The weather was set to continue being crappy and that didn’t seem like a good day to go out with a guide, so we decided this would be our DIY day. El Pescador is on the beach, but in the back, it has a small dock that leads to a lagoon… in the lagoon are bonefish. Instead of walking the beach, we set out by paddle. El Pescador has a rough map with some spots marked and we used that as a starting point to get to the fish.
Stormy skies and the red canoe
The first shore we patrolled was devoid of anything resembling a bonefish, so we moved on. Shane moved further down the beach and I stayed closer. Twenty minutes on I saw a bonefish cruising out of some flooded mangroves. I threw a brown gotcha in a #8 and the fish saw it and charged it. I set, the fish was hooked and it started its run. I tried to clear the line, but… well… the line still jumped up and wrapped around my hand. I was now 0/1. Rumor has it that I dropped a couple of f-bombs at this point in the trip, but those reports are unconfirmed. About 5 minutes later and Shane was hooked up… first fish of the trip was in the books.
The seal breaker.
One more move and my rod was finally bent all the way to conclusion.
Well, isn't (s)he cute?
Turns out what you’ve heard about Belize bonefish is largely true… which is they aren’t very large. This little guy was about the size we caught. We did see a few bigger fish and even caught some (mostly Shane), but there are a lot of smaller fish here. They are still very, very fun and it does present an opportunity to down-size on your rod selection. You could easily get away with a six and, ya know… maybe even a 5. That means if you want to get into bonefishing and don’t want to go out and buy a new rod for one trip, you could grab your trout gear and head to Belize. Just say’n.
Out in the lagoon for the rest of the trip we had a simple rule… before you dip into the cooler for a beer, you have to land a fish. So, this was a nice beer.
Belikin is the beer of Belize and we drank a fair bit of it… 58 of them according to the bar tab. Here’s the thing about Belikin… they are a LIE. The bottle is heavy… very heavy… the weight of each bottle is roughly 95% glass and 5% beer. They are about 2 ounces each… or 9.6 ounces as it turns out. You can grab and empty bottle and the weight makes you think it is full… but it isn’t. That is a tragedy. When you have a Belikin you are largely holding glass. Someone said when you buy a Belikin you also buy a weapon… and I can see that. In my totally imagined feud between Kalik and Belikin, I’m going to raise the Kalik on sheer volume. Hope that doesn’t offend anyone, but really… a beer should be AT LEAST 12 ounces… AT LEAST.
I only managed a couple of fish that day, Shane had about 7, which was a sign that things were as they should be. Shane’s a much better angler than I am since he’s a guide on the water about 200 days a year and he has about 350 days of bonefishing under his belt.
It seemed appropriate with it raining that hard... to have a beer.
The rain came and went… and then came again. Our paddle back to El Pescador was a wet and windy one. Just as we got to the mangrove chute we’d take to get to the dock Shane was mentioning that this particular environment looked ideal for baby tarpon. Then I saw one roll. So, we fished for some very small baby tarpon for a few minutes. I cast from the canoe while Shane stood in the back of the canoe trying to locate the fish. I had one eat, but didn’t hook it.
When we got back the light was failing and we were both wetter than seemed possible. It had been a challenging day, but we had made it work. The best time to go fishing, after all, isn’t when the weather is perfect. The best time to go fishing is when you can.
wet, wet, wet
We made the right call and had a fun day under the Belizean clouds.
Small? Sure. Pretty? You bet.
The third day of the trip and the second day in Belize were done. Dinner was fantastic… Lobster and Chicken Parmesan. They treat you right at El Pescador.
The next day was going to be with a guide and a trip to the tarpon flats.