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Fly Fishing the South

SWAIN’S CAY LODGE AND ISLAND HOTEL

On The Fly Saltwater

Featured photo by Jimmy Jacobs.

By Claude Preston III

Earlier this year in the cold depths of February, I was sitting at my desk working away as my mind slowly drifted back to what it was like to travel to Belize and cover Turneffe Flats the year before. Yes, the corporate world of my past, had drawn me back and with that, my opportunity to travel had greatly diminished. I had been on shorter, closer trips since then, but had just not made it back to tropical climates where some of my most prized targeted species dwell. Later that month, I called and touched base with the crew at Turneffe just to check in on some of the projects going on, and learned that as I expected, things had not slowed down.

Turneffe Flats is highly regarded in the fly-fishing community and widely celebrated for its efforts in sustaining the local fisheries, while leaving as small of a footprint as they possibly can. In fact, Turneffe Flats has won numerous Green Globe Awards for their efforts in sustainability. Since supply runs are made only twice a week, owner Craig Hayes makes it a priority to be as self-sufficient as they can be. Rainwater is Turneffe’s primary source of freshwater, and checks are made weekly to maintain safe drinking water standards. In efforts to cut down on water usage from their primary source, low-flush toilets were added to minimize water consumption and they are serviced with brackish water from a shallow well. In an effort to kick plastic, all sodas and beer are purchased in returnable bottles and they do not purchase water in plastic bottles. Turneffe Flats is considered ‘’off grid‘’ and is totally dependent upon their own power sources. Up until recently, the resort was completely powered with diesel generators and they had to continually monitor the power loads to meet the needs of the lodge, all while regulating the use of diesel.

The purpose of my trip this time down there this time was to get a look at the new state of the art solar panel field that will take on the heavy workload of handling the power needs for an all-star eco-resort. The owners of Turneffe Flats, Craig and Karen Hayes, have always been very “hands on” when it comes to the lodge and its projects. This mantra is evident in the staff at Turneffe as well.

Fly Fishing the South

The new solar field at Turneffe Flats. Photo by Claude Preston III

During my trip down, I had the opportunity to sit down and chat with the team from Gietzen Solar. They said it had been a great experience to work on this project with Turneffe Flats because the staff had been so hands-on. On a couple of afternoons, I saw the General Manager, Jad, and you could easily tell he had been working in the solar field. The solar field where the panels were being installed was on a back lot, out of eyesight and earshot from lodge guests. It is impressively large, with 288 photovoltaic solar panels generating power that is stored in more than 40 lithium ion batteries. These batteries then supply direct current to a wall of converters that transform it into alternating current, making it ready to meet the needs of the lodge. It is estimated that the new solar panels will provide enough power to handle 75 to 80 percent of the lodge needs and lead to drastic cuts in the yearly expenses of the operation.

Turneffe Flats does not let the progress interfere with their first class hosptality. Outside of the guests that come down in singles and doubles, Turneffe also welcomes larger groups. An impressive lineup of fly shops and guides around the world bring groups down on hosted trips many times throughout the year. During my trip down there this year I had the pleasure of sitting down with Jenny Tates, an industry veteran who makes time to introduce other women to the sport of fly fishing. Jenny grew up just outside of Boston, fishing the coast of New England with her Dad. She said that while her very first fish on the fly rod was a bonefish, it was really the striped bass from her home waters that helped her become the angler she is today. Jenny is the founder of FlyandFlow.

Fly Fishing the South

The ladies of FlyandFlow on the dock at Turneffe Flats. Photo by Claude Preston III.

FlyandFlow is about connecting and encouraging more women to get on the water and tap into fly-fishing. From our time together it was really evident that this sport has deep roots in Jenny and really moves her. When I asked her about what drives that feeling she summed it up perfectly. “Every time I stand on the bow with a fly rod in hand, I feel empowered.”. It was a feeling she wanted other women to experience and share with her.

FlyandFlow hosted trips are specifically designed for women who are new to fly-fishing. In fact, most of her groups are women who have never picked up a fly rod or have been out only a handful of times. She has a great motto. All Jenny asks is that you bring a positive attitude and good vibes.

After chatting with Jenny, it also was evident why she chose Turneffe Flats. The lodge has one of the best reputations in the fly-fishing world spanning its quality of fishing for both beginners and advanced anglers, to its accommodations. Jenny went on to add that Turneffe was exceptional when it came to communication, hospitality, and nutrition as well. Turneffe Flats is very laid back and there is the option to fish out front of the lodge from sun up to sun down, literally as much as you want or as little as you want. I can report that all the ladies on the trip caught multiple bonefish, and a couple of permit were caught as well. One of the bones was well over 7 pounds.

Fly Fishing the South

The author with one of his favored quarry. Photo courtesy of Claude Preston III,

As for my trip, with the numerous species to chase, still I tend to gravitate to permit whenever I can. There is just something about the hunting of permit. For me, there are few things that rival the feeling of having one push over to a perfectly presented fly with its nose down, whether it takes the offering or not.

For more information on connecting with fellow lady anglers or learning about FlyandFlow hosted trips, check them out at flyandflow.net More details on Turneffe Flats is available at tflats.com, or via telephone, call their U.S. number at 888-512-8812.

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