The largest fly fishing event in the history of Belize gears up for its July 24th kickoff.
What is it about bonefish, permit and tarpon that make them so damn addicting? Unless you don’t have a pulse, once you catch one, you’re pretty much ruined. As soon as you release any one of these three fish, the itch to catch the next one starts and the never-ending vicious cycle has begun.
Catching all three species in a single day is referred to as a slam and while this highly coveted angling feat can occur in many destinations around the world, the tiny country of Belize arguably offers the best odds. Recognizing the economic and environmental importance of sustaining their resource, in 2009 Belize announced all three species as catch-and-release only — the first country in the world to do so. Coincidentally, the same year, Tres Pescados Fly Shop owner, James Oliver started the Tres Pescados Slam Tournament as a way to promote sustainable sport fishing in Belize.
In 2011, after a couple successful years of running the tournament, Oliver passed the torch and the shop keys to Wil Flack, a British Columbia native who grew up blocks away from the union of rivers and ocean. Flack, a salmon, steelhead and trout junkie developed an obsession for Belize (and its fish) on his first visit to the country. “On day two of my first trip, I knew that I had to live there sooner than later. So, when the opportunity to acquire the shop and tournament came about, I didn’t even have to think about it.” says Flack.
Based out of San Pedro on Ambergris Caye, the 2014 Tres Pescados Slam Tournament gears up for its July 24 kickoff. San Pedro started as a quaint fishing village but through time, it has developed into a major tourist destination for anglers, divers and eco-tourists. Voted as Trip Advisor’s #1 Island for two consecutive years, Ambergris Caye is a stones throw away from the world’s second largest barrier reef which consistently provides visitors with an absolutely world class shallow water inshore fishery. For big game enthusiasts, plenty of pelagic species such as sailfish, tuna, dolphin and marlin cruise the waters outside the reef.
In terms of the tournament, from 5:30 a.m. to 2: p.m., anglers will fish the flats with the main objective of catching a grand slam over the course of three days. To earn points, participants are to display daily issued ID tags with their catches in photos that will be downloaded and reviewed at the end of each fishing day. This year’s event will mark the largest fly fishing tournament in the history of Belize and is the only tournament of its kind on the planet. While the spirit of competition will be heavy in the air, the goal of conservation and preservation is the real focus of the tournament. Organizations such as Green Reef Belize, Bonefish & Tarpon Trust and the Carlos Marin Foundation all have benefitted from tournament proceeds. From last year’s funds, the tournament is donating the first ever sport fishing patrol boat to local law enforcement to combat poaching and overfishing around San Pedro.
The Tres Pescados Slam Tournament would not be possible without their great sponsors:
Simms Fishing Products, Belize Tourism Board, Tropic Air, Belize Coastal Zone Management Authority & Institute, Victoria House Ambergris Caye Belize, Marelco, Tangelo, Belizefly.com, Scott Fly Rods, El Pescador, Holiday Hotel, Yellow Dog Fly Fishing Adventures, Hatch Reels, Costa and Belize Border Management Agency.