by Capt Bob Koliner

    Captain Gene picked me up at the Belize airport, and we drove down to Stann Creek town in his tattered old pickup truck which we proceeded to load up with supplies along the way. There were plenty of foodstuffs - sacks of rice, beans, flour, sugar, and cans and cans of everything. Fresh fruit also came aboard by the bag full. Oh, and yes, we added a case of rum and a couple of cases of beer.

    When we got to Stann Creek town, we transferred all our supplies from the truck to Kelly's boat and set off to the Caye. Man, it looked like a tropical paradise, even from a distance, with palm trees laden with coconuts and surrounded by clear, azure water.

We tied up to a little dock and made several trips back and forth to the house with the supplies. It was a pleasant walk from the dock on the bay side to the house which faced the open sea, the Caribbean. You can stand on the front porch and see the deep blue water on the other side of the reef.

     The most beautiful place on the face of the earth that I've ever seen was South Water Caye, Belize. I fished there a couple of times in the ate 60's and early

70's with Captain Gene Kelly, who ran the only fishing camp in the area. Here's how the first trip went.

     When all the stuff was in the house, I went back to the boat for my personal gear, and began to assemble my rods. I got a light spin rig together, snapped on a salty dog, and took a few casts. A salty dog is a pink rubber shrimp tail on a pink jig head, and was a very popular lure for Long Island weakfish. On cast four or cast five, something jumped on the jig, and started screeching out drag. When I got him to the dock, looked in the water, and saw a bonefish, my eyeballs almost fell out of my head. Imagine that! My first bonefish! In two minutes of blind casting from a boat that was tied to the dock. On a Salty Dog, yet. Oh, boy.

     I raced back to the house to tell Capt. Kelly - "I caught a bonefish!" I panted. He never even looked up from what he was doing. "Oh, yea - there's a million of them out on the flats outside" he said. "We'll catch plenty"

We did, too. In the days to come, we caught them on jigs, we caught them on bait, and we caught them on flies. Fantastic.

What we fished for mostly, though, was grouper and snapper. We would go out in the boat in the morning, and fish with tiny jigs for blue runners or small yellowtails. They would go in the live well. Then we would break out the heavy rods, 4/0 stuff, and tie a large single hook on the end of the 50 lb. mono. A live blue runner or yellowtail was hooked through the lips and slowly trolled about 50 or 60 feet behind the boat. It was very exciting fishing.

    When something big came up after the baits, you got to see the action. Big grouper and big snapper would come up and snatch the bait right off the surface. Then you had to give him time to eat, but you had to hit him and turn him before he got back down to one of the many coral caves and crannies on the bottom. When you hit him, with the drag socked up, it felt like he was going to yank you right out of the boat.

Barracuda, too, would attack a surface swimming bait. They were not abundant enough to be a nuisance, but only added to the fishing excitement. Sometimes a 'cuda would slash up and bite a bait in half. Then he would swim off with the tail half. If you quickly switched to free spool, and dropped the head half of the bait, still bleeding and twitching, and let it sink down, down deep, a grouper or snapper might grab it before it hit the bottom. It was almost as if the big lazy grouper or snapper would follow the 'cuda around, waiting for it to bite something in half, waiting for an easy meal.

Each day on South Water Caye was a new adventure. We fished inshore, we fished offshore, we fished bait, we fished lures. We caught dozens of different kinds of fish. But soon, too soon, it was time to go home.

    On departure day Capt. Kelly and I were having a delicious breakfast prepared by his housekeeper and cook, Cecelia, who was born and raised here. I was sad because I was leaving. "This place is Paradise on Earth" I said to Cecelia. "You are so lucky to live here". I went on and on about it.

     Finally Cecelia voiced her opinion. "It's nice here", she said, "but me and my boyfriend, we are saving all our money. We want to move to Chicago."












(mostly true)



THE PATCHMEN                                          by Capt Gene Kelly

GUATEMALA LIGHT                                     by Capt Gene Kelly

PARADISE ON EARTH                                   by Capt Bob Koliner

GUATEMALA GUY'S TRIP                             by Capt Gene Kelly

FOUR DAYS IN PANAMA                                by Capt Gene Kelly

ONE MAGIC NIGHT                                         by Capt Bob Koliner

THE GREAT WHITE SHARK ROBBERY          by Capt Gene Kelly

THE RAGING QUEEN                                       by Capt Gene Kelly


COSTA RICA TARPON - CIRCA 1972                 by Capt Gene Kelly

JUST ANOTHER FISH STORY                            by Capt Gene Kelly

RETURN TO COSTA RICA                                 by Capt Gene Kelly

MONTAUK                         Artcle in Marlin magazine September 2011

COSTA RICA - IT’S NOT JUST FISHING           by Capt Gene Kelly

Check out these great fishing locations;


Capt Gene Kelly

Tropical Fishing Adventures

PO Box 2104, Montauk, NY, 11954

631 668 2019


Meet Capt Gene Kelly