Barothy Legacy

scan00171The story of the Barothy fishing legacy began in 1910 during summers in Walhalla, Michigan on the banks of the Pere Marquette River. That’s where Vic Barothy, Sr. and his brother Fred, the sons of a well-to-do Chicago doctor and an artist mother, learned to love the outdoors and fishing.

Their father, Dr. Arpad Barothy, a Hungarian immigrant and neurosurgeon, purchased the land on the Pere Marquette for family fishing and hunting expeditions.

After many years of entertaining friends and family, first in tents, and then in cabins, Dr. Barothy decided to make use of the mineral springs on the land, and start a spa-style resort – it was the start of the first Barothy Lodge.

Barothy Lodge, Walhalla, Michigan

When WWII broke out, Vic, Sr. enlisted in the Coast Guard, based in Miami. While on duty in 1943, he spotted land that he liked on Windley Key – halfway between Miami and Key West. There was good inshore fishing for bonefish, tarpon and barracuda, and trolling in the gulf stream for wahoo, snapper, grouper and pan fish. After the war, he purchased that land, in the town of Islamorada, and turned over the Michigan resort to his brother Fred.

In the late 40’s, Vic, Sr. met Betty Cooper who came down to the lodge on vacation.  A Pittsburgh transplant, and a divorcee with two girls, Betty was a graduate of Carnegie Tech, and a teacher in Miami.  Apparently, it was love at first site, and after marrying, they formed the team that would dominate the sportsfishing hospitality industry for the next 25 years. Vic trained the guides and planned the fishing excursions. Betty ran the lodges, provisioned the boats, supervised the cooks, and planned the meals from hors d’oeuvres to dessert.

Barothy Lodge

Barothy Lodge, Islamorada, Florida

After several years in Islamorada, which included the birth of their son, Vic Jr, the Barothy’s picked up stakes in 1951 to explore the fishing in the Isle of Pines, off the southwestern corner of Cuba.

Barothy Caribbean Lodge - Isla de Pinos, Cuba

Barothy Caribbean Lodge - Isla de Pinos, Cuba

Within a few years the new Cuban resort at the mouth of the Jucaro River had grown to include 8 houseboats, 23 skiffs, 15 thatched-roof and brick cabins, and a main lodge.

All of the top anglers of the day came to fish at Barothy’s Lodge, including Ted Williams, Lefty Kreh and Hib Johnson.

Vic Jr. spent his first 8 years on the Isle of Pines, attending the American School in the closest town of Nuevo Gerona, and learning how to fish and command his first boat at the age of 5 –  an 8′ rowboat.

During the Summer of 1960, at the height of the Castro agitation in the country, Vic Sr. sent Betty and Vic Jr. back to Miami. Despite a guard force that Castro stationed at the mouth of the Jucaro, Vic Sr. managed to persuade the Cuban authorities to let him take two of the houseboats out of Cuban waters on a fishing trip to British Honduras (present day Belize). While he was away, the Cuban barbudos sacked the camp. Vic and Betty lost the lodge, boats, skiffs, and all their personal possesions.  (The land is presently a Cuban military post and the island is now called Isla de Juventud.)

Vic, Sr. in Cuba with stepdaughter Susie & tarpon

Vic, Sr. in Cuba with stepdaughter Susie & tarpon

And, with that, the Barothy’s came to British Honduras. The first lodge was nine miles up the Belize River from Belize City. Later, an outpost camp was added at Caye Boekl on the Turneff Reef, 24 miles offshore. Out there the sheltered waters are crowded with bonefish, tarpon, snook, grouper, snapper and jacks. In the ocean depths beyond the drop-off swim wahoo, kingfish and billfish. A third outpost camp was built on Spanish Caye.

Barothy Caribbean Lodge - Belize

Barothy Caribbean Lodge - Belize

Vic and Betty Barothy passed away in the 1970’s, but their legacy – and that of Dr. Arpad Barothy and Fred Barothy – has lived on with Vic, Jr.

After 18 successful years running his own light-tackle fishing, scuba and flyfishing operation in Belize, with his 36′ Grand Banks Lucretia B. – Vic. Jr. has returned to the US to see what the fresh waters of the Mid-Atlantic have to offer – while keeping an eye on what develops in Cuba in the coming years.

Vic Barothy, Sr.

Vic Barothy, Sr.

Betty Barothy

Betty Barothy

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