I’ll never forget my first trip outside the USA. I was excited beyond belief and scared as hell at the same time. A friend and client from my guide service here in Michigan invited me to join him for a Tarpon trip in Belize. I didn’t have a passport or any international travel experience. I am now well into my third passport and have enjoyed every new place visited over nearly 30 years on the road. Back then Belize lodges had no supplied electricity or water. Generators whirred mornings and evenings and water was collected from roofs with a system to store it before used sparingly. Those were the days!
The take away is, I learned how to maneuver in other countries and not draw attention. That’s hard when you are 6’4” and those around you are barely 5’. Now nearly three decades later we still visit and fish Belize. The mild weather and it’s sheltered bays and lagoons offer anglers refuge from tropical winds like no place I know.
Belize (formerly British Honduras) gained its independence from the Queen of England in 1964. The people of Belize are of Mayan and Spanish decent with a bit of Caribbean Islands thrown in. The population of Belize including all of it’s hundreds of coastal islands is about 350,000. The residents of Belize mostly speak Spanglish (blend of English and Spanish) and some Creo. The official language is English.
Belize is located in Central America on its Eastern shoreline between Mexico and Guatemala on the Caribbean Sea. One of the unique features of Belize is the Great Reef that forms at Mexico and spans nearly to Aruba. This reef is the lifeblood of Belize and other Central American countries.
Nearly 400 islands dot the shoreline inside and outside the reef and forms vast sea flats that supports all kinds of shallow water sea creatures. Fish of all sorts live and thrive on the reef and the shallow waters on the inshore side. These fish attract anglers from around the world. Fly anglers mostly, pursuing Bonefish, Tarpon and Permit.
Early fly angling started around 1960 by Florida Keys anglers Vic Barothy and George Homel. They came west to Central America seeking new waters and to escape the increasing fishing pressure on the Florida flats. They fished many areas of the Belizean shoreline and finally settled near Belize City on the Belize River. We now know this lodge as the Belize River Lodge. From this lodge it was easy to reach the flats of the open water and return to the sanctuary of the jungle river’s protection from wind and storms.
Our first visit to Belize was 1995. We went to the world famous lodge called El Pescador on the island of Ambergris Caye. Jürgen Krueger and his wife Kathleen founded el Pescador. In 1997 El Pescador was purchased by Logan and Alyssa Gentry (brother and sister). Today Ali still owns and operates the lodge. Our time there then was very special and we have been returning since.
Access to Belize begins by flying to Belize City International Airport. From Belize International you can fly to most destinations by Island Air. San Pedro, Palencia, Punta Gouda, Caye Caulker, etc. Most lodges pick you up at the local airport serving their region.