BELIZE FLY FISHING

Just back from my latest trip to Belize, seven days fly fishing based at ‘Clive’s Place’, Monkey River, Toledo District, in the southern part of that most beautiful country. The weather when we arrived was absolutely perfect, but we were warned things were set to change and that we should make the most of our fishing on the first few days, which is exactly what we did.

One of an estimated 50 bonefish caught on the first day

One of an estimated 50 bonefish caught on the first day

Andrew & George stalk a small school of bonefish on Nicholas Caye

Andrew & George stalk a small school of bonefish on Nicholas Caye

Day one I fished my lifelong friend Andrew Leaves and, as always, local guide George Garbutt, who over the years has also become a very good friend. This was Andrew’s first real attempt at fly fishing for bonefish, and I was keen for him to experience the truly superlative sight fishing Belize is rightly famous for. We started off out on the Sapodilla Cayes, Nicholas Caye to be precise, and it wasn’t long before Andrew was sporting an ear to ear grin as his first fly hooked bonefish rapidly zipped the fly line out through the rod rings. We had a great day and by the time we hit the dock back at Monkey River between us we estimated we had caught around 50 bonefish between 1-3lb, plus a few other bits and pieces, including two strong trigger fish to my fly rod.

George poles Andrew across the flats at Ranguana

George poles Andrew across the flats at Ranguana

Day two we ran north to Tarpon Caye to fish for tarpon, and it wasn’t long before we were casting to cruising and rolling fish up to about 50lb. We had a few fish follow our flies but could not get any to eat, other than one fish that smashed violently at my fly and rather than inhaling it knocked it aside in a bulge of water. After a few hours we ran south to Ranguana Caye, and it wasn’t long before once again we were both catch plenty of nice bonefish up to 3lb+. Ranguana is a tiny caye yet it sports a few huts offering overnight accommodation and a small bar, perfect for a thirst quenching Belikin beer or two at the end of a great day on the water.

A cold Belikin, the perfect end to a 'tough' day on the flats

A cold Belikin, the perfect end to a ‘tough’ day on the flats

Casting to a bonefish off Ranguana

Casting to a bonefish off Ranguana

As promised on day three we woke to a freshening breeze and a heavy sky that promised rain. No chance of getting out to the Sapodilla Cayes, we elected to work the plethora of channels, lagoons and secluded mangrove backwaters that extend north from Monkey River up towards Placencia. I love this sort of challenging fishing, fishing that involves accurately casting flies, lures or baits right under the mangroves, often to laid up or rolling fish. As things turned out the weather was not too bad, and by the end of the day I had released two small tarpon and a snook on fly, with Andrew boating 5 nice snook caught on a lure.

Fly caught snook

Fly caught snook

Small tarpon caught on fly near Placencia

Small tarpon caught on fly near Placencia

Days four and five were tough, wet and windy and while a few odd fish were caught there’s nothing much to report, other than the fact that the weather is it’s own boss and there’s really not a whole lot you can do about it.

Another nice fly caught snook

Another nice fly caught snook

Day six dawned with broken cloud and a much lighter winds, so we elected to run offshore to the Sapodilla’s to catch more bonefish while conditions held. It’s a 22 mile run from Monkey River, 22 miles of butt slamming, spray drenching discomfort, given the prevailing conditions, but at least once we reached the flats conditions were comfortable. At first fishing was tough, the previous days of strong wind and heavy rain had coloured the normally crystal clear water, and appeared to have pushed the bonefish out of shallow water. Until the sun got high enough sight fishing was next to impossible, but when conditions did improve George quickly found us some fish. Once again we were both soon hooked up to fast running bonefish, along with various jacks and some very nice yellow tail and Lane snapper added variety.

Working the mangroves for snook & tarpon

Working the mangroves for snook & tarpon

A nice Belize bonefish caught on a heavy 'Gotcha' variant.

A nice Belize bonefish caught on a heavy ‘Gotcha’ variant.

Day seven, out last day, once again looked like being wet and windy, so we stayed inshore. I boated a couple more small tarpon and a nice horse eye jack and Andrew had a tarpon, all on fly, so a good end to the week. When we got back to Monkey River Ray Jennings and Dave Brady, two of our group of five, soon followed us in with beaming smiles that told of a great day on the water. Right at the death in the last hour of the trip fishing just five minutes from the lodge they had caught the best trophy fish caught during the entire week, a fine brace of snook weighing 13 and 14lb respectively. They made an excellent last night dinner!

Ray & Dave fishing Monkey River for snook.

Ray & Dave fishing Monkey River for snook.

A fine pair, no I'm talking about the fish!

A fine pair, no not Ray & Dave, the fish!

For many years I have been a huge fan of ‘Buff’ headwear, which are the perfect garment to wear in the tropics to protect against the sun and ever present lip cracking winds. Obviously the affects and risks of repeated exposure to UV rays are well known, and aside from the face it is your hands that often get too much sun.

Buff UV protective gloves

Buff UV protective gloves

This trip I got to trial a new pair of UV protective fishing gloves from Buff, which aside from offering sun protection ensure a firm grip on the rod and protect your stripping finger from constant abrasion with the fly line. They were very comfortable to wear and absolutely perfect for what they are designed for, I highly recommend them. For more information on these and the full range of Buff products visit: http://www.buffwear.co.uk

Perfect for fly fishing the tropics

Perfect for fly fishing the tropics

Of course I will be returning to Belize in the near future, and if you think you might be interested in joining me for what undoubtedly is the best value flats fishing anywhere in the Caribbean, contact Anglers World holidays on Tel: 01246 221717 or visit: http://www.anglersworld.tv

Tools of the trade, a favourite fly reel: Ari T Hart Mach III custom bonefish

Tools of the trade, a favourite fly reel: Ari T Hart Mach III custom bonefish, Sage RPL+ 7wt combo

Welcome to the jungle!

Welcome to the jungle, mangrove fishing in Belize!