Terri and I, along with our friends John and Kim, wanted to trade cold, white snow for warm, white sand. We did, with a fly fishing trip to Belize. Our trip was arranged by our friends at Yellow Dog Travel, and they did their usual stellar job. We stayed at Thatch Caye Resort. The accommodations were great, the food five-star, the staff second-to-none, and there was plenty to do for those not fly fishing. While John and I did partake in some of the non-fishing activities, our mission was to fly fish. And, we did.
For the six days of fly fishing, our guide, Marton, who was a really good guide, put us on lots of fish. He guided us to, and helped us land, bonefish, snapper, jacks, triggers, permit, tarpon and a really large barracuda. The barracuda was caught on a spinning rod, but still counts. If I stopped here, you’d have a thumbnail overview of a successful trip. However, there is more to the story, the laughing part.
On the second day of fishing, Marton took us to the dock area of another lodge. As we pulled into the dock area we saw a huge school of bonefish swimming around and under the dock. John and I thought our arms were going to get tired from reeling in large numbers of bones. It didn’t happen.
John was first on the casting deck. After many casts and fly changes, John finally hooked into a bonefish. Here things begin to take a turn toward humor. The fish started to run toward John, so he was scrambling to get the slack in and put the fish on the reel. The fish was faster than John and made a turn toward a piling. All three of us were yelling “No, no, no,” but it didn’t do any good. The bonefish wrapped the line around the piling, which led to the leader breaking. My turn.
I had a similar scenario. I made lots of casts, and Marton changed my fly several times. I then made a picture perfect, sidearm cast, under the dock to a waiting bonefish. He took the fly and began a speedy run staying under the dock. I couldn’t get my rod and line higher than the dock and tried to muscle the fish out. He broke my leader. Fish 2, Fishermen 0. I’m actually quietly chuckling to myself.
As we contemplated our next move, two permit fish swam past the boat. John got on the dock to cast at them while Marton poled me around to the other side of the dock to cast at bonefish. Just as I got on the platform, Marton quickly handed me another rod and pointed at the dozen or so tarpon moving in. I wish I could say John caught one of the permit and I caught one of the tarpon, but truthfully, I can’t.
The two permit John were casting at seemed to be in a conversation with each other. I think they were saying, “See that guy up there, let’s move out a little farther and see how far he can cast.” After several good casts, they said, “Now let’s swim in close, real fast, and see how much line he steps on and gets tangled around his feet. Now, when he casts, let’s move over toward his fly, get real close to it, then slowly back off and swim under the dock.”
My tarpon experience was similar. Only, instead of talking among themselves, they just enjoyed the day. The swam deep and shallow with me casting several different flies at them. They would jump and roll right in front of the boat as if to say, “We see you.” Marton looked at me, shrugged his shoulders and headed to the dock to retrieve John.
It’s here I started laughing, quietly at first, then a little louder, and finally a deep belly laugh. A good guide, two good fly fishermen, lots of equipment and the fish won hands down. I love fly fishing.
Reach Don Oliver at firstname.lastname@example.org.