21
Oct 17

Heading Back to Caulker

Just substitute Cali for Caulker and now you have that in your head.

Just booked flights for get back to Caye Caulker for another Dad/Daughter Spring Break.

Last year was a really great trip and an important one for my daughter and I and I’m hoping this next year is more of the same.

Here’s what I’m looking for in Spring Break 2018.

  • Some quality chillaxing with my 11 year old.
  • Some dock bonefish.
  • A day of fly fishing with the girl.
  • More time in the kayak around Caye Caulker.
  • A trip to the Mayan ruins this time (we didn’t do that last year).
  • Probably another day of snorkeling.
  • No major sunburns.

Hoping to be back at Sea Dreams and I’m going to work through Yellow Dog on this year’s trip.

I wouldn’t even mind that much to see our old friend Mr. Brown.

We named him Mr. Brown

I have high hopes, which is often the worst thing to bring along with you on any trip, but, still, I hope.

One of the highlights from Spring Break 2017.


07
Oct 17

A little round up of stuff floating around out there

First, congrats to Yellow Dog’s Jim Klug who recently landed the 2017 Izaak Walton Award given by the The American Museum of Fly Fishing. I’ve had the pleasure of fishing with Jim. He’s solid. Last year’s award winner was super-talented artist and author James Prosek.

Jim + Cuba + Cameras

Second, hope you like that water taxi ride to Caye Caulker, cuz, you aren’t going to be flying there for a while. They are reconstructing the runway on Caye Caulker, ruling that out as a “by air” option for a while. My daughter and I took the ferry/taxi from Belize City last year. It was pretty easy. One of my bags went missing for a couple hours but they assured me they don’t lose bags and they didn’t. Got everything back with only a minor delay. We’ll be heading back in April and we’ll do it by boat again.

Third, and last, more stirrings from the Bahamas as Bahamian guides and lodge owners are complaining about a substantial drop in business, blaming outfitters/booking agents. Talking to some American lodge owners out there over the past year they tell me business is good, but they are working hard for that business. Lots of dollars put into marketing. I’ve seen the uptick in social media presence that would back that up. There is something like a “it takes money (and time) to make money” thing here. There are also some economic headwinds with Bahamian tourists spending 28% less now than they did in 2000. Add to that a season full of hurricanes that likely scared off some tourists and, ya know… people aren’t just going to come on their own. Licenses are still needed and still not available on-line. A lot of angler resentment still exists due to the push by the BFFIA. Add all that up and, yeah, business would be down.


27
Apr 17

The trip to Belize

I had been preparing my daughter for a couple months for the trip to Caye Caulker. We’d have to get up early… like, 4.30 AM early, to start the journey. I knew it was going to be trying, on everyone. This isn’t a girl who deals well with a lack of sleep, or mornings.

We start off just fine. We getup. I get coffee, even, and we make our flight, no complications. Oakland to Denver to Belize City.

A couple hours into the second flight the questions start…

“When are we going to get there?”

“How much longer until we land?”

“How many more hours are we going to be in the air?”

Despite the questions, we land, eventually. She only goes to the bathroom 3 times during the 4.5 hour flight. Landing, we emerged into a heat and humidity very foreign to those of us from California. I dig it though, because it means I’m somewhere awesome. I know there are plenty of hot and humid places that aren’t awesome, but I don’t go to those places, so I associate heat and humidity with awesomeness.

This is the first time I’ve left the airport. Previously I’ve taken the puddle jumper, but not this time. This time we are going to take the Water Taxi from Belize City to Caye Caulker. It will be a new experience. I’ll see a little more of Belize and, let’s be honest, it is way cheaper.

The taxi is clean and has AC and is relatively fast. Waiting for the boat it is hot and there is no AC and it seems to take forever. People keep trying to sell me beer. I think getting tanked before we even get to the island and in front of my 10 year old isn’t a good idea. I decline.

At the entrance to the terminal area they take our bags and I am not totally sure I’ll see them again. It is all rather abrupt. They tell us they are with the company and they take our bags and give us claim tickets and away our bags go. I need those bags to show up on the other end of this little boat ride.

There is a long line to get on the boat, but there is room for everyone and the crossing is fairly peaceful. We sit at the back of the boat. It is easier to ride in the back… easier on the stomach and the back. I read that before we left and it seems to be paying dividends. Maybe I should have put on sun screen before we left though?

We pull up to the dock in Caye Caulker and it is pretty much paradise. Palm trees and beaches and golf carts, no cars. The streets are all sand. This is how I want to roll. Aspirational.

We go to pick up our bags and there is my daughter’s, but… where is mine? It isn’t there and now all my worst suspicious seem validated. Someone has walked off with my bag! They tell me that doesn’t happen and I should just relax, which is weird, because I’m rather relaxed, generally, but I’m maybe not so relaxed cataloging all the really important stuff in that bag. Medicine. Underwear. Sun Screen. Wading boots. Ugh.

There is a bar nearby, because, of course there is. I have a Belekin, because, of course I do. The girl has a Sprite, which she doesn’t finish, because ordering drinks she isn’t going to drink is one of her hobbies.

I go back to check on the bag. It isn’t there. Maybe they found it. Maybe. It will be here, they say. And I wait.

It isn’t on the next boat. Or the one after that. But they tell me it is on the next one… the last one of the day.

A taxi driver has been waiting for two hours for our bag. I try to give him some money for his time. He doesn’t take it. I’ll tip him well.

