Belize Trip Report (on The Meca) [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Belize Trip Report (on The Meca)

08-30-2006, 10:01 AM
About 17 years ago,at the ripe age of 50, I started to fly fish. Of course, once started, I wished I had picked up the long rod earlier; but why look a gift horse in the mouth.

My first flats fishing trip(s) were at Belize River Lodge. They spoke english, the price was right, and one had an opportunity to fish for just about every flats fish there was. The only negatives were that the bottoms were too soft to wade and one had to run anywhere from a half to and hour (often in somewhat choppy open water in the 21' panga) to get to the immediate flats. A small price to pay for the excellent fishing that was available.

Martin McCord was my guide for my first 3 years at the lodge. He was the senior guide and was no where full of himself as some guides can be. He worked very hard (6am to 6pm) and often wouldn't let you go in unless you begged him to. He was quite, but pleasant,and believe me he knew his stuff. And after awhile, when hunting fish he would "let" you sight them before he'd give their secret location. That is, he'd see the fish, but before he told you where it was, he'd guide the boat towards it hoping you would pick the fish up by yourself. Certainly the sign of a caring guide, especially to a newbe.

After my first three years at the lodge with Martin, I went back two more times, but never got to fish with Martin. He left the lodge and started to build his own boat, the Meca (named after his wife) in his backyard. Man, did he ever know what he was doing. The 41' (17' beam) boat was perfect for fishermen: 2 spacious a/c'd cabins, each with its own bathroom, and comfortable beds, a fully stocked galley/dinning room, a nice little lounge to hang out in, with two 21' pangas (with seats, no edges to catch flylines, and with a stabilizing bar on the casting deck to keep you from going overboard). When the boat was completed, as a former client/friend of Martin, I was invited to fish on it during its maiden trips. However, for whatever reasons, I never could make it. However, my time did come, and I was able to fish the Meca Aug 13-23. I was so looking forward to seeing Martin again to renew our friendship and to be guided by him. Unfortunately, Martin had died of a heart attack due to an enlarged heart (he was in his early 50s, I believe) between the time I booked and the trip. So, I never did get to see Martin again, but I did get to have the pleasure of fishing from the Meca.

Our guides were excellent. Noah Charles from the well-known Charles fishing family and Dean (forgot his last name) who was Martin's first mate and long time friend-he also captained the boat. Food was just about as good as it had been at the lodge. Carol, our cook/house keeper,cooked up a storm: lobster twice, shrimps, conch, pork chops, home baked,bacon-eggs-french toast-pancakes, pies, and 4 cases of Belikin beer...all very, very good. The weather was quite cooperative (sunny, hot and relatively calm) for the first two and a half days when we fished Long Key for tarpon and permit-bone fish were to be an incidental as we were strongly targeting sight fishing for tarpon and permit. However, none of us did well at all. Three of four of us were experienced inshore fly fishermen, and the other guy was experienced with some salt experience. Our general routine was to fish from 5:30 or 6 until 9, and then back to the boat for breakfast; out again at around 10:30 and back for lunch at 2; a siesta until 4:30 and fish until dark with dinner at around 7:30 or 8. We saw fish (not a hell of a lot though)and had shots at them, but nothing was a give me and no one jumped a sighted tarpon or permit. We did have one 80-90# tarpon jumped (long run, one jump and off-hook probably not properly set), but that was via blind casting into a channel. We each caught one or two bones. Even the smallish (2-4#) bones were tough going.

Obviously, I (we) were quite disappointed in once again proving that the sport is called fishing and not catching (sorry). Nonetheless, spirits were maintained as at the end of the third day we took a 2 hours trip south to Robinson's Point, a great permit hangout. One and a half days at the Point and no permit. Although, I think I did have a permit take the crab, but he dropped it as I set the hook. Although we did see permit, we didn't really see the schools or numbers I had seen in previous years. The guides were befuddled and we continued to try to maintain some sembelance of fishing spirits. Yeah, we all caught some bones off two beautiful flats, but that didn't make up for our lack of permit success.

After the disappointing time at Robinson's Point, we went back north to Gallows Reef for a day and a half. At the reef (part of the second longest reef in the world), we all felt that we stood a good chance of finally seeing more fish. Well, we did see fish, but as the clouds started coming in, sighting was very difficult. Nonetheless, each of us did have several casts at both tarpon and permit. And finally, one of the guys did hook, jump and land a sight casted 50# tarpon. The next morning the clouds were still there and we sigthed no more fish, so after a while we decided to motor a little more north and docked at The Meca's mooring in Belize City.

So, for the rest of the day, with clouds around and our first rain shower, we fished for anything that we could find. We popped and clousered for snook around the mangroves, looked for tarpon in the previously successful holes, and hunted for bones on the flats. We didn't see anything; not even snook or snapper from the mangroves, nor bones on some great flats.

The weather cleared on the 23rd, but as I had to catch an 11:30 am flight (airport only 15 minutes from the mooring), I didn't get a chance to fish the last morning, but the other three guys did. However, I have no idea how they did.

Now here's the part illustrating why fishermen are known liars. I mean, how could we go home and explain after spending so much time, effort and money, that we didn't catch fish? Actually, I'm at a lose for words. We had mostly good weather. I had fished these areas before, and believe me the fish are there. The guides knew the waters like the backs of their hands and they worked hard for 10 hours a day. We were four experienced long rodders. We rotated with the guides and among ourselves: we each fished with the each guide three times and fished with each other twice (20 minutes on the casting deck or until a fish was landed). We used the appropriate type flies: cochroaches (and many other tarpon flies), crabs (brownish and greenish), mantis shrimp (olives), gotchas (with and without bead chain eyes). Two of the guys were great fly tiers. All I can say is that I'll be back: As the Meca gets you to where you want to be without undue running time. These waters hold large amounts of fish (I've been there 6-7 times before). The price was very, very right at $2200 (plus tips) per person. And, being a rather Zen-like person, I can fully appreciate the process.

08-30-2006, 10:34 AM
Thank's Adam for the very detailed and honest report!

I guess it can go like that anywhere in the world. Maybe some wierd weather system a few hundred miles away affecting the local pressure?

I was lucky enough to make a second trip to Christmas Island in March 2001 and it rained like hell almost every day. The lousy weather didn't make up for the dissapointment, especially for the friends who were on their first trip, full of anticipation from the stories of our first excursion.

As you rightly say, there's nothing wrong with the location and the Mecca sounds like a great setup.

Your next trip will be memorable :smokin: