January 2023
Belize - The Elusive "Grand Slam" and Environmental Issues
In October, my wife and I had planned a trip with another couple (best friends from college) to go to Belize. It has been a bucket list item of mine for a long time to fish the tropical waters of Belize where you could catch bonefish, permit, and tarpon. Catching these three types of fish in the same day is called a “grand slam”. That was my goal!

Belize seemed like the perfect place. The local language is English, they accept American currency like their own, and there are miles and miles of clear, flat water to fish! I booked us at a fishing resort called El Pescador on the island of San Pedro, a 15-minute puddle-jumper flight from the Belize mainland.

Before we left on the trip, I was watching the weather. Most days were predicted to be a high of 85°F and a low of 72°F, with sunny or partial sunny skies. Then tropical storm “Julia” started brewing in the Caribbean. A few days before we were to arrive in Belize, Julia was headed for a direct hit on San Pedro. Luckily, a day before arrival, Julia swept south of the island and mainland.

Although the main storm missed San Pedro, the storm still affected the trip. The winds and rain from the storm were still in the area. Taking the puddle-jumper from the mainland to San Pedro was a very bumpy ride. The landing was anything but smooth. We came in almost sideways and hit the tarmac bouncing like a rubber ball. Upon arrival, our El Pescador was supposed to ferry us by boat from the airport to the resort. The seas were too rough, so the resort picked us up in a van and delivered us to the resort.

Explaining the severity of the storm is the preface to the rest of this article. The storm caused two things. One, it raised the level of the water by about two feet. This caused the fishing to be less than ideal. Secondly, the storm blew in an extraordinary amount of trash on the beaches.

I’ll get the fishing out of the way first. With the water being high, our guide had a hard time finding fish. We spent more time prospecting and trying to find fish than fishing. We ended up catching several bonefish, but not much else. I casted to permit twice with no luck. The only chance I had for a tarpon occurred in the mangroves where I hooked a baby tarpon of about 30 pounds. He ate the fly as I stripped it by his nose. When he ate, I set the hook hard. He made one turn and broke my 50 lb. tippet. He was gone almost as soon as I hooked him.
While prospecting for fish, we cruised down a coastline for almost a mile. We didn’t see any fish, but we did see a lot of trash. There was so much trash washed up on the shore it was disgusting. I came to this area to see clean, clear, beautiful water and shoreline. This was not what I expected. In the pictures below, every spec of white you see on the shore is trash. That is the trash easy to see. What you don’t see is all the trash washed farther into the trees and trash that is darker in color.

Earlier that day my wife and our friend took a walk on the beach in front of our resort. They were amazed at the number of plastic bottles, containers, and shoes scattered in the sand. The number of shoes they saw was confounding to them. How could so many shoes end up in the ocean? 

Later that evening at our resort, I was speaking with a marine biologist who was there studying bonefish. I mentioned the trash to him, and he replied that 99% of the trash we saw came from countries other than Belize. He said most of it was washed there by the tide and storms from the Honduras, other parts of Central America, and the Caribbean. He said the problem is real and most of it is not caused by the locals in Belize. He told us the Belizean government is trying to pass legislation to control the waste problem and are working on initiatives to help the environment. He said progress is slow since there are limited funds and most consider Belize a third-world country.
Our resort, El Pescador, is trying to change things. They are a proud participant in the international effort toward sustainable tourism and responsible stewardship of our environment. They have several green policies and initiatives. Their first initiative is education. They donate a portion of the proceeds from each guest visit to scholarships for Belizean students. The owners of El Pescador feel that if children are educated, they will be more likely to help their country and protect the environment. Some of the eco-friendly resort policies at El Pescador are:

·        Installation of energy saving light bulbs
·        Elimination of plastic cutlery and Styrofoam containers
·        Serve glass bottled soft drinks
·        Use “green” cleaning products
·        50% reduction in printed materials
·        Use of ceiling fans to reduce the reliance on air conditioners
·        Using indigenous plants and landscaping – requires less water use

Upon check-in, each guest receives and aluminum water bottle and are told to bring that with them wherever they travel. The water bottle can be filled with potable water at the resort restaurant, bar, or office. In each room, the refrigerator is filled with a new pitcher of drinking water each day.
Over the years, El Pescador has received many industry-related honors and awards. They are most proud of their inclusion in the Forbes Travelers List of Top Ten Luxury Eco resorts. El Pescador has also won the Belize Tourism Board’s Environmental Organization of the Year award.

Belize has its problems just like any other country. It’s still a beautiful place to visit and the locals are some of the friendliest people I have ever met. I will go back and when I do, I hope to see an improvement in the environmental issues. I also hope to catch the grand slam that eluded me on this trip!

From the Desk of Jerry Harman
Program Director
News and Events in the Ozarks!
Lake Life Expo
January 27th - 29th and Springfield Expo Center

Bring the family and come explore the Lake Life Expo. The Lake Life Expo is the premier lake lifestyle event in Missouri, featuring recreational watercraft, lake toys, home decor, outdoor living accessories, and much more. While you are there make sure to stop by our booth and say hi! This is a free event to attend and soak up all the lake has to offer you. Follow the link below to learn more about this event.
2023 NALMS Affiliate Member
We are proud to be a 2023 Affiliate member of NALMS (North American Lake Management Society). Their mission is to forge partnerships among, citizens, scientists, and professionals to foster the management and protection of lakes and reservoirs for today and tomorrow. Check out their website and see how this likeminded organization is helping with water quality.
Septic Pump Out Rebate
H2Ozarks is providing a $50.00 septic tank pump out rebate to homeowners located around Table Rock Lake in Stone and Southeast Barry Counties in Missouri thanks to a grant from the Table Rock Lake Community Foundation!

For additional information, visit the website below, or call (417) 739-5001.
Buffalo River Watershed
Arkansas Launches Septic Remediation Program!
Our Arkansas Septic Remediation Program expanded to include Buffalo River Watershed!

Technical and financial resources available. Up to 90% in grant $$ available to replace or repair your septic system.

Contact Stefanie Reynolds at 479.225.2963 or email for more information.
Thank you Sponsors!!
The H2Ozarks Team
David Casaletto
Carin Love
Jerry Harman
Program Director
Erin Scott
Senior Policy and Program Director
Shelly Dare Smith
Arkansas Program Manager
Stefanie Z Reynolds
Arkansas Project Coordinator
Olivia Magnes
Outreach Coordinator