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If you’ve ever spent your hard earned time and dollars booking just the right trip for a destination fishing adventure and the time comes and the weather is blown out, your work won’t let you leave due to some emergency with the mid-west division, or a family emergency comes up and it’s pushed off. Or, say it did go right. The weather was perfect, and the fishing action stellar. But you didn’t like the $300.00 to $600.00 per day you spent to have some guide yelling at you every time you missed a fish.

Have you ever considered D.I.Y. (Do It Yourself) fishing? It can be just as much fun and at times a quarter of the daily cost of fishing in many resort destinations. Take Belize for example. Your average five day fishing package in Belize with popular resorts such as El-Pescador or the famous Turneffee Flats, T-Flatts Lodge of Belize can run you anywhere from $3,000 per week to upwards of $7 or $8,000. That’s some expensive fishing and it only allows a small percentage of those whom wish to fish in Belize to enjoy the abundance and fun of the action that awaits in Belize.

Well for a much lower cost – TRY $85.00 PER DAY you can experience all the excitement of fishing in Belize for a fraction of the cost of most resorts. For more information about the CHEAPEST Fishing in Belize visit www.BiteMeBelize.com and start planning your Belize fishing adventure today.

Watching a light spray come over the bow of my kayak heading across the bay with two clients paddling behind me. A beautiful Spotted Eagle Ray looking for a handout of free food greets me. I oblige and motion to my fishermen to paddle over. Digging in my spare compartment I withdraw a handful of shrimp that I keep in a bait bucket for just such occasions. Learning to the side and offering my hand a few inches below the surface the big “bird of the deep” passes by effortlessly inhaling the shrimp resting in my palm. What a great close to a day of kayaking and fishing these beautiful turquoise waters of the Caribbean.

I give my guys a moment to store their cameras in the dry bags before we push on towards the last stretch to home. Each stroke of my paddle I relax to the slight gurgle produced as I draw it back. Birds along the mangrove-lined shores are calling loudly announcing the approaching close of yet another day. I’m daydreaming that I must be in heaven. Interrupted by a roar of laughter from clients I tune into their conversation to hear them reminiscing over one of the fish they caught while stalking and paddling the flats earlier today. I’m instantly taken back to the sound of a singing reel being stripped of line, the smiles on the faces of enthused anglers, and the excitement as they pose with their first Belize flats fish. This is my heaven. It’s what I love most about sharing flats fishing with anglers on this tropical island off the coast of Belize.

I often tell people that I can turn anyone into a five year old in a split second. That split second they hook up with their first bonefish, permit, or tarpon. Man or woman, everyone giggles like a five year old. Couple that experience with paddling through gin-clear water with the warmth of the tropical trades caressing your skin under a clear blue sky and you begin to understand why people adopt a “tropical latitude” and return time and time again. It’s the reason I made the permanent move myself. Constant day dreams of shadows moving in from deeper waters, schooling noses in the sand and tails breaking the waters surface filled my head so often that I finally gave in and let go.

If you’re ready to develop you own “Tropical Latitude” and love kayaking and fishing then come visit. I can promise you’ll have the time of your life. From sun-up and well past sun down the Caribbean island of Ambergris Caye is all about fun. Sun soaked days harassing fish on fly or spinning and rum soaked evenings filled with great friends, good music, and excellent food will have you booking return trips as well.

I hope you’ve been inspired to get out there and do some fishing. And if the weather doesn’t permit, then head over to the airport and hop on the next silver bird that’s south bound. And remember, although the fishing is excellent year round. However, wit the migrating HUGE TARPON, and the overly aggressive permit schooling for spawning as well as the same with the bonefish. The summer is when Belize fishing is absolutely world famous. So if you’re ready to get into some fish and paddle through one of the prettiest places on the planet then check out Belize.

I look forward to fishing with you all soon.

Fishing in Belize with BITE ME BELIZE FISHING


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Center Hill Lake is a cool clear body of water that is nestled snugly in a valley surrounded by lush green hills and limestone walls in the middle of Tennessee. As a child it was a tradition for my grandparents and I to venture to this man made fishing heaven once or twice per summer. In more recent years I’ve found that being at a BBQ with the air filled with the smell of roasting hot dogs and the sounds of sizzling burgers often carry my mind back to a campsite on those familiar childhood shores. Later in life the river that is the backbone for this stretch of water would also be my introduction into trout fishing tail waters as well.

One particular early summer morning I arose to smell of coffee perking over an open fire and the sounds of my grandfather and grandmother discussing news they’ve read in the days paper picked up by my grandfather at some ungodly hour at the local convenient store. I roll out of bed, literally as we’re sleeping in a late seventies pop-up camper. If you’ve ever seen one of these things, they have the most amazing capability to go from something resembling a thin rectangle box into a monstrosity of a fort that looms over the campsite stating to all those around; “I no longer accept camping as primal and simple manner to remain in touch with our natural world. No, I am the master of the woods and shall bring along all the comforts of home and just temporarily set-up shop in the woods for a week or two.” My grandfather said that sleeping on the ground in a tent gave him a bad back. I was five years old and had no clue what a bad back was, yet.

Exiting the camper I was greeted as most grandchildren are by unwanted kisses from grandmother and a forceful stroking of my head in an attempt to somehow get my hair from sticking up all over the place giving me the appearance of something raised by a pack of wolves. After all, one must maintain a proper appearance when camping in the great outdoors. Once I freed my self from her arms I slumbered to the safety of my grandfather. He would never “ruin my rep” and slather me with kisses and try to make me look presentable in the middle of the forest. He would however, let me sit on one of his knees and take sips from his coffee which would drive my grandmother nuts. He’d flip to the comics’ section and begin reading me the funnies. Usually this was enough to hold my attention for the first half an hour or so until I fully awaken. Being by the waters edge it would only last a few minutes. My attention fixed on the fishing rod and the tackle box resting against the truck bed. My grandfather nudged me and with a gentle whisper instructed me; “Go ahead, but stay close to camp.” I sprang from my grandfather’s knee, in a split second I had my trusty Zebco 202 and my tackle box in hand running for the trail leading down the hill from our campsite. On my mad dash for the water I took note of my grandmother telling me breakfast was in half an hour.

