A real Caribbean treasure awaits you 25 miles off the coast of Belize City.
April 8, 2013
The Turneffe atoll has a mysterious draw to it.
Fly in hand, the writer waits for the bonefish school to appear.
In no time flat, we spotted one of the largest schools of tailing bonefish I had ever seen.
Craig Hayes, of Turneffe Atoll, is trust founder and Turneffe Flats Lodge owner.
Game Fish Habitat: Sport fishing for bonefish, permit and tarpon pumps roughly $25 million directly into the Belizian economy. That coupled with $31 million in value-added expenditures accounts for approximately 6 percent of Belize’s tourist economy.
Turneffe offers angling opportunities around every corner but permit remain the main draw.
If you can’t find happy permit, bonefish around Turneffe are an extremely reliable target.
While finding big numbers of tarpon is somewhat seasonal, fish can be found year-round.
The run to the fishing grounds is both short and picturesque.
Mangrove pockets are a perfect place to make a few blind casts for resident tarpon.
Some flats around the atoll are so big, it feels as though you are on another planet.
As the sun comes up and you take your first shot of the day, it’s hard not to think that a grand slam could be a realistic possibility.
There’s no denying how productive the flats of Belize are, but throwing Clousers around structure or drop-offs is a great way to find mixed-bag action.
Permit can be found on shallow flats, but the deeper water in the surrounding lagoons undoubtedly increases your odds of finding a willing eater.
Rugged flats boots are a necessity on the coral atoll, though there are definite grass flats too.
Flats Boots: A good percentage of the fishing around Turneffe is done on foot, and because much of the bottom around the atoll is coral, a quality pair of boots is a must.
Belizian Suds: Cap off a day on the flats with an ice-cold Belikin. It comes in a light, premium lager and a stout variety. Delicious as it may be, watch out for the stout. It’ll get ya!
Turneffe Flats started as a bare bones fly-fishing base camp but over the years has morphed into a stylish, very comfortable operation that hasn’t lost the classic lodge feel. The property is conveniently located on the northeastern side of the atoll, which by the way has a wadeable bonefish flat right outside the front door of guests’ beachfront cabana.
After a long day on the water, and before the dinner service, guests can relax on the porch or take a dip in a refreshing infinity pool, both of which overlook the ocean.
Or, if you’re the type that doesn’t like to sit still for too long, feel free to explore the grounds. Should you go this route, make sure to always bring a rigged and ready fly rod; there are all kinds of jacks, snappers and more to be caught simply by walking along the water’s edge.
Learn more about Turneffe Flats Lodge and the Turneffe Atoll Trust by visiting www.tflats.com and www.turneffeatoll.org.