BELIZE MAY 2016

This years Anglers World Holidays group trip to Belize was based at Roberts Grove, Placencia. The perfect location to run offshore to fish the plethora of flats and small cayes in Southern Belize, Roberts Grove proved to be an excellent choice providing wonderful accommodation, great food and outstanding service. Certainly Roberts Grove will be our choice for accommodation for all future trips to Belize, which I am sure will be many!

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One of there swimming pools at Roberts Grove.

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Location on the beach 5 miles north of the village of Placencia, Roberts Grove is the perfect location to fish in Southern Belize

Always the fishing in Belize is excellent, but this year was our best trip ever. May is one of the very best months for tarpon in Belize, and fly fishing for these amazing fish was high on our agenda. We had six full days fly fishing and myself and boat partner Andrew Leaves caught tarpon on every single day. The average size of the tarpon we caught was between 25-50lb, with Andrew catching the largest of the trip, a superb 80lb fish. The most productive fly was the Gummy Minnow, and luckily we had brought plenty of this perfect baitfish imitations, supplied by Fulling Mill and all tied on high quality, strong hooks.

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One of the tarpon I caught on fly, an especially acrobatic 30lb fish.

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A baby tarpon of around 5lb caught on fly in Monkey River, great fun on a 9wt fly rod!

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Fishing poppers for baby tarpon in the jungle rivers of Belize is superb sport.

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SET! Andrew Leaves gets hit in Monkey River.

Anyone who has caught a tarpon will know that these fish are amazingly strong, and the fight is never over until the fish is brought to the boat. Even when the fish are successfully brought alongside getting good photographs is difficult. We don’t lift them aboard as this can easily cause considerable damage both to the fish and tackle, so we attempt to work them onto the edges of a flat, where we could get out of the boat and safely hold the fish in the water. The trouble is the fish very quickly revive themselves and in almost all cases a final explosive display of defiance as we attempted to get photographs resulted in a refreshing shower and a broken leader.

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We wanted a photograph, the fish had other ideas!

As always I fished with my very good friend and outstanding guide George Garbutt, who without a doubt is one of the finest fly fishing guides I have had the pleasure of fishing with anywhere in the world. George’s knowledge of the flats is second to none, and of course this is an essential requirement for the success of any trip.

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George Garbutt, an outstanding guide.

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One of many bonefish caught on fly.

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Jack Crevalle caught on a chartreuse Clouser Monnow, these fish certainly test both your knots and the drag on your reel

While tarpon were our primary interest we also targeted other species. Bonefish are prolific throughout Belize and we caught plenty, even though we spent very little time fishing for them. On a few occasions we looked for permit and while we found one or two, on this occasion the main population of fish seemed to have moved offshore to spawn. Variety was provided by catching some great jacks and snapper of various species, but with the tarpon fishing so good, naturally these were the major focus of our attention on every day. Derek ‘Del’ Elliott caught a specimen 16lb snook of fly and a stunning 21lb African Pompano on bait, and along with boat partner Ray Jennings also got plenty of tarpon and other species.

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Looking for permit on one of countless stunning flats in Belize

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Hard at work in last weeks ‘office’, somewhere in Belize!

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Almost there, George wades out to land one of my fish.

We will be returning to Belize in May 2017 and there may be a place or two left on this trip. If you think you might be interest contacts Anglers World Holidays on Tel: 01246 221717 or visit: http://anglersworld.tv  George Garbutt can be contacted via email at: fishingwgg@gmail.com

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Don’t forget to pack plenty of Gummy Minnows, but make sure they are tied on good quality hooks.

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Andrew Leaves slugs it out with a big tarpon.

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Trying to keep a big tarpon away from the mangroves.

GRAND SLAM ON FLY!

Just home from what has become an annual two week trip to Tulum on the Yukutan Peninsula in Mexico. I fish throughout the extensive, productive saltwater flats within the beautiful Sian Ka’an biosphere. The flats around Boca Paila are one of the few places I know where you can experience good self guided sight fishing for bonefish with a fly rod, though in the years I have been visiting I have noted that the number of anglers fishing here has increased, despite the presence of saltwater crocodiles, and not surprisingly the fish have become very spooky.

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Anglers fishing the flats at Boca Paila. It’s starting to get crowded on the best flats you can reach on foot, but there are plenty of fish.

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Self guided bonefish on fly caught at Boca Paila.

This trip I managed to average a fish a visit, never fishing more than just a couple of hours in the afternoon. Last year I met Capt. Eduardo Gomez, take a look at my earlier blog, one of the best saltwater fly fishing guides I have fished with anywhere. Eduardo has 45 years experience fishing throughout Sian Ka’an, most of it as a full guide at the famous Boca Paila Fishing Lodge, which is no longer in operation.

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Eduardo Gomez poling a flat with the Sian Ka’an Biospere.

This year I booked three full day trips with Eduardo and experienced some of the very best fly fishing I have ever enjoyed. We started off each morning focussing on bonefish, which generally feed best in very shallow water before the sun gets too hot. On the first day with four bonefish successfully caught and released Eduardo suggested we move and try for permit. I very nearly said I would rather stick with catching bones but luckily I listened to Eduardo’s advice, reeled in my 8wt and rigged up a 10wt Thomas & Thomas with a large crab pattern.

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A nice bonefish caught on my first days fishing with Eduardo Gomez.

It was a windy day but luckily there was very little high cloud so the light for spotting fish was perfect. I soon got my first shot at a permit, but not surprisingly that fish showed zero interest in my fly, which is pretty much normal when attempting to catch these most spooky fish on fly. The second fish I cast at reacted very differently and as soon as the fly hit the water it turned to look at it and did everything but actually eat it. The fish did not spook and when I recast it once again turned and closely examined the fly, but refused to actually eat it. By now the fish was moving away from the boat at my extreme casting range and at an angle that meant the third cast would be directly into the wind. In my mind I had given up on catching it but cast anyway, and quite unbelievably the fly landed perfectly right in front of the fish; and this time it ate it. Ten minutes later Eduardo slid the net under my first ever permit caught on fly.

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Eduardo Gomez hold’s my fly caught permit.

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My first permit on fly.

With bonefish and permit now in the bag I only needed a tarpon to complete a coveted I.G.F.A Inshore Grand Slam on fly, a lifetime achievement for any angler, and one that has been at the very top of my personal bucket list for many years. Eduardo knew a good place and with the crab fly swapped for one of my home tied Black Death tarpon flies I started casting. Within ten minutes I had hooked the first tarpon, which came cartwheeling directly towards the boat before throwing the fly, ditto the second fish. The third fish stayed hooked throughout three spectacular series of acrobatic jumps and as Eduardo reached out to grab the leader all looked done and dusted, until the line went slack. By now the clock was ticking but undeterred Eduardo took us to another spot where I connected with another tarpon, that remained hooked all the way to the net.

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Grand Slam complete, tarpon an the fly!

With my inshore fly caught slam in the bag my day was done and I made it back to the hotel in time for the 2 for 1 Margarita happy hour, the start of a most memorable hangover! Eduardo Gomez can be contacted through the following emails, his son’s at monsrealcr7@gmail.com or bambi_020@hotmail.com

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Eduardo holds one of several jack crevalle I caught on fly during my trip.

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Another day, another great bonefish, I’ll be back very soon…