Moving branches aside while wiping spider webs from my face that I’ve walked into I make my way to the waters edge. I follow along the water a few more steps and find a nice spot with the branches of a submerged tree rising from the surface. This is the spot I say to myself, lots of cover. I pause listening into the silence for any signs of trouble. My grandfather enjoyed telling me fictional stories as a child of bear attacks around the lake and deadly pythons, rattle snakes, even the occasional Boa would be found lurking in these woods to feast on “bad” little boys and girls. Again, I reiterate that we’re in MIDDLE TENNESSEE! And I’m only five. Not to mention that up until my twenties every word uttered by my grandfather was as if it had come directly from the lips of God. Like many young boys I idolized my grandfather and he could do no wrong, even if he did insist on scaring the wits out of me with his fictitious tales.

After ascertaining that I was indeed alone and the coast was clear and I could still hear the faint sound of my grandparents in the distance above me. Unlatching my little tackle box I open the top, reach in and pull out a Styrofoam container filled with dirt and night crawlers. I thread one onto the hook, check that my balsa wood float is secured in place and heaving my rod forward I press my thumb on the release and with a zinging sound and a whoosh my line hurls forward landing with a splash a few feet from the edge of the tree. I turn the reel crank a few times to tighten up the line and make my self cozy on a fold out multi-colored woven aluminum lawn chair left on the banks the first day we arrived. My attention focused towards the open waters of the lake as the sun begins to sparkle on the waters surface with the light begining to break through the trees high atop the hills. The early morning fishing boats motoring across the water leave a wake that turns those gentle sparkles into a light show that seems to come to life in a beautiful dance.

A quick tug and my attention is back to the float. Steady, slowly turning the crank to tighten the line again. Steady, I tell myself. With a slight gulp sound the bobber is tugged under water. I give a quick reel and pull back on my rod. FISH ON! First fish of the morning and I’m all smiles. Thirty years later and the fastest way to make me smile is to hook up with a fish. Well, maybe that comes second to having a pretty girl tell me she likes me. I’m reeling and keeping my rod tip up as I retrieve the fish. My head filled with the day dream of bringing in a lunker of a bass that would certainly impress my grandfather and all else whom saw the picture as it would merit a frame and display on the mantle for all to see. As the fish bolts towards the surface in one last attempt at freedom my hopes are shattered by the sight of a small pan fish about the width of my two little palms placed side-by-side.

Kneeling down to the waters edge I rest my rod next to me and with care I remove the hook and let the little fish swim back for the safety of the branches. As I reach my hands into the water to wash them off, a movement catches my attention from the corner of my eye. Seems that all the commotion of my catch has aroused the curiosity of something else. It darts back along side the log where I can’t see it any more. I stand slowly in anticipation of what it is. Maybe it was just a fish chasing some bait or a water strider darting across the surface. I second-guess the water strider due to the very large wake it left. I can feel my heart begin to pound faster. Images from my grandfather’s stories begin to fill my head. Feeling the fear build within me I’m still trying to be brave. I’m also very curious. What if it is a huge bass crashing some bait just on the other side of this log. I could cast in my worm and potentially catch this monster.

I kneel back down as not to scare the fish as I creep forward toward the edge of the log. I glide my hands quietly over the surface of the log. I maneuver with the skill of a seasoned hunter stalking his prey. I raise my head over the log and that very moment, the head of a snake pops out of the water towards me and comes to rest on a branch about a foot away. Face to face, we stare each other down, neither sure what to do or make of the other. I did the only thing a five year old is to do in this situation. I leap to my feet and frozen stiff open my mouth and let out the highest pitched screech for help that even froze the snake in its place. As we both sat there unable to move with me crying for help; “POPPA, POPPA!” I screamed, my eyes filling with tears. The snake seemed paralyzed and never moved an inch. Upon the forth or fifth yelp for help I head the rustle of the dirt as he raced to my aid. Placing a hand on my shoulder he kneels next to me asking what’s wrong. I point to the snake and he looks in the direction of my hand. Turning back towards me smiling he chuckles. “It’s a harmless water snake, see.” Grabbing a small stick laying on the ground he shakes it at the alarmed two-foot long creature and it turns tail and scurries in the opposite direction.

Returning to camp he fills in the details to my grandmother whom was in the camper bathroom when my screaming began rolling her hair. Again, one must keep up appearances when in the wilderness. They both soothe my worries and guide me to a seat to have some breakfast. Not sure if that was to make me feel better or not. I felt like the biggest wimp. What a sissy I told myself. A few weeks later as some other older generations of family are gathered around for my great grandmother and grandfathers anniversary party I walk into a room when my grandfather motions with a gesture for me to come to him. Sitting me on his knees he looks up at me and with a room full of the elder men of our little tribe sitting around he says; “Go ahead, tell them about the monster of the lake.” Hearing chuckles from them all I don’t hesitate. I launch in to the story with, “You should have seen it. It had to have been ten feet long!” It was at that moment I’m certain my grandfather knew I was destined for fishing greatness. After all I’d already mastered the art of the fisherman’s tale.

written by: Jim “Big D” Harper
Fishing in Belize
www.BiteMeBelize.com

Taking what I think is a very common sense approach to the notion of taking “trophy” fish, and extending the protections already given tarpon to permit and bonefish, Bonefish & Tarpon Trust has just sent a letter to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission requesting that they modify regulations on these species.

