Belize fishing is famous among avid anglers, and Glover’s Reef Atoll is the best of the best. Although Slickrock Belize Adventures’ program focuses on over 10 Belize watersport activities, avid fishermen will not be disappointed! A National Marine Reserve surrounds the island, and as a result, the fish populations are the healthiest in Belize (according to the National Fisheries Department). Here’s everything you need to know about fishing at Glover’s Reef Atoll, including what to bring and frequently asked questions so you know what to expect on your vacation.
Fishing Glover’s Reef Atoll: What to Bring
We do not provide fishing tackle, only fishing kayaks, so we are often asked what sport fishermen should bring for the conditions surrounding our island. Our island has a variety of bottom conditions that require different tackle to attract the fish being sought after.
1.Flies & Lures: A deeper bay (6-15′ deep) is right off our primary beach, and a large school of bonefish lives there. Heavier flies work better in this zone, and we often use fishing kayaks to stalk the school in this area. Wading is easy on the flats near our shore and more challenging on the reef edge. The west end of the island and prime fishing areas on nearby islands have shallower sand flat zones with turtle grass coverage where solitary bonefish are often found.
These tend to be the larger bonefish (cruisers), and a lighter fly works better in these areas. The transition areas between the turtle grass and sand flats are generally the best to find these larger, solitary bonefish. There are also areas on the island’s windward side where you can cast into the surf zone, either into coral reefs or rubble shoals, where jack and snapper, as well as reef fish, are more easily caught.
We frequently spot permit in the surf zone and shoals near our island’s point. These elusive fish are challenging to approach for casting as they are skittish. They can be found throughout the year, but their presence is unpredictable, so don’t rely on a specific week. Permit are selective in their strikes, making it tough to find the perfect crab pattern for your fly. Keep tan, green, and brown patterns on hand. Anglers can wade into these areas directly from the island’s shore.
Bring a lot of lures because they often get caught on coral or lost to big fish. Crazy Charlie flies are by far the most successful flies used to land bonefish in our area, so bring a plentiful supply of both light and heavy flies of this type. Brown Bitters, Snapping Shrimp, Foam crabs, McCrabs, and several tippets would be an excellent selection to round out your collection. Fishermen have had good luck with pinks, whites, browns, and greens, with combinations used depending on the bottom color. No single ‘magic’ color or size will be perfect; it will be necessary to adapt to the conditions and the location you are fishing from at the time.
2.Rod & Reel: Bring an 8-weight fly rod, 9’ in length, with a marine floating line with 10-15 lb leaders. For a reel, use any saltwater compatible with plenty of backing (200+ feet).
3.Sunglasses & Booties: Remember to bring polarized sunglasses and ankle-high booties for wading because many stinging hydroids and occasional urchins hide in the seagrass.
4.Trip Preparation: Randall Kaufman’s “Bonefishing With a Fly” is a great book to help you prepare, especially chapters on retrieving, hooking, and landing. For even more discussion about Belize bonefishing, visit the Ambergriscaye.com fishing page.
Fishing Glover’s Reef Atoll: Frequently Asked Questions
Can I fish from the island for a day?
Fishing from our island is only available by purchasing a private island vacation. Our island is located far out to sea, which is one of the reasons it is such a fabulous place; we experience none of the crowding found in other parts of Belize. There is no way to visit our island only for the day; a 9-day all-inclusive vacation package is our minimum, as our private boat charter only goes to and from the island once a week.
Packages include hotels and meals in Dangriga before the trip, transport to and from the island, accommodations and meals on the island, soda and beer on the island, your Belize fishing license, windsurfing, and other sports gear and instruction. We specialize in Belize multisport trips; we aren’t just a fishing resort! For a complete summary of all the watersports we offer, visit our adventure page.
Do I need a buddy to fish?
Each sport has a mandatory orientation session where we introduce our gear to you. Once you have had the orientation session, you can use the gear anytime, as long as you have a buddy. The buddy system is different for each sport, explained during the orientation. You don’t need a buddy if you are wading in from shore or anchoring just off our shore. But if you wish to paddle to a neighboring island where the fishing is exceptional, you will need a buddy to join you.
Do I need a fishing guide?
There is no need to hire a guide; you just wade in and fish! The fishing is excellent just off our island; in fact, professional fishing guides charging $350/day regularly bring their guests over 35 miles by boat to fish a few feet from the island’s shore for a few hours. But you can fish there anytime you want!
All fishing is catch-and-release only, and sport fishermen will be rewarded with non-stop action! The only exception to the catch-and-release rule are Lionfish. They are an invasive species, and everyone is encouraged to spear as many as they can. We provide the spear guns, or you can bring your own.
What time of year is best for bonefishing?
The fly fishing in Belize is always good! And the bonefishing at nearby Middle Caye is EXCELLENT. We often paddle down to fish there. All you need is a buddy.
Do I need a Belize fishing license?
Glover’s Reef Atoll in Belize is a National Marine Reserve, and it is catch-and-release only for guests. Sport fishing at Glover’s Reef Atoll requires a license that we buy for you! You can begin fishing immediately; the ranger shows up days later, and we pay for your license then.
Fly fishing or spincasting?
Most guests focus on fly fishing for bonefish and permit; however, those who spincast will pull in more fish. The island’s waters abound with jack, barracuda, and snapper, which readily take spinners.
If you don’t have fly fishing gear, you can use your spin-casting equipment for fly fishing, and here’s how to do it. Using a collapsible spin-casting rod, you will need a clear float bobber to fill with water. This gives the line weight and allows you to do long casts with a short pole.
After the bobber, you attach a swivel which stops the bobber from traveling down the line toward the fly. After the swivel, you tie on a tippet, then the fly. A 7-foot tippet is best. With this set-up, the fly sinks to the bottom, and with a Crazy Charlie, it looks like a shrimp. Bonefish don’t go for lures, only flies.
Can I troll from a kayak?
We rarely host fishermen who use our kayaks for trolling outside the reef. There are a few reasons for this. Our fishermen fly fish or spin cast by wading in, fishing from the dock, or fishing in the shallows from an anchored fishing kayak. One reason is that no one should use the kayaks without a buddy in another kayak joining you unless they are right trolling near the island. The area outside the atoll is often too rough to kayak, with or without a guide.
Occasionally conditions can permit you to fish outside if a guide accompanies you. However, since our guides help everyone, not just the two fishermen, there may be few or any times you could go outside during a week on the island. This would depend on the weather and the size of the group. It is possible, however, to troll inside the atoll on a much more regular basis. The fish you could catch inside where it is much calmer are amberjack, barracuda, permit, bonefish, snapper, horse-eyed jacks, and yellowtail jacks.
What if I want to hire a fly fishing guide?
If you’re coming to Belize specifically to find a prize-winning permit, for instance, our advice would be to go to a fishing lodge and hire a professional guide who will take you right to the fish you end up catching at the cost of $350/day. If you want to explore and improve your skills in spotting fish without a lot of other fishermen around, our place is perfect for you.
The fishing at Long Caye is more about spotting fish, figuring out their feeding patterns, and exploring the terrain. Good presentation and casting action are important, but the actual fly used is less important than these other aspects. You’ve got to find the fish first, and there is a lot of terrain to explore. Some days will be exemplary, some days you’ll get skunked, and as we all know, luck is the primary factor in a successful fishing outing!