Belize, Day 2: A Slammin’ Day on the Flats

The post-landing permit fist-bump signaled a change in plan for our day on the water.
All photos by Phil Monahan

On our second day of fishing at El Pescador, I got paired with the great Kirk Deeter—editor of Trout and Angling Trade Magazines, as well as one of the minds behind Field & Stream’s Fly Talk blog (along with Tim Romano). Kirk and I have known each other for years, but we’d never fished together. Our guide for the day was young Alex Gomez, another third generation fly-fishing guide, and he’d brought along his apprentice, 15-year-old Alan.

What a killer way for a high-schooler to spend his Saturday. Young Alan surely learned a lot.

Kirk and I had both taken a beating on permit the previous day, so we told Alex we’d like to catch a few bones and then just play it by ear. We were both interested in a low-pressure day of gorgeous water and good company. And things started out that way: we both caught a decent bonefish within a half hour, once we figured out that the fish were looking for something smaller than what we’d started with.

A couple of beautiful bones was a great way to start the day.

We motored to a second flat and had just started our drift when Alex said, “I know that we’re not permit fishing, but you might want to grab the permit rod because there’s a pod of permit dead ahead.” It was Kirk’s turn on the bow, so I handed him the 10-weight. Alex decided that wading would allow us to get closer, and the three of us got in the water.

After about a 100-yard stalk, in which the fins and tails sometimes looked like they were going away, Kirk finally got a shot. When the fly landed, the school turned and headed out toward deeper water, so I thought we’d blown it. But one fish had stayed on the fly, chasing it straight toward us as Kirk stripped. The permit finally ate, and the fight was on. Five minutes later, Alex tailed it, and there was much rejoicing.

Game on: After a bonefish and a permit, Kirk was obligated to look for a tarpon.

Suddenly, our mellow day tuned a little more intense, for now Kirk had landed two-thirds of a Grand Slam. It was time to chase a tarpon. Luckily, Alex knew right where to go—deep into a lagoon, where some baby tarpon were cruising. After one failed shot, Kirk got a second bite of the apple, and a little tarpon ate.
When Kirk finally brought the fish to the net, Alex was visibly moved. He told us that this was his very first guided Grand Slam on the fly. It’s a huge moment for a guide, and his face showed it.

Success! It wasn’t a monster, but this little guy completed the Grand Slam.

The rest of the day involved (unsuccessfully) chasing some snook and fishing for more bones, but that was all gravy. Kirk’s Grand Slam had been completed before lunch, and everything else was just as mellow as we’d hoped for early in the morning.

Guide Alex Gomez was visibly moved by the experience of his first guided Grand Slam on the fly.

Follow our adventures on Instagram at #orvis.

Click here for Belize, Day 1: Oh, the Things You Learn on the Flats!

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