Belize Bonefish, Tarpon, Permit & More Trip #64

Belize Bonefish, Tarpon, Permit & More Trip #64

Belize, for a number of years, has been considered one of the premier destinations for anglers seeking bonefish and permit, with a very healthy dose of tarpon. There are a number of Belize fishing lodges and operations, but please know that some areas have very few bones, so it pays to be careful in deciding where to go. For example, in many areas in the southern part of the region, bonefish become scarce, while permit become more plentiful. Other areas have more concentrations of tarpon. We like this operation for its variety- superb flats fishing for bones; very good permit, decent tarpon from juveniles to giants, awesome barracuda and much more. Butch and Joan and a group of friends fished here in June of 2016. See their report at the end of this.

tn_3  Let’s start by looking at the picture above. Those flats in front of the Lodge always have tailing bones 2 minutes from your lodging! They are very eco conscious, having a salt water de-salinazation plant for water needs. And realize you are living 30 miles off-shore! You get there by a 90 minute boat ride.

This operation has been in place for nearly 30 years, and a plethora of big name salt water fishers have hung their hats here regularly. Enjoy spectacular tropical evenings, spend hours sight fishing the flats for bones, permit and tarpon, take a dip in the Infinity pool (while watching tailing bones just a few yards away) – and then imbibe your favorite beverage on the deck. Watch out for the coconut rum punch Butch advises!

They offer a variety of accommodations from private Cabanas on the beach (all air conditioned), to various upscale and comfortable villas with clean air conditioned rooms and private baths. Daily room service. Meals are heavy on fresh seafood, local produce and home made pastry and fishing and touring packages include your meals, guides and lodging. You can book stays for 3 to 7 days. Prices vary with number of days, and a general guide will appear at the end of this write-up.

One big surprise to us, was the awesome Atoll Adventure package they offer to non-fishers or part time fishers. More about that in the report at the bottom.

Now- what about the fishing? This lodge is on a major coral atoll 30 miles off shore of Belize, with miles of some of the finest wading flats anywhere. You can literally fish within minutes of leaving the lodge. You will normally see large schools of bones, tailing on the flats. Most fish are in the 2 to 4 pound range, but there are enough 5 pound fish to keep life very interesting. You may even see their famed golden bones- truly gold colored- not silver.

tn_8  While boating or wading the flats, you may very well get shots at permit and tarpon, and even barracuda, every day you fish. We like that fishing here is pretty consistent almost all year. A week of fishing will show you typically hundreds of fish. Indeed a big school of tailing bones can have 100 fish! And this is a great place for the beginner fly fisherman- they are happy to teach you, show incredible patience and kindness to beginners; and there enough targets that even a rank amateur will enjoy success here. There are literally several hundred square miles of flats to explore! Most of the area has 1 to 3 feet of crystal clear water. Permit here average 10 to 18 pounds but can go over 35 pounds.

Fishing is from 23′ fiberglass Pangas, which in effect is similar to a standard center console boat, but adapted to fish the flats. There are usually two anglers to a skiff with an English speaking, licensed and experienced guide.

This area offers a very diverse fishing environment. Flats, channels, cayes, reefs, mangrove islands and channels. These include the Belize River, Sibun River, Manatee River, Black Creek, and several other creeks & lagoons in between are the areas fished from the Lodge in a normal five day fishing package. This is a very large area with a great variety of fishing conditions, fish species and scenery. Game fish species generally found in this area include PERMIT, BONEFISH, TARPON, SNOOK, SNAPPER, JACKS, BARRACUDA, GROUPER and others.

Many species of birds and other wildlife such as manatees, howler monkeys, iguanas, turtles, and occasionally crocodiles may be seen while fishing from the Lodge. Comfortable skiffs, modern outboard engines and English speaking, professional licensed guides help make this a memorable fishing vacation.

The coast of Belize is a complex system of river mouths, creeks, lagoons, flats, small cayes, mangrove islands and the Barrier Reef. The ecosystem that exists supports millions of crabs, shrimp, bait fish and hug quantities of other aquatic life, which is why there is an abundance of game fish; Permit, Bonefish, Tarpon, Snook, Cubera Snappers, Jacks, Groupers, Barracudas and Cobia to name a few.

