The end of a great trip to Belize!
The last day is always sad. Granny and I’ve had such good time down here at Belize River Lodge. This morning we awoke to developing clouds. This would normally deter us from the flats; however the tarpon weren’t rolling at the Belize River mouth either. So off Granny, Pedro and I went to test our eyes in tough flats conditions in hopes to see wakes, nervous water and tails.
We made about a ½ hour run to Hicks Key. Hicks is one of my old favorites and you can find about any species here. The plan was to look for permit tails. When Pedro cut the engine I wasted no time taking the bow. One thing with permit, if you’re not ready they’ll be there. I don’t know how many times I haven’t got a rod out quick enough. Sure enough a school of what looked like permit swooshed from fleeing cormorants. Pedro yelled, “Permit moving right”. I already had them in my radar and was ripping off line. My first cast was short but two more huge line pulls from the reel then a new cast and my crab was sinking in front of the fish. In a split second I felt a vicious thump. Fish on!
At first we thought I had a permit. With the poor light some dorsal fins cutting above the water looked black. But as my fish and his friends got on our right I could see the fins of big jack crevalle. The initial run was all my 10-weight Ross RX could handle. Seriously, the jack crevalle is an underrated gangster of a fish. These guys courageously eat anything and then test your forearms and equipment to the max. If you’re inexperienced, expect to fight a 10lb jack for at least 20 minutes. And if you know what you’re doing, fight him hard but remember, jacks have busted up more fly rods next to the boat than most fish. About eight minutes after hook up I was gripping the tail of a respectable mean looking crevalle.
When done with the jack, it looked like it was about to rain. I noticed a wake in very shallow water. I reached for my 7-weight rigged with an un-weighted pink crazy Charlie and made a short sidearm cast in front of the V. Wham! My hands still reeked of jack and I was hooked to a small bonefish. After I landed him Pedro looked to me and asked, “How about some snappers?”
It was Granny’s turn however she knew how much fun I was having. She’s still celebrating her tarpon. She told me to grab my snapper rig and get read to have fun. For snapper, especially if there are big ones around, you need mono shock tippet. I picked up my 9-weight RX already affixed with 60 pound mono shock and a red and white whistler. I checked the hook and nodded to Pedro. He told me to get line out as he motored to the edge of some mangroves. On the first cast I landed this handsome gray snapper (also known as the mangrove snapper).
A cloudy day fly fishing in Belize couldn’t have gone any better. During the next hours Granny and I boated more snappers, two baby black groupers, a horse-eye jack and some small barracudas. It was a fantastic multispecies day. So what if we couldn’t find the permit and tarpon – what a great way to end a fantastic trip to Belize!
November 26, 2012
I opened our room door at 5:30 expecting a whim of cold air like the last few days, but there wasn’t. A t-shirt would suffice for my first cup of coffee. More delighting, there were few clouds overhead. Today we were going permit fishing with Pedro.
For starters we motored right over the rolling tarpon at the mouth of the Belize River. Then we zoomed by the channel markers where I landed the tripletail. We skipped the snook holes and skirted south past Belize City and made a 45 minute run to Pedro’s favorite permit grounds.
Once there I handed Granny my 10-weight RX with a brown crab pattern securely loop knotted to a 16lb leader then I scanned ahead for tails. “I’m fishing?” she pointed to herself with a look of surprise. Granny was fishing and she knows how hard permit are on the fly. She didn’t have the confidence in her cast. But I convinced her that after yesterday, you never know.
Two minutes later we found three more permit and these were tailing. These were nice permit, easily 15lbs judging from the width of their flopping black trimmed tails. They were a good 80ft out and due to calm conditions we couldn’t go any closer for fear of spooking them. Even with encouragement, Granny wouldn’t attempt the long toss. Any other fish species in the world and I’d of insisted. But I go crazy for permit.
I grabbed the rod and ripped off another 20ft of fly line and quietly perched myself on the bow of our panga. Then I side armed the crab right in front of the lead fish (A heavy crab lands much softer with a side arm cast. Then there’s less chance of spooking the fish). His tail rose and flapped as I pulled ever so slowly. There’s no doubt he saw my fake but rather than eat the fly he did a quick circle around it. I bumped it again with several short strips but he refused it again and moved away.
I stripped in like a mad man and launched another cast right in front of them again. Now they were near 90ft away. My crab sank inches in front of all three. I pulled slowly then added several short strips. The finicky fish twirled around with interest but moved away again. I ended up with five good casts to these permit before they finally got suspicious and slipped to deeper water out of sight. Damn!
When fishing the flats you almost always encounter something else cool other than the fishing. Today we came across a herd of manatees feeding in a bay. I see a lot of them every time I come to Belize but today was unique in that we got to essentially hang out with them for as long as we wanted. They are so strange!