Things I like… conservation, bonefish, tarpon, Bill Klyn and El Pescador in Belize. Compelling reasons to join or renew. Be entered in to win a trip to fish with Bill at El Pescador.
I was getting out of my car at work today and I noticed my grand slam pin, given to me at El Pescador in Belize on the occasion of my grand slam. I still think about that magical day, the day it all came together. The permit was tiny, the tarpon was a baby, but it all counted just the same.
How many of you have managed to get a grand slam and where did you do it?
This comes via Adam Marton, who I actually met in person down at El Pescador while on my honeymoon. Adam, he loves bonefish and tarpon and he loves Belize as well.
This is an opportunity coming up in August at El Pescador. Dr. Jerry Ault and Stu Apt will be there. I’d love to go too, but that is not in the cards. This sounds pretty awesome, I have to say.
(Originally posted September 20, 2012)
She’s a sport. This was our honeymoon, after all. It was also her second day of fly fishing ever. That’s jumping into the deep end, pretty much. Still, I figured if it was going to happen, it stood a good chance of happening here, out of El Pescador in Belize.
I would routinely say that what I wanted, out of the day on the water, was to share with her what it was that I loved, out there on the flats. It is an obscure concept if you’ve never been out there and maybe the selling of it is a bit challenging. “Hey, let’s stand on a boat for a few hours, looking for fish that are really hard to see, in the sun without shade. Oh, and you can’t have a beer until you land a fish (OK, that’s really more my rule).”
She was kitted out for success. She came walking up for breakfast like she belonged.
We got out on the water and headed up to the park. It is a nice ride up there and the day wasn’t too hot while we were running. Soon after we paid our fee at the park we went in search for baby tarpon. This wasn’t maybe the best first stop. First, it wasn’t going to be something that would put her up on the deck and secondly, back in the mangroves it was stiflingly hot.
I was also having a case of the sucks. I couldn’t seal the deal on the baby poons. I swept the rod on the first fish. I cast on the head of the second. I cast behind the third. The fourth wasn’t interested. All the time it was really, really hot. She suffered through it all though without a complaint, which just goes to show what a trooper she is.
We went out into a slightly bigger lagoon, a place with a bit of a breeze, and I managed to blow one last fish. On this fish I made a good cast, got the take, set the beejeezus out of things and managed to just break the fish off. That was surprising because this same set-up had landed my 85 pounder in Cuba. Same knots, same spools of material. Go figure.
We then left to find some bones and the Mrs. got up on deck. Cesar, our guide set about helping out with her cast. This was her second day fishing, period. It is a tough place to start. Cesar got her up and running and put in into position to catch fish. There is a lot to remember though, and it was tough for her to carry it all in her mind. There is so much we carry in muscle memory and when you have to pick it all up and have to keep it in the front of your mind, well, things are going to get dropped, and plenty of things got dropped. She was unfazed though, mostly because of her awesomeness.
Mrs. BOTB actually hooked two bonefish, which I thought was simply wonderful. She got to feel the fish a bit, but put too much slack into things and both bones managed to get off. She did, however, manage to get a little snapper, so was not blanked on the day and got to enjoy a Belikin.
The day ended with Cesar and I out on foot chasing down several schools of bones. That was a fun time.
She got to see what I love out there and she understands me a bit better because of it. That was the goal, so, mission accomplished. She may need a few more days of trout fishing before we head back to the flats, which I’m happy to provide for her.
She’s game, which is just simply wonderful.
Adam Marton and El Pescador are teaming up to do something kind of cool. Below is what they are saying about it.
Did you ever want to be a Marine Biologist for a day and play a significant role in the effort to protect and understand global tarpon populations? This is your chance to actually help answer the “$64,000.00 Question” — Are our fish, their fish? Is it possible that the giant tarpon we see late in the summer every year in Belize are the very same fish anglers see in the Florida Keys in May and June… In July of 2013, for the first time in history, join us for a completely unique opportunity to become an elite member of the expedition that will help unlock the answers to the global tarpon migration code.
