Turneffe Flats Lodge, a saltwater paradise.
It had been almost 8 years since I've fly fished in Belize. In 2006 the Silver Bow did it's first hosted trip to the island of San Pedro, a small tourist location just a short twenty min flight from Belize City. Numerous trips to there and elsewhere in Belize, one location I had never been, but always heard about was Turneffe Atoll. World renowned for it's bonefishing, Turneffe Island sits approximately 30 miles off the coast of the mainland and is an aquarium of saltwater species as well as wildlife. My trip to Belize was rather last minute do to a cancellation on our hosted trip with Bo Brand from the shop. However, I've never been one to plan too far out so last minute preparation is just my style.
Travel to Turneffe was rather easy thanks to the logistics experts at Fly Water Travel who work with great lodges like the famous Turneffe Flats Lodge. Once arrived at Turneffe, the lodge has you covered with excellent hosts, food, and guides. Since 1981 Turneffe's owners Craig and Karen Hayes have been hosting anglers, divers, and eco-tourist alike to this tropical locale in search of pristine marine environments and world class fishing. Our stay at Turneffe Flats included 6 days of guided fishing which only begins to wet the appetite due to the vast expanse of this large atoll environment. And if fishing all day long didn't give you enough fix, there was always bonefish tailing within eyesight of the lodge balcony while you sipped on a cold Belkin.
Bo and I with eight other guests enjoyed a variety of fish species over the week. From bonefish to permit, tarpon and snook, to alternative species like barracuda, jacks, and trigger fish, there are a diverse mix of fish roaming the shallows that will satisfy any angling skill level. For many it was their first time ever saltwater flats fishing and with skilled guides it didn't take long for many to be into the their first ever bonefish or other flats fish. For two of our guests, Rob G. and Dave L., they each got the opportunity to hook and land permit within their first two days on the island. While my permit story has an unhappy ending (knot failure, which we won't talk about), what I thought about the permit fishing was very impressive. After spending many days in other saltwater locations like Cuba and the Bahamas, I quickly realized that Turneffe, while most known for it's bonefishing, has ideal permit flats. Our guide Mark Hyde was an excellent saltwater guide, one of the best I've been with, and he polled and scanned the flats finding permit in adverse conditions when many would have either not tried or given up. Whether we saw permit or bonefish, I felt that not only the quantities were great, but the size range of fish was excellent too. Numerous shots at 30 pound permit and bonefish well into the 4-6 lb plus range kept you on your toes all week long.
The vibe for the week at Turneffe was a good one. The folks that travelled with us all had smiles on their faces even when fish didn't cooperate and talked about their next time they could come back to get revenge on the fish that got away. In the world of saltwater fly fishing, Turneffe offered everything I could have asked for from the beautiful scenery and flats, to the quality of fishing, comfortable accommodations, and service that went above and beyond making for a seamless week in a stunning tropical destination.
- Sean Visintainer