View Full Version : belize, bahamas, yucatan

03-08-2009, 07:25 PM
looking to get into some bones and tarpon (and a shot at a permit) this august, planning to spend a week. this is a pretty large investment for me so i am looking to maximize dollars with a little research. so any information would be greatly appreciated. first, which of these three locations would be best for a first time salt trip? second, any good lodges/guides recommended? third, does one need to buy into a package trip, or is it possible to stay in a cheap hostel and hire a guide yourself? anyone with experience doing this? thanks a load

03-09-2009, 02:05 PM
Hello, I have fished In the Bahamas several times on Long Island. I believe it to be one of the best "bang for your buck" bone fishing locations. Sammuel Knowles Bone Fish club is an all inclusive deal that is very reasonably priced. Frontier Anglers also operates on the island. Bill Kiene knows some one who puts together very inexpensive self guided trips on Long Island as well. Lots of chances (10-30 a day) at medium sized Bones. The down side if there is one is very few Tarpon and Permit. But there are Barracuda and Jacks.
I have also spent some time in southern Cancun. Bocca Pailla has realistic shots at a Grand Slam. When I was there another guest got an improved slam( bone,tarpon,permit and snook). Lots of small bones and decent amounts of permit. The accomadations are great but not cheap. Good place to bring a wife or girlfriend.
Kieth at Kienes puts together really good tarpon trips to northern Cancun that are supposed to be great. I have not done one but several of my friends have and I plan on doing one next year
Don't over look going to baja and doing a big game trip(tuna,roosterfish,dorado,jacks and sailfish) its not the same as flats fishing but fairly cheap and really fun.
Have fun and good luck.
If you are having a tough time finding information about Sammuel Knowls let me know and I will get you connected.

03-09-2009, 09:13 PM
thanks for the reply hatch, i think i am leaning towards belize after a bit of research, anyone with experience in this, am I too late to book a room for August at a refutable lodge? any help or info would be greatly appreciated. thanks

Bill Kiene semi-retired
03-10-2009, 08:33 AM
Isla Blanca, shallow lagoon north of Cancun, has all species and is a wonderful shallow fishery:


__________________________________________________ ____________________________________________

Northern Belize has several good old lodges like El Pescador Lodge out on Ambergris Cay and the Belize River Lodge up the Belize River.

Both would be good for medium size Tarpon (20 - 100#) on shallow clear flats from a boat.

Lots of Bonefish and Permit too.

__________________________________________________ _____________________________________________

In southern Belize you can fish out of Placencia which has a good variety of fishing too. I would contact Mary Toy, Destinations Belize, for that trip.


__________________________________________________ ________________________________________

Here are some articles on Belize:





__________________________________________________ __________________________________________

I have a good equipment list for Belize too:



9’ graphite fly rods are the standard but some will use 9.5’ as well. Models with larger ‘salt water’ guides and a fighting butt are best. You can use 2, 3, 4 or 5 piece rods but today the 4 piece models are the most popular. Medium to faster actions are best. The flies associated with bonefishing in the Yucatan and Belize are small in sizes 4, 6 and 8. We recommend #7 and #8 weight rods for throwing these small fairly light flies to small/ medium size bonefish.


Larger diameter (large arbor if possible) reels that are fully machined and anodized with a smooth disc drag are best. In most cases 150 yards of 20# braided Dacron backing is adequate but having 200 yards is not a bad idea if it will fit on you reel.


Fishing for bonefish in the Yucatan/Belize can be wading or from the deck of a poled skiff. There are two different types of tropical fly lines.

First is a braided core tropical fly line similar is to conventional fly lines and these are best for wading or if the weather is cool during the winter in the tropics. They will get ‘sticky’ if used in the summer on a hot (100 degree+) deck of a skiff.

Second is the braided or single filament mono-core line which is stiff so it will be just right when lying on a hot deck (100 degrees+) in mid-summer in the tropics. When using stiff mono-core line while wading (~75 degrees) they will tend to stay coily and tangle because they are too cool.

If your rod is very stiff/fast action we like to go up one size with the fly line. We use mostly weight forward floating lines for Bonefish.


We like stiffer, harder monofilament leaders that will turn over a fly in the wind, are less likely to get ‘wind knots’ and will not chaff as easily on the coral. They can be knotless tapered or hand tied. Most use 9 to 15 feet of total leader for Bonefish depending on the wind. We usually recommend a Bonefish leader like the Rio that is 10’ to 10# with some compatible Rio SW tippet.


We use smaller size #4-8 flies for Bonefish in the Yucatan and Belize. We like ‘Charlie’ style flies with bead chain or dumbbell eyes for sandy bottoms. We like light weight slower sinking shrimp style flies with more wing and no eyes for fishing over the shallow coral or Turtle grass bottoms so we don’t hang up so much. Shades of green-olive, brown-tan, amber, pearl and pink are popular colors down there. We use smaller shrimp and crab patterns for bonefish too. We like these flies tied on hard, sharp Japanese stainless steel hooks with the barb removed.



