02
Apr 17

Two weeks from today

In two weeks I’ll be in Belize with my 10 year old for a daddy-daughter Spring Break. There probably won’t be fishing this day, but there probably WILL be snorkeling and seeing sharks and jacks and all manner of cool fish. The fishing will be the last two days of the trip, although, knowing me, I might get a little bit of fishing in before that.

Belize… I’ve been twice before. Once in 2010 to El Pescador for a trip that produced my Grand Slam with my friend Shane. The last time was in 2012 for my honeymoon, again to El Pescador.

This time I’m headed to Caye Caulker, which is, admittedly, not that far from Ambergris Caye, so I’m not spreading my wings too far.

Two weeks out, I need to put my gear together and get all my daughter’s stuff packed (I wont’ have her again until the day before we leave). I need to sort out my fly situation and put the spinning gear together, make sure I have what we need. I need to find some travel-sized sun screen. I’m getting excited, but I also have a mountain of work to do between now and then.

It will be here before I know it and I am going to need to soak up the time there with my girl. If this goes well, maybe we go back next year. Hoping at 11 she’ll still want to go hang out with her dad. We’ll see.


19
Mar 17

27 days to Belize

The sand in the hourglass no longer looks so daunting. This trip is going to happen.

Just a few weekends left to get things sorted out, but I think I’m mostly ready for Belize.

I did have one little setback earlier in the week. Mainly, a no-contact injury in my 40+ indoor soccer league. Looks like a partially ruptured left calf, an injury I’m familiar with having tired it out on my right calf a couple years ago. Good news is I’m already up and walking on it, almost without a limp. Should be fine in a couple weeks.

Speaking of legs and feet and whatnot, I also picked up a pair of the Simms Zipit II flats booties. I have had Patagonia boots for the flats for a long time, but 1. those either need to be replaced or repaired, and 2. they take up a lot of room when packings (I wear a 14). So, I decided to try out something different. The soul here seems thick enough to stand up to the odd urchin or jagged shell and they should be lighter and smaller when packing. We’ll see how it goes.

I’ve been at the vice a little bit, although not enough. Tying up some #6-8’s, with weed guards, for the bones and I haven’t decided what I need to try and whip up for baby tarpon yet… likely something bunny-ish.

The count down continues. Looking forward to it all.

 

 


08
Mar 17

Why you should book with an outfitter, Belize Edition

I’m going to Belize next month, as I think you all know.

I ended up not booking the trip through a booking agent although the price was almost identical and in the end, probably would have been completely equal. I didn’t have really good reasons NOT to book through an agent but part of my brain was thinking this wasn’t a real fishing trip, even if there was going to be 1-2 days of fishing.

So, I booked myself.

Fast forward to a couple days ago when my procrastinating brain figured “OK, let’s get the guides sorted out.” Well, there were no more guides available. Disaster. Scramble. “OH NOOOOO.”

Pretty sure if I had booked through a booking agent I would not have has the 24-36 hours of panic I just endured.

I found a guide. The trip is saved, but only just. It is Easter Weekend. People are booked well in advance. I had just let the details slip because I hardly have two seconds to rub together these days and I adopted a distinctly “Island time” mentality about this trip.

Mistake.

When and if I get to go with my daughter on some other exotic fishing trip I’m going to go through an agent… because, yeah, I’d like to not sweat the details.


02
Mar 17

And… speaking of Belize

Check out this bit of awesome… the folks from Silver Kings join The Fieldworkers Club down at El Pescador (my first Belizian love).

Oh Belize… soon… soon.

The final piece, the tarpon.

 


24
Jan 17

Tutorial on how to ruin a good thing – Belize edition

Honeymooners, Belize, 2012.

Belize is not a big country. It’s 330,000 people, plus or minus, makes it smaller in population than the city I work in, Oakland, which has some 400,000 residents. In terms of economics, the city of Oakland has an income per capita of about $32K, give or take, while the income per capita for the whole nation of Belize is just over $7,000.

