Part II: DIY Northern Belize

Many doctors don’t know this, but a wonderful cure for the post-Bahamas blues is an ice cold Belikin with your best buds in Belize. On our westward journey home, Sterling and I met up with our close friend Nick for 10 days of adventuring around this wonderful Central American country. While our time in Belize wasn’t nearly as “fishing focused” as our time on Long Island, we still managed to get a few days of exploring in, as well as a handful of unforgettable nights on the docks…

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Our time in Belize was split into two locations: San Pedro and Caye Caulker. San Pedro is on the Southern end of Ambergis Caye, while Caye Caulker is a small island just south of there. San Pedro is a hectic town filled with bars, street food, tourists, and golf carts. Yes, golf carts. Automobiles rust quickly and easily in the tropical, salty environment of Belize, but golf carts are constructed largely out of aluminum, which doesn’t rust. So the narrow, cobblestone roads of this city are filled with golf carts zooming around constantly. It’s sort of like being in Ho Chi Minh City with all of the motorized scooters, only on a much smaller scale. Therefore, on day 1 we did the only reasonable thing to do: Rented a golf cart, bought a case of beer and drove south until we found a bonefish flat, testing the integrity of the cart’s suspension with every pothole we encountered.

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To my understanding, there are good DIY opportunities both north and south along Ambergis Caye. Some flats can be quite soft, so wading is a challenge at times. However, mangroves are plentiful, and if you can find an accessible flat, there is a good chance you will encounter fish.

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Caye Caulker has a much mellower vibe than San Pedro; the motto here is “Go Slow.” The island is very small and catered to backpackers and hostel-goers. It is an outstanding place to meet other travellers from all over the world, crack open a cold beer, and forget what day it is. For the diver or snorkeler, you are within 10 minutes of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, which is the second largest reef system in the world.

Please eat my fly
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Our fishing on Caye Caulker happened at night. The bars typically shut down around 2am on the island, at which point we would grab our fly rods and walk, excuse me, stumble, to the nearest lighted dock with a group of new friends acquired from the evening’s festivities.

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Trying to land Sterling’s first tarpon went smoothly as you can see. Apparently these fish jump..?

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The story that takes first prize from our trip happened a few nights later on the same dock. Around 4am we found ourselves attempting to catch tarpon as a large moon cast its reflection over a calm Caribbean Sea. A violent explosion on our fly led to a doubled over 8 weight…fish on. Or was it a fish? Confused by the mysterious behavior of our catch, we began to see two glowing eyes appear in the impending darkness. We had hooked a crocodile.

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It is incredible the courage a couple drinks will give you. Here I am trying to unhook a 6-foot crocodile as if I were Steve Irwin reincarnated. In the end, no humans or reptiles were harmed and everyone returned to their homes safe and sound.

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To share an experience abroad with your best friends is the joy of life. Cheers to the adventures on the horizon and the pages that remain unwritten. In the meantime, I’ll be figuring out how to tell my future grandkids about how grandpa almost lost his hand to a crocodile in Belize with his buddies back in 2018.

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Until next time,
Andy Archer

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