Belizean Trifecta - Ambergris Report – Guided and DIY

Discussion in 'Trip Reports with Pics' started by Mike, Apr 9, 2009.

  1. Mike

    Mike Active Member

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    I just returned from a week on Ambergris Caye. This was a family vacation, not a fishing trip, even though my wife may want to argue that point. I fished with a guide for 2 days and on my own the remaining days. Tarpon, bones and permit were the targeted species. I also caught some jacks and cudas.

    Much of the first day was spent driving around Ambergris (south of the cut) looking for fishing spots. As far as fishing from the beach, Ambergris really has little to offer. I found one wadable (hard sand) flat on the bay side and smaller spots offering potential on the ocean side. For the most part, the sand on the bay side was soft and the flats on the ocean side had lots of turtle grass making spotting fish difficult. It was windy, very windy as well. This did not look promising.

    Days two and three were spent with Georg Bradley, a local guide. I booked him independently after finding his name and several referrals on the internet. We spent day one on the Savannah Flats looking for tarpon. This was my first trip fishing for tarpon of any size. I have fished baby tarpon in the Florida canals before. Because the wind was down we had a relatively smooth half hour boat ride from the hotel to the flat. George was relatively pessimistic of our chances saying that few fish had been spotted recently. As it turned out, we spotted at least 15 tarpon, had 6 shots with 4 hook ups. The first hook up broke off at the class tippet and on two other hook ups, the fish spit the hook on the first jump. I got one tarpon to the boat where he spit the hook before George could grab him. While that was a disappointment, the day was exiting and I learned a lot. I can strongly recommend George as a tarpon guide. He spotted fish despite the wind chop and at amazing distances.

    Day two with George brought the heavy winds again, so no Savannah Flats even though I wanted another shot at a tarpon real bad. We went to the Cayes south of Ambergris looking for bonefish and permit. We no sooner arrived then 30 feet ahead of us were two permit feeding on a grassy flat. A quick cast with a Gotcha and fish on. It was a small permit, but my first and a very good start to the day. Did I mention that it was windy? The wind made spotting permit or bones tough. We had other shots and landed several bones, all the small side, but it was difficult. For the most part the day was spent in the lee of the mangroves looking for fish in the calmer waters.

    The winds did not die down for the rest of the trip. I fished the areas that I had located on the first day catching bones, cudas and a few small jacks. The best bonefish was one that I did not catch. On the bay side flat I saw a large fish coming straight towards and me. I cast the fly right in front of him and started stripping and he followed, and followed, and followed. He would not take the fly. Finally as the leader reached the rod tip he ate, and in my excitement, I pulled the fly right out of his mouth. He started swimming around looking for the damn fly so I dropped it in front of him, he grabbed it and away he went. This was a nice fish. He was fast and pulling lots of line, much of which had been coiled up at my feet. I decided to slow him down and palmed the spool. Things did not feel right. I looked and the handle was coming off on my Redington AL spool. This is going to be great, 75 yards of line out and no handle on the spool so I couldn’t play the fish or reel the line back in. And all the while, the fish was still running. Then he decided to come back towards me. The line went slack, he went lose and I got the handle back on the spool. It sure was an exciting few seconds.

    I also explored the Caye looking for other areas to fish. The pickings were slim. To fish Ambergris you really need access to a boat. I could have booked guides for the mornings, but I really don’t like fishing for bones with a guide. The distances to the larger flats were far enough that even renting a kayak was not an option. There are some very nice hard white sand flats to the west of Ambgris where a couple of people can fish for hours on their own. George and I had been out there on day two. I am sure that reaching them via water taxi could be arranged for unguided fishing. If I hadn’t been on my own, but had somebody to join me on the flat, that is what I would have done.

    The town of San Pedro takes up much of the habitable part of the southern half of Ambergris Caye. It has some nice restaurants and plenty of bars. Most folks get around on either bikes or gas powered golf carts which are lots of fun drive. However, much of San Pedro is dusty, noisy and in many places rather dirty and junky.

    In conclusion, “almost” counts only in horseshoes and hand grenades, so here is the closest I came to the Belizean Grand Slam. Yes, the Guinness is brewed in Belize City.

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    Here are some photos. Before anybody beats me up about the Boga Grip and what they can do to a fish’s jaw, I no longer lift fish out of the water with the thing. However, they are a great way to keep a fish in the water so that you can get a photo of them.

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    Anglers viewed from the plane during the Ambergris approach.

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    Belizean Air Taxi, the fares are surprisingly cheap and they make lots of flights.

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    George heading out to Savannah Flats.

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    Savannah Flats – most of this water is just a couple 3 feet deep. Parts of the flat uncover at low tide. Its white sand bottom allow anglers to see the tarpon as they migrate across it.

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    An early morning delivery of local produce.

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    Did I mention that it was windy? Also they are out there raking and shoveling the turtle grass that washes up each morning. Job security.


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    My first permit. Note the Gotcha in his mouth.

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    Hanging out in the lee side of the mangroves to get shots at fish as they pass.

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    George with a bonefish.

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    Mike with a small bonefish.

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    The road to the bay side flat.

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    Some local hosing on the way to the bay flat. By contrast, many homes on the ocean side were spectacular.

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    The fishing wheels.

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    The bay side flat. It wasn’t large but it was productive.

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    Gotcha.

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    A bonefish moving onto the flat.

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    Small cuda.

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    Small jack that took a Gotcha.

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    The interior mangroves have crocs in them.

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    Time to head back home.


    Here is a map showing the DIY areas.

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    A – Extensive wadable flats to the west of San Pedro. You need a boat; either a guide’s or water taxi, to get there.

    B – Wadable flats south of town on the bay side accessible with a cart. Had lots of shots at bones here and caught 4 to 5 fish each morning that I fished it. After the third morning the fish were getting a little scarcer and spooky.

    C – This is a wadable area on the ocean side that has some large white sand patches where you can see fish easily when the tide is out. At high tide with a breeze, it is a little tougher seeing the fish. To get there, follow the main drag south till the road splits because there is a utility pole standing in the middle of the road. Park and lock your cart along the road and walk to the beach.
     
  2. Diehard

    Diehard aka Justin

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    Nice report, looks like fun!
     
  3. Jmills81

    Jmills81 The Dude Abides

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    San Pedro is heaven in my book...way to go
     
  4. Randall Dee

    Randall Dee Castaway

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    Thanks for sharing that. Looks like a great trip.
     
  5. Buck

    Buck "Ride'n Dirty."

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    Great report and love the pics!
    Thanks.
     

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