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Belizean Bonefish: Behind the Scenes

(For a short video of the bonefish described in this post, see the link here.)

In the winter of 2018, a group of us had ventured to Belize for some saltwater fly fishing adventures.

Zane and I had noticed an old canoe behind the shop of a beachside vendor. When we approached the vendor, I don't even know if the worker knew who owned the vessel, so he was hesitant to let us rent it. We said we would pay him $25 cash, and that convinced him. It definitely had a leak or two.

We loaded up our rods and packs and started paddling up the shoreline of the mighty Chetumal Bay. It was windy, but staying close to the beach kept us in reasonable paddling conditions. We continued onward until we couldn’t see the beach crowd anymore.

After dragging  the canoe ashore at a promising location, Zane started to get ready to fish and I posted up on a little point scanning for bones.

A variety of species perusing a Belizean flat

At this point, we had no rods rigged up. Rookie mistake, of course. Had to put the rods together, thread line through the guides, tie on a fly, the whole shabang. Zane asked to borrow my tippet. I’m not surprised; after all, I’m dealing with the angler who has stolen tippet and flies from me since we were probably 12 years old.

Looking north along shallow side of the flat, I spot 3 bones at around 30-40 yards. They aren’t hauling, but they are steadily working our direction. I alert Zane like “hey man, better get that finished up quick.”

Before we knew it, the trio of fish were closing in quickly, and still headed straight for us. “Dude, hurry up!” “I’m trying, I’m trying!” And I could sense that Zane had sped up his efforts.

I’m frantically giving Zane a play by play like “hurry up, they are almost here!Zane is trying his darndest to get that knot tied… and I’m starting to lower myself into a crouched position because of how close the bones are; I’m talking 30 feet and closing, headed right at me. Zane is standing 15 feet behind me as he finally seals up an untested knot. By this point, the bones are literally at my 2 o clock at 20 feet and close to crossing broadside to me at 12 o clock as I am crouched as low as I can, quietly pointing at where the fish are. After whispering loudly to Zane to lead them a little, he sends a quick-hauled cast whizzing over my head about 8 feet in front of the lead bonefish, not more than 15 feet from my toes. I knew it was a brilliant cast under such pressure.

While I couldn’t see the fly in the choppy conditions, I knew it was soon to be in the lead fish’s vision. And sure enough, a couple strips and that bonefish had pounced on Zane’s fly. I was finally able to abandon my squatted position and cheer with Zane as that little boney zoomed out into the bay attached to his 8-weight. Zane jumped in the water and fought him for a bit before landing him by hand, getting a couple of quick hero shots, and sending the fish on his merry way.

It was one of Zane’s favorite saltwater fish of the trip, and definitely one of my fondest memories from that adventure.


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