Winters in Michigan are nothing to be desired. In our business, we live for holiday sales, then spend January and February paying due invoices and fretting. What sustained me this past year, as we counted the days of unbroken cloud and gloom, was knowing of our trip to Belize in mid-March.
The first morning, after breakfast at the lodge you grab lunch and go out to meet the boat. You might have a different guide each day, and you won’t be sorry. They are all unique, intelligent, fun, loquacious, generous with help and information, and extremely well educated.
Two anglers to a boat, plus the guide. You take turns on deck, though everybody’s in on the hunt. You might go for Bonefish first, as a way to get warmed up, instill confidence, and get your eyes used to the conditions. I had never fly fished in the tropics, so it was all one continuous catalogue of intense challenges for me.
After a few bones, we went out across the water and slowed near a mangrove to find a group of snook being maddeningly desirable and elusive. My partner got off quite a few good casts, but they were spooky, smart, and much more experienced than we were.
Whether we were searching for bones, snook, permit or tarpon, I had never expected that fishing in such a way would be so addictive. By “in such a way”, I mean standing for long – and I mean long – stretches of time, staring into the bright undulating water, hoping to spot a moving shape, a different shadow, a dark needle poking up from the surface, anything to suggest our quarry might be within range, or approaching.
I mean desperately trying to fix my eyes on whatever the guide was hollering about, pointing to, and locating with directions: “Eleven o’clock, 50 yards!” All the while, getting ready on deck, line untangled, casting ready, poised to lift, roll and shoot, back cast and shoot again, aiming just ahead of the moving shape, heart pounding, knees wobbly, hands shaking, you only have one shot, two at best, let it go, land it, strip strip strip, wait, now stripstripstripstrip!
I was in a lather of excitement, fear, embarrassment, and worry, and once – just once, I jumped a tarpon! Of course I could have done better overall, but I think for my first time ever on salt, things could have been worse. Next March (2018), we’re going back again, this time having practiced hard and often the art of casting distance in wind. Kinda like the guide in the video here:
Here are a few pics showing the lovely accommodations and the great atmosphere so conducive to casual socializing and relaxing in general.