Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Back to Belize

It’s been way too long since my last trip to Belize. I’d have to dig back through old journals but I’m guessing it’s been like eight years. I make it sound like I’ve been to Belize often – that’s because I have. Between 1989 and 1993 I went nine times.

No I wasn’t rich or a trust fund kid. I mortgaged my life to go on that first trip in 1989. Afterwards it took me about five years to pay it off. But despite being in debt I had to go back. That’s when I got into hosting trips.

I had plenty of trout fishing clients from working out of the fly shop in Jackson, Wyoming. Every guide trip I did, every casting lesson I gave and every customer I chatted with in the shop heard about Belize. By the end of each summer I had at least 20 folks to take to Belize with me that winter. Take groups to lodges in Belize and that equates to free trips!

I rotated my clients in and out of two excellent lodges, Belize River Lodge and Turneffe Flats Lodge. Both lodges are still tops today and each has the same owners and even some of the same guides I wore out when I was a young maniac. Life was good. I was in my early 20’s and managed a way to fish the flats of Belize with regularity. But just when Belize was most perfect I got curious. Curious about other saltwater fly fishing destinations. Curious about other trout destinations. Then curious about every fish on the planet that would take a fly. Then despite my love for Belize it went on the back burner for more than 20 years while I set out to see and fish the world.

I have no regrets. The last 20 years have been incredible. But I must admit, no matter where I found myself, not a day went by where I didn’t think about Belize. Belize is where my love for new species and foreign adventures began. That’s why it was time to return and I’m excited to say that for the next seven days Granny and I will be fishing the flats here.

We arrived at Belize River Lodge this afternoon and united with our long time friends and owners Mike Heusner and Marguerite Miles. These folks took mighty good care of me back in the day. I’ll never forget the day we met. Marguerite fed me a Belikin beer and told my how the inner lodge worked. Then Mike talked to me about the fishing. Mike didn’t mention the word fly. When he was done I dropped the fly fishing thing on him and he shook his head in doubt. The next morning my boat was loaded with spin rods and trolling gear. Despite his plea (he was only trying to guarantee me fish) I had the non fly gear removed and went for it with my guide Roy.

During that first visit I didn’t exactly tear up the fish but I stuck with the fly and managed to catch some. “Some” included a handful of bonefish and baby tarpon, a 75lb tarpon and a heap of other cool fish species from barracudas to an eight foot bull shark (I didn’t exactly land him). It turned out Mike appreciated my efforts and we became great friends. And the guides liked the fly rod also. It was different and fun, not to mention perhaps more effective when done right.  I came back at least once a year for the next four.

That’s the short story and all I can say is that it’s good to be back in Belize. Tomorrow is our first fishing day of seven and you can expect reports and photos from all. As always, they may not post in a timely manner as internet and available time isn’t always guaranteed on these trips however the posts will come. Stay tuned!