Sunday, May 01, 2011

Belize Summary

Ok, finally made it home to some nice spring like conditions here in SW Montana. Guess it's been playing like winter while I was away - hard to believe the Mother's Day Caddis hatch should get going anyday now.

Had a great time in Belize at Turneffe Flats over the past week. I tried to blog a few updates but the internet there was slow and I couldn't figure how to get my images uploaded for the blog. So, here's a quick recap with a few pics.

The trip started off perfect as I woke early with the anticipation of grabbing some sunrise photos looking out across the reef in front of the lodge. Problem was that I ran into tailing Bonefish about 20 paces from the porch of our cottage. So, I swapped the camera for the rod and landed my first Belize Bone right about 5:45 the first morning. To make it even sweeter, I got it on a Clouser Crayfish that I fish all the time right here on the Lower Madison.

The first day was mostly spent walking some flats and casting to Bonefish. The surprise to me was that most of the fish we were fishing to were closer to 3-4 pounds rather than the 1.5 -2 I was expecting. The turtle grass was something new for me and took a little while to get used to (don't know that I ever really did to be honest) - mostly it requires a different presentation and retrieve than I would normally use on a sandy or "clean" mud bottom. Accurate casts with very short strips was the key.

Pretty much chased Permit the rest of the 5 days I had. I had only done a little Permit fishing before this trip so I wasn't quite sure what  to expect. On my only other experience of about 1/2 a day, I had well over a dozen shots and lost one. After 5 days of standing up in front of the boat my opinion of Permit fishing is quite different. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it and glad as hell that I landed one. I lost another that I hooked and had 2 eat my fly but never felt the strike. Three of the days consisted of just a couple shots at a couple of fish seen over 6-8 hours out. We saw lots of fish on the flats only one of the days, and we only fished a few hours the day that I landed the one Permit. I decided to quit while ahead that day. You can read back over the last week or so to see some more insight into how I felt at the time!

My guide was named Robert "Dubs" Young and was as good as it gets in my book. Very hard working, persistent, patient, polite, professional, and kept up my spirits during those periods of staring out into nothingness for hours on end some days. I was constantly changing my flies throughout the day - usually before I even cast the one I had on in front of a fish - which he found odd. I explained that I had to mix it up until I found some mojo and then he agreed it probably wasn't such a bad idea.

A few hours into the second day of looking for Pepe, I sat down on the bow and put my head down while he poled away scanning the approaching water. He asked what the hell was I doing and I told him I had to think for a minute - I was considering how badly I really wanted to catch a Permit and if maybe it was time to go catch a bone. He chastised me briefly, told me that I had to be ready as Pepe could show any second - you never know so you just have to look, be ready, and if he's hungry...he'll eat. So I switched flies one more time (a pattern he said would never work) and a small group of feeding fish showed themselves, gave me a few casts and I finally landed a Permit. The elation was really overwhelming for both of us as we had been looking hard for nearly a day and a half without even getting a shot at a fish to that point. I learned a lot from that experience but really came to appreciate how hard he was working to get me a fish. I will hand it to him for keeping me motivated and not letting me give up. I was happy to stand up there the rest of the trip and look into nothingness all day.

The lodge is great - nice rooms with AC and ocean views. Meals were all excellent. The people are what make these places work or not and I have nothing but good things to say about everyone I met. I was able to go out and catch a Bonefish or tow every morning in flip flops and a cup of coffee plus got several shots at Permit in the afternoons not 100 yards from the cottage.

 My wife SCUBA dove everyday and had a great time as well. The diversity of the dive areas and the other guests diving that week all really made it a great trip for her as well. There are only a few places that have both fishing and diving and I can't really imagine how it could be any better than T Flats. We will definitely go back

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