Written by Don
Although we conceived of this as a diving trip, Turneffe Flats is primarily known as a fishing resort so I thought I should try my hand. Situated on a large atoll the area has miles of shallow flats, mangrove swamps and deep blue water fishing all within a short boat ride. In fact, many people wade and fish the flats just steps from the cabanas where we stayed.
Bonefish are an attraction but really good opportunities for catching permit is what draw many anglers. That, plus the presence of tarpon, gives anglers the chance for the coveted bonefish-permit-tarpon “Grand Slam”, which I didn’t even know was a thing until we got there. While almost everyone here is a fly fisherman you can also troll for barracuda or spin fish for snapper among the mangroves.
I had signed up for a diving/fishing combo package where I could do a couple of dives in the morning and fish in the afternoon. They arrange it so that the fishing guide rendezvous with the dive boat after one or two dives and takes you away for the rest of the day. Even though I had booked a shared fishing skiff and guide I ended up with my own private boat each of the three days I fished.
Since serious permit or tarpon fishing requires more fly fishing skill than I have I focused on casting for bonefish and trolling for barracuda when the fly fishing got too old or frustrating. My guide, Erwin, was great, giving me basic casting tips, finding hungry and naive bonefish that fell for my clumsy presentation, and offering just the right amount of encouragement and positive reinforcement.
When I wanted a change of pace and some different action we trolled the shallows just inside the reef for barracuda. This turned out to be a lot of fun and pretty productive as I picked up a snapper and three barracuda in just a couple of hours trolling. Although almost all the fishing is catch and release you can keep snapper and barracuda. The resort will prepare your fish for you for dinner but I gave mine to Erwin who was happy to put them on ice to take home to his family on the weekend.
Turneffe Flats is a serious place for serious fishermen, and the quality of the fishing, guides and boats is top notch. But they also do a great job with people like me who are still learning and really out to just catch some fish and have some fun.
First Week of April, 2019
For links to all the posts on diving destinations see the Diving page.