You will have noticed there are very few bad times to fish here. Normally there are an abundance of the primary species from January through August, with bones, smaller tarpon and permit, pretty much year round. Our team went in early June and had great fishing. Of course the closer to summer the warmer it gets.

A TYPICAL FISHING DAY:
64-292x300  Usually most of the fishermen are up and moving and take their coffee about 6:00 am on the Lodge Verandah, conversation, check tackle and equipment. If you are a birder, this is a great time to get out your binoculars and enjoy BRL’s many wild tropical birds. Then at about 7AM, Breakfast, then after breakfast, back to your room, grab your gear, and go to the dock where you will meet your awaiting guide. By about 7:30 am you an your guide is ready on your skiff at the dock, then a few minutes for guides to check your tackle (especially if guests are changing guides daily). Then you and your guide can determine where and what to fish for that day based on weather and target species. Your guide will help you tie or select the right leaders, lines, shock tippets and flies for the areas you are concentrating on for that day. Note that your first morning will take a few minutes longer for initial set up of equipment. Then leave dock for fishing areas – can be Flats, reef, mangroves, creeks, lagoons or river; usually a half hour to 40 minutes running time (as close as 20 minutes away).

Most of the day is spent hunting or casting to fish, checking out many different places, such as flats, channels, mangrove shorelines, etc. The guides will usually pole or paddle during fishing most of the day with each angler taking turns on the bow, if there are two anglers to the boat. It is mostly sight fishing: casting to tailing, rolling or cruising fish or casting to fish held up under the mangroves or casting to mudding spots. There will be some blind casting to areas that guides know hold fish. The guide will motor to other areas during the day always with wind, tide, light and species in mind.

Sometime about midday, depending on fishing, the guide will find a cool, shady spot for lunch (usually under an overhanging mangrove). Lunch is prepared by the Lodge staff and consists of a delicious boxed meal of sandwiches, fruit, chips & dessert and is packed in a cooler with an assortment of soft drinks, beer, water, etc. Many anglers catch a power nap at this time and then plan for the afternoon. The afternoon fishing continues and the skiff heads for the Lodge, getting back around 5:00 to 5:30 pm. All boats should be back in the river before dusk. Rods & reels are rinsed at the dockside and stored in a convenient rack near the main Lodge, safe from screen doors and ceiling fans.

After a shower; drinks, appetizers & fishing stories are shared on the verandah. At 7:00 pm a delicious family style dinner is served and after dinner, relax on the screened-in porch, enjoy an after dinner cocktail and reminisce on the day’s fishing. Maybe even find out what the hot lure or fly of the day was and learn to tie it yourself at the fly tying table.

Note: If you enjoy snorkeling, bring your equipment with you, and take an hour or so out of your fishing day and snorkel if you are near the reef. Let your guide know in the morning that you would like to snorkel, so he can plan it into your day.

NON-FISHING OPPORTUNITIES:
Diving on this atoll and the various nearby reefs will keep people very busy. Also available are dolphin tours, flats tours, sea kayaking, birding tours, mainland tours such as the Mayan ruins and much more. The ladies in Butch’s group had a truly awesome time on their 3 days of snorkeling. The lodge has an extremely educated naturalist, who explains in great detail, dives down to pick up creatures and then returns them with great care. He takes incredible photos up close, and shows them in a slide show each evening, which knocks off everyone’s socks! There are also eco-tours to be had, as well as most any plan the guests may desire. Tours of the Mayan ruins, snorkeling, birding, canoeing, the zoo and horseback can be arranged, just ask us.

There is wi-fi so bring your own computer if you need to. Cell service on the Lodge grounds is spotty at best but will do for texts.

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TRAVEL:
Most arrivals and departures are Saturday, and Wednesday. Different days may have additional transfer fees. You typically fly into Belize City, directly from any major hub, such as Houston, Miami, Newark, Atlanta and you must arrive NO LATER THEN 3PM, if you want to reach the Lodge that day. If you plan to fly out immediately after your trip, plan to catch afternoon flights to allow time for you to get to airport. You must have a valid US Passport with at least 180 days remaining on it, before it expires. No visa is needed for US or Canadian citizens, at present.

