After a year of little to no traveling, and focusing on our (closer to home) waters, we decided to head further south to put our new product line to the test in Punta Gorda, Belize. We linked up with world-renown fly fishing guides, The Garbutt Brothers, for several days of permit fishing, plus a few other adventures and good times to boot...
A few of our great Belizean guides. Clockwise from top left: Scully, Alex, Oliver, Yogi
Even if you haven't had the opportunity to hunt for permit yet, you know the stories. It's exactly that: a hunt. And sometimes, they're down right sneaky, stubborn, and all around frustrating to fish for. On occasion, you can do everything right, and they still turn down the fly with little indication of why. Luckily, our guides were keyed in and patient, and made it happen for those of us willing enough to be patient with them.
As great as permit fishing is, a lunch break can be a welcome reprieve from staring down endless flats of greens and blues.
On our first day of permit fishing, we retired to the dock in the afternoon for a few cold ones and some fresh fruit. We were warned what would happen next...
Out of their mangrove hideaways, a group of iguanas emerged, hoping to make off with a fresh fruit snack from the group of distracted anglers discussing the day's fishing. Thanks to plenty of heckling from the group and ever so slightly impaired judgment from a day of permit-fishing and Belikin-drinking, Logan decided to provide on particularly large iguana with a refreshing watermelon snack. Little did he know that iguana was built for speed and had a taste for human fingers as well. Queue a chain reaction of events that involved a natural blood-stopping remedy, a local hospital visit, stitches, and an expat explorer with a hankering for local beers and plenty of stories to tell as well. Luckily, there's nothing a little "Jaguar Pizz" — the local rum concoction combining tree bark and intensely flavorful additives — and a good night's sleep couldn't fix.
After an eventful afternoon and evening, the next morning was buzzing with anticipation of another calm day and the talk of getting out to the Belize Barrier Reef. The reef can be found roughly 30 miles offshore from Punta Gorda and is home to pristine grass flats and tailing bonefish in large, undisturbed groups. Several of our guides grew up in the, now dilapidated, houses that dot the small islands across the reef. They fondly tell tales of spending their days diving for lobster, conch, and hogfish and their nights fishing off the docks for mangrove snapper. It seems like just as much of a treat for them to return to a place they consider home as it is for us to experience it. Although, that may have just been the excitement of an easier day's work!
One of the many reasons we chose Belize as our Spring destination this year was to change up the scenery. While we have a soft spot for the crystal clear flats of the Bahamas, Florida Keys, and Mexico, Belize offered up similar opportunities with the added scenery of the jungle and the fishing adventures that came along with it. Between howler monkeys overhead and early morning mist wafting off of the river, the rainforest jungle gives off a primordial feeling that's fresh and unique. And while permit called from the flats at the river's mouth, it was worth taking a day to change up the pace in search of river tarpon lurking below.
A word from the not-so-wise: you're doing yourself a disservice if you travel anywhere to fish and don't take the time to appreciate a little bit of the local color. Along with our guide, we made sure to find our way into a few of his favorite haunts for a beer and a conversations with the locals...and a few street dog pets along the way.
With plenty of permit and bonefish to boast about, and a few sun burns to care for as well, it was time to head back home....and there's no surprise that these trips always end too soon. But it's all good. If not here, we'll be back out there somewhere again soon.
We want to thank an awesome set of guides for great fishing and even better entertainment. Looking to scratch the permit itch? Go see The Garbutt Brothers down in Punta Gorda.
The Guides of Punta Gorda. From left to right: Victor, Alex, Oliver, Yogi, Scully