DIY Bonefishing Belize
Well, this is it. You have been dreaming about it, reading magazines and studying maps. Now is the time and you have decided on Belize. Great choice. Friendly people, great food, tropical setting, and most importantly, bonefish, lots and lots of beautifully mirrored bonefish.
The general consensus was/is the bone’s in Belize are on the small side. Let me tell you this, they have grown up and are still very willing to eat a well presented fly.
So now, just where to go. You could opt for a high end resort or lodge, but that ain’t you, right? DIY (do it yourself) is for you. There are some people that say this is impossible. Nothing could be further from the truth. The truth is, North Ambergris Caye is the optimal place for this type of adventure.
After your Tropic air flight from the mainland (by far the easiest way to get to the caye) head down to the local docks and catch the water taxi going north. ($10 us one way) During the off season there are numerous places to be had for $100 us/ night. Try to pick one ahead of time to save the hassle. (I have one in mind mentioned later in the article) It is at these places you will find pristine grass flats and crystal clear water at your disposal. Most of these flats will hold hundreds of tailing bones on the last half of incoming, and the first part of outgoing tides.
A great place to start is just south of the Mata Grande grocery area, (pop in and see Jason and Mandy), have a cold belikan and chat a bit to get the scoop. FYI: they will also deliver groceries, liquor, beer and whatever else they have in stock to wherever you are staying at, just ask.
After a quick chat, it’s time to head out to the flats. Start working your way north, checking out the indigo flat area. This is a huge flat w/ lots of fish. If it is calm enough you will spot fish from a hundred yards or so away. Stalk these fish quietly and carefully and you will get many shots at them. Note; this flat also fishes well at low tide, (you just have to wade out a bit further)
Continue working your way north hitting each flat in between the docks. Don’t forget to cast to all the pot holes and channels (white sandy areas) that you see, and there will be loads of them.
When you get to the Rojo area, you may be on the thirsty side. Stop in and have a cold one,(great location right on the water)
Next up, as you continue working your way north is the Xaman Ek area. This has great eel grass flats on both sides of the dock, with plenty of fish at the high tide. It’s probably around noon by now, and you’re hungry, Jambels Jerk pit is the place to go. Excellent Jamaican jerk and curries. Match these up with ice cold Belikans to delight the senses, and replenish lost electrolytes. Fitz, Vashti, Brian, and Wayne will take good care of you here. (Tell them Dave from the middle east told you about it) If you are looking for a great quiet place to stay during the off season, this is as good as it gets. It makes for a great central “home base” for you DIY trip.
As you continue to make your way north you will be greeted by the Portofino area. Lovely place this is, and with incredible food, (Italian specialties abound here) a must do for supper. Pretty good flats all the way to the mangrove outcropping, (you will know it when you see it)
8 wt. fast- med./fast fly rod loaded with min. 200 yds. #20 backing and a wt./fwd. line
10-12 ft. tapered leaders w/ 8-10 pound tippet. I prefer mono tippet material to slow the
Sink rate a bit, you can use fluorocarbon if you wish, but I don’t think the fish care one way
or the other
Classic bonefish patterns:
Crazy Charlie’s, Chico’s bonefish special, Christmas Island special, bonefish bitters,
Gotchas, and one that I hear works very well here, and did not try, is the shrimp scampi.
All tied on #4, 6, and 8 hooks with mono weed guard to protect you from the ever present eel grass.
Tip: tie some w/o eyes for a slower sink rate to facilitate staying on top of the grass. (Worked for me) and the fish don’t seem to care.
Now, on to the spinning part. (the dark side) When the wind is blowing 25+ this is the way to go. 10# outfit w/ smooth drag is essential here. I prefer the shimano aeros type reels. Spool these with a good spectra line along with a 10 foot fluorocarbon leader (8-10#) (I use an allbright knot for the line/leader connection to facilitate both sections passing though guides with ease.
Wiggle/wobble jigs (1/16-1/8 oz.) are effective here when tipped with a shrimp, crappie, or curl tail trailer. If you must, you can use shrimp, (live or fresh) but this is very cumbersome in carrying around, and does not keep you as mobile as you may wish to be.
I prefer to travel as light as possible when fishing the flats and this includes wearing light weight long pants and a long sleeve shirt. This is a must for combatting the intense sun that is ever-present in Belize. This combined with quality glasses (copper or amber), a long billed ball cap, buff, (for neck protection) and a pair of high-top boots complete the ensemble. Tip: carry your extra gear in a small belly (waist) bag with pliers (I use browning) attached via holster, and you will be the supreme flats stalker.
Extra bonus; (More on the dark side)
Night time fishing off of the lighted docks. This is when the crazy fish come out to play. The big jacks and ‘cuda will hit your goodies like a water taxi heading for San Pedro. This is not for the faint of heart, as they are very serious opponents. You may use the same outfit you used for the bones (spin), but I would advise against it. (I was “spooled” 3 times when I was there a month ago). Be fair warned these are VERY strong fish that will not put up w/ a light drag or cheap gear. Suggest 15# test, min. with a reel capable of 250 yds. and 8 lbs. of drag…..Trust me on this one. Also do not waste your time or hard earned cash on throwing expensive things like Yozuries and such,(you will probably just end up losing all of these to the beasts, see “spooled” note above). This is the perfect opportunity to throw cheap soft plastic jerk baits, the kind for bass (white or pearl). Rig these w/ a wire leader and 2/0-4/0 hook (no weight), and you are in business. Make your casts into the dark areas next to the light and hang on.
All this being said…..Just go and do it. $150 a day +airfare and you will be in DIY heaven…..
DIY fisherman at large
Last edited by fishindave; 06-13-2012 at 06:39 AM.