Dateline: Belize River Lodge where the fishing continues, somewhere between hurricane Wilma and hurricane Beta, (not to be confused with Wilma and Betty of the Flintstones). The 2005 hurricane season has been a record breaking one in many categories and television has brought the scenes of nature’s ferocity and destructiveness to millions of viewers worldwide. We wish all who have suffered from recent hurricanes the strength and fortitude needed to make as full a recovery as possible.
Just after mid October as hurricane Wilma hovered threateningly in the western Caribbean in front of Belize, Belize River Lodge went into preliminary alert, including almost constant observations of satellite and hurricane weather forecasts. Tourism properties in northern Belize and the Yucatan started some evacuation procedures; better to be safe than sorry.
As the storm headed for the Yucatan four anglers from that area, not taking that we were closed for an answer, headed south to Belize and showed up at BRL eager to fish in conditions a bit more favorable than where they had been. As gusty winds and choppy seas stirred up the flats we opted for the Belize River where only occasional wind gusts would sometimes take charge of a fly line.
Tarpon action rewarded those four anglers’ last minute choice to come to Belize. Up-river at this time of year the action is mostly from snook with sinking lines and from baby tarpon ranging 6 pounds to 25 pounds, but I cautioned that some 80 pounders would definitely be mixed in with the youngsters. One angler opted to take only his two five weights but assured me he was prepared for anything that went for his fly. While the other three anglers got the action they expected, Penn actually did hook and got three spectacular jumps and about five minutes of fast action from a grand dame of about 85 pounds. Penn claimed that those five minutes of action were well worth the extended trip from Yucatan to Belize and he stayed on for three more days after his fishing buddies left. He landed four snook on his five weights.
Meanwhile Al and Helen and the Yaccino party of four came in behind Wilma to find some clear sunny days on the flats for bonefish, snook and small tarpon. During the early days of their trip, all six anglers had good action with bonefish and baby tarpon on and around the Flats.
Now another hurricane, Beta was making up in the Caribbean off Nicaragua. Again internet hurricane links were closely monitored and guests were kept appraised of the weather situation. Local tides and sometimes murky water were not the best conditions for the flats so again fishing days on the river was our option and were high lighted by very good action from small tarpon rolling, flashing and hitting flies and plugs. When they were ready to hit it did not matter what style or color flies were in the water.
Here are some episodes that were excitedly related after a day on the river. Rick and Maureen: “jumped 25-35 & lost count; Rick boated seven, Maureen boated three. There were 3 double hookups; any and all colors of flies and plugs, surface and sinking and one big tarpon of about 80 pounds jumped near the boat, our best day in Belize”.
Ken and Carolyn: “at the Falls, changed to 8Wt. sink tip, Black Death, jumped a 25 pounder a few feet from the boat; then an 80-90 pounder 15 feet from boat – still on an 8 weight, peeled off line to backing in seconds, in and around branches, released drag, threaded rod through branches, across river and into shallows, chaffed through 80# shock. A few minutes later another tarpon about 12-15 pounds, 3-4 jumps toward boat, angler to guide, “are you ready” then fish jumps into the boat”.
Meanwhile howler monkeys, iguanas, parrots and other birds rounded out the fishing days on the river for all anglers. While Al enjoyed the tarpon action, Helen enjoyed using Lee Jones’ book “Birds of Belize” to help identify the many birds on the river.