Editor's note: Contributor Gary Giudice, who penned Wannabe Trout Bums for ESPNOutdoors.com, is traveling to Belize in an attempt at the fly fishing Grand Slam, a permit, bonefish and tarpon on fly all on the same day. He'll offer reports following his quest.
AMBERGRIS CAYE, Belize "What's a nice girl like you doing in a place like this," I asked.
OK, not a very original line but this time an honest question.
Lori-Ann Murphy is the fishing and guest relation's host for one of the best fishing and most famous lodges in the tropics, El Pescador Lodge in the Central American country of Belize.
She has Hollywood good looks, the personality of a diplomat and fishing prowess of Lefty Krey all rolled into one.
And she loves her job. Some folks just have it all. It just doesn't seem right, does it? I'm told they interviewed 170 people before hiring her.
"Sure, I love my job. I have the best guides to work with and I live in paradise," she said. "I get to fish as much as I want and I meet some of the best people from all over the world!"
Lori-Ann is all over the place. Early each morning she's at the dock. I think she's looking for anyone with a puzzled look because she loves to solve fishing problems.
Every new guest goes through an orientation. She tells them what's happening now, what they have in store for the next few days and even how best to communicate with the guides.
She meets most every boat that comes in at night, asking them how they did and what they caught. She listens to every fishing story like she's never heard one before. She truly cares.
Once she even hired on to teach Meryl Streep and Kevin Bacon to fly fish for the movie "The River Wild." So help me here. If everybody is six degrees from Kevin Bacon, what's that make Lori-Ann? Or us for that matter?
Back in 1989 she was the first woman to be named an Orvis-Endorsed fly-fishing guide. She has served as a consultant to several fly fishing tackle and equipment manufacturers and makes educational and promotional presentations at sport shows and fly-fishing clubs all over the United States. Lori-Ann Murphy definitely has her stuff all together in a very neat pile.
Yesterday I was heading to the Savanna flats with the guide, Emir, driving the ponga. Waves were at least three feet high and the flat bottom boat made for a brutal ride.
Looking up ahead I see another guide boat, poling platform in the back and a caster on deck. The closest land is miles away. There was Lori-Ann casting a way to rolling tarpon, smiling ear to ear. Most of us could not have been standing in the boat much less make those casts.
Casting in the winds of Belize takes some practice. If you work fish directly down wind, no problem. But what if a good pod of tarpon come in at 9 o'clock (a right angle on the left side). There they are 60 feet out with a 20-knot wind.
Some guys can cast to them, some cannot. I am one who cannot. Lori-Ann is one who can.
Many use a back cast method that sometimes even works for me. Simply cast opposite of the fish then let the fly fall on the back cast.
It's a saltwater deal that I've never seen used fresh water fly-fishing. I'm sure some do but I've only felt the need out here on the flats. Even then I seem to screw it up much of the time. Big rods help, at least a ten weight but they wear you down quickly.
Flats fly-fishing can be the most frustrating activity many of us will ever face in the great out doors.
Lori-Ann has a philosophy about it.
"The joy is always learning something new, and taking with us what we have learned along the way. Cast to your dreams," she says.
OK it may sound a little corny to you but if it does you have never fished the shallow waters in paradise.