Catch fish with Mike Ladle.

Catch Fish with
Mike Ladle

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For anyone unfamiliar with the site always check the FRESHWATER, SALTWATER and TACK-TICS pages. The Saltwater page now extends back as a record of over four years of (mostly) sea fishing and may be a useful guide as to when to fish. The Freshwater stuff is also up to date now. I keep adding to both. These pages are effectively my diary and the latest will usually be about fishing in the previous day or two. The Tactics pages which are chiefly 'how I do it' plus a bit of science are also updated regularly and (I think) worth a read (the earlier ones are mostly tackle and 'how to do it' stuff).

15 December 2005

Belize - part 3

As I mentioned last time our second week in Belize was spent in self catering apartments near Monkey River, a small, pretty isolated settlement at the very mouth of the aforementioned river.

At Monkey River our hosts were Sue and Chris Harris – formerly the founders and owners of “Harris Angling” the well known lure company. The Harrises 'gave it all up' a couple of years ago and moved, lock stock and barrel, to an idyllic tropical shore on the coast of Belize. They now live the ‘good life’ in an eco-friendly house built on a coconut fringed, jungle backed, wonderful beach. The only access to their house is by a five minute boat ride from the village at the river mouth. The house and adjoining apartments are powered by solar panels, watered by the soft tropical rains and guarded by two fearsome but friendly dogs.

During our, self catering, stay with them Sue and Chris had arranged everything for our convenience. This included the warmest of warm welcomes, a gourmet meal cooked by Sue on the first evening, beach barbecues when we fancied them and a ‘starter pack, with enough food to keep us going for the week if needed. Best of all they had arranged three fishing trips during the week with Ian Cuevas, a local fisherman and expert guide. Ian was a real gem. He came on the evening before our first trip to discuss what we fancied doing and to advise us on the possibilities. On the monday he intended to take us permit fishing (neither of us had ever caught a permit) but more of that next time. Ian was so keen that he arranged to pick us up at 5am the following morning for a pre-breakfast sortie into the Monkey River itself.

We were armed only with our 50g spinning rods and fixed spool reels but Ian said that these would be fine for slow trolling in the river - and they were (although to be honest if we'd known that we were to do some trolling and the quality of fish to be expected we might have 'beefed it up a little bit with 20lb gear). Shads and plugs were the favoured lures and we had a few of both so the following morning we were waiting, all agog, on the little landing stage as Ian, as good as his word, motored in to pick us up for a preliminary 'first light' fishing trip.

The five minute motor to and up the estuary was wonderful with early morning pelicans beginning to dive and the 'dawn chorus' booming of tiger herons, deep drumming of pale-billed woodpeckers and roaring of howler monkeys in our ears. The motor was throttled back to a gentle (and amazingly quiet) tick over and we lobbed our lures out behind the boat. Mullet were ringing the calm surface and occasionally the bubbles of tarpon were seen close under the bank. The boat was manoeuvered with the skill borne of long practice around sunken logs and hanging branches. Everything was so still and calm that when Steve's rod suddenly crashed over and the reel began to buzz it was all the more of a shock. I grabbed the video camera and for what seemed like ages filmed the battle with a jumping, splashing, rushing snook - a really fine fish to start our boat fishing exploits.

During our stay we fished another river estuary from the boat. This one, Deep River, was reached after an exhilarating hour's hard 'motoring' down towards Honduras (at one point bait fish were literally jumping into the boat) and it was a much larger, deep saltwater estuary lined with mangroves. Again we trolled with the spinning gear and caught barracuda, and jacks, had lures bitten off and bitten in half and generally enjoyed ourselves immensely. perhaps the most impressive sight was of a mixed shoal of hundreds of crevalle and horse eye jacks, of all sizes, swimming under the boat in the gin clear dark water. What a place! Could the permit fishing be any more exciting than this? Find out next time.

If you have any comments or questions about fish, methods, tactics or 'what have you.'get in touch with me by sending an E-MAIL to -


Chris and Sue's house is on the right and our cabanas on the left.  The jetty is where we started our fishing trips and boat is the only way in or out.


This is a yellow variety but coconuts are everywhere.

Rain forest.

Of course in rain forest it sometimes rains but this almost enhances the beauty of the rivers (as long as you have a mac).

Steve's first fish.

This fine snook took on the troll and fought like stink.  Although it looks a bit stiff it was returned unharmed.

Crevalle jack.

I still think that these are just about the most powerful fish, pound for pound, in the sea (or in this case the river).