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Subscriber John Durno has many good things to say about Turneffe Flats Lodge (www.tflats.com) in Belize after a trip there this past February. But, due to modest success with bonefish and some other problems with the fishing, he says he is open to considering other places the next time he goes flats fishing. He writes:
“This report covers a trip four of us from Florida, all in our 70s, made to the lodge in mid-February 2012. I have been to a lot of lodges, and this is probably the best one I’ve ever been to. The double rooms are spacious and well appointed. The air conditioning worked well, and the view from a nice veranda was spectacular. The water is actually drinkable and none of us came down with any intestinal problems. The food bordered on great and the ambiance of the entire place was super. Probably the best thing I can say about the lodge is the extremely positive and helpful attitude of owner Craig Hayes and his wife Karen was reflected in the very helpful attitude of the entire staff. The lodge is situated on Turneffe Atoll, which is perhaps 40 miles long. It is 30 miles from Belize City, and it requires an hour-and-a-half ride on a large, comfortable lodge boat to get there. Transportation from the airport to the harbor was well handled.
“As for the fishing, we saw a lot of tailing permit in schools of 25 to 30 and we had plenty of shots. I’d say over two days of fishing for permit in the morning only, we each had 25 to 30 shots per day. I caught one 25-pound permit on a 10 wt. using a No. 2 shrimp pattern. It took me well into my backing numerous times. It took me a half hour to land him. This was the only permit caught or hooked by our group. Another group landed four, but three of those were caught on cut-up bait and only one on a fly. We fished in perhaps six feet of water approximately 100 yards offshore. I had a feeling that, at one point, we were fishing to the same two schools of permit for several hours. Both boats our party used fished the same place both days.
“Turning to bonefish, we saw hundreds of them, including lots of tailers, but we only landed roughly three per angler per day. The fish were a little smaller on average than what we are used to fishing for at Andros Island in the Bahamas, but we did catch several in the four- to five-pound range. The water we fished was calf-deep in places, but usually shallower, and we waded the entire time we were bonefishing. Because of the shallow water, we opted for No. 6 Gotchas for the most part. Even with flies that small, the fish were often spooked by our presentations. Compounding difficulties, a fairly strong wind made accurate casting impossible. We used nine-foot, 8-wt. rods with floating lines and nine-foot, 10-pound leaders. The bottom was sometimes rough coral rock and sometimes sand and grass. I lost two fish on wind knots (duh!) and two on coral rocks. The coral bottom made for very difficult wading. I fished with the same guide for two of the three days, and we fished exactly the same spot both afternoons. I had the feeling that the schools of 20 to 30 fish we saw were making a big repetitive circle and that we were fishing the same schools for two or more hours. If it were not for the persistent wind, I would have switched to 12- to 15-foot, six-pound test leaders and used No. 8 flies or even smaller to compensate for the very shallow, clear water. As for the guides, they seemed to be knowledgeable, and they were quite helpful. My only mild complaint was that my guide offered me a bit too much advice given my 60 years of fly fishing experience.
“In summary, I was somewhat disappointed with the bonefishing because of the very shallow water and because we fished exactly the same spot two days in a row. Would I go back? I honestly don’t know. The lodge and can-do attitude of the staff and owners was terrific. The bonefishing was a bit disappointing, though. I think I’ll pay attention to The Angling Report and look for a write-up on another lodge in the Bahamas.”
Postscript: Durno give the cost of his trip as $2,585, plus wine and booze.