Read full story about Bonefish Tarpon Trust

Sponsored by BITE ME BELIZE | Fishing in Belize ONLY $850.00 PER WEEK

Written by: Big D Harper
www.BiteMeBelize.com

Night has fallen on yet another day. Lying in this tent resting my head on a balled up pair of waders wrapped in a flannel shirt, I retrace the steps that have brought me back to this piece of water and others similar to it. Like many whom share this life long love affair with fishing, I feel complete when I’m on, in, or near the water. Though it often remains unspoken, I feel many can relate.

Calling various islands in the Caribbean home to many would be satisfying enough; however, time and time again I feel my soul begin to stir. It starts with a photo in a magazine, a segment in a commercial or movie, or even the images my own thoughts so vividly paint when reading a story. The urge slowly builds deep within until I undertake the first step down a road that I’ve become all too familiar with in my life. I’ll begin to crave the unknown, the adventure of not knowing what lies around the next bend or over the next mountain. The call to explore new waters or return to old favorites strikes with the ferocity of a large mouth bass greedily destroying a well jigged popper across the still surface of some back-water cove. And after the hook is set, the only way to remove it is to pack up a bundle of gear, a few extra pairs of socks and underwear and head off in the direction of the call.

I’ve often joked that I caught my first fish around four years old. However, the hook was set in me rather than the fish. And so this first experience years ago drives me to my current place in life, next to a piece of water. Whether the water is new or old is irrelevant. If it’s new waters, more than likely I’ll be instilled with a homing beacon not unlike that of a salmon destined to return some day. And just as the salmon, I too will get the call to journey back. I, unlike the salmon, at least get to enjoy return trips a multitude of times. I don’t fool myself though. I know that someday, not too far in the future in the grand scheme of time, it will be my last journey. The last conversation I’ll have with an old friend as we part ways to never see one another again.

At the present, I find myself entranced by the sound of the stream a few yards from my place of slumber, signing softly as a lullaby from the gentle embrace of a mother as she rocks her child to sleep. Sounds of the night filling the air, a damp coolness surrounding my cheeks and nose forcing me further down into my sleeping bag. This small slice of heaven located along the South Boulder Creek runs parallel with a set of railroad tracks. Come dawn it’ll serve as an alarm clock with the whistle of a locomotive coming down from the Moffat tunnel on its journey across the divide.

After a few days of exploring some old faithful holes filled with beautiful browns and a few rainbows, it will be off to some other waters. At times, it’s been a curse rendering me useless and unable to concentrate or focus on more immediate needs. Or at least needs deemed more immediate by social standards. After all, a warm house and the car note occasionally enter my mind. Mostly it makes me think of buying an RV… then I can condense one into the other. But where would I store all that crap I inevitably acquire through these weeks and months spent roaming the globe? Often my travels call for vehicles with wings or props rather than wheels. So I scratch the RV idea.

A few stops at local fly shops or homes of friends usually round out my adventures as I once again tame the urge. At times I’ve had people share the adventures with me and other times I prefer to be alone. A time to reflect on where I’ve been and where to go next.

Back in my home waters, I enjoy the rest and day-to-day routine of casting into familiar flats chasing some wary bonefish, tarpon or permit for the umpteenth time. I’m excited to see them to connect once more. However, I’m certain they prefer that I’d catch the fever of longing for distant waters once again, and sooner rather than later.

Sponsored by BITE ME BELIZE | Fishing in Belize at it’s best for under $850.00 per week.

Four a.m. has come and gone. Nearly an hour since I’ve risen to greet the day. I sit calmly at my tying desk turning out common patterns for today’s quarry. As the minutes pass filled with the sounds of the coming dawn the light filling the room more and more as the minutes pass I’m aware that it’s almost time to go. Pausing after I apply a drop of head cement to the last fly of the morning. I contemplate the adventure that waits. Each day on the water is anew, never as the previous before it. That first glimpse of the vibrant hues of orange, purple, red, and blues as the sun begins its familiar journey through the heavens take my breath away. The gentle lapping of the water as I board my small vessel and push off the dock. The momentary buzz as I turn the key and listen to a sound that soothes my soul, that of the engine purring to life. Throttling forward just a touch I begin my sixty-yard journey to the opening of my canal and out to sea.

The mangroves are alive with birds singing their praises for the coming light. A school of mullet that calls my channel home darts nervously away as my bow moves slowing through their formation on the search for food. Clearing the opening and water depth steadily growing deeper I push the throttle forward brining my craft on step. I’m motoring now, breeze in my hair, and the aroma of the tropics filling the air as the sea spray peels off both left and right of me. Standing at the helm driving into the light my soul is renewed. This is the moment, the moment for which my life has been about. It was instilled in me from my grandfather whom placed me on his lap and begins teaching me the life of the water. It’s serenity, it’s calm, and even it’s storms. He also instilled in me the passion of fishing. And still to this day I return day-after-day to pursue yet another tug on the fly line.

Gliding effortlessly through mangrove cuts I navigate my way into one of my favorite flats. Not only does the abundance of fish draw me here. As in life it’s also about the journey. Each time I visit this area I am amazed. It’s like being on an exploration of a new world. You wind your way through an intricate system of shallow channels surrounded on either side by tall mangroves and the occasional coconut palm. In many sections you duck as the mangroves lean over the still water path leading into this flat that I’ve come to know as “honey hole #31”. Why number thirty-one? Because I’ve discovered thirty others almost just like it with in a couple of square miles surrounding this one. The last leg of the approach is most technical, calling on me to trim up the engine yet remain on plane as to not draw more than ten inches of water. Should I slow down and I would be stuck at idle speed or forced to cut the engine, trim her all the way up and pole the boat the remaining hundred yards or so.

