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.