I’m stewing. I’m worried, but my girl… my girl doesn’t care. She’s in Belize with her dad. She’s playing in the water. She’s finding fish and chasing them. She’s calf deep in the Caribbean and loving it and even if this goes badly with the bag I have to think this is the right trip, the right place to be with her, this victim of divorce who doesn’t get to see her dad as much as she’d like.

The last boat pulls in. It is getting dark and this one came all the way from Chetumal, but it gets in before all sunlight has drained from the sky and and on that boat is my bag. Relax, man… it will show up. And it does and everything is perfect.

 


24
Apr 17

Dock fish

Oh dock fish… I could never be mad at you.

The Sea Dreams dock was kind of money for me. Every evening and every morning there were bonefish there. Not only that, but they were, well, cooperative. They went out and came back and went out and came back and just kept on giving me shots.

Maybe they would have been there later in the day, but the boat traffic and people traffic likely would be enough to even discourage these compliant fish.

These were the only bonefish I caught in Belize. I did get one shot when on the guided day, but that was at fish going away, and you know how bonefish love the going away shot. No, the dock fish were the fish that really made it happen for me.

One of those fish was maybe the second smallest bonefish I’ve ever caught. One of those bonefish was 3-4 pounds (a pretty good Belize bonefish). Pretty darn cool.

My daughter would be pursuing puffer fish in the shallows as I cast to the bones. I did give her the rod once with a good bonefish on, but I neglected to warn her about the knuckle smashing speed at which the reel handle can spin around. What followed was a pretty good whack and three solid swear words I let her get away with. She was done with the bonefish from there, but the puffer fish were never safe. She also found one of the biggest hermit crabs I’ve ever seen.

Thank you dock. I miss you.


23
Apr 17

The plus and minus from Spring Break 2017 – Caye Caulker, Belize

Here’s the score card from Spring Break, Caye Caulker, Belize

We’ll start with the Negatives:

  1. The one guided day coincided with the worst weather of the stay. Big rains and winds made the day a pretty short one for fly fishing and really tough looking for tarpon.
  2. The first night we were there happened to overlap with Easter celebrations at The Split. That meant loud music thumping until a little past 2:00 AM.
  3. I did not manage to knowingly cast at a tarpon.
  4. My daughter did not manage to catch anything on a fly rod.
  5. My daughter managed to lose her flip flops on the second day of the trip.

The Positives:

  1. We didn’t notice my daughter lost her flip flops because there was no reason to wear shoes of any kind until we were leaving.
  2. I had a perfect moment on the guided fly fishing day for a nice snook before the rains took over.
  3. My daughter smacked a really nice Jack for biggest fish of the trip.
  4. My daughter got to reel in a nice cuda, caught on bait, for the second biggest fish of the trip.
  5. My daughter was the Puffer Fish Queen, catching dozens off the beach at night just using a cup.
  6. The dock provided… I managed several bonefish off the Sea Dreams dock in the morning and evening, including one that was a legit 3-4 pounds.
  7. Sea Dreams staff were really, really nice.
  8. Met some really nice people who were staying there.
  9. The day AFTER the rain, we had absolutely perfect weather for a half-day of bait fishing and caught fish after fish after fish.
  10. The food was good and cheap on Caye Caulker.
  11. So was the beer.
  12. We did manage to SEE tarpon, in a canoe, at the spot where you can feed them.
  13. I managed a few jacks from the dock as well in the evening.
  14. The snorkeling was really, really great.
  15. When my bag got misplaced on the water taxi the assured me it would be found and returned and it was.
  16. They let my daughter sail the boat for a bit on the way back after snorkeling.

My Belize Snook

What a good day for fishing looks like.

Nice cuda.

Awesome

Nice Belize Dock Bonefish

Bonus – A crab, we named Mr. Brown, came to visit from the septic system, which was a pretty good hoot (this was not normal and you should not expect this on your trip).

We named him Mr. Brown

 


12
Apr 17

Belize getting really close

I get butterflies. Even just heading to one of my old rivers, I get excited the closer we get. I find myself clapping as if I were in the stands of a sporting event. I kind of get jazzed on this stuff. Maybe that’s why I’ve been writing the blog for as many years as I have.

I’m assembling gear (two go pros, a waterproof point and shoot and another action cam, so, the trip will be well documented) and ordering too many last minute items off Amazon and also packing my daughter, who I won’t even see until Thursday.

The flight to Belize starts off at 6:00 AM. That means I’m going to have to get my daughter up at about 4:00 AM. I’ve been trying to prepare her for that for weeks… months even. We’ll see if it works.

I’m bringing two 8 weights, a 10 weight and 1-2 spinning rods and I’m trying to remember this isn’t a fishing trip, it is a daddy-daughter adventure. This fact may be either significantly helped or hindered by news that there are some dock bonefish that come by at night. I love dock bonefish having caught 2 at El Pescador and having hooked and busted off two at Abaco Lodge. Maybe I’ll sate some of my bonefishing desires by just trying to smack one of those guys.

It is going to be a great trip.

 


01
Mar 17

Thinking about Belize

What is Cay Caulker like? Well… here’s an idea of what it is like.

Now, I won’t be doing a ton of fishing on this trip (April), but I’ll have my 10 year old with me for some primo daddy-daughter time, so it will be a good/important trip. Not too expensive to get to and not too expensive when you are there. Hard to beat.

Sea Dreams, which they show in this short video, is where we’ll be staying. You can book this through Yellow Dog.


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.


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.