Speeding down this natural mangrove tunnel I turn the wheel to the left and feel the hull slip to the side as she banks through the final turn. I see the opening ahead now. Passing by the final mangroves I explode into a five hundred yard by three hundred yard wide flats reminiscence of some distant out-island in the Bahamas. This however is a mere seven-minute run from my house. While pressing the trim button up and simultaneously throttle back, I feel the craft’s momentum slow as the force of the water brings her to a gentle glide. Turning the key the engine goes silent. I trim the engine the remainder of the way up and cock her to the right. No noises remaining other than the lap of the wake against the hull. Climbing atop my platform I reach for my pole. I insert it into the water with great care. Creating no noise as I push in the direction of the start of the east side of the flat.

As the waters surface calms from the disturbance of my entry I can clearly see the sandy bottom. The higher the sun raises overhead enables me to spot schools of bonefish over a hundred feet away. It’s time for the morning feed. Their noses buried in the sandy silt bottom in search of prey, the tails rise high out of the water. I spot my first group of tailing fish ahead some hundred twenty feet. With a graceful dismount of a skilled gymnast I come off the platform and toward the bow of the boat. Slipping the anchor silently over the side I wait as the boat extends its anchor line while watching the tails to keep track of their location. Rod in hand I slide over the starboard side and into the water. It’s cool and refreshing on my feet. The inch or two of soft silty sand squish between my toes. It’s a feeling some have disliked. I find it comforting and a bit fun. Stalking closer towards my intended targets I carefully slide each foot forward at a stealthy snails pace as to not create and disturbance. One careless noise or false move and the fish will high tail it in the opposite direction. Bones are as nervous as long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.

Much of the appeal of saltwater flats fishing is it’s more like hunting than fishing. It’s the way of the still hunt perfected by the native Indians of Canada and America, only in water rather than the forest. Requiring a keen eye and a cast every bit as skillful as the hair-trigger of a skilled hunter. The poling platform your stand, the rod your riffle, and the fly the bullet. Once I’ve closed the range to roughly eighty feet I carefully strip off the needed amount of line, release the fly that was pinched between my thumb and for finger. Draw back waiting as the rod gives me a familiar tug indicative of the time to flick my wrist forward and let more line slip effortlessly through the eyes of the rod. One more back-cast and a second haul forward I watch as I release the remaining line and the loop shoots past my head toward a lone bone that I’ve singled out as he’s veered off to the side of the school. The line unfurls and the fly is presented. He sees it and I being a slight strip as if a wary creature were attempting to evade a predator. With a flip of his tail he speeds forward scooping up the fly in his mouth. I strip again and the hook is set. Immediately the other tails disperse in panic and the fish on the end of my line attempts to run into a clump of mangrove shoots rising no more than eight to ten inches from the waters surface. The battle is on. As old as time it self, predator vs. prey.

Today is December twenty third yet it feels nothing like one-day from Christmas Eve. If it weren’t for the small island I call home decorating what is known on maps as Barrier Reef Drive with lights hanging from building to building and small island businesses playing Latin versions of Here comes Santa Clause, and Jingle Bells one would have no idea it were that time of year. Typical it is not. But Christmas time it is, the world over is bounding with their various beliefs and traditions. It’s a comfortable seventy-eight degree with a mild breeze coming from the east.

I’m back on my dock early today as I have a commitment to a friend that I’m excited to assist him with. In the tradition of a Corona beer commercial we’re going to string multi-colored lights on a lone palm tree that has been planted on a concrete island in the center of his swimming pool adjacent to a palapa-roofed bar. Where in three days time one of our festive seasonal celebrations will be held with friends and family. We’ll come dressed to the nines. Complete with Rasta colored Santa hats, themed t-shirts with the sleeves chopped off, our best dress board shorts, flip flops, and what ever local Ho-Ho-Ho we can find to join us.

The air will be filled with the smell of lobster being buttered on the grill, seasoned snapper and veggies wrapped in foil, and jerk rubbed yard bird, that would be chicken to anyone not form the south. And let us not forget the delightful aromatic aroma of spiced rums and the local beer, the Belikin in flavors of both stout and regular. For desert we’ll sample the papaya nut bread, banana mango fruit cake, and a local favorite amongst ex-pats the famous coconut battered fired, chocolate dipped, sliced bananas toped with Coconut crème sorbet and drizzled with red and green sprinkles. Later with our cheeks aglow from the festivities and our spirits high (literally) we’ll partake in that age old tradition of streaking to the moonlit waters of the Caribbean for a bit of skinny dipping. And with the water full of naked people we’ll discover our evening gifts. I just home my gift doesn’t float or poke, ouch. With or newfound gifts under our arms we stumble gleefully back to our homes, or our gifts home. And practice our giving and receiving. After all, ‘tis the season!

And you thought I only write NICE stories. I hope this comical tale has brought a smile to your face and warm Caribbean rays to your current place. From all us who are here because we’re not all there!

Wishing you a very merry Christmas.

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BITE ME BELIZE – Fishing in Belize at it’s best, for only $850.00 per WEEK!

The move to the small Caribbean island off the coast of Belize wasn’t easy. In fact, some might call it a rather arduous journey. Adventure is a more appropriate description. Not only was the move an adventure, the day-to-day routines of ones life are as well.  What makes the hassle and hurdles worth it, you ask? A few things in come to mind immediately.

A.) I did mention it’s a Caribbean Island, right?
B.) An abundance of very small bikinis on petite, stunningly beautiful senoritas.
C.) The most important deciding factor for me, something I call “Backyard Bones”.

