Returned to the States recently from Belize. Toured the coastal area from north to south. An awfully pretty country, but the wind was quite fierce for May. The last two days of the weeklong adventure were almost unfishable, as it howled a consistent 25 mph and gusted to 35. Tough stuff. But still managed to get some good shots at permit, especially around the famed Permit Alley region outside Hopkins (with Jim Hybarger, proprietor of Permit Alley Anglers) and in the wildly beautiful southern region of the country at Machaca Hill Lodge. There’s nothing like seeing those black sickle tails bobbing up and down on the clear flats. But, as they so often do, the permit proved elusive for the most part. Managed to get some good bonefish action in the northern end of Belize, however. Fished El Pescador on Ambergris Caye and the famed Turneffe Flats Lodge on the Turneffe Atoll. Both are great old lodges that many fly-fishers have come to know well. Some of the more memorable moments from the trip:
- The Belikin Beer, which if you’ve never tried it, is reason enough to travel to Belize. Let’s just say it’s good.
- An amusing chap named Wilfred, who – along with a fellow named Roberto – guided us out of Machaca. They’ve known each other for years, and Wilfred has become a master at throwing his buddy under the bus anytime something doesn’t work out. The permit didn’t eat? “Roberto’s fault.” The sun started hiding behind the clouds. “Roberto, why did you do that!” Roberto (who was a lot bigger than Wilfred, by the way) was a good sport about it!
- Eating conch in garlic butter at Elvi’s Kitchen on Ambergris. Elvi can certainly cook.
- Listening to howler monkeys while canoeing down the glassy smooth Rio Grande at Machaca and tossing streamers for snook. If you’ve never heard one, howlers sound downright frightening. But the lodge at Machaca is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful I’ve ever stayed.
- Stalking bones by foot just outside the lodge at Turneffe – the sun was going down in the west while the soft light of a rising full moon was shining down over the Caribbean. The bones tailed happily in mere inches of water along a jagged rock outcropping. I won’t soon forget it. But one of the most interesting moments of the trip came not on the water, but during a drive south from Hopkins to Punta Gorda. We were being escorted from Almond Beach Resort to Machaca by a fellow named Bruno Kuppinger. Bruno operates an excellent ecotourism business west of Punta Gorda (Sun Creek Lodge) and regularly takes folks on rugged camping adventures through the mountains of Belize. He’s a very capable dude (and a very nice guy, to boot), and he showed up in a tough, old Land Rover that looked like it could run most cars over on the road. I knew it would be a fun ride south. Well, you guessed it, we broke down. Luckily, we managed to get to a small mechanic shop full of tractors, planes and buses on the premise of a local orange grove. I thought for sure the day was shot. But I underestimated the good-heartedness of the Belizean people. They took the time to look over the Rover carefully and figured out the problem (something to do with the oil pressure not building up). Within an hour, we were back up and running – for $20 (which included a healthy tip, by the way). Try getting that kind of service in America. Click HERE for some of the sights traveling through Belize. Mike Mazur FFSW Editor