DeltaTroutForce - the Perfect Combination of Art and Sport


A Permit will test everything from your sanity to your bank account.  When I got the invitation to Belize this winter, my first thought was unfinished business. A previous trip to Mexico during hurricane season saw rough conditions and few shots but all it took was one look at the black tail of a Permit feeding on the flats to plant a seed that I needed to pick.  Thankfully my opportunity to scratch this itch came sooner rather than later.  My good friend Mike Roche has been fishing Southern Belize for the last decade and when an invitation to tag along on one of his annual trips was extended my way, I immediately jumped on the opportunity. Last week Mike and I left the rising rivers of Colorado and traveled three flights to Southern Belize, one of the best places in the world to target Permit, Tarpon, and the elusive Saltwater Grand Slam.     

When saltwater fly fishing, there are many outside factors influencing your success.  Tides, wind (both speed and direction), sunlight, bait numbers, and time of day are all elements that can make or break a trip.  Regardless of the variable, our guide Eworth Garbutt knew what adjustments to make in order to put a bend in the rod.  My favorite example of this was our time spent fishing the lagoons just off the flats.  Tarpon would roll in a way that was surprisingly graceful knowing their reputation.  An occasional gulp from a bucket of a mouth would break the surface as the silver king inhaled small baitfish.  As this went on Pelicans were attacking the dense schools of bait by diving straight into the water, injuring many missed fish in the process.  The event was a free meal the tarpon could not pass up.  Eworth could tell which Pelicans had a hungry fish sitting below them, and would instruct us where to cast. This is actually how I caught my first Pelican.  I have hooked birds before and seen them try and fly off but this time was different.  The bird knew we were just trying to help him and I am convinced it could understand Eworth’s calming words.  We simply pulled him in and popped the hook out.

Without a doubt the highlight of my trip was Eworth Garbutt.  He is one of the best fishing guides and human beings I have ever met.  If you have been as fortunate as I was and had the opportunity to fish with Eworth, I know you would agree with me in saying that he has a special connection with his homewater.  He and his family were essential in achieving the catch and release regulations of all Permit, Tarpon, and Bonefish of Belize.  His eye site and knowledge would always have you in the best position to catch your target species.  He walked this world with a sense of gratitude — knowing how lucky he was to be able to “wake up everyday just three casts away from a grandslam.”  He possessed an attitude that could keep even the Debbyest of Downers optimistic while also always teaching, informing you what the fish was going to do and how we were going to fool it.  What was most impressive to me was his passion towards the fish.  This goes for all of Belize, they seem to take better care of their resources, especially compared to their neighboring country.  It breaks my heart seeing bait disappear in Baja and stories of Permit on ice in Yucatan markets.  I am all for making a living but there needs to be some sort of balance. In my uncalled upon internet opinion, I think this should start with furthering the awareness of the positive aspects of eco tourism. Explain to the locals these benefits.  Show how protecting their resources can lead to a more valuable and sustainable ecosystem.  Pristine fisheries lead to pristine fish. Belize is the perfect example of that.  Thank you Garbutt Brothers.   

1 Comment

  1. This is awesome Dan! Love the shot of the tips of their tails poking out.