This all begins a short six months after I entered the “working” world. As a child I fished a lot. So much in fact that I was recognized by my peers as being quite adept at the sport. When the time came, I was informed that regardless of being told as a child I could be anything I wanted. And I of course said I wanted to be a fisherman. That it was all a lie. Moms, Dads, Grandparents, Uncles and adults in general were lying when they informed you that you could be anything you dare to dream. Really, when they asked; “What do you want to be when you grow up?” their actually looking for cheap amusement from the innocents of a child. The reality is, once you’re of age they expect a productive and contributing member of society. So, with that repressed angst off my chest now – I’ll continue.

Off to the corporate world I went. I thought at the time that I was fairly lucky. Everyone informed me that since I hadn’t gone to college and was given a natural-knack for writing various computer code and earning a decent wage for a first job, especially as a young man of twenty. I, according to society was on the right path in life. Within the first six months of breathing recycled air surrounded by people I found annoying and rather miserable. The luster of the corporate career wore off. And the harsh reality began to set-in. I was on the well-paved road to spending the next thirty years in this bleak existence. Trapped in a three-walled cell, opps I meant cubicle day-after-day for roughly 250 days per year for a grand total of 7,500 days of your “working” life. Let that sink in just a bit. SEVEN THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED DAYS OF YOUR LIFE! Well it scared the shit out of me. Soon I was living for that sacred two brief days per week doing what I WANTED TO DO, known as the weekend.

In order to break the monotony of this drab routine I took up fly-fishing and begin returning to the past time that I had so comfortably fit into through out my youth. The weeks got easier as I spent the majority of my days on someone’s dime other than mine performing just enough work to keep me below the radar.  The rest of the time studying the art of fly fishing and fly tying in books and on the internet the rest of the time. Fridays would arrive and I would sneak out of the building a full hour early. Truck packed with gear and a paycheck in my pocket. I would bolt for freedom like the family cat when he would hear my three-year old cousin coming after him. I knew, If I could beat traffic I would be settling into my campsite adjacent to some great waters holding tons of fish for me to harass come sun up.

Regardless of the previous five days since my last visit. Each morning on the water was as if I’d never left. It’s the slight chill early in the morning coupled with the anticipation of what the day will hold. The early morning still as the sun begins to break the horizon. The gentle trickle of water as a few drops hit the surface while poling the boat into an area teaming with fish. Listening to the trees come to life with the sounds of various birds as they greet a new day. Watching those first signs of disturbance on the waters surface indicative of feeding fish. This is what my life has been about since the beginning. For richer or poorer, for better or for worse, I said “I do.” to fishing long ago.

One morning while conducting my “paid for” fishing research I ran across an advertisement for a flats trip in the Bahamas. Living in southern Florida I knew the airfare rates couldn’t be terribly expensive. Sure enough I discovered a round trip to Freeport for a hundred fifty six dollars. That was it, my mind was made up. I called up the number from my employers phone; after all, international calling is expensive. A gentle sounding voice with a thick island accent answered with a pleasant hello. Cutting through the chase I asked when was the first immediate opening he had for three days of fishing. He replied with a slight hmmm… and a pause. “The twelfth of this month.” With no hesitation I said I’d take it. Upon hanging up the phone I began plotting how I could escape with a reasonable excuse. Only having eight days to prepare I knew it was going to be my best “duck and dodge” of the office I would have yet to perform. The following Monday I began with a fake cough. Followed by a few sneezing fits encourage by breathing a bit of white pepper. Add to that a few drops of Visine to make my eyes water. A couple of squirts of nasal spray that always gives me a little sniffle runs just after I sniff it. And viola! Looks as though the years of faking sick in school works equally well in corporate America.

By the second day of my shenanigans I added a large coffee cup containing some VERY peppery broth to produce a mild sweat on my forehead. Add in one departmental office meeting with everyone one in attendance and by Tuesday at noon, the boss sent me home before I got everyone in the office sick. I strolled out of the office somberly accepting the “get well soons” and the “hope you feel betters” from numerous co-workers. As I drove away from the property with the office building in my rearview I paused for a moment and with a smile said; “I’d like to thank the academy!” I spent the remainder of the day packing my gear, tying some popular bonefish patterns, while watching a few of my favorite movies.

Waking early the next morning I loaded my gear and headed down A1A, also know as Ocean Blvd twenty five miles south toward Ft. Lauderdale to meet my puddle jumper over to the Bahamas. By 10:15 in the morning I was sipping Kailik on a beach in Eleuthera staring aimlessly out across the vibrant hues of blue as far as my eyes could see. With my five-day repreival from the office finally at hand I begin feeling enlightened and content once again.  I realized the sun had sunk closer to the horizon and my watch reads four p.m. It strikes me that while being surrounded by the tropics on the beginning of a fishing trip has aided me in shrugging off the corporate blues. It’s more likely that the rum drinks are the reason for enlightenment. With the awareness of my altered state now on my mind, I set my watch alarm for eight o’clock as a reminder to head to bed, as six a.m. will come painfully early should this drinking continue any further. I pick my self up out of the beach chair and proceed to glide in the direction of the bar for just a few more.

The next morning I’m up early rigging my fly rod and tying a few extra leaders for the coming day. I pause for a moment in my shuffling to fully take-in my current place on the planet. Making my way to the balcony I watch in wonder as colors so brilliant fill the sky. Remarkable hues of orange, purple, pink, reds, and blues explode over the glass like waters of the Caribbean. A small skiff passes by, the wake gently rolls towards shore causing this radiant spectrum of light to come to life. Each perfectly melding color begins to dance with such fervor as if this once still canvas suddenly burst to life. I’m captivated by the movement and blending of textures, it’s as if I can actually feel the sunrise. Sunrises and sunsets are an added bonus to spending your life on the water, and each one I store away in the memory banks. However, this one was especially noteworthy. This sunrise was full of life. Reminding me once again what a miracle each day truly is.

