CHRONICLE OF WALT AND CLARK’S QUEST FOR THE HOLY GRAILRecently, two long-time Yellow Dog clients spent in week in Punta Gorda, Belize fishing out of Garbutt’s Lodge. To say that they had an enjoyable trip would be an understatement. We are proud to print their day-by-day breakdown of the trip, which we consider to be the ideal way to carry out seven days of chasing permit in Southern Belize. Enjoy the read!
Uneventful flight from Newark to Belize City during which we both watched American Sniper for the second time to get psyched up to pursue jihadist permit in the waters off of Punta Gorda. Local squalls led to a longer wait than scheduled for Tropic Air, but all ended well as we got to our destination in time for drinks and dinner with all of our gear intact. Had a quick brief with our guide-to-be, Scully Garbutt. Ate in town and got a tour of the tail end of the famous Belize Chocolate Festival.
6:45am departure. Windy and rough seas as the last of strong, two-week long easterly winds began to blow down. Water was very choppy and muddy making it difficult to see fish. Took a few “Hail Mary” shots at spooky sails and tails to no avail. Reminded me of permit fishing.
Same departure time, with still choppy seas (wind from 15 to 20 knots), but better visibility. Around 10:00am, Walt hooks up with his first permit and lands same. All goes dead with no shots until after lunch, a delicious chicken sandwich and some of the best fruit anywhere. Around 2:30pm Clark gets a shot and sets the hook with the “Texas Clean and Jerk” move he learned while wrestling in high school, breaking off the first permit he has ever gotten to eat his fly. A benevolent crew blames a nicked leader for the screw up. Belikin and a cigar provide some measure of consolation.
Wind and sea gods take a breather and the morning is calm. Pleasant boat ride to the happy hunting grounds. At around 9:30am Clark gets a good shot at a small school and hooks and lands his first permit. Things got quiet again for a several hours and, after lunch, things remained quiet as the permit played hide and seek with us. A couple of wild, little chance shots are taken at the end the afternoon to no avail. Revert to Day 2-a lot like permit fishing.
Settling into a weather pattern of calm mornings, with winds rising to 15 to 20 knots by mid-afternoon. That morning, Walt has a great shot at a nice permit that negotiates a long distance release and returns the fly for future use. Later that morning, Clark has a classic 12 o’clock shot at a small group and hooks and lands his second permit. This one was the exact same size as Walt’s second fish. We know this because we are measuring and tagging the permit we are catching. Clark uses same Belikin and cigar ritual to mark the moment that he used when he lost his first fish. That afternoon, not to be tied for long or outdone, Walt executes a great cast to a small school of nice fish and lands his second permit of the day, retaking the lead. The day ends with a couple more “Hail Mary’s to escaping fish with no success. However, note that the boat now has 5 permit in 4 days of fishing.
Again, a beautiful, calm morning, with an easy ride to the flats that Scully would pole throughout the day. Walt has the bow and uses his privileged position to land a snapper and goliath grouper. We did not stop to check the record book for goliath grouper on a fly with 16 lb. tippet. On top of that we rescued and released a tiny permit from a plastic sandwich bag in which it was captive. We broke for lunch where we are again treated to a great chicken sandwich and the best papaya, mango, pineapple and watermelon this side of the Copa Cabana Hotel in Rio. Apres lunch, we spot a lone permit at 100 ft., downwind at 12’oclock. Clark makes a single cast and, low and behold, it happens to be another stupid fish. 35 minutes later we have 6 permit in five days of fishing. We even got Scully a very nice barracuda for his family dinner. Never saw a cuda cleaned and stuffed into a YETI cooler any faster.
Day 7 & 8:
Again we experienced relatively calm mornings building quickly to rougher conditions. No easy shots and were glad to get out of it without hooking ourselves or Scully. Tough to see so we spooked quite a few fish by just coming up on them, not knowing they were there. Desperate maneuvers led to too many casts with strong wind blowing over our right shoulders – entertaining if you are wearing a helmet. No more fish that day, but we did make a noticeable dent in the Belizian rum inventory. We ended the adventure with smiles on our lips and very fond memories of each of our first three permit.
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