So, it is easy to guess some of the things Belize does not have. There are some things Belize has in spades, however. Belize has in Mayan ruins what it lacks in Walmarts. The one big, big thing Belize has is a barrier reef. In fact, the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996. It is massive. It is a treasure. It is probably the lifeblood of the Belizian economy, accounting for about 12% of GDP.

If you were to make of list of activities which could really mess up a barrier reef system, you might put offshore oil drilling high on that list. Cynics would be unsurprised to hear the government of Belize has moved in that direction,  giving the green light to start oil exploration off the coast of Belize.

I mean… why would you do that? That’s not a real question. We all know why. It is money and greed and the power someone(s) might be able to accumulate in a country with a population smaller than the city of Oakland.

Belize… I hope you don’t do it. I hope you build on your assets and don’t lose them under a slick of oily greed and shortsightedness.

Belize… I need you to be Belize.

 


17
Jan 17

Flies (and gear) for Belize

Belize… smallest fish of my 2010 trip.

Belize, 88 days away, means I need to get back at the vice and it means different flies than I’d have in my box otherwise.

On the bonefish front, it means small flies. #6’s and #8’s… yes… #8’s. Not only smaller flies than you are likely to fish in the Bahamas, but also adding a weed-guard is a good idea.

For tarpon… well… I do dig on the bunny flies and I could stand a few more lighter colored tarpon bunnies. I’ll likely ties some #1’s for any tarpon I might come across.

Now… this is a trip with my daughter and while our goal is for her to catch a bonefish on a fly (if we end up at a mud, don’t judge me), it is possible we need to throw some gear for fish as well. I’m never really too sure what spinning gear to bring along for maybe catching a bonefish. That isn’t what I’ve been doing. So, might need to seek out some consultation on that front.

How much fly fishing I get to do is really a great unknown. The #1 priority is to keep the girl happy and have a good vacation. That certainly means I’ll fish less than I would like to fish, but there WILL be some fishing.


14
Jan 17

Five things that make Belize Awesome

91 days until Belize (I’ll be on Caye Caulker, if booking through Yellow Dog, ask for Cameron, he knows his stuff)… and I’m sitting here thinking about the appeal of Belize.

Here are five things that make Belize awesome.

Belizean Bone

  1. Bonefish. They have bonefish. They have lots and lots of bonefish. They are not big bonefish, mostly, but what they lack in size they make up for in numbers. It reminds me of that creek you go to when you want to do a bit of catching. In Belize you can, more or less, count on doing a bit of bonefish catching.
  2. Tarpon. They have them and in greater numbers and more predictably than you would find in many other Caribbean locations. There are babies and adults and the fish in-between.
  3. English. They speak English in Belize which makes it a great option for those of us who are Spanish-challenged.
  4. Ruins. You can check out the Mayan ruins in Belize, and the ruins are often pretty spectacular. Amazing to think what that culture accomplished without steel tools or Home Depot.
  5. Grand Slam. This is a place where it can happen. It happened for me on my first ever tarpon and my first ever permit. The folks at El Pescador seem to rack up Grand Slams on a fairly regular basis, which is pretty amazing as a routine happening.

Now… the thing I’m leaving off the list, mostly, is a fish many anglers go to Belize specifically to find and that is the permit. Why do I not consider the permit one of the top five bits of awesome? Because permit are jerks, that’s why.

The guides who are well known in Belize are the permit guides and they can find them and they know how to fish them and they have brought much joy to that unique group of black tailed seekers, permit anglers. However, that game is just not my game. Maybe it will happen at some point, but for now I’m happy to leave it to you masochists.

I also didn’t mention the national beer, the Belekin, even if I tend to drink a lot of them when I’m in Belize. There is very little weight difference between a full Belekin and an empty one. The beer itself is one of those warm climate lagers that suits its climate perfectly, even if there is less actual beer in one of those thick, heavy bottles than you might wish there was.

