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I have read, with great interest, the subscriber-written reports you have published in the past about Belize and I would like to set the record straight on a couple of items. I have fished Belize for more than 15 years; in fact, I built and operated a lodge there for several years. I have hooked over 100 permit in Belize and have landed 53 to date. Few, if any, fly fishermen have experienced more of the water in Belize than I.
These days, almost everyone walking the beach in Belize will tell you he is a guide. Beware! The two best guides in Belize are David and Lincoln Westby. They are knowledgeable, experienced, successful and pleasant to be around. Their clientele list begins with such names as Joe Brooks and contains the most notable anglers of our time. I am confident that anyone who has ever fished with the Westbys will attest to their ability, character and personality. In my opinion, some of the other guides you have mentioned in previous issues are still learning how to pole a boat across the flats.
One place I know well in Belize is the coastal town of Placencia, which Angling Report subscriber C. John Naquin, Jr. recommended back in 1991 and again in the April 1996 issue (see pages 9-10). Would-be visitors to Placencia should be aware that the town is a 45-minute boat ride from the flats on a calm day and 1 1/2 hours on a windy day. It’s usually windy and as the tide picks up, so does the wind. On many days, you simply can’t get out to the flats. Yes, there are a couple of inland flats near Placencia, but the permit do not show there every day. If you elect to fish the inland flats on any given day and the permit don’t show, you have virtually lost the day, as it would be too late in the tide to run out to the flats where the permit feed daily.
Placencia has changed a great deal in the past 15 years. If you wish to stay here, I recommend contacting Kay Westby (*), who can direct you to adequate accommodations in the area. Kay is the widow of Joel Westby, who was one of the best guides in this area before he passed away this past July. There are many places to stay in Placencia, but I must differ with the opinion of Angling Report subscriber Jacob L. Fox, who recommended the Sea Spray Motel back in 1988, and which you mentioned again in the April 1996 issue – you must have a great affection for cockroaches!
On the other hand, Lincoln Westby has now built a new lodge called Blue Horizon Lodge on Northeast Caye, which is one of the islands in the Cat Caye Range (on some maps they’re called the Pelican Cayes). Getting there involves flying into Dangriga (also known as Stann Creek) south from Belize City, followed by a 30-minute boat ride out east to Blue Horizon, which is squarely in the middle of the flats. Three of my fishing buddies and I fished here this past April and hooked eight permit, although we only landed three. We took many barracuda (up to 36 pounds) and jack crevalle, as well as numerous other jacks and snappers. We did not spend time fishing for tarpon or bonefish, but one of the best tarpon spots is within 10 minutes of the lodge.
Although Blue Horizon is still a bit rustic, I highly recommend it. It has the best location, best guides (Lincoln and David Westby) and the best food I have ever experienced in Belize. The lodge accommodates four anglers in two separate cabanas, each with its own shower and bathroom, and Lincoln plans to build two more cabanas in the near future. The cost is only $1,350 per week per angler, based on double occupancy. It can be booked through Mike Michalak at The Fly Shop (*); Lani Waller at Worldwide Angler (*); or Chet Young at Anglers’ Travel Connections (*). If anyone would like more information, they can call me directly at the number listed below. – Will Bauer.