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Bonefish are plentiful in Belize, but from what Karen and I saw, their average size is a bit smaller than the Bahamas. Karen and I loved being on the flats with Hilian Martinez, our guide the last three days. Having a guide that loves his work, makes the day relaxed and just plain fun. We spent mostly afternoons tangling with bonefish on the flats after looking for permit in the mornings.
Our day usually started with being picked up at a dock at 7:30 am in the morning. We usually returned from our day of fly fishing about 4:30 pm or so! By 3:30 pm, the light from the late day sun turned the flats quite oily and then the sight fishing became harder.
We fly fished with 8 weight rods with RIO Quickshooter lines. These lines are great for casting into the wind. We also over lined the rods (went with a 9 weight line). Thanks for the advice Doug DeWitt!
Before we went to Belize, we did some practice casting. That helped a lot. Hilian told us that it is so frustrating to spend a day with a person with no casting skills that expects to catch fish right off the hop. That just plain does not happen.
Exchanging e-mails with our guide also helped us ensure we had the right variety of bonefish flies. Our fly box was full of size 4 to size 8 flies. We had days that a size 8 gotcha or crazy charlie with nickel coloured eyes was the only ticket. These bonefish also respond well to rubber legs. Bonefish flies for the most part are not tough to tie. I tied all of our flies. That made the fishing even better. At one point, Hilian wanted to keep trying our flies of all types to see what worked. We did just that on several occasions.
We used only 10 pound tippet. We had no break offs. We did make our own leaders. They turned over great in the wind.
We encountered larger single fish cruising the flats as well as pods of 150 bonefish. Once a large pod got spooky it was tough to catch any fish from that group.
We did encounter oddities like a pod that was close to a dock where workers were pounding nails, making lots of noise and their stereo was blasting. For some reason, these bonefish were quite cooperative. We caught 6 in about 15 minutes there. Go figure.
Karen liked an 11 foot leader, while I was casting a leader closer to 13 to 14 feet. Stripping the fly slowly seem to work better for us as well! We found out it is better to have a leader that you can turn over rather than one that falls into a spaghetti like pile on the water.
We loved catching the bonefish but wandering along the flats with not a care in the world for a few days was great therapy for the daily grind! We just loved the environment we were in.
Good guides make a big difference. Yes they can put you on the fish but they can set you up for success. Not everybody can cast 60 plus feet into a 20 plus knot wind. Practice definitely helps.
We were impressed with our guides that we used. They were local Belizians that knew the water, the flats and where to find the fish like a professional should.
I would definitely recommend going and giving it a whirl. It was so much fun.
Hilian made Karen feel comfortable with everything. Even when the cast went astray! There was always more bonefish to cast to!
As Hilian would say, "Just chillin' in my office!"
We loved wandering the flats in the back lagoons!