What makes Belize such a great Bonefish fishery? First lets discuss a bit of the biology and (or) make up of the Bonefish which will enable us to draw later conclusions to the question at hand.

Skip Directly To Specific Belize Bonefish Informaiton


Common Names for the Bonefish

Commonly, bonefish are named for the many fine bones they contain. English common names include banana, bananafish, Indo-Pacific bonefish, ladyfish, round jaw, salmon peel, tarpon, tenny, and tenpounder. Other common names include albula (Polish), albule (French), albulid (Swedish), banane (French), banane de mer (French), banang (Malay), beenvis (Afrikaans), bending curut (Javanese), bidbid (Tagalog), bonouk (Arabic), bulat daun (Malay), carajo (Spanish), chache (Swahili), colepinha malabu (Creole), colvino (Spanish), conejo (Spanish), damenfisch (German), far al bahar (Arabic), frauenfisch (German), gatico (Spanish), gato (Spanish), hermaanchi (Papiamento), inliaula (Spanish), ioio (Tahitian), juruma (Portuguese), kifimbo (Swahili), kiokio (Tuamotuan), lasca (Portuguese), lasca boca redonda (Portuguese), liguija (Spanish), macabi (Spanish), macabi del helbra (Spanish), macabie (Spanish), macaco (Spanish), mnyimbi (Swahili), mursani (Portuguese), naiskala (Finnish), nginaan (Wolof), nifa (Tuamotuan), osso (Portuguese), panya (Swahili), parra (Spanish), peixe-banana (Portuguese), peje gato (Spanish), pepisang (Malay), raton (Spanish), raton de mar (Spanish), sanducha (Spanish), sorte de mulet (French), soto-iwashi (Japanese), suld (Palauan), tarr (Arabic), te ikari (Kiribati), te kiokio (Tuvaluan), ten-pounda (Creole), yu (Kumak), and zorro (Spanish).

Geographical Distribution

Bonefish inhabit tropical and warm temperate waters worldwide, Although western Atlantic bonefish are occasionally taken as far north as North Carolina, New York, and New Brunswick, this species is most plentiful in south Florida, the Bahamas, and Bermuda. To the south, they range throughout the Caribbean Sea to Brazil. On the eastern Pacific coast, the bonefish occurs from San Francisco Bay, California, south to Peru and west to Hawaii.

World distribution map for the bonefish

Bonefish Habitat

Bonefish are predominately a coastal species, commonly found in intertidal flats, mangrove areas, river mouths, and deeper adjacent waters. The flats vary in composition from sand or grass to rocky substrates. Bonefish can tolerate the oxygen-poor water they sometimes encounter in coastal habitats by inhaling air into a lung-like air bladder. Bonefish typically school, sometimes in groups of up to 100 individuals. Studies in the Bahamas using ultrasonic telemetry demonstrated the daily patterns of bonefish consist of a movement to shallow water during the rising tide, and a retreat into deeper water during a falling tide. Bonefish are also known to move from particular sites (creek, channel, bay, etc.) after inhabiting the location for a maximum period of several days. Over the long-term movements between such “favorite” sites seem to occur without any discern-able pattern. During summer months, larger individuals tend to remain in deep water, rarely moving onto the flats; they reappear in autumn, as water temperatures grow cooler.

Belize Bonefishing Information

After reading more about the Bonefish habitat and if you’re some what familiar with the Belize geographical make-up along it’s coastline. Then you’re probably starting to see why Belize offers such a great breeding and feeding environment for Bonefish.

For those that are unfamiliar with Belize’s fertile fishing areas It can be best described as Flats Fishing heaven. The majority of Belize coastline is is made up of wide swatches of ideal tidal flats land with the worlds second largest barrier reef system protecting the outer regions of the coast from erosion by large sea swells. Scattered through out this inner area protected by the reef the Continental shelf rises quickly forming small atoll like islands that are densely populated with mangroves and other lush tropical vegetation. With the bedrock or flats area bottom structure being comprised of limestone and a layering of soft silty mud providing a perfect environment for the small crustaceans that the Bonefish seek out as a main source of food. Combine these geographical features into ideal water climates as well as Belize being eco friendly and protecting their fisheries as well as the stocks of the three main flats fishing species and you have the main reasons why Belize is such a preferred Fly Fishing destination.

What gear to bring for Bone Fishing trip to Belize.

Saltwater Fly Rod: We usually recommend a seven or eight weight rod even though the majority of the bonefish in and around Ambergris Caye (the main resort island in Belize) is home to Bones that range in an average between 3lbs to 4lbs and larger fishing usually feeding by themselves or pairing up to feed together. note: oversizing your saltwater fly rod and reel on your trip to Belize will help you cut the constant tropical winds that prevail on the flats of Belize.

My personal preference listing by least expensive to most expensive are as follows:

G. Loomis Cross Current Fly Rods Model: FR1088-3 CC (9′ 0″, 8 wt.) $385.00
R.L. Winston Boron IIx Fly Rod (7 wt 9′ 0″, 4 pc) $650.00
Sage XI2 Fly Rod (8 wt 9’0″, 4 pc) $720.00

Saltwater Fly Reels: Because the average size of Bonefish in Belize is on the smaller side. I stick with a mid to large arbor reel with a cork disc drag system. Though most find it easier to just palm their reels when fighting a hooked fish. You’ll want to rig it with at least 100 – 150 yards of backing.

My personal preference for Fly reels best suited for saltwater fly fishing are as follows:

Tibor Everglades large arbor saltwater fly reels $625.00

Here is a great Saltwater Fly Rod and Reel combo

What about popular Belize Bone fish pattern flies? What are the best patterns and flies for Bonefish in Belize?

Your typical Bonefish patterns will work here in Belize as they do in the Bahamas and Florida Keys. However, that being said, there are certain patterns that are specific to Belize fishing and all of your normal patterns such as the: Crazy Charlies, Christmas Islands, Gotcha, Del Merkin Crab etc… should all be tied on size 6 and 8 hooks as the mouths of the smaller bonefish are smaller than in Florida and the Bahamas.

Essential Belize Bonefish Flies:

• Mathews Bonefish Bitters: in brown, olive and chartreuse (size 6-8)
• Crazy Charlie: in pink, olive, tan, and white (size 6-8)
• Clouser Minnow: in chartreuse, white, rust, brown (size 4-8)
• Gotcha: in pearl, tan, and root beer (size 6-8)
• Bob Popovics Ultra Shrimp (size 4-8)
• Winston Moore’s Agent Orange (size 6-8)
• Snapping Shrimp in: brown and olive (size 6-8)

Here is the best online resource for Saltwater Fly Tying materials at the cheapest prices.