Dan Minich proudly shows his first-ever bonefish.
I love the snowy months and I love ice fishing but, man, what a winter.
Little did I know when my family and I booked a trip to Belize last fall, for the following March, that it would be a much-needed vacation to escape the grips of the bone-chilling cold that our area has experienced the last few months. We certainly had plenty of ice and an extended season this year, but it comes to a point where enough is enough. When March finally arrived, it was definitely time to go.
The morning of the trip was here and after driving through a not-so-unusual blizzard on the way to the Buffalo Airport, it was time to head south. The flight out of Buffalo left at 6:30 a.m. and by 2 p.m. it was time for shorts, sandals, and my favorite fishing shirt. And, oh yes, it was 85 degrees in Belize City. Another short, yet very scenic, flight from Belize City Airport found the final destination on the Island of San Pedro, also known as Ambergris Cay.
Reservations had been made at a luxury resort called Victoria House, and upon arrival on the island their limo and friendly driver was awaiting my family and I. This is, however, not your traditional limo. This limo was one of the nicest eight-person golf carts that you have ever seen. The primary mode of transportation on the island is either golf cart or bicycle.
After checking in, it was time to make sure the fly rods had not been damaged during travel and my mind quickly geared toward fishing.
Now, this trip was more of a family vacation but I was able to get my fair share of fishing done. There is a nice-sized lagoon just a short walk from the resort that I had had some good luck fishing in past trips to this island and it would not disappoint this year.
In fact, the lagoon fished better than it ever had. Blind casting big streamers tied with rabbit strips from a point protruding out produced snook, baby tarpon and even a big barracuda.
The lagoon would be my every-morning routine. Get up at 5:20 a.m., fishing as it breaks daylight, and back to the Victoria House for breakfast with the family by 7:30 a.m.
The only problem with fishing by yourself early in the morning is there is nobody around to take your picture when you catch a nice fish. I managed to land my first-ever tarpon on the second morning and was just hoping to flag down a passerby to take a picture for me to no avail.
After settling for a nice picture of it laying next to my fly rod, I returned it to the brownish, off-colored water of the lagoon.
After a few days of seeing the sights, snorkeling and eating some great sea food, it was time to hit the flats for some bonefish and anything else that may present an opportunity.
The first day I spent with my brother, who had not cast a fly rod since we were kids ó which means it was 15 years ago. And on this day it was very windy. Not a good combination for your first flats fishing trip.
After big brother (myself) landed a couple, it was now little brotherís turn. We got back in behind some mangroves and out of the wind. With a little coaching, my brother, Dan, was able to hook up and land his first bonefish. He managed to hook four other bones and land a couple more on a day that turned out to be more for him than myself. I would not have had it any other way.
The next day I was on my own. I was not really concerned with bonefish so my guide and I looked for some permit and tarpon.
Now, I have never caught a permit. Nor have I had any very good opportunities at any. This day would be no different. After a pelican spooked an entire school of permit before I could make a cast, we headed on the hunt for tarpon. The tarpon were around but none of them seemed to be very interested. They were moving very fast and acting very spooky. The day ended with a few bonefish before heading back to the resort.
Besides just the spectacular fishing, it was a great trip and a much-needed break from the cold weather.
Belize has much to offer such as fishing, diving, snorkeling, sailing, Mayan ruins, jungle tours, cave tubing and many other activities.
This was my fourth trip back and I guarantee that it will not be the last. Great fishing, great fun, and above-freezing temperatures.
After this winter in the Southern Tier, it was a great way to break the cabin fever.
(Brian Minich is an avid outdoorsman and fly-fishing guide for Whitetail Country Sports World.)