Blue Horizon is often described as the permit fishing equivalent of dry fly fishing, due to the sheer number of tailing fish in ultra shallow water. And not just any shallow water — crystal clear water barely covering countless pancake flats, reef-style flats, and cayes ringed with multi-colored coral. The tops of the flats are mostly sand and/or turtle grass, and on the correct tidal periods, almost every flat is adorned with schools of tailing permit. Other dedicated permit fishing destinations might match the overall quality of the fishing, but no other permit fishery has flats as beautiful as those at Blue Horizon.
No other permit fishery is as large, either. The Blue Horizon fishery is some 40 miles north to south, inside the Belize barrier reef from Dangriga to south of Placencia, dotted with flats along the entire length. Most of the flats themselves are relatively small in fishable surface area. That leads to a pretty good tradeoff: more frequent boat runs between flats, but the fish are easier to locate on each flat and there are very little periods of extended poling without shots or encounters.
The permit fishing is closely tied to tidal fluctuations, with fish appearing on the flats on either side of the high tides but disappearing into the depths around the lows. When booking your trip, Tailwaters Travel will walk you through the tides for prospective dates to pick a week with advantageous tides.
In addition to the pancake flats and cayes near the barrier reef, there are also several lagoons on the mainland between Placencia and Dangriga that hold permit, tarpon, and snook. While the water in the lagoons is not as pretty as it is closer to the reef, the lagoons provide variety and the permit there tend to be eager to eat a fly.
Another intriguing option when weather conditions allow it is Glover’s Reef, an uninhabited atoll over ten miles offshore of the Belize Barrier Reef. It is a pristine, seldom-fished area teeming with bonefish, including bonefish upwards of 10 pounds. Glovers also holds plenty of permit that hardly ever see a fly. Anglers lucky enough to have the right conditions for a run in the open ocean to Glover’s should definitely take the opportunity to do so.
Lincoln Westby founded Blue Horizon and is still the and head guide. He has fished the area’s flats for fifty years and may know more about permit fishing than any guide alive today. His ethic towards the flats environment and fish truly sets him apart. For example, he avoids wading to preserve the sensitive coral, turtle grass, and permit food such as immature sea urchins. As soon as permit become jittery he backs off to find other fish. He meticulously rotates flats in order to keep pressure to a minimum. And he has instilled these values in all of the Blue Horizon guides, ensuring healthy flats and happy permit for many years to come. Many of the Blue Horizon guides are not only mentored by Westby but are also second generation guides raised around permit and are capable, knowledgeable, and experienced. When Westby does decide to put down the push pole, he will leave an incredible legacy of guides who know how to put permit in the boat, and who care deeply about preserving the flats environment and fishing quality.
The Blue Horizon skiffs are comfortable 23’ superpangas. Almost all of the fishing is done from the bow of the skiff in order to protect the flats, coral, and all the life in these sensitive areas from repeated foot traffic.
Tarpon, bonefish, snook, barracuda, snapper, jacks, triggerfish, and all the species usually encountered on or near the flats of Central America are found here.
The bonefish fishing is reliable if unspectacular, with large schools of bonefish holding in specific locations around certain cayes and scattered across some of the other flats. If you want to catch a bonefish at Blue Horizon, tell your guide and he will motor to a spot where a school of bonefish is almost guaranteed to hang out. Cast into the middle of the school and hope a fish is hungry at the time. You would not dedicate a trip to bonefish at Blue Horizon, but if you are lucky enough to catch a permit and tarpon on a particular day, a grand slam would be within easy reach.
Adult tarpon show up in the summertime, but at other times of the year the tarpon fishing is sporadic. If your trip is in the summer, you should definitely bring an 11 or 12 wt. If you hit it right, you will find big schools of fish from 50-150 lbs. They are usually found holding in deeper water near the flats, and a sink-tip line increases the number of eats and hookups dramatically. We also typically encounter singles or small groups of tarpon cruising the flats. These can provide an unsurpassed visual fishing experience if they hang out long enough for you to switch from your permit rod to tarpon setup and get a shot.
Snapper, jacks, triggerfish, barracuda, and other species are often encountered if you would like a diversion from the hunt for permit. But the opportunities for all other species pale in comparison to the phenomenal permit fishing at Blue Horizon.