Feb 18

Looking back and forward… Belize

I was recently looking through the blog for something about my trip to Belize last year and I was surprised that I had written so little about my time on Caye Caulker. It was a great trip, although maybe it could have been better from a fly-fishing perspective… I only had one day to really fish and that was the worst weather of the week, but the trip… the trip was fantastic.

It was so good, so perfect, even with all the imperfections, that we are doing it again this year. Indeed, that trip stands every chance of being my first saltwater trip of the year (not counting wading for stripers here in the SF Bay).

There certainly was good fishing. I caught bonefish almost at will in the early morning and every night from the dock at Sea Dreams. On my one day of fly fishing I caught my best snook and my first on a popper. That was fun.

What really made the trip special was my companion on the trip… my then 10 year old daughter. This was a daddy-daughter trip. She stays with her mom and hour away about, oh, 63% of the time, so we have to make the most of our time together and this trip was a big part of that last year.

We snorkled, we threw bait for snappers, we hung out around Caye Caulker. Basically, we had a great time. My daughter lost her flip flops on the first day and we didn’t find out until we were leaving because she didn’t need to put shoes on pretty much the entire time. That pretty much summed up the trip.

I’ve had better fishing in Belize. I’ve had much better fishing in lots of places, but fishing wasn’t really the point of that trip. I didn’t fish enough to really have an opinion about the quality of the fishing anyway. I’m positive the fishing is great when you aren’t in a thunderstorm.

I usually hear someone say “Oh, it is just about getting out, I don’t mind if I catch anything” and I think someone is lying through their teeth, but, ya know… it kind of was just about getting out there, with my girl, and not caring about much else.

It was, in so many ways, perfect.

Prime example… the snorkeling. Now… I heard someone say the snorkeling is no good if you are going to the places everyone else goes and we certainly went to the places everyone else goes. I can, 100% tell you that is bullshit. The snorkeling was amazing. We saw a manatee (I had no idea they were in Belize), we saw permit, a moray eel, huge schools of fish, cudas, sharks, rays, bright corals, sea turtles, jacks… I loved it… she loved it too and the day was one I’ll cherish for a long, long time.

I thought she had been snorkeling with her mom, but no, she hadn’t. That meant her first snorkeling trip was with me, in Belize, on a sailboat for a full day. The sail back they let her steer the boat. As the sun was getting low in the horizon she stood there, tiller in her hand, the lighting perfect and I took the picture below, pretty much sure at that moment I was the best parent on the planet… even if just for that moment.

One of the highlights from Spring Break 2017.

I’m looking for more of these kinds of moments this year when we go back.

I can’t wait.

This year I’ll write more about it.

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.

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.

Sep 16

Rethinking Rethinking Belize

I was toying with the idea of taking my daughter on a daddy-daughter trip to Belize for Spring Break to snorkel and fish and to take her somewhere she hasn’t been before.

Then… then we had a horrible weekend with her behavior being so amazingly poor I had to rethink the whole Belize plan.

But now I’m rethinking rethinking the trip. Spring Break is in April, a long time from now, so making a decision based on her behavior now seems pre-mature. Also, she’ll be 10 by then, in the 4th grade, and she won’t be my little girl much longer. The idea of a trip, alone, with her dad, might not sound so good in a few years and this is a great chance to make a life-long memory.

So, the trip is back on.

The plan, for now, is Caye Caulker. A short-ish trip. Arrive Monday, leave Friday. A day of fishing, a day of snorkeling, a day of lounging around and seeing the town.

It gives me something to do some tying for and will almost certainly be my next tropical fly fishing outing (although, it is possible I’ll get some redfish involved in one of my now frequent New Orleans business trips, but I’m not counting that just yet).

They grow up fast. I’m back to thinking I should maximize the memory making while I have a chance.

The girl and her dad

The girl and her dad

Mar 15

Upon Realizing I’ll be in the Bahamas in Three Weeks

I just counted it up and realized I’ll be in Abaco in three weeks. This has gotten me a little riled up as I have much to do before we depart. Here are some of the various tasks which I will be hoping to check off over the next three weeks.

  • Find all the chargers for all the cameras. That’s my DSLR, the GoPro, the Nikon waterproof camera, my daughter’s waterproof camera and the Countour camera, which I also have to find.
  • Sunscreen… lots of sun screen.
  • Flies… I have sadly neglected my tying desk since the move. I’m guessing I have the right hooks… do I have the right chain eyes? I need about a dozen spawning shrimp and maybe 20 or 30 other patterns.
  • Get my daughter’s passport from her mom… yeah, shared custody.
  • Figure out the rental car sitch.
  • Try to arrange a day on the water for my dad and I and maybe a visit out to Abaco Lodge.

I’ve never been to Abaco and I’m looking forward to it. It is a family trip, not a fishing trip, although there will be fishing, of course. There will also be sand castles and snorkling and some cracked conch, reading and relaxing.

The countdown has begun.

Feb 15

Things that are happening

I’ve shared before the research that shows you are actually happiest when planning a trip. So, I’m pretty happy right now. No, I’m not talking about my there-and-back trip to Dallas next week, or my trip to San Antonio in May… no, I’m talking about fishing trips.

I just booked tickets to Florida in June. I know what I’m doing exactly one day of the week I’ll be there. I’m fishing with my dad and Derek Rust on a Saturday to try and get my dad into a tarpon. Beyond that… I’m just going and I’ll see what I can line up in terms of fishing days.

Coming to see the #skinnywaterculture

Coming to see the #skinnywaterculture

I’m also in possession of some crazy expensive tickets for Abaco. That’s Spring Break with the whole fam. I’m hoping to grab a day or two to fish, but I’ll also have an 8 year old and 1 year old along. I plan to get the girl fishing too, maybe over at the Abaco Lodge off the dock.

The girl loved this part of the day.

In short, I have stuff to look forward to and I kind of love that. Now I need to open up the fly tying desk again and put some thread and sparkles on some sharp and pointy hooks.

Hope you have something to look forward to as well!

Dec 12

Looking forward… GBI

OK… April is right around the corner… right? That’s my next trip. Grand Bahama, with a twist. This time I’ll be heading there with my family (grandparents, wife and child) for my daughter’s Spring Break.

I have to say I’m excited to get my girl out in that environment, to see the sharks and cudas and jacks and whatever else we might be able to see. I’m hoping to get her out for a little boat ride where she might be able to catch a snapper or something on a spinning rig (she’s going to be 6, so her double haul isn’t there yet). I want to show her a bit of the environment I love. My new wife got to see the flats and beauty of Belize for our honeymoon, so she knows what I see out there, but my little girl has just seen the pictures and heard the stories.

There will be beach combing and shopping and eating out and all the other family trip sorts of things, but I’ll be bringing the fly rods along and I hope to have my girl see her first bonefish and fell the pull of something salty.

Let the countdown begin.