This page provides information on the type of fish and the corresponding fishing seasons in Belize.

Bonefish

Family Albulidae, BONEFISHES
Albula vulpes 


Description: silvery color with bluish or greenish back; slender, round body; snout long, conical, aiming downward and overhanging lower jaw; dark streaks between scales on upper half of body and faint crossbands extending down to lateral line; extremities of dorsal and caudal fins shaded with black. 

Similar Fish: ladyfish, Elops saurus

Where found: primarily INSHORE fish found in shallows often less than 1 foot deep, usually over lush grass flats, occasionally over white sand.

Size: 3 to 5 pounds.

Remarks: travels in loose schools; roots out shrimp, shellfish, crabs, and fish from the bottom; spawns offshore, eggs hatching into ribbon-like larvae that metamorphose into fish-like form at about 2 inches and move inshore.

Permit

Family Carangidae, JACKS and POMPANOS
Trachinotus falcatus


Description: color gray, dark or iridescent blue above, shading to silvery sides, in dark waters showing golden tints around breast; small permit have teeth on tongue (none on pompano); no scutes; dorsal fin insertion directly above that of the anal fin; 17 to 21 soft anal rays. 

Similar Fish: pompano, T. carolinus. The permit is deeper bodied; dorsal body profile forms angle at insertion of second dorsal fin; pompano rarely grow larger than 6 pounds, permit common to 40 pounds.

Where found: OFFSHORE on wrecks and debris, INSHORE on grass flats, sand flats, and in channels; with smaller specimens from every coastal county.

Size: common to 25 pounds.

Remarks: feeds mainly on bottom-dwelling crabs, shrimp, small clams, and small fish.

Tarpon

Family Elopidae, TARPONS
Megalops atlanticus 


Description: last ray of dorsal fin extended into long filament; one dorsal fin; back dark blue to green or greenish black, shading into bright silver on the sides; may be brownish gold in estuarien waters; huge scales; mouth large and points upward. 

Similar Fish: (as juveniles) ladyfish, Elops saurus.

Where found: primarily INSHORE fish, although adult fish spawn OFFSHORE where the ribbon-like larval stage of the fish can be found.

Size: most angler catchs 40 to 50 pounds.

Remarks: slow grower; matures at 7 to 13 years of age; spawning occurs between May and September; female may lay more than 12 million eggs; can tolerate wide range of salinity; juveniles commonly found in fresh water; can breathe air at surface; feeds mainly on fish and large crustaceans.

Common Snook

Family Centropomidae, SNOOKS

Centropomus undecimalis 


Description: distinct lateral line; high, divided dorsal fin; sloping forehead; large mouth, protruding lower jaw; grows much larger than other snooks; pelvic fin yellow. 

Similar Fish: other Centropomus.

Where found: from central Florida south, usually INSHORE in coastal and brackish waters, along mangrove shorelines, seawalls, and bridges; also on reefs and pilings NEARSHORE.

Size: most catches 5 to 8 pounds.

Remarks: spawns primarily in summer; cannot tolerate water temperatures below 60 degrees F; can tolerate wholly fresh or saltwater; schools along shore and in passes during spawning season; feeds on fish and large crustaceans.

Great Barracuda

Sphyraena barracuda
Family Sphyraenidae, BARRACUDAS


Description: gray, with a greenish cast above, whitish below; many irregular, small black blotches on lower side; 18 to 22 diagonal dark bars on upper side (not always evident); caudal fin dark with white tips; 75 to 87 lateral line scales; no fleshy tip on jaw

Young: dark stripe on side; stripe breaks into dark squarish blotches as fish grows

Size: to 2 meters (6 feet) and 48 kilograms (106 pounds); reports of larger fish unverified

Where found: young live in inshore seagrass beds; adults range from inshore channels to open ocean

Remarks: most attacks on people have occurred when they were wading or swimming in turbid water while wearing bright objects, attempting to spear a barracuda, or carrying speared fish; flesh of smaller fish apparently not poisonous, but larger fish sometimes very toxic due to ciguatera; no safe, reliable way of recognizing toxic fish

Mutton Snapper

Family Lutjanidae, SNAPPERS
Lutjanus analis 


Description: color olive green on back and upper sides, all fins below the lateral line having reddish tinge; bright blue line below eye, following contour of operculum; anal fin pointed; small black spot below dorsal fin; V-shaped tooth patch on 

Similar Fish: lane snapper, L. synagris (anal fin pointed in mutton snapper, rounded in lane).

Where found: an INSHORE species associated with grassbeds, mangroves, and canals; larger adults occasionally found on OFFSHORE reefs.

Size: common to 15 pounds.

Remarks: spawns in July and August; feeds on fish, crustaceans, and snails.