jack

As well as wahoo, tuna and cuberra snapper, Belize has Marlin, barracuda (see the fish you might not want to meet page) and grouper, such as the one below with a remora hanging off it.   Hook this guy and you catch two fish at once!

grouper with a remora hanging onto it

There are also black grouper, such as the examples below.

black grouper

black grouper

And if it all seems like too much effort to chase after the fish, why not let the fish chase after you?

black grouper and other sport fish hanging around the bottom of a boat

Here's the "Silver King" of saltwater fishing in Belize - a tarpon!   Hook this one and you'll know all about it - the world record for a tarpon caught on a fly rod is 188lbs, and it took over 8 hours to land.  This one's about five and a half feet long, one of a group of four which were about 30 or 35 feet below the surface - right at the extremity of where I can snorkel, position myself for a photo and still come up alive!