Turneffe Flats Lodge-Belize (Winter 2009)
It's cold and the temperature is in the single digits here in WNY this week. We're getting snow just about every day now. The streams are mostly locked up with ice, so I have time to reflect on my 1st trip to Belize, where I spent 3 wonderful days at Turneffe flats lodge, on Turneffe atoll.
This atoll (island) is located approximately 30 miles off the coast of Belize. We arrived at the lodge after an hour and 40 minute boat ride from the mainland aboard the Miss Ellie, a 42' jet propelled cruiser that enabled us to skirt across some shallow water (3') on our journey to the lodge.
The beautiful and immaculately maintained lodge sits on the shore overlooking the ocean and the 2nd largest barrier reef in the world. Bonefish can be seen tailing from your room, along with the occasional permit too!
The lodge caters to anglers, but has expanded to offer a top notch diving program, as well as other fun programs for non-anglers. In fact, there were several other non-anglers staying at the lodge while we visited, participating in the dive program or atoll adventure package. The activities for non-anglers include snorkeling tours, manatee & dophin tours, a flats walking tour, turneffe birding tour, sea shell & starfish tour, the maya and Turneffe, sea kayaking, crocodile tour, lighthouse Atoll - snorkeling and birding tour, night snorkel tour, a belizean cooking class & a discover SCUBA diving course
Dinners were excellent, bordering on gourmet, and there's a fully stocked bar, with a selection of quality wines. Breakfasts and lunches were great too!
The fishing: the weather was not exactly great from a fishing standpoint during our three full days of fishing. It was warm, but clouds and even some rain were the norm, though we did have a few breaks where the sun shone thru. Nevertheless, the fishing was pretty darn good. As luck would have it, we got to fish with guide "Pops," probably best know for developing the pops bonefish bitter with Craig Matthews from Blue Ribbon Flies in West Yellowstone, Montana. Pops is a great guide, and just a fun guy to spend the day with fishing.
Bonefish are everywhere. We saw them at each flat we visited, and never went more than 15 minutes without seeing bones and having shots at them. Granted, they are not pushovers, mainly because we're fishing skinny water, with tails and dorsal fins visible, but they can be fooled. They average a good 2-3 lbs, and we caught some up to 5 lbs, and saw several larger ones too.
Permit--we hooked two, and landed one, and had some other good shots during our three days. My partner Dr. Steve Pericak lost a big permit after it was on for a few minutes, well into his backing. We would have done better too, I believe, if the weather had been more cooperative. On the last day, we found a large school of permit that we worked for close to 10 minutes, but a storm blew thru and the water went from glass smooth to a 2' chop, and that was the end of our permit fishing for the morning. We decided to chase bones at that point in some more protected areas.
There are lots of 'cudas for those who like to chase them, and starting in May the big tarpon begin showing up, so the chance for a grand slam is very good then.
The atoll environment has lots to offer the eyes. Besides the myriad shades of blue that make up the water, there are ospreys, egrets, heron and many other birds, saltwater crocs, dolphins, manatees & sea turtles. Plus the underwater coral and other sea life there is amazing.
The owners, Craig and Karen Hayes, are at the lodge most of the season and they dined with us each evening. The staff, which was probably the most attentive I have seen anywhere, were all fun to hang out with during cocktail hour before and after dinner.
It's simply a great place to hang out, for anglers and non-anglers alike, with tons of fun stuff to do.
I plan to host a trip in May 2010. Stay tuned for details and dates.
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