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Old 03-09-2017, 08:39 PM
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Default Back from the Flats (Turneffe, that is)

Last week I returned home after spending a week at Turneffe Flats in Belize. This was my third time there--my wife and I went there 5 years ago, and I really fell in love with the place. That trip was my first time saltwater fly fishing; after landing my first bonefish on the first morning I was hooked (pun intended).

I'm a rank saltwater novice, and the most complimentary thing anyone could say about my saltwater casting is that it is barely adequate (my guide, bless him, said he'd seen a lot worse). I told my guide right off (as I did on my previous two trips) that I didn't care if I caught lots of fish, or a big fish, or a permit (although if that happened I certainly would be happy), but just wanted to learn, to improve my casting and other saltwater fishing skills. The guides at Turneffe are all excellent, and my guide this trip was no different. After spending the first morning checking me out fishing a flat I'd fished before--landed 4 bonefish, broke off 2 more--he spent the rest of the week putting me on "skinny" water and the most difficult fishing situations I'd ever experienced. I was casting to bones in barely 6 to 8 inches of water--had to be super quiet and stealthy, had to work on my casting and presentation and stripping speed, had to think about what was working and what wasn't and make adjustments (lighter tippet, longer tippets, smaller flies, different flies). To be honest, I didn't land a whole lot of fish but I learned a lot and had a blast.

We also spent a lot of time looking for permit, both poling and wading. I'd never gone after permit my previous two trips, and again this was a steep learning curve. I had one good shot at a permit while wading for them--made a decent cast, started stripping, guide telling me "he's on it, he's on it", and then waited either for him to say "he's got it!" or feel the strike. Alas, the next thing he said was "he's gone." The rest of the week, well, I think the most accurate way to describe my permit fishing was that I managed to cast at some permit. Among the things I learned was that I need a lot more practice casting from the bow of a skiff, not to mention a lot more practice on my double-haul.

I should also add that, heeding the advice of labradorguy and sweetandsalt and some others on this forum, I tried fishing with hand-tied leaders and exclusively used non-slip mono loops tying on my flies. I honestly can't say whether it made a difference or not, but I did catch fish with them, and will keep using them from now on. I'm still not 100% confident in my leader tying, and will probably use both tapered leaders along with my hand-ties, but gained some confidence when I landed some fish on my hand-ties.

As I said this was my third time at Turneffe Flats Lodge, and while I don't want to turn this post into an ad for them they really are a top-notch lodge. Aside from the usual things you'd want from a fishing lodge--friendly and helpful staff, great guides, amazing fishing, beautiful accommodations and delicious food--the fact that they're a 1% company and Green Globe certified is also an important consideration for me. The lodge owners, Craig and Karen Hayes, worked with the Belizean government to create a marine protected area around the entire Turneffe Atoll and designate the area as catch-and-release for bonefish/permit/tarpon, and have also worked with the Turneffe Atoll Trust and Bonefish and Tarpon Trust on various research and conservation initiatives. It's a special place for a lot of reasons.

Now I'm back home and the tackle has all been cleaned and packed away, and I'm spending my spare time chopping wood and shovelling snow and staring out our front window at a frozen lake waiting for spring and open water. A trip to Turneffe is an every 2 or 3 year trip, so I won't be going back soon. But I will be going back.

Scott
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Old 03-10-2017, 12:09 AM
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Default Re: Back from the Flats (Turneffe, that is)

Hi Scott,

That sounds great to me, The Permit that sounds familiar but it's either a pike or salmon here that I am trying to stay calm while advising someone, he's on it, he's on it, sometimes we get them sometimes we don't

The fact that you are happy with the experiences is a wonderful asset to have. I had some folks here in some of the toughest conditions I've experienced ever since moving to AK. They didn't land a lot of fish and I'm not so sure they took away from it like you did. By that I mean I taught every trick I know trying to get more fish on the hook, some took advice and learned things, some didn't. The days when I knock the spots off of them are the result of the days I spend learning and perhaps not landing many.

The place sounds wonderful,

Ard
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