Most use 9 foot graphite fly rods for throwing bulking Permit crab and shrimp imitations with 4 piece models being the most popular today. Size 8 and 9 weight rods with a floating fly line one size larger is common for Permit fishing. For smaller (dime to nickel size) crabs we like an 8 weight rod with a weight forward 9 floating line. For medium (quarter size) size crabs we like a 9 weight rod with a weight forward 10 weight floating line. Most don’t use real large crabs like in Florida so lager rods/lines for Permit in the Caribbean are not real common.


A matching size good quality large diameter fly reel with a disc drag and 200 yards of 30# braided Dacron backing is what you need because permit will go over 20 pounds and that is a real large strong fish.


Refer to info on lines for Bonefish. Stiffer mono-core for heat and boat decks and softer core lines for wading or cool winter weather.


Same as for bonefish but a little larger diameter tippet for larger imitations. We use Rio ‘Bonefish’ 10’ 13# with matching Rio SW tippet material.


We use a lot of different crab and shrimp imitations for Permit.

Shallow (~18”) water = small Permit = small crabs/shrimp

Deeper (~24”+) water = larger Permit = larger crabs/shrimp

For crabs we use the Raghead, Turneffe, McCrab, Puglisi, Bauer, Merkin, Chernobyl and more.

For shrimp we use Borski’s Bonefish Slider, Mantis Shrimp, Mangrove Critter, Magnum Mantis and more.

*Many Permit are caught on bonefish flies because that is what was tied on when the permit showed up.



Most use 9 foot rods for Tarpon with 4 piece models being very popular today. Larger guides and a fighting butt are standard.

For Baby or Mangrove Tarpon (5-35#) we use #8 and 9 weight rods usually with a floating line one size larger.

For medium size Tarpon (30 to 80#) we use a strong 10 weight rod.

For Giant Tarpon (100-200#) we use 11 and 12 weight rods.


Reels for baby tarpon are not as important as they are for larger ones. They need to be solidly built with a disc drag.

For medium size Tarpon you need a pretty good reel because they will run some backing out and the chances for fish over 100# are always there. We like 200 yards of 30# Dacron backing for a 10 Tarpon weight system.

Giant Tarpon are something else. Fish over 100# are common at Isla Holbox, MX and the Belize River Lodge. The best large fly reel you can afford is what is needed for these big powerful fish. We recommend 300 yards of 30# braided Dacron backing for them. Having a fly reel with a strong smooth drag is important here.


Most Tarpon fishing is from a boat in the warmer months (April-August) so the stiff mono-core lines are what we need. We usually go one size large with our fly lines on these stiff, powerful rods so they load up quickly. For shallow flats and in the mangroves we use weight forward floating lines. When the fish are a little deeper we like the clear mono-core slow sinking lines. For fishing in channels and deep cuts with a tide movement we use the tropical Rio Deep Sea 300-500 grain extra fast sinking “Teeny type” sink-tip lines.


Leaders for baby tarpon are usually very simple.

They can be as simple as a 7.5’ 0X knotless tapered leader with an 18” piece of 30# Hard Mason for a shock tippet.

We learned how to tie a simple 3 piece leader from the local guides. Put on a 5’ butt section of 25# clear hard Mason or Rio SW mono. Then Albright knot on a 2’ piece of 20# Mason for a breaking tippet. Then Albright on a 2’ piece of 30# Mason or Rio 60# FC which is the same diameter as the Mason 30#.

For large Tarpon we recommend buying some big game class leaders that are 20-22# breaking strength with 80-100# shock/bight tippets.


We use flies with soft materials now like rabbit strip, marabou or soft webby hackle so they look like they are ‘alive’. We like a small amount of flash too. We like hard, sharp stainless steel Japanese hooks for Tarpon with the barb removed.

Lighter bonefish hooks are good for baby tarpon. We like the “Seaducer’ pattern with a shorter tail for baby tarpon in shallow water. Sometimes we use small Snookaroos, small Gurgles and small SW poppers for baby tarpon, jacks and snook.

The Owner ‘Aki’ in #2/0-3/0 is one of the best hooks for medium to large tarpon. Good colors are Black with red collar, Yellow with red collar, White with red collar, Grizzly died orange, Barred Ginger and baitfish imitations like the Sea Habit, Alf and Clouser.

__________________________________________________ ______________________

We took people there for over 20 years.

03-10-2009, 07:43 PM
I second Belize River lodge. They have great two for once specials I believe.

Dale Martens
03-21-2009, 11:41 AM
I was on Ambergris last year in July. It is much cheaper to book a hotel and a guide by yourself. I used GoFish Belize (www.gofishbelize.com) as a guiding service. The owner, Abner Marin, was my guide. He is an excellent guide and a good guy but can be a bit abrasive. I'd book with him again.

The Ambergris Cay website (www.ambergriscay.com) has tons of hotel information. I stayed at the Tides 'cause I liked the fact it was pretty cheap, had a fridge in the room, and a pool on site. If I went again, I'd be tempted to really skimp on my room and stay at Ruby's.

The bonefishing was excellent and I got a few GOOD shots at a permit or too. The tarpon fishing was OFF, though; wind kept us off the tarpon flats except for one morning and we didn't get a sniff.