When winter sets in with single-degree temperatures and a cold wind that chills you to the bone, it’s only natural to start thinking about someplace warm. Thanks to my best friend Rick Messmer, every February I start dreaming of the salt. The salt is where winter dreams turn into a heated reality; where hot sticky days are followed by hot sticky nights; where the tug on your fly line may mean a new species of fish, and that same fish may run you to your backing… a few times. It’s also where the sun rises and sets over the water with all the glory and intensity of Fourth of July fireworks. By the end of the week, your shoulder is so sore that you can hardly cast, your lips are chapped, and the equatorial sun has burned at least three parts of your body. You’ve drank too much local beer and way too many rum and Fantas. Above all, though, you’ve experienced a new part of the world, immersed yourself in a new culture, made great memories with new friends and old, laughed until you couldn’t laugh anymore, and staved off that winter chill for a couple more months.
Over the past few years I travelled to Belize, Christmas Island, and Hawaii. The Belize and Christmas Island trips were “boyz” trips and we were there specifically to fly fish. My wife and I visited Hawaii for our five-year anniversary so we surfed, kayaked, hiked, and sat on the beach, but we made some time to cruise the flats, too. Of course, my camera was never too far away! With no salt trip planned this year, I can only look back at photos and remember the warm ocean breezes, the flash of the bonefish, the colors of the coral, the taste of freshly-caught blacktail tuna sashimi melting in my mouth, the smell of saltwater mixed with fish slime mixed with sweat, the beauty of the love of my life reading on the beach, and the heart-pounding excitement of landing a fish that ripped my 9-weight line through the surf as if it was thread.
Here are some of my favorite photos from Belize. I will follow them up with some pictures from Christmas Island and Hawaii in subsequent posts. Keep dreaming… summer will be here soon!!