Some Thoughts On Fishing Glover’s Reef
Last winter, my wife and I decided to go to Belize again for our vacation. Unlike the last few times we decided to sign on with the Slickrock outfitters and travel to Glover’s Reef. We knew we would be kayaking, snorkeling, and doing other sea sport activities to our hearts content.Belize fishing report
On our other trips we had seen many tourists carrying really expensive looking fishing poles, sheathed in multicolored gear tins as carry-on luggage. Also, I had met fishing enthusiasts who spoke rhapsodically about bonefish fishing and deep sea fishing in Belize. I concluded that Belize is a “primo” fishing spot that should be tried as a life experience even if I only had a mild interest. So, with a New York January winter raging outside my Brooklyn apartment, I decided that by the time I traveled to Belize in February I would be outfitted and knowledgeable enough to fish the mythic Belizean waters.
However, before I got into this effort, I wanted to impose some rigorous parameters to this fun/sport effort. Because I am sort of a “gear head” (kayaking, snorkeling, cycling, hiking… you get the picture) I did not want to buy a lot more stuff. Apartment storage is already impossible. First rule: I would not buy to the high tech side of the fishing gear spectrum and I would be budget conscious (cheap) for once. Secondly, I wanted to avoid becoming “expert” at another activity: you know the type… I wanted to avoid being able to quote “High Tech Fishing Today Magazine” about titanium blah, blah, blah… In New York there is pressure to know a lot about everything you’ve become an enthusiast about. I decided my goal was to remain relatively stupid about fishing: the “babe in the woods” approach. Thirdly, I like fish in general and did not want to kill many of them. The behavior of fishing, standing knee deep in warm, aquamarine water in the middle of a tropically heaven casting lures while working on an even tan, this appealed to me. The act of fishing that is about “killing” fish wasn’t exactly my cup of brine. Lucky for me, Glover’s Reef is a catch and release site.Belize fishing trips
I like books and am a firm believer in the adage “If you can read, you can cook”. I decided to teach myself to fish from reading books in my apartment, after work and the dishes. After some in-store reading to sample what was available at the local Barnes and Noble, I bought the following two books: The KISS Guide to Fishing (stands for “Keep It Simple, Stupid!”) by Robert Roth and North American Fishing, by Ken Schultz. From them I learned that I was probably interested in spin casting: the reels look very cool and the process is very low tech. Fly fishing is a little fussy, lending itself to that expert syndrome again, and the effort with the deep sea gear strikes me as some kind of over-kill extravaganza (you remember the stuff in “Jaws”?).
After more reading I came to the conclusion that I could fish in Belize with a light to medium weight spin casting reel, a light weight spin casting rod which broke down to a some of parts in a tidy way, some 8 to 12 pound test mono filament line and a variety of lures. My actual outfit included a Shakespear brand, “Tidewater” model reel for approx. $50, a nine foot “Ugly Stick” rod which broke down to lengths of 20-24 inches for another $50 (fits in a duffle), 250 yards of ten pound test line (clear) for $7., and some lures. If you ‘re determined to follow a budget (cheap), watch out in the lures department! I unfortunately tend to buy lures that I find attractive, not because they are tried and true fish killers. Lucky for me form and function came together in chrome and/or gold “jigs”. From experience, I would say to bring at least five of each of your favorites, varying the size from one to three inches. Expect to spend at least $75. on lures: ones you like, ones you’ve read that the fish like, and the ones that your sales person needs to sell some of. Other stuff to think about absently: swivels, leaders, a variety of rubber painted minnows (you won’t believe it), a nifty box to store all this cool stuff in. A knife is a valuable piece of equipment in case you have to cut line, but it isn’t necessary to have a BIG knife. More importantly, fishermen’s pliers are helpful for extracting your hooks from the fish with the least amount of harm to you both.
Please realize that you can spend much more on better and more complicated fishing equipment. I made my choices based on a low impact to pocket and storage basis. I also caught a number of fish with a minimal investment. And you should have seen the ones that got away!
A humanitarian note: there is no need to “super set” the hook when a fish has your lure. Unless you are a dentist who misses his oral surgery appointments, an exaggerated jerking of the rod to drive your hook deep into the fish’s mouth isn’t really necessary, especially in a catch and release environment. So what if the fish gets away! After the five minutes of intense play you’ve just had, you should give thanks and gratitude for the experience of having shared a life’s joy with an aquatic life form.
Some fun stuff: don’t be surprised if while you’re bringing in a good sized snapper or jack, pole bending under the strain while you squint into the light like Spencer Tracy in the “Old Man and the Sea”, that a large barracuda doesn’t just bite the fish in half. Though I brought in fish heads twice, I really love telling the stories.
Belize sun light while fishing: If you wade a lot, remember your sun screen will begin to come off, no matter what the claim at purchase. The sun is always intense, but while fishing there is real possibility of burning. So, work on your even tan, but be careful about parts exposed for too long or that have been wet for a long period. Hats and sun glasses are a must. A very lightweight shirt with collar and sleeves is helpful to protect neck and arms.
The really fine points of casting won’t be worked out in your apartment, and I haven’t really tried hard to master them anyway. Hopefully you will benefit from some of my not-expert advice about fishing in Belize and have fun working on your even tan. Remember to be respectful when asking the fish to take your lure.
-Matt Waldo, Brooklyn NY
Adventure Island at Glover’s Reef, February 2004 and April 2006