Belize City doesn’t have a big fancy airport with neon signs everywhere. In fact, the single runway is also the taxiway, and you exit the plane via stairs. This simple airport sets the stage for the rest of the trip, which is easy, laid back and unplugged.
Ambergris Caye is situated in the Caribbean Sea just off the coast of this small English-speaking nation sandwiched between Mexico and Guatemala. During a short flight to the caye and a boat ride to El Pescador Resort, you’ll be blown away by the views and the blues and greens of the water.
Upon arriving at the lodge, we were greeted by an amazing staff, which refers to itself as family and thinks of you the same way, always addressing you by your first name. After settling in we, met at the dock for a fly-casting session with the guides, which was very helpful even for veteran casters. After dinner, we talked about what to expect the next day. It was quickly noted that this is one of the best places for a shot at a slam. The flats hold an abundance of bonefish, tarpon and permit.
At daybreak, my father and I boarded the boat and ran south along the coast to just below the Mexican border. Our guide suddenly made a hard left turn and stopped the boat. Just ahead was a giant school of rolling tarpon, and it didn’t take long to hook up. After about 10 minutes I had the 30-pounder boat side. Unfortunately, the commotion of the fight pushed the other fish away.
We then headed into a bay where we had world-class shots at permit. There were cruising fish and 20-plus pounders waving their tails at us as they ate breakfast. Unfortunately, as permit often do, they refused our offerings, but the bay was also filled with eager-to-eat bonefish and we spent the rest of day catching them.
It was the same each day of our trip, with numerous shots at multiple species and plenty of action. We had shots at juvenile to triple-digit tarpon, small to 20-pound permit and bonefish for days, although we did not see any particularly large bones.
Admittedly, I have some isolated places to fish on my bucket list. Seemingly, every time I look at what it will take to pull a trip off, I start searching for more feasible options. Belize always rises to the top. There are plenty of reasonable fight options, and it’s only a couple of hours from south Florida. You will also find many competitively priced all-inclusive lodges that are close to the fish and will pamper you after a long day on the water. When you consider the ease of the travel, price and quality of fishing, Belize is definitely bucket list worthy.
Will Schmidt is a seasoned tournament angler who has been writing about fishing for two decades.