BELIZE 2001- EL PESCADOR
Fly Angler's OnLine "Fly Fishing the Salt - 72",
By Al Campbell
Welcome to Fly Fishing The Salt! If you are just
discovering the joys of fly fishing the salt (or salt chuck as some call
it) here you will find information to steer you in the right direction.
Tips on what equipment to use, why, where and how to fish. And we will try
to include a little inspiration to get you going. For the experienced salt
water angler, there will be personal stories about real fishermen and
their experiences, tips on what flies for which fish and techniques that
work. Your stories and articles are also most welcome. Share the knowledge
and adventure. Pass it on! This is for you.
Belize 2001; El PescadoreBy Al Campbell
El Pescador Lodge
The long dock at El Pescador leads to a white sand beach that extends
to the white-painted two-story lodge. Green shrubbery and coconut palms
blend with a couple of decayed dugout canoes and a blue swimming pool to
add the right color needed to finish off the picture. Seashells, broken
bits of coral and a few coconuts are the only things that interrupt the
smooth lines of the beach. I doubt the beaches of Hawaii are as beautiful.
at El Pescador lodge is one that makes you feel like you're part of the
family. Dining is family style in a large dining room. A large table on
the deck is a meeting place to discuss the day's activities and plan new
strategies for tomorrow. All of the guests seem to gravitate toward that
table. In that friendly atmosphere, it doesn't take more than a few hours
to meet everyone and learn at least a little bit about them.
Saying it has a family atmosphere doesn't mean you'll spend time
waiting on yourself or that the service is somehow lacking. Guests sitting
around the deck table are treated to an attentive waiter who checks to see
if the drinks are fresh at least once every five minutes. A trained staff
headed by a chef who creates mouthwatering dishes and the best key lime
pie I have ever tasted prepares and serves the food. Every member of the
staff is friendly, helpful and courteous.
The floors of the lodge
are mahogany. That should give you an idea of how the rooms are, but it
isn't the full story. If you don't plan on running the air conditioner at
night, fight for the bed by the window. There is a nice breeze that blows
all the time along the coast of Belize, but the person nearest the window
gets the most benefit from it while the other bed hovers near 90 degrees
until after midnight. A bonus that will sing you to sleep is the sound of
the waves breaking over the reef a few hundred yards away.
My first day of fishing in Belize was one of frustration. I couldn't
see the fish and sight fishing was the way the guide set it up. I know I
mentioned brown lenses and good polarization, but I'm stressing it again.
If the guide (Tomas) told me to cast 65 feet, I would cast what I thought
was 65 feet and over-line the fish by ten. We didn't have the same visual
ruler, and I couldn't see what was going on until the water churned with
I did get to watch Kate Fox catch a few nice bonefish that first day.
She seemed to be blessed with willing fish and vision of where they were
swimming. The only classic setup of the day was hers. The small group of
bonefish were feeding toward the boat in about 10 inches of water, her
cast didn't scare them, and one broke off from the pack to pick up her
fly. It was a classic for sure.
| Before the day was
over, Tomas took me to a place where I could cast to a school of bonefish.
I could see a school, so I managed to catch a bonefish on my first day,
but it wasn't the type of day I dreamed about before I left home on this
excursion. I borrowed a pair of sunglasses with brown polarized lenses
that afternoon when I returned to the lodge. Thank God for friendly hosts
with glasses they are willing to loan.|
The sunrise at El Pescador is one of the most beautiful scenes I have
ever witnessed. I'm not sure if it's the tropical air or just something
about the ocean, but the colors are breathtaking. Anyone who would have
seen me at five in the morning standing on the deck in front of my room
would have thought I was crazy; unless they looked to the east and watched
the sun rise over the reef. It is a picture I'll treasure for a long, long
time. I'm glad I had a quality digital camera; my slides (a whole roll of
sunrise pictures) were lost to the slide gremlin.
The second day of
fishing was a lot better than the first. Jason Wood and I asked the guide
(Jorge) to take us to willing fish that didn't spook easily. We also asked
for a chance at some barracuda. Jorge was more than happy to comply with
our wishes and took us to an island a little farther away from the lodge
than we had traveled the day before. I'd say he knew where the fish were.
I wonder if the guides have these fish named; they seem to know exactly
where they live. I also wonder if anyone ever said that about me when I
was a guide.
We started the day by clobbering a few bonefish in a large school then
switched to the 10wt Lamiglas Titanium and took turns catching one
barracuda after another in the shallows along the lee side of the island.
Sharing a fly rod is a lot of fun, especially if the fish are biting fast
and you get your share of deck time. We spent most of the morning catching
barracudas that went over 10 pounds.
Eventually Jorge had to remind us that we were supposed to be catching
the bonefish that were swimming in large schools in front of the boat. We
did catch bonefish. In fact, we caught bonefish fairly steady until it was
time to return to the lodge for the day. The Shrimpf pattern was working
and we were having a blast.
I would rate El Pescador as a first rate destination with an emphasis
on fishing and diving. If you want to fish where you feel like part of the
family and the fishing is first rate, this is the place. If turquoise
waters that sparkle like fine jewels is your idea of paradise, this is the
place. If you want the thrill of fish that will run a fly line and 200
yards of backing off your reel in moments, you won't be disappointed with
El Pescador. It's all of the above and more.
Arrival in Belize
After arriving at the Belize City airport and a few introductions to
our Belize Tourism Board (BTB) guides, the members of the "Belize Fishing
Media Tour, 2001" (that's what our group was called), performed the great
luggage search. For a while it looked like we were missing a lot of bags
and several of us started filling out the "missing luggage forms." After
all the other people had recovered their bags, Jason Wood noticed a pile
of luggage carefully stacked in a far corner of the room. It was our
missing luggage. Whew, all my flies were in that suitcase.
We were escorted through customs (favored treatment for the BTB
guests), then given tickets for a thrilling ride on a small airplane to
the town of San Pedro. Actually, thrilling isn't an accurate description.
I'm not real fond of small airplanes and crowded small airplanes with
doors that don't latch properly terrify me. I could have put a fist
through the gap in the rear door of that airplane (the door I sat next
to). Crowded is an understatement too. I survived the flight and had
something to joke about afterwards; but if I had been of the
claustrophobic persuasion, I think I would have been suicidal during the
San Pedro is a colorful town with sand streets and smiling people.
Shoes and shirts aren't required attire in that little town. Most of the
people walk barefoot, a few wear sandals and fewer yet wear shoes. It
wasn't hard to locate the guys who were visiting; we all had shoes on our
feet. Even more noticeable, we all had cameras hanging from straps around
our necks. People looked at the visitors (it was obvious) but held their
comments until we were out of range.
I took a few pictures of
San Pedro. I even took a picture of a license plate with my digital
camera. The license plate picture turned out fine; the rest fell victim to
the "film gremlin" who ruined eleven rolls of slide film for me. If you
don't know what I'm referring to, read part two of this series again.
The five-minute boat ride from San Pedro to El Pescador lodge was
beautiful. A page in my pocket notebook reads: "I've never seen water as
turquoise as the water in this area. The mix of white sand and weed beds
under the water results in a view that looks very much like the precious
stone that adorns jewelry in my country." Before the trip was over, I
would learn just how precious that turquoise water really is.
For a better look at the lodge and what they offer, visit http://www.elpescador.com/. You'll
find package rates for trips and lots of helpful information. You'll even
find one of my photos on the front page. ~ Al Campbell
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