This is where I was standing when I hooked my first bonefish
of the day. Anna took our guide and the
dive master and went out for a morning of scuba diving….I opted to wade the
flats in front of the cabina with my dad.
help of the great guides here at Turneffe and numerous bonefish schools,
sometimes with hundreds of fish, I wanted to see if I could do it on my
own, maybe point out a school for dad. I felt like I had a decent shot at it and was thrilled to hook up with my biggest bone of the trip only a few
minutes after stepping into the water.
After blowing out that school of bones, we wandered down the flat and I saw what
looked to be a huge sickle-shaped fin of a permit on the other side of the
I have found that my
passion is with the permit. I caught
my first on the fly here last year after a long two days of casting and
multiple refusals. The permit here in
Belize are plentiful….meaning that an angler can have multiple shots during the
day, but there is nothing easy about them.
My permit last year was on the
deeper flats outside the mangroves and
from the boat. Even when casting at
schools of a hundred or more permit, they don’t always eat and can be
I had no idea that catching them in that deeper water was
the “easy” way to do it. On my first day
here, I was introduced to stalking them on the flats. They are very wary, but much more so when in
only a foot of water. They are often
hard to see, only a slender fin protruding the water’s surface for a brief second
or two. After spotting one or two,
perhaps three traveling together, the hunt begins. They have to be stealthily stalked, sometimes
walking more than 200 yards to get in range for the perfect shot. Then you have to make the perfect cast…..which
is a struggle for me. Chunking a 10 wt at
albies or a lobbing a sinking line on the Roanoke is far from quietly dropping
a crab fly in front of a permit at 60 feet.
Even with the right cast, refusals of your offering are more
common than a bite. When the bite does
happen, you’ve got to hook them…..without breaking them off after all the pent
up adrenaline and enthusiasm is suddenly unleashed on both ends of the rod. Keep it tight, put him on the reel, deep into
the backing, deal with all the obstacles of the flat such as coral heads and
mangroves, then beat him down…..again without breaking him off. It’s not an easy thing to do.
Sure enough, what I saw was a permit on the other side of
the lagoon, but I had no crab flies with me, surely a well-placed cast with one of
the larger bonefish flies could get a bite.
I successfully stalked within range, made the perfect cast and bam, I’m
hooked up with a 6 inch snapper. The
permit blows out and away, off the flat as I dehook my little snapper.
I’m beginning to “get it”, when fly fishermen claim that they
are satisfied with merely the opportunity and that they don’t have to measure
success with how many fish they actually catch.
Same tide tomorrow and I’ll be on that same flat, but I will
have a crab fly or two in my pocket.