It was great to return to Belcampo Lodge this year with a fishing group to chase permit and other flats species. Last year at this time of the season, my party was plagued with some inclement El Nino weather. This trip welcomed us with calm and sunny conditions — a welcome retreat from the grips of some early winter nastiness at home. With some of the group members traveling from Jackson Hole, Bozeman, Chicago and New York, Belize was a lovely escape!
Flight service to this Central American country is excellent, making it easy to access from most points in the States. Getting through the Belize International Airport and connecting with Tropic Air for in-country flights is a breeze. The full group arrived on time and we were looking forward to four days on the water.
Belcampo Lodge is a wonderful eco-farm and jungle property near Punta Gorda in the southern part of the country. Undoubtedly, it is one of the very best locations for flats fishers — especially if you want to hunt permit. It’s also a great place for nonfishing companions with a myriad of things to see and do ranging from snorkeling and diving to Mayan excursions, bird watching, a spa and numerous on property excursions on this organic farm and 12,000 acre nature reserve. It was great to see all of the familiar staff faces who continue to provide exceptional service. As we fell asleep to the howler monkeys clearly vocalizing their territorial claims, all of us were anxious to meet the guides the next morning and head out to the flats and lagoons.
Marine protected areas are one of the most important conservation tools available to Belize. They ensure the conservation of the internationally acclaimed Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System, the second largest in the world and designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Two of the seven protected regions (over 140,000 acres of protected fisheries) are easily accessible from Belcampo Lodge ensuring productive sport fishing along the barrier reef, the pristine atolls, sheltered seagrass meadows, lagoons and river systems — all rich with marine life.
Belcampo has aligned their operation with a select group of guides, considered some of the most experienced in the western Caribbean. Of equal or greater importance, they all are a delight and possess a warm senses of humor. They run comfortable and fast 23’ super pangas that are equally great for stealthy approaches on shallow flats and crossing open water. With only six guides on this enormous fishery, there is very little recreational angling pressure.
The group had a really nice time. Each boat had daily shots at permit, which of course are crazy, neurotic species that tease flats fishermen everywhere they swim. Three or four were landed and others hooked and lost. We had some luck with jacks and some tarpon were jumped. The boats that made the run out to the Sapodilla Cayes had great fishing for bonefish, triggerfish and permit. Of course each evening was a delight back at Belcampo with terrific cuisine, tropical drinks and great wine… not to mention a lot of laughs with a really fun group.
Think about Belcampo for your next flats fishing trip. I plan to go back in 2017 with a group of couples. It’s a terrific place to relax and fish; and for your non-fishing or semi-fishing companion, there are so many other things to do. Frontiers will help you find the right room and guides for an unforgettably wonderful trip.
By: Mike Fitzgerald