RATES:

7 Nights/6 Days Packages- To June 20, 2021 
Package

Fishing $4,690
Diving $3,190 
Atoll Adventure $2,780
Rest & Relaxation $2,630 
Combination Fish & Dive $4,890
Single Supplement Fishing $6,590 

June 21 to Dec. 19, 2021 -7 Nights/6 Days Package

Fishing $4,090
Diving $2,990
Atoll Adventure $2,590
Rest & Relax $2,490
Combination Fish & Dive $4,090
Single Supplement Fishing $5,990

*Holiday Week (December 22-29) will be at Peak Season Rates.

Partial Week Packages- 4 Nights/3 Days- All Year

Fishing $2,750
Diving $1,890
Atoll Adventure $1,690
Rest & Relaxation $1,590
Combination Fish & Dive $2,990
Single Supplement Fishing $3,990 

3 Nights/2 Days- All Year

Fishing $1,790
Diving $1,250
Atoll Adventure $1,090
Rest & Relaxation $990
Combination Fish & Dive $1,990
Single Supplement Fishing $2,490

• All full week rates are for Saturday-Saturday Packages. Partial Week Packages are booked on a space available basis and space may be limited during peak season.
• Packages can be mixed and a la carte upgrades can be booked while at the resort if space is available.
• All rates are per person based on double occupancy except as noted for the Single Supplement Fishing Package. Private room upgrades are available upon request. All guestrooms are charged at the same rate and all rooms are centrally air-conditioned.
Packages Include:
• Saturday & Wednesday airport transfers
• Lodging
• Daily guided activity as per Package booked
• Three meals daily plus hors d’oeuvres
• Use of on-site amenities including pool, internet, sea kayaks and the gym
Packages Do Not Include:
• Bar tab
• Gratuities
• Equipment rental
• Additional transfers fee on days other than Saturday and Wednesdays
• Park entrance fees & licenses
Deposit & Cancellation Policy: A deposit equal to 50% of the “Package” price is required to confirm a reservation, and is due within two weeks of the booking date. Deposits are refundable (minus a 15% fee PLUS A $100.00 handling fee per package) up to 60 days prior to the start of a trip. Within 60 days prior to the start of a trip, the deposit is not refundable for any reason unless we are able to re-sell your space. Final payment is due 60 days prior to departure and is not refundable. No refunds are available for unused portions of packages. We strongly recommend that you purchase trip cancellation insurance.

BUTCH AND JOANS’ 2016 REPORT:
Joan and I, and 2 other couples just returned from the Central America country of Belize, where we went to do some flats fishing for bones, permit and tarpon, and also to do some world class snorkeling. We had done a good deal of research to try and find what we thought would be a premium destination for fly and spin fishing, and for snorkeling for the non-fishers, all in a remote area but having excellent amenities. Not easy to find, but we did it! This place was about a 9.5 out of 10! Fishers and non-fishers had a ball. To keep this report fairly short (feel free to call and pick our brains if you wish); we stayed on a reef about 30 miles off the coast of Belize. So you are incredibly remote and you live literally where you fish. The reef and the waters are gin clear and beautiful. You could stand on the Lodge deck, or by the Infinity pool, and see a hundred bonefish tailing just a few yards from the Lodge. Not a few either- a ton of them. Typical day was up around 6, breakfast about 7, then off to the flats boats, or else to the snorkeling boat. The flats guides were always ready for us- always! Much appreciated.
Fishing was absolutely world class, but generally not easy. You had many shots at bonefish every day, a few for permit, and a few for tarpon if you chased them. We even tried trolling (to beat the still air and heat) for barracuda and I had a 50” fish make my 10 weight fly reel sound like it was screeching in mortal agony! However, for the rookies or the folks looking for their first bones, the guides had their secret spots. Our guide (Daniel- top notch- but so was Michael and others) had such a spot and he put Joan in the bow, worked on her casting and in 3 casts she had her first bone, followed by 3 more bones in the next 10 minutes. My turn, I caught my 4, and put Joan back in bow to catch her 4, and so we kept trading allmorning. Then it got truly hot, and we went trolling for barracuda (using big orange tube lures on our fly rods). Action was non-stop with blinding runs and incredibly vicious strikes.
Guides spoke great English, were adept and patient. Joan and I probably each caught around 40 or more bones, and 5 or 6 barracuda. One group of rookies had the trip of lifetime catching a permit apiece and probably 10 or more bones each in their 3 days of fishing.
The wives could not stop talking about their snorkeling trips with the Lodge’s dive instructor who is a naturalist who also entertained us all at night with his National Geographic like under water closeup photos taken that day. The ladies had a ball. They simply floated and looked. Dinners were superb, the bar was excellent (watch out for their rum punch!). Several in our group had little or no fly fishing experience but guides taught them enough for them to score on bones and hook them on the sport. No need to worry if you need to learn- you will!
Be sure to spend time in town to see the Mayan ruins- a must see. We also did the zoo and saw a huge black jaguar- a life long want to see for me. Friendly people and a long season- fishing is 12 months a year, Peak is Jan thru May, June for tarpon. An awesome operation!

