I am not a writer and do not do much writing, but when we were trying to come up with ideas for a quick newsletter and Marguerite, Mike and I were brainstorming, I came up with an idea – fishing, numbers or experience?
I have been working full time with BRL now for a little over 10 years and anglers of course are always interested in the numbers of landed fish. We are lucky that most of our anglers are true fishermen & women who while numbers are important, the experience is so much better. The zinging of the reel as a bonefish peels across the water to wrap around a mangrove shoot and break off. The majestic jump of a tarpon before he spits the fly or lure back at you. The black strip along the side of the snook as he turns away and swims off and finally, the permit who spooks as your lift your rod and try to cast. This is the experience and all very exciting.
This year, one guest who won’t mind me using his name, Mick, had a spectacular number year – he landed one super slam, 2 grand slams, 14 snook and had on a 150 lb tarpon and all in single days in 6 days of fishing. These numbers are not unheard of nor are they a daily or even monthly occurrence. But Mick put the numbers back into reality, when he mentioned that on one of his many trips to BRL he landed ONE bonefish in 6 days of fishing (a cold front & rain came in). Mick has booked his 9th and 10th trip for 2008 and in only seven years. What Mick enjoys about BRL is the experience – the beauty of the location, Mike and Marguerite’s attention to detail and of course the good stories, the family charm and the relaxation at the end of the day on the porch. We could not get a better quote than when Mick wrote “Every time I come to the lodge the fishing gets better. I don’t know if it’s the fish, or me, or both. My last trip brought me a super slam, two grand slams, and a hookup with a 150 pound tarpon. That, together with the hospitality and great food, is a guarantee that I will keep coming back!”
Again, believe me, I know, numbers are always important to anglers; however, even I have had my chance to enjoy the experience! On Dirk and my first trip to South Africa, we found a great fishing lodge, Shayamoya, along the path of our sight seeing route; so of course we had to book in a few days to search for tigerfish. When we showed up at the Lodge, the staff was friendly and extremely nice, almost like visiting family, the rooms were very comfortable and the grounds were beautiful – our room, the dining room and the bar overlooks Pongola park and St. Lucia lake AND the wind was blowing 25 mph with higher gusts. Dirk headed out that afternoon, battling the wind and I decided to enjoy a nice relaxing afternoon, wandering around the grounds and just taking it easy. Dirk, with all the wind, was still able to land two tigerfish that afternoon. When he got back that evening he told me that I just had to go the following morning as I would love the drive to the river and that while fishing, the giraffes, zebra and elephant came down to drink water. So of course, bright and early, 25 mph winds, I bundled up and headed out with the boys. It was great! Pongola Park had 12 baby giraffe and this just on the drive to the water. I had more fun taking pictures of all the animals and seeing the beautiful surroundings that I forgot that it was windy and as my casting ability is pretty poor that I would not be able to fish. Dirk again battled the wind and won by landing 2 more tigers, small, but still tigerfish.
While I know that we didn’t have great weather and the numbers of fish landed were low, when we started planning our 2006 trip and Dirk asked me if I wanted to go back to any spot, of course, I said Shayamoya. I had loved it there! So of course, we went back for two more ½ days of fishing and a visit with Bev, Ryan, and the rest of the staff. I let Dirk fish more and he landed 12 tigerfish in the two half days, but more importantly, I fished and landed a very nice tigerfish. I was very excited and got lots of pictures. Again, while Dirk was fishing though, I was taking pictures of all of my surrounding, as they were just beautiful. Had we gone by numbers, we never would have returned to Shayamoya and missed out on two great trip. Shayamoya is again on our list of places to return to when we head back to South Africa.
I think when dealing with reservation the hardest question to answer is “when to fish”, the questions every angler wants to know. BRL is located in Central Belize and we have a very varied fishing eco-system including Flats, saltwater lagoons and deep channels, the Barrier Reef and also a few river systems with their creeks and lagoons, which allows for a year round fishery of Tarpon, Permit, Bonefish, Snook and others. Unfortunately, the uncontrollable is the weather, and the weather always affects the fishing and no matter when I tell someone that the weather is great, the exact opposite will happen. We try to keep track of good days, good weeks, good months and it seems that the minute that we say “this is the time to come”, that is when the weather will change. The positive side of BRL, is that we can fish the Flats or the rivers, so 99% of the time we have the option of fishing. So, at BRL, the best time to fish is when you can get away and hope that the weather cooperates for better Flats fishing.
BRL has proven itself over the years, as we have many repeat guests and one guest, who will be returning in 2008 for his 32nd trip, says “I recall my first visit to BRL in early 1962. The lodge and the fishing experiences were terrific and not too different from today except the country British Honduras is now independent and the new Belize has become widely known and a very popular destination. Little did I realize in 1962 that I would return to BRL over 30 times including this year with my two sons and stepson (who wants to move to Belize!). And the Lord willing, my wife and I will return next year.” Mr. Eberle, while fishing is the emphasis of his trips, has returned over and over to enjoy the hospitality and old world charm of BRL.
Fishing is fishing and many countries, locations and lodges offer very similar fishing. The atmosphere of the trip, lodge, staff and guides, is usually what make or breaks a fishing trip. At Belize River Lodge, Mike and Marguerite offer a fishing experience filled with variety while offering you excellent service and food in the comfort of lodge, which also happens to be their home!
Numbers or experience? Me I choose the experience as I have a tendency to forget numbers but remember colors, warmth and atmosphere. We hope that you will take time on your next vacation and experience our fishing and our hospitality. As a family run lodge, our staff and guides are part of the family and so, we have asked them to write a little about their days on the water. We hope that you enjoy their writings as it comes from the ones who can really tell you what is happening on the water – the guides.