Belize River Lodge is one such "role model" lodge that has the setup, services and amenities that fill the traveling angler's bill. The owners, Mike and Marguerite, head up the operations of the lodge. Marguerite's daughter Misha handles the bulk of marketing and also plans the effective flow of anglers traveling to Belize River Lodge.
Because of the Lodge's centralized location a few miles up the Belize River, anglers are positioned perfectly to head west on the river for small tarpon and snook or eastward out to the open bays and flats for bonefish, small and giant tarpon, permit, snook, big ladyfish and jacks. On calm days anglers can reach the reef and further for barracuda, bottom fish, and pelagics. In addition, the lodge also has a 52-foot live aboard motor yacht for strategically targeting more far-flung fishing spots not normally reached by fixed living arrangements. They have recently built a new angling destination on the offshore island of Long Caye, aptly named Long Caye Island Resort.
Anglers will be delighted to know that getting a flats "Grand Slam" (bonefish, tarpon, permit) is a realistic possibility out of this lodge. One of my flats career highlights occurred two years ago when I broke the lodge record by catching nine permit in one day — honest! I had stunned my guide Raul Navarette by nailing all these fish on the flats from large schools of small permit on a small white Nickelure Popeye jig Mike had given me.
The lodge on the river can handle up to 16 anglers. All the fishing skiffs there are seaworthy pangas sporting four-stroke engines. Each guide files a daily float plan with Mike as well as possessing an onboard cell phone or VHF radio.
Here are some important facts about Belize for traveling anglers:
- The population is around 280,000 people.
- Its location is south of Mexico on the Caribbean Sea.
- The geography is composed of cayes and mangroves on the east coast, and jungles and mountains in the west.
- The capital is Belmopan.
- Belize's languages are primarily English (the official language), and secondarily a local Creole dialect.
- The size of the country is approximately 180 miles long and up to 68 miles wide.
- The Belizean dollar is worth half of the U.S. dollar. American dollars are widely accepted, but change may be given in Belizean dollars.
- Regarding travel documents, a valid U.S. passport is required for both exit and entry into Belize and the U.S.
- There is a fee of U.S. $39.25 for the Belize Departure Tax. This may be included in your plane ticket or it must be paid at the airport prior to departing Belize.
- The main airport is in Belize City (BZE) and is served by American and all the major airlines. It is also the major hub for all air travel in Belize, including the offshore cayes.
- While Belize has similar seasonality to South Florida -especially the rainy season- Belize is considered tropical.
- As for activities, Belize is a major paradise of flats, mangrove coasts, rivers, rainforest, cenotes, jungles and mountains. It has endless opportunities for fishing, boating, sailing, cruising, snorkeling, kayaking, trekking, birding, exploring Mayan ruins, as well as shopping for crafts. Belize City has an interesting City Zoo and many markets.
- Its main web site is www.belize.com.