We left off after the third day of fishing, in which Kat got her first fish of the trip. On the fourth day, Kat fished solo with Scully and Michael and I were on Eworth’s boat.

For us all, the fishing was very tough. The fish didn’t seem to be where we thought they would. Still and yet, early on we found a permit romping around in a back bay and dodging the mangroves with plucky agitation. Michael took a few casts in what slots he could find in the shoreline, and when his final cast landed perfectly we all thought the fish would err to our favor. Michael saw movement and came tight, and for a time I thought the small permit had done everything it was supposed to. Instead, the permit he had thrown at initially had refused the fly, though the large bonefish to which he was now connected was a great substitute. We landed the fish and headed on way to look for permit.

We fished through the morning, never getting another shot at a permit until after 12. Michael had one in the early afternoon, which brought our total shot count to two for the day. In the afternoon, we saw a pair of fish approaching us down the flat. I was up, and took a less than perfect cast at the pair. One peeled off and took a look, declining our offer before making a beeline for deeper water with his companion. Suddenly we saw two fish tailing behind us, and I made a short cast at them. The tailing fish closest to us rushed the fly, and with its back out of the water made our day. I fought the fish, my biggest so far in any trip to Belize, back to the boat where I jumped in the water for some pictures. We had to take this still from the video that Michael shot, so thanks are due to Frankie Marion for working some tech magic and apologies for the poor resolution:

Screen shot 2015-10-05 at 1.37.57 AM

After this, our fishing was basically finished for the day. Michael stayed on the bow to finish out the day, though he never had another opportunity to make things happen. When we got back to the lodge we went to a local restaurant to have dinner, and on the walk home I made like a permit and caught a crab. Here’s the evidence:

Belize 2015 011

Day Five:

The following day, Scully had a commitment in the States so we got the third Garbutt brother, Oliver, in his stead. Kathryn and I fished with Oliver and Michael fished alone with Eworth.

Of our six days fishing, this fifth day was the toughest. We looked and looked for permit that never appeared, and had only a few shots to show for our morning efforts. I managed to catch a (giant!) barracuda on a clearing cast before changing spots, which is pictured here:

Belize 2015 010

Michael had a good day on the bonefish, catching a handful of decent sized fish throughout the day.

Day Six:

For our final day of fishing, I was alone with Oliver and Kat and Michael fished with Eworth. I was looking forward to spending some time getting to know Oliver, who I had only met briefly last year.

Our fishing started off in some clouds, and as soon as we were on the flat we noticed some tailing fish. I got out to wade after them, and after a little positioning and a few casts I was able to get a fly in front of the fish. I came tight as I stripped, and in a few minutes had my third fish for the trip in hand. Oliver took a picture to mark the occasion as the rain continued:

Belize 2015 002

We continued down this flat, and had a few shots off the point behind me in the above picture but couldn’t get a bite. We moved on, to another nearby flat, where we were again met with some tailing fish. I had what we both agreed was a decent opportunity and a good cast, but the fish decided against it at the last minute. Another flat and another tailing group of fish dodged our efforts, and while we were frustrated at not getting another bite we were glad for the shot frequency. As we went down another flat, behind us we heard a zip as a large permit tailed hard in the shallows. I waded after it, and though I was able to get the fly near its business end I never got it close enough.

At another spot, after the action slowed a little on the shallower flats, we found a large school in some deeper water. I had some interest on the first shot I took, though after the first refusal the fish seemed to know what was going on. We watched as this group of fish met up with another, then another, until we were throwing at three different groups for five minutes. None would eat the fly, despite a number of casts in their midst, and soon we poled away from them to give them a break. In the glare behind us a fresh school of fish appeared, and I put the fly in them as best I could at the short distance. While most of the fish were large on this flat, it took a small dumb one to turn on the fly, line it up and do the deed. Soon, we had a small permit on the deck for a visit:

Belize 2015 005

After that we never saw another fish to throw at, and despite our earlier frustrations were happy with the two we were able to dance with.

Kat and Michael had very difficult fishing, though Kat was able to hook two permit. Each threw the hook, one after a long run into the backing. Tough stuff: in six days of fishing, Kat lost five permit to various incarnations of bad luck. It seems that the bad luck I had last year with her on this same trip was hers this year. Michael, for his part, caught a great many bonefish again and Kat was able to take this picture of one of the 7 or so he caught on the last day:

Belize 2015 013

Oliver and I finished out the day in the glass of on an oncoming storm, and headed out just in front of the dark clouds.
All in all, we had a great trip despite the tough fishing. I was proud of the effort our group put in each day, especially the Garbutt brothers. I can’t wait to go back next year.

 

Much more to come. There’s two days of fishing (that includes a nice permit) before Kat and I left for Louisiana, and four days of red drum mayhem, as well as a great adventure yesterday with Ian Slater. Now that I’m back, I’ll be working on getting these pages up to speed before I leave on November 7 to fish with Steve for the 6 once again.

nathaniel