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Placencia, Belize – 2008

Well, Belize was everything I remembered.  Beautiful weather (mid to high 80’s, light breeze) lots of fish, nice people and good vibes.  The kinda place where you just want to build and stay.  That’s what Ted Berry of Maine did. 

He built a place and stays down there quite a bit.  Some of you may know Ted.  I didn’t until he came over and introduced himself along with his brother Andy who asked me if I know a guy from Maine named Jon Berry.  When I said yes Andy said “That’s my boy” – small world isn’t it. So Jon – your dad says “Hi.”

But let’s get to the fishing and I’ve gotta say right up front that this wasn’t a fishing trip.  We went to relax, chill on the beach, tour some ruins and trying to get three days fishing was a hopeful target ($300.00 per day American if you’re wondering).  Well, I only got two days in and they were windy. It was so windy we didn’t even fish the third day.  We couldn’t risk the boat ride out to the flats. 

And, the boat ride is the big advantage of staying at a lodge out near the barrier reef – you don’t have far to go to fish and you can sneak into sheltered coves since you’re already out there. 

You might have guessed from all this hedging around that I didn’t catch a fish.  If that was your guess you got it right. But I got lots of chances at Permit and Permit was my target.  I just couldn’t hook up – there were lots of fish.  I saw more Permit on my first morning than I had seen collectively during two previous trips to Belize – and I fished 5-days on both of those earlier trips.  I’ll go again and I wouldn’t change much.  Here are some tips should you plan to go.

First, if you

 expand the picture on the left you see a rainbow in the upper right – I saw a lot of those we had what the guides liked to call “squally” weather – it both rained and blew hard.  Bring good rain gear or hide under the casting platform like Carlos did when the skies opened up.

You might also want to bring some good, small crab patterns, especially, if you’re going to insist on staying on the Permit flats instead of going after Bones or Tarpon.  You see small crabs are what those Permit want.  And I do mean small – about the size of a dime.  Yet even with a fly that small I was using a 10-weight – certainly not because of the fly size – partly for the size of the fish I wanted to catch – but mostly due to the extreme wind.

Now people told me take tan crabs and green crabs and you’ll be all set. They were right – sort of.  There were tan crabs for sure but green crabs – well you tell me how many shades of green do you know of?  Kelly Green, Grass Green, Pale Green, Insect Green, Lime Green, Jade Green – now you’re talking – Jade Green – that’s the color you want at least that’s the color the ones I caught were. And yes I was tempted to cut one of my flies up and then tie one of these crabs onto the bare hook.  Two days of casting to Permit only to have them follow and refuse can get to you.

Anyway, as Marshall would say, bring your A game if you go down there.  I can cast fairly well and fairly accurately. Certainly at 25′ I can hit a bushel basket…..but the wind.  The wind and a moving basket.  You see those Permit are looking for crabs and they don’t always look straight ahead.  They look right, left, further left, back to the right, oops they just turned around and your cast is headed right for the tail now. Those fish know no mercy and they seem to like making your best cast look bad. 

But as you can see if you expand the picture above and to the right there were fish caught.  Not by me but when Hector and I got out to wade the flat Carlos would cast to the deeper green water on the lee side of the reef and there were often Jacks waiting.  The picture on the left shows the size of the breakers on the outside of the flat we were on and you can see the deeper, calmer water close to the boat.  If you go and the guide tells you to blind cast into some of those holes – do try it.  You’re apt to get Jacks like Carlos did – which are great fun – or any number of other fish. 

Hind-sight tells me maybe I should have done more of that but the plan was to spend two days casting to Permit as long as they were up on the flats and feeding.  Well they were up on the flats all day long and they were feeding.  I’ve often heard that during low tide and especially during ebb tide you can forget Permit.  Well, not the case for my two days.  Carlos and Hector knew of flats that were just the right depth at low tide and when one flat got slow due to water levels we just jumped to another that was “just right.”

Plans go astray and the major wind we got the next three days cancelled the third day.  Had we gone that third day our intention was to fish one of the coves in the early morning that fills with baitfish and feeding Tarpon.  Then to hit the bonefish flats and work them.  So, you might ask did the wind blow everyday?  The answer would be no.  The first day we rented a car to go visit Mayan Ruins the water was flat calm – just my luck.

If you want to take a close look at the size and color of the crabs down there – follow this link – to a video of one I picked up off the flat.  I’d have paid good money for this clip before I went.  I searched the web many hours trying to get a good picture of these crabs.

And if you want to know how windy it really was – follow this link – it will give you an idea.


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