Promptly at six on the dot, a weathered and worn jeep wrangler arrives just in front of my door. A thin framed very dark man sporting a tattered looking straw hat, faded khaki cargo shorts and a bleached out once neon green t-shirt that said, “I Love Bimini” across the chest. With a few knocks to my screen door I’m certain this is my guy. I answer the door gear in hand. With a kind smile he offers his hand and introduces himself as Doc. Accepting his jester I grip firmly and immediately feel a lifetime of poling and fishing in the calluses of his shake. Introductions concluded he instructs me to place my nine-foot rod in his custom-made rod rack mounted to the top of the roll bars of the old jeep. Remarking on it’s unique design Doc says; “Yeah, I fine dis piece of pipe’n wash up from sum storm on de backside of dis heere lil’ caye, bout sum two mile out. I figured it don serve me well for my use as a rig holder.” Nodding my head in agreement he turns the key and we’re on our way.

I ask Doc if it’ll be a far run out to the first spot we’ll be fishing. He chuckles in a manner that makes me certain that to this game I’m a complete newbie. With a quick answer he says it all and I know that the joke is going to be on me. “Yeah mon! It gonna take bout terty minute fore ya fishin.”. Only five minutes drive from my room we arrive at a washed out pastel blue home complete with angled storm shutters accented in a white paint that’s now laden with cracks and chips. A slightly corroded tin roof featuring small patches of rust scattered randomly about adorns the roof of this house. It sits tall on stilts and has a wrap around porch with flower boxes mounted to the outside of the deck railing. Each box containing well maintained hibiscus plants blooming in a gorgeous alternating pattern of orange, yellow, and red. Perfectly spaced every two feet or so, these stunning plants merge together and appear as one continues plant encircling the home.

Doc lifts the latch on the gate and steps into the yard. Close behind I follow, uncertain of where we are. A split second later a young girl appears on the top step and lets out an ecstatic “Daddy!” as if her father had been gone for days. It’s abundantly clear we’re at Doc’s house now. He turns to me and offers a brief explanation; “Dat be my baby, Julia. We gonna get some eats before we head out, if that alright with you.” I agree, feeling my stomach rumbling. In all the anticipation for the days fishing and excitement of being on-island, I had forgotten all about breakfast and the need for food to absorb the last remaining drops of rum from last night sugary cocktails. I continue behind Doc as we head past his house along the side where it opens into a beautiful mangrove lined sand yard. In the center of the yard among the various boat engines parts, a run-down well used skiff hull, and a variety of buoys and fishing nets hanging and stored through out, sits a picnic table surrounded by plastic deck chairs along with a sunbrella in the middle of the table.

Pointing towards one of the seats at the head of the table Doc gestures for me to take a seat. A moment later I hear the creak of a screen door and glance upwards to the back porch. Carefully making her way down the stairs holding a large picture beading with condensation, I would soon learn it’s filled to the brim with freshly squeezed orange and mango juice mixed with coconut water. Following behind young Julia is a beautiful woman adorn in a bright yellow blouse and a floral print dress. Her smile is big and bright. She watches her little one with a sense of paternal pride as she so eagerly wishes to help by carrying the juice down the stairs. It’s a spectacle that can’t help but bring a smile to your face as she diligently concentrates on her task at hand. A size two child with a size three pitcher weighted down by five pounds of liquid.

Soon we’ve all been introduced and are sitting comfortably around the table eating fresh fruit, eggs, bacon, and toast topped with homemade papaya jam canned by Doc’s wife. After we’ve had our fill Doc rises from the table learn forward and kisses his wife then walks around to Julia and pats her head while reassuring her that he’ll be back before night fall. Glancing in my direction Doc says; “Ya ready go fish?” I answer, “You bet.”. With a good luck from Doc’s wife I follow Doc through an opening in the mangroves along a narrow boardwalk lifted a foot off the ground. Past the mangroves it opens into a channel canal where at the end of our path sits a small floating dock and a flats skiff anchored to it. As we board the boat Doc begins looking around the engine and checking a few things prior to departure. I take off my wading pack and lay it on the floor of the boat next to the console. As I begin to stow my rod in the built-in gunwale holders. Doc informs me that it won’t be necessary, as I’ll need it soon. Wit the bow pointed towards the entrance of the channel He trims the engine down off its tilt and into the water. Turning the key the engines comes to life. An idle purr and a slight odor of burning petrol and two-stroke oil fill the air. Doc moves the throttle forward putting her into gear as we being to motor out in the direction of the first destination.

Admiring the other little island cottages lining the canal I think to myself how nice it would be to own something like this for my own. Along with what a nice life Doc probably has fishing everyday while pursuing his passion. We pass three other cottages and we’re coming to the opening of the canal. Pulling past the last cottage I focus my attention to the right and to my surprise sits a large salt flats area just to the south of Doc’s canal. During my surprise my jaw must have dropped to the deck of the boat. Doc began to chuckle, looking back he remarks; “What ya tink?” three seconds later he turns off the engine trims it back up, tilts it to once side then points just ahead of me to the right stating; “There two o’clock forty feet, you see dem?”. Shocked I stare as three large bonefish with their noses in the sand unaware of our presences are on a direct path towards the boat. With a childish grin on my face and the excitement of a kid in a candy store, I look at Doc saying; “You’ve got bones in the backyard!”, his reply; “Not bad yeah!”

