Part 2 – Fishing at Turneffe Flats
This is the second installment of our blog from my recent trip to Turneffe Flats Resort. You can read the fist part here. We are hosting a Tahoe Fly Fishing Outfitters trip there on October 24-31, 2020. You can see tahoeflyfishing.com/travel-trips for more trip details or tflats.com for more resort details.
My saltwater fly fishing to date has been primarily for bonefish in the Bahamas. Our trip to Belize gave us the chance at permit, as well as bones. We were not there during peak tarpon season but there are resident tarpon that reside around the atoll year round so we hoped to also get a few shots at those elusive species. Over the course of 6 days of fishing we were pleasantly surprised at the number of fish we saw within legitimate casting range.
Turneffe Flats is world famous for permit fishing and this was the species we came primarily to target. Permit are notoriously picky eaters and some of the most difficult fish to catch on a fly. Many people can go years before actually catching a permit. Getting a legitimate shot at a permit is half the battle.
On our first morning of fishing, also my wife’s birthday, we were getting ready to fish when a school of permit appeared in the distance. After some quick coaching, rushing and fumbling to get everything ready, my wife caught her first permit on the third cast. It seemed way too easy – and it was. We had many more shots at permit over the course of the trip, but that ultimately was the only one landed in the boat. The addiction was fueled, however, and that is what keeps us coming back.
Bones on the Brain
As mentioned, we came to Turneffe Flats to target permit. However, the number of bonefish we had shots at, and caught, was surprising. I had always heard that Belize did not have the number of bones that can be found in the Bahamas. From what I saw, I am not sure I agree.
On our trip, bones were the “consolation prize” for when we couldn’t find (or catch) permit. We did spend part of a day walking a flat targeting bones and caught a ridiculous number of them. However, most of our time was spent poling in a flats boat. When we saw tails, we would switch rods and catch a few bones.
The other major difference from the Bahamas is in the size of fly we used. The typical bonefish patterns work in Belize, but the flies need to be smaller – primarily size 6 and 8 flies. This does not mean that the bonefish are smaller than in the Bahamas, just more “dainty” eaters.
For someone new to saltwater fly fishing that wants to start with bonefish, Turneffe Flats offers a great opportunity.
Other Species at Turneffe Flats
While permit and bonefish were our focus, there are other species that can be targeted with a fly rod. We got a few shots at resident tarpon. There are also opportunities for snook, barracuda, triggerfish and other species. It really comes down to how you want to spend your day and if the season is prime (especially for tarpon). If you get there and decide to target a different species than planned, Turneffe Flats has gear you can rent, if needed.
The Saltwater Addiction
For those new to saltwater fly fishing, it is more like hunting than fishing. You can spend hours walking flats or poling in a flats boat looking for fish. Once spotted, it can be a mad rush to get organized, cast and hope the fish eats the fly. It can be very frustrating at times, but, once you hook that first saltwater fish, it becomes a full -fledged addiction and you will spend the entire plane ride home planning the next saltwater fly fishing trip. As we found, Turneffe Flats offers expert anglers through beginners an amazing fishing experience. We hope you come join us for our next hosted trip.