Last night I returned from a week-long fish in Belize. My friend Michael Hetzel and I were fishing with my old friend Eworth Garbutt, and we had six days of fishing planned. Thirteen years ago, I first fished the flats in Placencia with Eworth and had a great time. Though I did not catch much then, I have always hoped to return and revisit the place that I fished then. As it turned out, I’m glad I did.
Our plan was to fish from Placencia mostly, though we hoped to spend a day or two in Punta Gorda (PG). As I have many photos from the trip and we caught many notable fish, I will be uploading the trip via a few different reports over the next few days.

Herewith is the report from the first day:

DAY ONE:

We started at 7:30. After rigging up all of our new gear the night before, we had plenty of time in the morning to eat a good meal and get ready for our fishing.
Our first stop had a few permit tails on it immediately, and while the first cast we made was right on target we did not come tight. I got out of the boat and waded to another school of tailing permit, but despite the fly getting in the school we were once again denied.
At our second spot, Michael was up: we were on a two-shot rotation, and after the school and the tailing single it was his up. Michael, never having permit fished before (and only starting to fly fish three years ago), had a difficult time at first seeing the fish and getting the fly there. He stayed on a school of fish for nearly an hour as they tailed over the flat, bobbing and weaving and staying just out of range of his efforts. Finally, after the school had gone for fifteen minutes, I got my rod out and readied for my shot. As I was stripping out the line the school appeared once again in front of the boat, and I put a short cast behind the lead fish and stripped once, coming tight on my second to a permit:

After this we fished another flat, where I got out on one side and waded down to meet Michael and Eworth who remained in the boat and poled from the other side. I saw only two groups that were unhappy and moving fast; I learned when I met up with E and M that these were likely the product of Michael hooking and subsequently breaking off a fish from a school when they began on the bar. Following this, we left for a place that I had fished when I first came to Belize and had caught a fish at. The tarpon were there and they were feeding on baitfish; two bites later I hooked one to which I remained connected. Landing and photographing the fish in the water, we were now nearly to a slam for day one:

The bonefish didn’t take long, as a white clouser and a ten-count to the bottom over the turtle grass was all it took to catch a cute little bone for the slam:

Michael had another few permit shots but didn’t connect before we called it a day. And a note: before you write Michael off from this report, I urge you to keep up with the days to come: after a tough first day, his follow-up performance was nothing short of incredible.

More to come tomorrow from part two.

ncl