Turneffe Flats Lodge, Turneffe Atoll
February 13-20, 2010
More photos are found below & more will be added as I receive them from all guests
I had the pleasure to spend the week of February 13-20 at Turneffe Flats Lodge, on Turneffe atoll in Belize, with seven great guys. The weather was not exactly ideal for flats fishing, but we managed to have a good time anyway! Clouds and wind dominated the week, and the fish were in a bit of a funk, but we made the best of it. Two guests Dr. Tom Lundeen & Joe Didomenico, did manage to catch their largest bonefish ever, and Mike Zimmerman caught his first bonefish and then more on the fly.
The first day, which was the best weather-wise, we had many, many shots at permit. I hooked and promptly broke one off (still working the rust off) and missed another hit. My partner that day Dr. Tom Lundeen also missed one. We fished exclusively for permit, and none were landed that day by us, though some of the guests landed bonefish.
Most of my guests spent their time pursuing the bones of Turneffe atoll. This can be tricky business, especially in adverse weather. The bones here are often found in very skinny water over a turtle grass or broken coral bottom--tail fins and dorsal fins exposed! This makes for exciting angling, but also makes it a bit more technical. Accurate casting, and small, light and weedless flies are best. In cloudy weather, over a dark bottom, bones are hard to see, even in water that skinny. So when you are casting to a tail, you had better make sure there are no unseen fish closer to you, otherwise your line will spook one fish, and he'll spook the rest! We all spooked our share of fish. The biggest bones landed were 4-6 lbs, with Dr. Tom landing the largest of the trip, a nice 6lb fish. We did cast to several fish that likely went 7-8 lbs too. Joe Didomenico also landed the biggest bone of his flats career. I have never cast to more tailing bonefish anywhere as I did on Turneffe.
We also were able to fish a small pond that had some baby tarpon. You had to bushwhack a bit to get there, and once there, casting was difficult because the brush was right to the waters' edge. Roll casting worked well for me, though I could not reach the larger babies rolling out about 100'. Dr. Gary Rotolo found the solution--wade out in the stinking muck, with 5' crocs swimming within 150', so you could gain room for your backcast! It worked. He jumped four nice baby tarpon on one afternoon, along with some other very small baby tarpon.
I did manage to get a grand slam, however it was not the one I had dreams about! The 4lb bone was the biggest fish of the slam---larger than the permit and the tarpon! Oh well--there's always next time. Mike Zimmerman also caught a small permit, the same day I caught mine, and we were fishing together that day.
A few barracudas were caught, and Jim Bowerman from Arkansas landed the largest of the trip. Mike Zimmerman hooked a beauty, but promptly broke it off after a couple jumps.
Not all bones are in the skinny, dark bottomed water. One day Rod Squires and I were poled by guide Dion along beaches, where the bones would cruise along the white sand, and were very easy to spot. They were generally less spooky here, probably due to the deeper water we were fishing in. We hooked some nice bones, and also had a great am casting to fish tailing on thick turtle grass.
A few jacks, snapper and even a boxfish were caught. Walt Dunsby and Joe Didomenico had a great day where they caught a huge variety of small jacks, snapper and bones. The # of bones found on the flats at Turneffe still amazes me. They seem to be on almost every flat you visit, no matter what the tide stage is. Just because they are there, doesn't mean they always eat however! A rising tide seemed to be the best for hungry, aggressive bones on our trip, though we did get some on the falling tide too.
The food was excellent, as was the service. Turneffe flats lodge is run like a well oiled machine and a pleasure to visit.
We enjoyed the company of owners Craig and Karen Hayes, the owners, who were there for part of our stay.
Thanks Craig and Karen, and thanks to Jake and Sean, and the rest of the Tflats staff. You guys did a great job!!