Flats Fishing Belize

For more than two decades, Turneffe Flats has been known as one of the world's premier flats fishing destinations combining a remarkable fishery with excellent English-speaking guides, top-notch equipment and superior service.   The ability to sight-fish for BONEFISH, PERMIT and TARPON on any given day makes Turneffe one of the few places where a Grand Slam is always a possibility. 

Turneffe Atoll is the largest of only four coral atolls in the Western Hemisphere, and is best-known for its variety of saltwater fishing. Turneffe Flats is located on a picturesque point with white sand beach and coconut palms.  The coral reef is a stone's throw away and a large bonefish flat is right outside the front door.

Bonefish have been a primary target of Turneffe Flats' anglers for more than 20 years.  While wading the expansive flats on the seaward side of Turneffe, you will regularly see large schools of bonefish providing an unequaled opportunity for new saltwater anglers to learn the basics of the sport. There is also plenty of challenging fishing for those who enjoy stalking larger fish (some in excess of 10 pounds) in skinny water.

Our ocean side flats, some only 5 to 15 minutes from the lodge, are some of the most picturesque flats anywhere. While wading the flats at Turneffe you will cast to large schools of bonefish averaging 2-3 pounds, with 4-8 pound fish common and some fish as large as 10-12 pounds.

The ocean side flats also offer the opportunity to pursue small schools, singles and doubles. This fishing requires casting accuracy and provides the added challenge many seasoned saltwater anglers relish.

Bonefish are present in equal numbers throughout the year and they are on the flats most of the time. This differentiates Turneffe's bonefish from those in other areas, such as the Florida Keys, where bonefish only enter the flats in search of a meal. These are very lush flats full of crabs, shrimp and other bonefish foods. As a result, these fish can become selective. This can make for challenging fishing and the right tackle, flies, presentation and fishing techniques are all important.

Bonefish also inhabit the mangrove-lined lagoons and flats on the interior of the Atoll. These bonefish are generally larger and take flies more readily than the ocean side fish; although they tend to be on the move, making casting accuracy more crucial. Fishing for these fish is mostly done from the bow of our 16-foot Dolphin Superskiffs.

There is a wadeable flat immediately in front of the lodge, allowing you extra fishing in the early morning or evening.

Dick Brown, author of Fly Fishing for Bonefish, has named Turneffe Flats "One of The World's Seven Best for Bonefish."

Permit Fishing
Permit are the prime objective of many saltwater anglers these days and with Turneffe Flats leading the way, Belize has gained a reputation as the permit capital of the world.  As much hunting as it is fishing, permit present a unique challenge and many guests have celebrated their first ever permit with us.  At Turneffe Flats you may have a better chance to land a permit than anywhere else. 

Most permit are found a singles or in small groups on the flats and bars throughout the Turneffe Atoll, although we also frequently see larger schools of permit tailing in shallow water. Most of our permit fishing is done from a poled skiff but we also see permit on the wadeable ocean-side flats.  Many saltwater anglers have landed their first permit with Turneffe Flats.

In 2007,  Fly Fishing in Saltwater magazine named Turneffe Atoll as one of the 10 best permit destinations in the world.

Tarpon Fishing

Tarpon are perhaps the ultimate challenge of saltwater fly-fishing.  Although there are always some resident tarpon to be found, our migratory tarpon season extends from mid-April to October.  Tarpon inhabit the creeks, channels and lagoons of the Atoll and most tarpon jumped are 60-90 pounds, with some fish in the 100-150 pound range and occasional monsters approaching 200 pounds.

Other Species

Other fish that can be caught on Turneffe Atoll, Belize

The interior of the Turneffe Atoll offers miles of mangrove-lined bays, creeks and lagoons to fish for various snappers, jacks and barracuda with poppers or Clouser minnows. This can be some very exciting saltwater fishing with either a fly rod or spinning gear.

Barracuda are an underrated and acrobatic game fish inhabiting the reefs at Turneffe in large numbers. Some anglers prefer to troll a fly for them, but they can also be taken by sight casting on the flats or by casting poppers into the deeper holes along the reef.

Along the reef, wading anglers can take snappers and jacks by casting deceiver patterns or poppers into the surf. Spending some time during your stay at Turneffe "chasing" other species is always fun and usually rewarding.

Fishing Skiffs

We fish from 16-foot Dolphin Superskiffs custom built in the U.S. These are comfortable skiffs that cut the chop when running and pole well in skinny water. They have large casting decks and rod holders for six rods. All skiffs are equipped with VHF radios and safety gear.

Daily Fishing Schedule

Our fishing schedule is as flexible as possible. A standard day's fishing is about 8 hours. Generally the fishing day begins after breakfast and ends around 5 p.m. although it is adjusted depending on the tides and other factors.

Each day you will have the option to take a delicious packed lunch or return to the lodge for the noon meal. Our Managers will coordinate your fishing each evening for the following day.

Early morning fishing, particularly for tarpon, can be exceptional, and arrangements to go tarpon fishing before breakfast are easily made.

Catch and Release

We believe strongly in protecting the fishery at Turneffe. With rare exception, all fish at Turneffe Flats are released.