CLOTHING SUGGESTIONS:
Sun is really tough on your skin. Even the dark skinned guides covered every square inch of their bodies! You will want buffs that pull up over neck, ears and nose- right up to your sunglasses. Add a long billed hat with no vents in it (you can burn right thru the vents!). Shirts of 30 to 50 PDF ratings. Forget the shorts, you need fast drying lightweight pants for wading. They have hard bottom Simms wading shoes to rent for wading- old sneakers and booties will just get you cut up! I also advise light weight fingerless gloves and tape for your forefingers when stripping line. Bugs were no issue unless on shore with shorts, when no see ums are pesky. If you go snorkeling- wear full shirts and pants! Joan who never burns got a terrific burn on her back- wear pants and shirts when swimming.

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TACKLE SUGGESTIONS:
Fly Rods
Fly rods in the 7-8 wt. range are the ideal size for Belize bonefish. The lighter rods (7 wt) are great when there is little or no wind and an 8-weight rod has more than enough muscle to deliver a fly in even the stiffest of gales. Moreover, the 8-weight rod will double as the ideal rod for permit and light tarpon fishing (MAYBE- depends on size of fly and amount of wind).. Many anglers prefer to have their larger rod, a 10 wt. – rigged up and in the boat for the permit and an 8 weight rod with a floating line in hand for the bonefish that are routine. This also leaves a heavier rod as a reserve for extremely windy days. Ten to twelve weight rods are perfect for tarpon fishing.
The choice of rod length is important. Nine or nine-and-a-half foot long rods are optimum. More line can be picked up off the water with the longer rods, with less surface disturbance. Also, for the vast majority of fly anglers, greater distances can be covered with less effort using the longer fly rods.

Fly Reels
Should be anodized, corrosion-resistant saltwater models that will hold a full fly line, plus approximately 300 yards of 20 lb. backing for bonefish and permit, and 300 yards of 30-50 pound backing for tarpon. Reels equipped with high quality, smooth, drags are essential to prevent break-offs from the blistering runs of a hooked fish.

Fly Lines
A weight forward tropical saltwater taper floating line is ideal for most of the sight fishing you will encounter. There may be a few times when an intermediate sinking line is the answer for tarpon and permit fishing. Anglers should also bring along some sort of line cleaner for the lines as well, since saltwater has a way of making them sticky after a few days use.

Leaders
Tarpon Custom Fly Leader 9 feet long, 30 pound class tippet with 60, 80 and 100 pound bite tippets
Bonefish Tapered Leaders 10’-14’ feet long, –ending in 10 or 12 pound
Permit Tapered Leaders 10’-14 feet long –ending in 16 to 20 pound

Catch and Release
Permit, Bonefish and Tarpon are always released; other species like Snapper & Grouper are kept for the table.

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