Grabbing his pole carefully from the deck as not to make any noise he skillfully pops up atop the poling platform and begins pushing us out on the flats. With barely enough time to unhook my fly from hook holder and strip off sixty to seventy feet of line before Doc calls out. “Eleven o’clock fifty yards!”. Sure enough with one quick glance I spot a school of five bonefish nose down and tails up. I throw my rod back and feel it load. With the flick of my wrist I shoot the line forward then back again. As the momentum of the line loads the rod on the back cast this time I make a haul and shoot forwards, releasing with my left hand the remaining line. I feel it slip quickly through my thumb and forefinger that are guiding the remaining line on the deck of the boat. The loop unfurls ahead of me and I watch as I tip the rod tip to the waters edge and the leader delicately delivers the fly a few feet in front of the school. As the fly sinks one of the bones turn on it. “He’s sees it!” Doc says. Followed by a “Strip”, “Strip”. Just like that a mere five minutes from the dock I’m hooked up. I palm the reel as he strips me into my backing. Six or seven minutes later I bring him aside the boat as I kneel down and remove the hook from his mouth and take the opportunity to snap a quick picture. The rest of the day is spent stalking and catching fish after fish on the network of flats just behind Doc’s house, never straying more than a mile or two from his canal.

Three days of successful fishing later. I’m packing my bags and gear heading towards the Governors Harbor to catch my flight back to Freeport and then on to Ft. Lauderdale. I fell refreshed and notice a renewed sense of vigor. It’s as if I was plugged into a socket and my batteries are once again at full power. With this contemplation I understand the importance of the “vacation” in the corporate world. I see how it can replenish ones spirit and give them a false sense of hope again. The kind of hope that keeps you thinking, one day, one day I’ll be able to enjoy these activities and things that I like on a regular basis. I also get an understanding during this epiphany that the system was designed to give you just enough hope whilst keeping you coming back again and again. You never really have enough to get ahead. With the cost of living increasing at all times and inflation on the rise you’ll be lucky to have a 401K or some small money market account to play with once you reach sixty five. And even I know not to count on Social Security, and I’m certainly no economist or financial planner. I come from a long line of financial spenders. Lets just say my family is known as “good consumers”.

I could go on and on about my experiences of getting away from corporate America or any life that you merely tolerate and don’t truly love or have passion for. It’s like staying in a relationship because you’re comfortable. Passion keeps the soul young, and I see more passionate older people that have spent a lifetime doing something they love surrounded by people they love. After this altering realization and upon my return from the Bahamas I lasted a short seven weeks before handing in my resignation. I began a career of consulting and contracting work that enabled me more time to pursue my passions as well as work remotely from various tropical islands. After much exploring and fishing this planet I realize in hindsight that it was the best move I’ve ever made in this world. It hasn’t just changed my reality and my microcosm of this world. It’s changed everyone around me and in my life’s world as well. The happiness and content I have for my situation influences and eases anyone around me. There are a few disgruntled family members and ex-friends that hold a grudge and a bad attitude. How can that affect you when you’re enjoying your ride, the ups and the downs? It’s still exactly where and what you want to be doing. Their jealousy is based on the fear they’ve lived in for their entire lives that have stopped them from stepping out and pursuing what their passions are or were.

I know own a fishing outfit that lodges and guides people to experience their ideal fishing vacations. The lodge located just a few hundred yards from my house on a canal of my own. Recently I had the editor of a fishing magazine visiting to do a write up about my fishing operation. His first day of arrival as I push us off the dock and motor out to the opening he glances over the side and with child like enthusiasm turns to me with wide eyes and proclaims, “Bro, you’ve got backyard bones!”. To that I can only say, “Yes I do, brutha! Yes I do!”

I hope you too are inspired to pursue your goals and passions through out life. If you’ve ever dreamed of doing something, do it! You’re far more likely to regret the things you didn’t do then the things you did.  In one final parting note I leave you with a favorite quote.

“Laugh at yourself, but don’t ever aim your doubt at yourself. Be BOLD! When you embark for strange places, don’t leave any of yourself safely on shore. Have the nerve to venture into unexplored territory.” – Alan Alda, actor

I watch in wonder as if it’s my first time to witness all the glory that is a sunrise over tropical waters. Yes, it’s a daily event, and one I fear many miss out on. I watch the iridescent even glow of the sky fade from a dark glowing blue into an explosion of beautiful hues. These new colors seem to melt together and increase in intensity. All tones of Blues, fiery oranges, hints of reds so powerful it stirs the soul, and hues of pink that I’m afraid the english dictionary lacks the words to describe.

I dip my paddle into the water again, first the right, then left. I barely hear swish and swirling disturbance as I pull the paddle back towards me. Only a faint splash is heard as one blade comes free from the warm tropical water and the other dips in. My attention still focused on the heavens as that bright orange sphere breaks the seal on the horizon and begins to rise in all its beauty. I greet it with a smile, as if I were acknowledging an old friend from afar.

I glance over my shoulder to watch the stern lights of the drop-off skiff now cruising on-step back towards the faint glow of San Pedro. Armed with my water proof map of the days flats I pass between a sandbar and a small point of the tip of this intricate maze of undisturbed flats that are sacred grounds to all that enjoy the hunt of saltwater fly fishing. Occasionally I feel one of the blades of the paddle touch silt or sand. With the increasing light I can see the bottom a mere 5 to 7 inches below me. Gliding further into the opened flats the water deepens and I begin seeing dark patches of turtle grass. I’m now into the first in a series of flats and mangrove fats areas that are linked together by a network of channels that run so shallow they have protected their inhabitants from guides, noisy two strokes, the film of a fuel slick resting atop the water, and constant worries of food turning out to be a fly.

