Chasing Grand Slam Fame in Belizean Waters

by Carolee Chanona

The International Game Fish Association (IGFA) defines a “Grand Slam” as catching a bonefish, tarpon, and permit on the same day. While landing all 3 species is a given for any dedicated Belize fly-fishing trip, a Grand Slam is a feat elusively achieved by an angler over the course of a single 24 hours. Between seasoned fishing guides, mangrove channels, expansive saltwater flats, and 185 miles of coral reef, Belize is one of the best year-round locations in the Caribbean to turn your fly-fishing dreams into a reality.

Running the length of the country’s coastline, Belize’s Barrier Reef makes grand slam opportunities virtually endless. In fly-fishing, the “big three” love Belize’s light-colored sand, seagrass patches, and warm waters. Not to mention, the numerous river mouths that pour into the flats. Another impressive feat? Belize boasts all three species under a strict catch-and-release-only protection; your guide will reiterate this. Although, the best part of Belize may very well be that the “big three” are available year-round.

Bow to the king: Tarpon

Known as the silver king, the tarpon is a prized gamefish. Not only because of their size and accessible haunts, but also because of their unrivaled fighting spirit when hooked. Fun fact: tarpon will inhale the fly, and won’t actually eat it. Their strength makes it an adrenaline-packed fight, with spectacular photo-finish leaps into the air.

Discover Permit in Belize’s ‘Permit Alley’

The fabled Permit Alley is a 20-mile stretch of narrow shallows between Dangriga and Placencia.

In saltwater fly fishing, permit is often considered the holy grail. If you’re an angler, Belize makes it easy to hone every ounce of your skill. Welcome to the permit capital of the world. Gaining this reputation isn’t easy – permit tend to be choosy, shy, and spook easily. However, the world of permit fishing can be both exhausting and rewarding; but there’s no feeling like sighting its tail out of water as they feed on crabs below. If you’re in Southern Belize, rejuvenate on the lush grounds of Ray Caye Island Resort or Blue Horizon Fly Fishing Lodge.

Tailing the ghosts of the flats: Bonefish

The always eager bonefish is bound to keep spirits up.

Possibly the best of the three for an introduction to saltwater fishing, bonefish are fast and aggressive but positively addictive. Though considered beginner-friendly, bonefish are anything but simple. These “ghosts of the flats” demand sharp eyesight for hunting and fishing, making it an unforgettable and action-package angling experience.

The benefit of Belize is its year-round tropical climate and resident “big three”, with even migratory species stopping in throughout the year. Besides, being home to the second longest barrier reef in the world also has its perks. Fishing accommodations may range from rustic to luxury, but all genuinely have fishing opportunities right within their ‘backyard’, meaning a commute to being put on the fly is within minutes.

Why Destination Matters

Reward yourself with an ice-cold Belikin beer after chasing tails in Belize – fishing, that is.

Many of Belize’s signature fly fishing lodges serve anglers with decades of experience; tradition of customer service and passionate guides run deep. So, despite perfecting their craft, fly fishing lodges also do an exceptional job of showcasing all the rest of Belize’s strengths that could appeal to non-anglers. Whether you’re looking for a fishing-focused adventure, a first-time saltwater experience, or the perfect couples or family vacation, fly fishing in Belize truly offers something for everyone. Game on.

Written by Carolee Chanona for the 2020 Belize Gold Book.
Feature photo courtesy of Duarte Dellarole Photography at Ray Caye Island Resort. All other photos courtesy of Blue Horizon Lodge. Article found on page 32 of the 2020 Belize Gold Book, with more articles found below:

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