One of the best beers I’ve ever had. A Grand Slam Beer.


09
Jan 17

New Fly Fisher in Belize

Ah, Belize…

In this episode of The New Fly Fisher they are down in Belize at El Pescador with Orvis guru Tom Rosenbauer.

El Pescador has a special place in my heart/soul.

A nice place to be.

I first went to El Pescador in 2010 with my buddy Shane. We had some less than ideal weather, but we had a couple good days on the water, culminating with my first ever permit and my first ever tarpon and my first ever grand slam (still my only grand slam).

The permit. Not a big permit, but a permit.

Loved the place so much I conned convinced my wife to head down there for our honeymoon.

Honeymoon Bonefish

We are going to try to get back there somewhere close to our 5th anniversary, but also when our son might be a little easier to deal with (he’s 3). So, thanks Tom and company for getting me a glimpse of that land I enjoy so much.

Spring Break will see me just a short hop from El Pescador and Ambergris over on Caye Caulker. Can’t wait to get back to Belize.

 


02
Dec 16

“Restoration” isn’t what you are doing

On my google alert I saw the following headline, “Coldwell Banker Ambergris Caye: Blackadore Caye is Now Moving Forward to a Full Swing Restoration.”

Yes… see… they are “restoring” Blackadore Caye.

re·store
/rəˈstôr/
– repair or renovate (a building, work of art, vehicle, etc.) so as to return it to its original condition.

Blackadore will no be restored to its original condition, a state that it was pretty much in before Leonardo DiCaprio and his business partners took aim at the caye near some of the best tarpon waters in the whole country.

It isn’t being restored. It is being changed, forever (or, ya know, for the next 100 years and maybe longer). It is being industrialized. It is being developed. It is being taken from near pristine and made less pristine. You can’t restore something by cutting down the trees and mangroves and replacing them with buildings and docks.

That’s not how this works. That’s not how any of this works.

As it was.

As it was.

Below, without the over-water structures on the top, right, are what Blackadore Caye might look like soon.

master-plan-of-blackadore-updated

Restoration, indeed.

And power needs and the need to get people, including workers to and from, and the trash produced, and the human waste produced… I see no way this ends up being a good thing for the environment, the fish or the people who rely on them. This is green-washing at its worst.

If I make it back to Ambergris, and maybe on my trip to Caye Caulker, I may ask just to go by Blackadore Caye just to give them the old one finger salute.


30
Nov 16

Belizian Spring Break

From Abaco last year.

From Abaco last year.

It is happening. In April I’m going to head to Caye Caulker with my (at that point) 10 year old daughter, just the two of us.

I’ve never been to Caye Caulker, but I’m pretty sure I flew over it when last in Belize in 2012. It seems to offer a lot of what I’m looking for. Laid back. Snorkeling. Fishing close at hand.

We’ll be staying at Sea Dreams, which you can book through Yellow Dog Fly Fishing. They know this place and can give you great advice about who to fish with, how to get there and all the details.

The plan, for the four days, is maybe a couple half days of fishing and a couple of snorkel outings and some hanging out in what still seems to be mostly a fishing village.

My daughter is a casualty of divorce and she is always asking for more time with me. This is some dedicated dad time and I hope a memory she holds for a lifetime.

I know, at 10, she is not going to be a hard-core angler. She’ll need breaks and diversions and, most likely, a spinning rod, and I’m OK with all of that. You have to be, going in, or it won’t work.

I am hoping to put the stick to a tarpon… a tarpon of any size. I also hope to not cast at a permit at all, as those are just not fodder for a 10 year old (or, maybe just not fodder for my 10 year old) as they require a lot of standing around, from what little I know of permit fishing.

I’m determined to have a great trip, come rains or winds or dodgy ceviche. This. Will. Happen.