With good light now higher in the sky I lay my paddle across my lap. I observe the beauty of my surroundings and what I consider to be one of God’s best accomplishments next to the “act of” human reproduction. From the corner of my eye I spot the first sign of a disturbance in this otherwise unspoiled paradise. Focusing on the commotion I see the day’s first sign of tailing bones happily feeding. Noses down, attention in the sand searching food. I plot my approach as I study their direction of travel and feeding pattern. I aim the kayak up-wind and glide in like a stealth injection molded torpedo. I quietly engage the scupper levers and deploy the automatic expanding outriggers on this specially designed fishing kayak. I raise the casting bar and pull my self up on my feet. For a moment I contemplate the advancements made in fishing kayaks that enable a secure and stable standing and casting platform from a kayak. I grab my rod and strip off forty to fifty feet of line. I release the fly pinched between my forefinger and thumb. Watching it to the water just in front of me. My target selected, a good-sized bone that’s a few feet to the side of the rest of the school. Drawing back I wait, I wait for the loading of the rod. With a flip f my wrist the line is hurled forward. I haul again as I bring it back and again wait for the feeling. Again I haul and flip my wrist forward. This time 50 feet of line unfurrell in front of me moving on course towards the spot I’ve picked. I lower my rod tip towards the water and watch the fly gingerly touch down on the water and begin sinking. My selected quarry snubs his nose at my fly and proceeds on his hunt for food past my fly.

The first cast wasn’t a success. By the third I was hooked up and the chase was on. The day’s game of wading, stalking, and kayaking these untouched “honey holes” have begun. With the lack of man’s presences and pressure on these flats it has made the fish super aggressive. Through out the day I catch a total of fourteen bones and the largest weighing in around seven pounds. Not only has the lack of pressure provide more productive fishing, it also provides larger fish as well.

What I’ve described is a typical days fishing with a Belize fishing company called BITE ME! Belize Fishing Adventures. The boys at BITE ME! Came up with their unique style of flats fishing in Belize by shear frustration. “We kept running into these flats areas where we couldn’t pole into with the boats. We could wade due to knee-deep silt and mud bottoms. But we could see the fish, Tons of tails splashing about 70, 80, even a mere 100 yards ahead of us.” Says Jim Big “D” Harper one of the owners of BITE ME!.

This was the catalyst that spawned the first kayak fishing service in Belize. “In starting it we found we were catching more and larger fish in areas that once we got into them they opened up to these large flats with limestone and sand bottoms that you could wade.”

It also created an opportunity to allow others who previously couldn’t afford to experience a fishing trip to Belize due to the average cost for a week of fishing in Belize ranging between $2,700 per week to over $4,000 per week, per person as well. Due to the shuttle service by skiff to and from different networks of flats each day and not having a guide. The cost of fishing in Belize for an entire week with BITE ME!  Is $850 per week all-inclusive. After my experience with kayak fishing for bonefish I’ll certainly be heading back down soon. This is truly a remarkable and productive way to experience the joys of fishing in Belize. If you wish to discover more about kayak fishing in Belize visit Big “D” at http://www.BiteMeBelize.com

Being a fisherman has provided me my fair share of sunrises and sunsets on the water. It’s an experience I’ve never taken for granted. After all I know many people whom miss sunrises and sunsets due to hectic schedules and being confined in the captive walls of an office building. In the past few years I’ve added kayak fishing to my repoitare of fly fishing methods. Like anything I seem to venture into for the first time I often struggle with and initial period of feeling much like a new born deer. Kinda wobbly, unstable, knees knocking and not quite certain of my surroundings or what in the world is going on.

After that learning curve has been concurred the benefits using a kayak to harass the local bonefish, permit, even tarpon here in Belize or any other flats destination is worth the day or two of the proverbial “Fish out of water.” Period of adjustment. For one the stealthy nature of kayak fishing is reason enough for skittish schools of bones or permit. Add to it the recent advancements of outrigger systems that enable one to stand securely and safely on the kayak increase ability to spot fish as well as cast a fly rod with ease.

Another huge benefit that sold me on kayak fishing was the lightweight and portability of the fishing kayaks themselves. With modern thermo plastic and injection molding processes many of these kayaks weigh less than 45 lbs. I admit that I’m a bit of a lazy fisherman and don’t desire to paddle miles upon miles to go fishing. I do still enjoy turning a key, hearing the purr of a finely tuned four stroke as I ease the that hammer forward an motor on towards my favorite fishing spots. However, it’s now a rarity that I leave the dock without a kayak strapped down in the front of my skiff. The kayak has enabled me to explore and discover new flats areas that were previously un-reachable by skiff or wading. These little “honey spots” as I fancy calling them are filled with virgin schools of bones and permit that are super aggressive. Lacking the constant pressure from guides and tourist has kept these spots sacred and more fun than a Crisco covered pig in a kid’s carnival.

As we all know the aggressive fishing and higher catch rate has probably convinced many reading this to give kayak fishing a try or incorporate it into your fishing regimen as well. There is yet one last thing I feel most might be interested to know. Kayak fishing cost significantly less than running a flats skiff all day with a local guide that’s trying to feed the family as well. Most kayak fishing destination such as BITE ME! Kayak Fishing Adventures in Belize charge around a hundred dollars per day which includes breakfast, lunch, and delivery by skiff to and from remote fishing flats that guides and other fishermen can’t travel due to the skinny water entrance or the mud and silt bottom composition that will have you sinking to your knees if one were to attempt wading it. As with most fishing flats once you paddle through these opening which range from fifty yards in to a hundred yards. The flats areas open back up into large mangrove lined private havens averaging 12 to 18 inches of water and a solid limestone bottom that make stalking these little “honey holes” a fisherman’s dream.

So, the next time you find your self feeling stagnate about your fishing spots. Grab a kayak from a local kayak-fishing retailer; they’ll usually have demo or rental kayaks for you to try. Load it on the boat or strap it to a car. Head on over to your local waters and explore and discover new and more productive fishing when you incorporate a kayak into your fishing.

Funny Fishing T-Shirt

Funny Fishing T-Shirt

I’ve spoken on here before about my buddies at BITE ME! Belize Fishing Adventures. However, their logo is such a hit with fishermen here in Belize that they are now offering this funny fishing t-shirt for sale online. These BITE ME! fishing t-shirt makes a perfect gift for any fisherman. If you’re looking for an excellent Christmas gift idea for fly fishermen and other fishermen alike.

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