December 30, 2021
This essay is an excerpt from the e-book 101 Fish: A Fly Fisher’s Life Record (Stackpole Books, HeadWater Books, 2012). That is Chapter 9, titled “Snook.”
In 1960 I traveled to Belize, a Central American nation the place folks communicate English. To my information at the moment there have been possibly three or 4 fishing lodges in your complete nation. I used to be fortunate I might be fishing at a brand new one on the Turneffe Islands, positioned 30 miles offshore to the east.
The Turneffes are primarily clusters of mangroves, however right here and there may be sufficient strong land to be known as a real island. The Turneffes are possibly 30 miles lengthy and sit on the sting of the second-largest barrier reef on the planet.
I had caught numerous snook on fly however by no means greater than 24 inches. At a seminar I met two guys who claimed if I went to the just-opened Turneffe Island Lodge positioned on the island group’s excessive southern tip I might certainly get a snook higher than two ft lengthy.
After crossing 30 miles of open water in a slow-moving outdated boat, I arrived on the lodge. The proprietor, Vic Barothy, who ran a fishing camp on Pine Island in Cuba and needed to escape when Fidel Castro took over, met me.
Vic assigned me to a local information named Phillip, who was possibly 5 ft, 2 inches tall and weighed 140 kilos. We bought alongside famously.
I gained’t bore you with the 1000’s of bonefish we noticed and the uncounted numbers we caught. On the second day I advised Phillip I actually got here to catch a giant snook, and he stated we might try this within the morning. There was a comfortable knock on my bed room door nicely earlier than daybreak that woke up me to see Phillip standing within the doorway.
I dressed shortly and we stole quietly out of the lodge. The night earlier than he had me rig my fly rod with a big white Deceiver with a grey prime hooked up to a 40-pound shock chief.
He cautioned me to be silent as we bought into the boat, and he poled us not more than 150 yards from the lodge. He pointed and I solid to a drop-off sandbar close to the mangroves.
I began a retrieve and bought a jolting strike and hooked and landed a 42-inch snook—nonetheless my greatest on the fly. However for me the very best was but to return.
I made preparations to return again the next yr and requested Phillip once more as my information. Once I arrived, Phillip greeted me. The subsequent morning we had been off for bonefish. We sat within the anchored boat consuming our lunch whereas Phillip advised me one of the vital fascinating tales I’ve heard in all my years of fishing.
When not guiding, Phillip used his sailboat for business fishing. He stated that he and his son had been within the Turneffes fishing and didn’t understand a hurricane was approaching. By the point they realized there was a storm coming, it was too late. They did what all natives do—they ran their boat nicely up right into a mangrove creek, the place the powerful bushes furnish the very best shelter from the storm.
After securely tying the boat, they waited out the hurricane. On the peak of the storm, due to the storm surge, the boat sank, and so they stood chest deep within the water for hours.
After the storm it took a number of days to get the boat in form and to sail dwelling. Touchdown on the Belize Metropolis Docks, they tied up the boat and walked up the road towards their dwelling.
On the best way they had been met by a funeral procession fashioned by Phillip’s spouse. Seeing her husband and her son strolling towards her, Phillip stated his spouse fainted away on the street. A outstanding story that to me was higher than my massive snook.
Lefty Kreh is the creator of dozens of books, and was a Fly Fisherman contributing editor for 30 years. John Randolph, editor emeritus of Fly Fisherman, has known as him “the very best, and essentially the most influential sport fisherman within the final half of the twentieth century.”