November 25, 2012
I needed my fleece again this morning. It didn’t feel quite as cool as yesterday morning, but still, in Belize you shouldn’t need a fleece. Today we have a new guide, Pedro. I requested Pedro because back when I came to Belize River Lodge a lot he was my favorite. Pedro knows his stuff, enjoys an angler that tries all species and hence we became great friends. It’s been about eighteen years since he guided me, however I saw him about eight years ago when he visited Idaho.
Granny and I were about burned out on the tarpon at the mouth of the Belize River when we ended yesterday. We’ve put in a lot of hours for them this week and we’ve not hooked any of the maddening silver kings. Yet they’re there. They’re huge. And if we catch one of them, there’s a good chance it will be the biggest tarpon of our lives. Naturally, when we met Pedro this morning the first thing he said is we need to fish for the giant tarpon at the river mouth. “Ok, but not long Pedro”, I said. “We’ve spent a lot of time casting to them. We’d rather enjoy the flats while we have good sunlight”. But Pedro was confident, if they were rolling, we’d catch one.
When we got to the Belize River mouth the tarpon were rolling just like every other day. It’s Granny’s dream to land a good tarpon so I handed her my Ross RX 12-weight with my 400 grain Scientific Anglers Tropic Express and she went to work. I grabbed a seat and re-rigged our flats rods like the barracuda popper set up, our bonefish rod and then I had Pedro pick out his favorite permit crab from my fly box and rigged that too. Meanwhile Granny was dropping her fly in the holes of rolling tarpon.
Once satisfied that our flats gear was well rigged, I picked up my other 12-weight and flipped my fly over the side and began to work out line. That’s when there was a grunt along with some fancy foot work by Granny. I thought she was falling off the bow of our panga. But she wasn’t, Granny was driving a Mark Kuhn tarpon fly deep into the rock hard mouth of an amazing tarpon, a tarpon that would test her stamina to the fullest as well as the strength of my Ross rod and reel.
Granny was hooked up! I frantically reeled my 12 back in. Pedro hopped down from the polling platform and pulled the anchor. All while loose fly line rapidly left the deck and hissed through Granny’s rod guides. Once the line cleared the deck my Ross F1 reel spun to life and Pedro and I sighed in relief. The chance of a nightmarish tangle was behind us and the fight was on. By now I had my new T2i Cannon locked in the direction of the running tarpon waiting for the jump. But I waited and waited. This big boy wasn’t jumping. Granny’s tarpon was all about deep line crackling, forearm cramping runs.
About 40 minutes into the fight Granny’s tarpon made one half body jump about 200 yards from the boat. Of course I wasn’t ready with the camera and that was the only jump. And due to the lack of tiring jumps the tarpon stayed strong for another 40 minutes. Then finally, with her arms quivering in pain and sweat beading off her forehead, Granny had her tarpon at boat side.
Normally the guide would lean over or hop out and land the tarpon, but Pedro offered me the honor. I accepted but with anxiety, this is my wife you know and this tarpon was long awaited. I couldn’t screw up. Over the side I went into the murky water up to my waist. In one incredible rod bending hoist Granny slid the tarpon to me and I grabbed his lower jaw. The tarpon thrashed and while he nearly slipped from me the fly popped out. A close call but I had him well enough!
We spent the next couple minutes photographing and measuring Granny’s tarpon. The giant was nearly 7ft long with a 42” girth – truly a monster. Granny has taken a lot of incredible fish but I could tell this one meant the most. She was awestruck by its size and beauty. Then we turned the tarpon for release and she swam away strong for another day.
Needless to say, I’m one heck of a proud husband. After a few beers and some relaxation we took for the mangroves and fished for snook. Granny made a few haphazard casts throughout the afternoon but spent most of the time grinning and drinking more Belikin Beers. Snooking around wasn’t great anyhow although I managed one nice one.
Tomorrows forecast looks to be mostly clear skies with light winds. We’ve yet to cast to permit this week so we’ll spend most of the day hunting them. No matter what happens this trip is already a magnificent success. Indeed, one fish can make a trip!