Join Adam Marton at Belize’s El Pescador Lodge and Villas for this first ever Tarpon Tagging Expedition. Armed with the most technologically advanced PAT & SPOT satellite tags, the goal of the expedition is to land, successfully tag and release two adult tarpon that migrate annually to the world renowned Long Key zone of the Northern Belize Fishery. After tagged tarpon are successfully released, the expedition will be enabling scientists from the University of Miami, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science to study global movements, habitat and behavior of the fish for up to 6-months. The results of these data sets will ultimately be used to enable fisheries managers, anglers and government officials from around the globe to make even more intelligent decisions about how to properly manage tarpon populations around the world. Our combined efforts to enable intelligent decisions to be made are the cornerstone in ensuring our children’s children will have the opportunity to enjoy the Silver King for generations to come.
This is most probably a once in a life time experience to fish and advance science with an elite group of concerned anglers from all over the world. After very careful consideration of annual migration patterns, optimal moon and tidal phases, the dates for this 7 night expedition are July 10-17, 2013. There are a very limited number of spots available for this expedition.
The 7 night/6 day Tarpon Tagging Expedition package (based on shared standard room and shared guide) is US$3,150.00/per person. To book your spot on the expedition please contact your travel wholesaler, local fly shop or Ali Flota at El Pescador, firstname.lastname@example.org – 1-800-242-2017.
I was reminded by Troutrageous that it was time for me to look back at 2012.
What a year, eh? I had highlights in my personal and fishing lives. It will be a hard year to surpass, really. So many wonderful things happened. I can’t help but feel like a very lucky guy.
Here is what 2012 held for me.
I welcomed 2012 in at the Yaak Tavern in MT where I had the very strong suspicion I had met my future wife.
I got a chance to go to Cuba with Jim Klug and a bunch of writers. Amazing experience that included my magazine worthy Tarpon shot.
My divorce got finalized.
I got engaged.
I discovered the joys of pier fishing with my girl who loves sharks and loves being my fishing buddy.
I got married.
The honeymoon brought me back to El Pescador in Belize.
I got two saltwater trips in, which for me, being fully employed and having split custody of a 5 year old, is a pretty good trick. Cuba and Belize are kind of choice locations and I feel very fortunate to have been able to visit both in 2012.
It has been a very, very good year. I’m looking forward to what 2013 will bring.
I have one trip lined up already. This is to Grand Bahama for Spring Break. It will be my intro to the Bahamas for my little girl and my new wife. I’m thinking this could be a good thing.
All the best to you in 2013 and thanks for reading and taking part in the blog.
Belize is not known for big bones. A 7 pounder is a monster, a 5 pounder is a pretty big fish and the fish you mostly catch are around 2 pounds… schoolies, fun, fun fish and lots of them (like, a whole lot).
While I was out back in the lagoon I managed to catch my biggest Belizean bone to date. I’m going to call this fish around 4 pounds (maybe 3.5?).
I am up early, 4:30 AM, the last day at El Pescador. I could fish for bonefish, and I love bonefish, catching as many as I have time for, but I’m starting to understand things about flats fly fishing. When the King is holding court, you attend.
Tomas, my guide for the day, is waiting for me before the sun breaks over the horizon. “I should have told you last night to leave at 4” he says. I think a 5 AM push off is pretty good, especially in the light of it being the last day of my honeymoon. My wife is in bed, asleep I hope and I’m off to hunt tarpon between Ambergris and the mainland. As we get into the panga to depart the air is still, the water calm, the silence loud. It is pure smoothness as we slide through the water, heading West.
Soon, our first stop. A mangrove island full of bird calls. The sun is just emerging, but is hidden behind a wall of gray. Clouds coming from the East have stalled with no more wind to carry them. One massive cloud sits above us, seemingly forgetting its race across the sky, content to look down on Ambergris, on us.
