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By: Marshall Cutchin

I started my day by reading an innocent question by Esquire book reviewer Benjamin Alsup: “Would anyone still subject themselves to the embarrassments of fly-fishing if it weren’t for Hemingway?.” While Hemingway fished and wrote about many waters now famous for their fly fishing, he was, by many accounts, reluctant to throw a fly. (As Nick Lyons said in his intro to Hemingway on Fishing, “For a writer so beloved by fly fishermen, he shows little interest in this brand of fishing.” Apparently Hemingway preferred swinging multiple wet flies through the riffles — when he had to.) So Hemingway/fly fishing references do beg the question of whether the great literature is fading from view faster than we’d like.

Arnold Gingrich, who founded and ruled Esquire during its heyday in the 30s, 40s and 50s and was a fly fishing fanatic, probably also knew more about the sport’s literature than any man of his day. He fished with Hemingway and listened to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s excuses for not doing so (“I can’t face Ernest again, when he’s so successful and I’m such a failure“). Gingrich was one of the first — and last — to publish Hemingway (and Fitzgerald, and John Steinbeck, and Truman Capote) in a major U.S. magazine. It would be fair to say that he saw fly fishing as one of his era’s “extreme” sports, one that was worth the attention of the very best writers, fly fishers or not. But Hemingway, who was writing stories like “Sailfish Off Mombasa: A Key West Letter” and “Hemingway On Being Shot. Again,” and was probably glad to lend a touch of machismo to Gingrich’s favored sport, was unlikely to dilly dally around with the engraved fly fisher’s flask when there was a case of Jameson’s Irish whiskey stashed in the bow of The Pilar.

Some better literary candidates? Negley Farson, who lived in remote British Columbia and who fly fished to put food on the table, John Gierach, who cared enough about saving fly fishing from pretension that he coined the phrase “trout bum,” or the gifted Jim Harrison, whose poetry inspired by rivers has nothing at all to do with the glamour of being a celebrity sportsman.

But maybe the best choice would be Gingrich himself, who did as much as anyone to point out that fly fishing is not a sport for sissies.

“IT IS LIKE A DRUG. I think that’s what it is. What is it about Belize bonefish? You know every fisherman asks themselves, ‘If I could give up everything, for one fish, in one place, what would it be?’ And the more I go, the more I’m sure it would be a big bonefish in Belize.”

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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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.

Brought to you by:

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.

Coming up with the perfect gift Idea for your favorite Fly Fishing fanatic can, at times, be a daunting task. If you’re unfamiliar with a fly shop they can be stocked with thousands of little items to choose from. Below are a few that are on the top list of “Safe Bet” fly fishing gifts that your Fly Fisher (Man or Woman) will love.

Tarpon Movie | Tarpon DVD

Tarpon Movie | Tarpon DVD

TARPON – Movie featuring Tom McGuane, Jim Harrison, and Richard Brautigan. Another then-obscure artist, Jimmy Buffett, wrote the musical score. This Fly Fishing cult classic film was recently remastered and re-released on DVD. This is a classic Fly Fishing Video that any fly fisherman will enjoy.

Tibor Reels

Tibor Reels

TIBOR REELS – If the budget allows for it and you want to make the fly fisher in your life grin from ear-to-ear like a child and walk around the other fly fishers beaming with pride. Then get him or her a Tibor Everglades Fly Fishing Reel – or the Gulf Stream model depending on the type of fishing he or she does.

POCKET KNIFES – All fly fishers value a good pocket Knife. Take for example the Columbia River Knife and Tool companies’ latest edition. The Fishing Knife with integrated bottle opener for the beer bottles. The handle is even shaped like a fish.

Staying with the pocketknife theme this one is another excellent gift idea for fly fishermen and women. The Gerber Multi-Pliers tool. Similar to a leatherman but built much more ruggedly and designed to last a lifetime. It even comes complete with a Mag light mini-flash light.

Watermark

Watermark

WATERMARK (Fly Fishing Book) – A collection of beautiful fly fishing photos and scenery. This coffee table book is an excellent gift for any fly fishing enthusiast. This book features page-after-page of amazing photos fly fishing in action. By Grant McClintock 39.95

Waterproof Digital Camera

Waterproof Digital Camera

Olympus Stylus 1050 SW 10.1MP Waterproof / Shockproof Digital Camera – This indestructible digital camera is an excellent gift to help your fly fisher document their catches without brining them home. Not only does it assist them in catch and release but also they have proof they didn’t get skunked on the water.

Fishing Pack

Fishing Pack

William Joseph Catalyst Lumbar Pack – This little bag is excellent for carrying several fly boxes, all the tippet you need, and any other little things that you want to carry when fishing. It also features water bottle pockets on each side. It even features a lifetime warranty. Price $69.00

The ULTIMATE GIFT IDEA for any fly fisher – A week trip to Belize to fish for Permit, Bonefish, and Tarpon on the Belize Fishing flats on the island of Ambergris Caye. If the budget allows for it – BITE ME! Belize Fishing Adventures is featuring a full week of fishing in Belize for only $850 per week including the accommodations at their resort. Discover more about Belize Fishing on the BITE ME! Fishing website.

These are a few of the more popular gift ideas to get your fly fisherman or woman for this holiday season.

I’ve been asked on several occasions why saltwater fly fishing? Do I have an aversion towards trout or salmon fishing? The answer; No, I can and do appreciate both clear mountain streams as well as turquoise shimmering flats waters. It’s my choice to remain dedicated to Saltwater Fly Fishing simply because of that enormous ego crushing – light coming on above the head moment that was my first time in Saltwater. I was baffled by the differences. At that time I was already eight or nine years into fly fishing for trout and had excelled at it rather easily. I immediately moved into fly tying and even got a few variations submitted to some local publications for imitations that proved to be very productive in some of the local waters we were all fishing.

I guess its fair to say that I maybe thought of my self as a bit more advanced than a lot of my fishing buddies. And I’m 100% certain I thought I knew it all. The day when I was invited out visit the Bahamas and do some saltwater fly fishing. And as the guide put us on to a school of Bones and I proceeded to put my casting skills to the test. I was at that moment struck by a thought that has driven me since. “I know nothing! And am merely an over-inflated, ego maniacal trout bum living in Colorado. The real pros are these thick-skinned, well tanned crusty ole’ boys spending ten hours per day stalking and poling around their local flats grounds. Not only could these guys deliver a great presentation. The were double-hauling ninety feet of line with a a stiff sixteen knot wind when delivering these flies eight inches from the nose of a bonefish sifting through the silt in search of food.

I ran across an article that was circa 1987 published in the New York Post. Another un-expecting victim gets enlightened to what this whole saltwater fly fishing game is all about. Read the Article…