Belize Trip Report – Fly Fishing Travel with WorldCast Anglers
-Chris Littauer – WorldCast Anglers Destination Travel Manager
At this point, most people have recognized WCA’s passion for the fisheries, lodges and people of Mexico. This year alone, we are hosting 5 trips to the Yucatan because we firmly believe that it offers some of the most special destination travel fly fishing opportunities in the world, especially if you are chasing any of the grand slam species. While we have come to love the offerings of Holbox, Ascension Bay and Espiritu Santu Bay, it was time to revisit what the other jewel of Central American flats fishing had to offer: Belize.
Belize is world renowned for its beautiful settings, congenial people, expansive reef system and historical attention to conservation; however, it is the country’s saltwater fishery that has become legendary amongst fly fisherman in the last few decades. Offering bonefish, tarpon, snook and permit fishing year round, Belize has become synonymous with the “Super Slam”, with a special emphasis put on the permit. The holy grail of the saltwater flat, permit have always been the cornerstone Belizean fly fishing, as many believe there is no better location in the world to pursue such a challenge.
While, WCA has hosted numerous trips to Belize in the past, this was my first visit. My trip started in the north on Ambergris Caye, due just south of the Mexican border, and ended in the southern district of Toledo, within miles of the Guatemalan border. Along the way, I visited five fly fishing lodges and traveled through San Pedro, Belize City, Turneffe Atoll, Placencia, Hopkins, Dangriga, Monkey River, Punta Gorda and countless coastal cayes that are infamous to Belize and saltwater enthusiasts. The variety of fishing water available in Belize is absolutely astonishing between the various flats from pancake to classic turtle grass, lagoons, reefs, bays and mangrove backcountry. In just under three weeks I was able to chase migratory tarpon up to 120 lbs on sand flats off Ambergris Caye, hunt resident snook and tarpon in multiple river drainages in the south, cast to hundreds of tailing bonefish on the Turneffe Atoll reef and sight fish to permit on classic flats and in shallow lagoons on a daily basis. For saltwater fly fishermen of every level and interest, Belize literally has it all.
The variety of water and healthy fisheries of Belize speak for themselves. Even under the tough conditions I witnessed my first two weeks, it was easy to see why so many anglers have flocked to this part of the world over the last 30 years. The primary reason being the legendary fly fishing personalities that Belize calls home. I have never been to a location in the world where there are more guides who have been professionally chasing sportfish for 20 plus years and doing so at such a high level. The transition from commercial fishing to fly fishing in Belize has been increasingly active since the 1980’s, and many of the first pioneers of this change are still guiding 150 days a year such as the iconic Lincoln Westby and Julian Cabral. The knowledge, experience and stories that I heard along my travels were absolutely the highlight of the trip. Each day, whether on the water or not was a new day of learning, laughing and understanding just how special of a culture, people and ecosystem Belize truly is.
I have been back in the U.S. for a week and have had time to absorb and reflect on my whirlwind tour of Belize. I know I will never forget catching the permit of a lifetime on a floating crab, but thats not what urges me to return to Belize. Its the fact that I know I only saw and heard a fraction of what the country has to offer. I understand I may never break that personal record, but I do know that I am only at the start of new friendships, new lessons and new stories that I will remember for the rest of my life.