The water, still and unmoving, reflecting the grey underbelly of this huge cloud, is indistinguishable from sky. We try to peer into sheets of cold, grey steel.
We wait and watch for rolling fish. There is only stillness and birdsong.
Reel up and run.
The cloud has not moved. The air is still. The sun is climbing. The water still impenetrable. The fish hidden.
Reel up and run. This time all the way to the mainland where the same story is told. We have not seen a fish.
We run back to the East and find a break in the clouds, but the glare on the water is still difficult, still like trying to see through polished steel.
The air remains static and while we finally have the lights on I now grasp the other disadvantage of a windless day on the water. The heat. It is hot. Really hot. I try to find even an inch or two of shade from the low gunwales on the bow of the panga to provide respite to my baking feet. The light blue deck is molten.
Tarpon breaking. We see them. They are in range and I make the cast, landing the light 3/0 bunny 3 feet in front of the lead fish. He charges, inhales, I strike viciously and the fish bolts into the air. I bow, the fish lands and the fly parts company with the fish, excused.
“We’ll get the next one in the boat” says Tomas.
The next one I won’t see in the glare and I’ll put the fly right on his head. He’ll bolt.
The next one is too close to the boat to cast to.
The next one is 30 feet too far away.
The next one isn’t interested.
The next one I line.
The next one I can’t see and again put the fly on his head, which he is not keen on.
As we search for fish the wind is an absent player, but in place of the wind is the heat. It is smothering, intense heat. I have sweat dripping down the backs of my legs. My shirt is soaked. My feet, even through my polarized lenses, look bright, fire red. I feel like I am losing gallons of water a minute, but I’m hesitant to take my eyes off the water to get more fluids. I don’t want to miss the King.
The next fish I spot just as Tomas is about to point it out. I say “Tarpon, 12 o’clock” and point my rod. Tomas says “yes!” A school of 5, maybe 7, heading right at us. I cast, a good cast, and the lead fish charges the fly and crushes it. I strip set, feel the fish and then, inexplicably, sweep the rod. The fly is out, but the fly is still in play. I strip again and the second fish charges. I set. I feel the fish. I set again. The fish leaps in the air. I bow. I still have the fish. I start to think about getting the fish on the reel, getting ready for the battle. The fish jumps again and I bow and the fly… it unbuttons.
Tomas has no complaints. He says I did everything right, on the second fish.
Tomas does not say we’ll get the next one in the boat.
The next fish I cast behind.
The next fish comes with a gang and follows, chases the fly too close to the boat, but the school is still there. I cast in the middle of the milling fish and one smashes the bunny before I can get ready. The chance is gone and so are the fish.
There is no next fish. I realize if we actually find another fish I wouldn’t have the time to fight it. The trip is done, the honeymoon is about to be too, but this was a good day. I got my shots and I just didn’t convert. This is why we play the game.
“If it were easy, everyone would do it” says Tomas.
OK all… I’m back after a wonderful week at El Pescador down in Belize for my honeymoon. We had a lot of really great experiences down there and I’ll run though the more fishy of those here over the next week. I also managed to do a little fishing. The new Mrs. went out with me one day and we had a good time on the flats, which was kind of a big deal. Other times she got a massage and I’d go out in the lagoon in back. Hard to complain.
One thing I was really very proud of was that I managed to catch a couple of dock fish. Dock fish are kind of hard, in my limited experience. Not big, but a good dock fish.
I didn’t write a post last night, I was writing my vows for my upcoming wedding (Sunday). Yes… I actually do mention bonefish in the vows. No, really.
These next few days are likely going to be kind of a whirlwind and I’m betting I won’t have much time to post here on the blog, although I’ll try to post a few little pictures and things like that.
I’m thinking I’ll reply my last trip to El Pescador over the next week, as that is where I’ll be for my honeymoon. Funny thing is I might actually run into a couple of BOTB readers down there, which should be fun.
So, stay tuned… I’ll be riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight back.