On your own, Belize it! - Global FlyFisher

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Nada, Nada! The tarpon win again...


On your own in Belize

 

Getting around
Most things in town are within walking distance - even the airport, Still I will recommend hiring a golf cart, which is one of the most common ways of getting around on the island for both locals and tourists. The cart makes travelling to a from town for dining and shopping a breeze, and also facilitates getting to more remote areas for some coastal fishing.

The prices do not vary much, and expect the prices to wind up in the vicinity of 200 US$ for a week for a cart that takes four persons. You can also get two and six seaters.
  
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Almost off road - Renting a golf cart and going out on your own can be highly recommended. This is a typical road: small but doable dirt road. They often lead to secluded and rarely visited spots.
Almost off road
 
You return the cart for a recharge every day and pick up a new one. The system works quite well and the carts will basically take you as far as you can go on Ambergris Caye. At the car rental they said three hours of continuous running, but we had cars that did better - and some that did considerably worse! More than once a few of the party were stuck with a car that decided not to run any further.

On you own
Do not cheat yourself of the pleasure of fishing on your own along the beaches and coasts. Walking along in knee deep water scouting for movement is great fun, and even though it is not as productive as boating over the muddy bonefish flats, it can be just as exiting.

Spotting and hooking a fish on you own is a rewarding experience. On top of that the chances of picking up all kinds of species makes it even more fun. Expect jacks, snappers, shad, pompano and even an odd small permit apart from the bonefish that seem present in small numbers over most of the suitable spots.

  
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Backside of town - On the backside facing away from the reef San Pedro is a lot less charming than in the center and along the beach. The channels still hold fish and can offer some nice fishing.
Backside of town
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Fishing the barracks - Fishing can take place in the most unlikely places. Here Jan and I are venturing to some channels in a ghost like housing project right behind our resort. The houses were built as a replacement for homes destroyed by the hurricanes, but were too expensive for people to buy, so now most of them are empty.
Fishing the barracks
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Jan\'s \'cuda, the fight - Jan had planned for this to happen as Kristian had several times spoken of a large barracuda in the channels by the barracks. At last he hooked it. He yelled and hollered in joy!
Jan's 'cuda, the fight
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Jan\'s \'cuda, the pride - The barracuda sure was nice but not nearly as large as they become. Notice the fly, a typical barracuda fly: large and green. Fast retrieve and a strike is highly probable.
Jan's 'cuda, the pride
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Jan\'s \'cuda, the release - Barracuda is edible, but we release almost every fish we caught. This one goes back into the channels where it will continue to endanger the lifes of all small, dumb fish.
Jan's 'cuda, the release
 
Do not fish anything over a 7 weight on these trips, and bring a variation of flies. Most need to be smallish and light. Sizes smaller that 6 is fine, and simple, lightweight flies seemed to work best. But do not forget a couple of larger ones with wire attached in case of barracuda appearing.

Look for shallow areas with coral sand, mud and turtle grass. Places with just 15 centimeters or 6 inches of water can hold bonefish, especially if there are deeper channels nearby. You need keen eyes and polarized glasses to see them if they do not break the surface. On the other hand you will often see nervous water as a result of the activity of almost any fish in the shallow water. This fishing is particularly attractive in the mornings and evenings when the sun is more merciful and the fish seem less anxious.

If you want to go to more remote parts of the island, you can arrange to be set off and picked up by a water taxi. This will cost you considerably less than a guided trip, but can be almost as rewarding. Strolling along undisturbed beaches is balsam for the soul. An occasional bent rod does not make the balsam less delightful.

The backstreets of San Pedro
We made several ventures to less advertised parts of the island, scooting both up and down the east coast and probing the back channels and mangroves with our flies. This was an important and fun part of the trip, and brought many memorable moments.
The general conclusion is: where there is water, there are fish!

We fished semi-intensivley on the beach north and south of San Pedro. This is easily accessible water, much of it withing walking distance, and we caught both snappers, shad, barracuda and bonefish here. Walk along and scout for movement. Cast to what you see and be prepated for pleasant surprises. Notice that fishing is prohibited from most of the piers - especially in the town itself. The Amigos del Mar pier in front of Lilly's Restaurant is particularly tempting. A snorkel trip will reveal a wealth of fish including large barracudas, hundreds of snappers and a huge school of about 50-100 bonefish in a size, which is found few other places on the island. These bonefish gross up to 4 kilos or 8 lbs. and swim around in a very limited area waiting for goodies to be thrown from the piers.

A cast from this pier is certain to bring more attention than you will like, and I strongly recommend not to try. Probe the many piers outside town in stead. You are allowed to fish from most of them, and even though the probability of running into fish like under Amigos del Mar is slim, the piers still seem to attract fish like few other structures along the beach.

The ferry
The ferry across the narrow channel between the sounthern part of the island and the northern part deserves a chapter all for itself. This is an amazing vessel that at first sight will seem doomed for a tough fate. It is basically a large steel box, floating what seems all too high on the water, flat on the top except for some rusty railing. It is open in both ends and ramps are lowly, hinged steel plates helped by some plywood waiting on the dock in each end of the journey.

The trip is about 40-50 meters or 150 feet and is overcome by hand power. Yes, the ferry is simply pulled over with the aid of a rope hanging across the channel. There are no guiding wires or other means of steering. During tide and ebb the current will be strong and the ferry will swing around at the mercy of the elements and the muscles of a couple of deck hands.

It easily loads three golf carts and a large number of pedestrians and bikes. We did the trip several times, and nothing out of the ordinary occurred. The trip is an experience in itself, and you should definitely try it - not least to get to the northern part of the island and see that. The fee is 5.- BZ$ each way for a cart and free for pedestrians.


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