Fishing Report #1
February 09 – 16, 2020
Greetings Esb Lodge Anglers & Fans,
We’re excited to be back here at ESB Lodge and have completed our first week of the 2020 season. We had 8 anglers join us February 2nd and enjoyed hosting returning guests Bill and Laine Forester. Jim Bartschi and Theresa Montano also joined us for the week. Jim Bartschi is the president of Scott Fly rods based out of Montrose Colorado. I’ve enjoyed knowing Jim for years now and it was a pleasure having him return for his second trip to ESB. I am also excited to announce we have added to our lodge fleet of Scott Meridians the new award-winning Sector series for saltwater enthusiasts. Jim is undoubtedly one of the best rod builders and designers in the world and we are huge fans of Scott rods in any application whether fishing salt or fresh. We also had a last-minute opening that resulted in Ed Chamberlain and Jeff Lowe getting a chance to try out our wonderful fishery.
Chiara and I enjoyed our time off since last November and spent 6 weeks traveling around Patagonia fishing, relaxing, and hosting. We had a blast filling a week of guests at another exclusive destination of The Fly Shop, El Saltamontes lodge. This part of Chilean Patagonia boasts some of the best dry fly fishing I have yet to experience in years of traveling around Patagonia. Our group was the first for their season and we had the opportunity to target fish that had not seen a fly in 9 months. We’ve decided to put together another week of hosting at this world class operation during the next winter months and please stay tuned or feel free to reach and inquire about our hosted weeks.
Our opening week here was a breezy one but the guides and me were happy with the results and what we saw was a good start to another great season here on the bay.
Our fishing for the week was a good representation of what one should expect when visiting this part of the Yucatan during the mid to late winter season. We saw varied wind directions that started out from the north and gradually worked itself to a strong southeast breeze that concluded the week. It was windy with an average wind speed at 15 MPH but reached 25 -30 MPH at certain points. Aside from being windy there were a couple days where visibility was good, and guests enjoyed visuals and successful fishing. This time of year is not known for large numbers of permit but the guides felt there were more permit in the bay than last year at this time. Our water temps seem to be a littler warmer than average and we were able to find decent protection while still getting opportunities in the far west regions of the Bahia. Michael Hostetler was able to land his first two permit with guia Victor and his boat partner Ed Chamberlain added another 2 later in the week. We saw good numbers of smaller permit mixed with bonefish, Jacks, and the occasional triggerfish. Most of our permit landed for the week were smaller and found in similar schools. Jim Bartschi and Theresa were also able to contribute another 3 permit for a group total of 7 permit landed with 8 guests for our first week. One thing we notice with windy conditions is the aggressive feeding behavior of larger permit tailing in shallower water. Reasons behind this could be the amount of small crabs and occasional shrimp that are stirred up. Guests will also enjoy pursuit of these fish on foot and can usually get into a comfortable range to cast. None of the larger permit we saw for the week were in large schools but singles and doubles moving through flats located in the far corners of the bay. We had a number of heartbreaking loses with larger permit (15+ pounds) due to hook sets, opened hooks, and unexplainable moments where crab flies dislodged themselves from a suitable point in the permits mouth. Jim Bartshci, Troy Bazzoni, and Jeff Lowe had the unfortunate loses of these larger fish. We see time to time permit that eat crab flies can be more difficult to hook and it can be difficult to detect moments where permit tip up and eat a slowly stripped or stopped crab. When permit eat shrimp patterns, we see more aggressive takes that result in a premature hook set aided by the eat. Regardless of the reasons… it’s never an easy reality to swallow in the aftermath of such desired hook up.
Our snook fishing was consistent and we were able to find decent numbers outside of our river 4/5 system as well as outside the second river when there was a north wind. Laine Forester enjoyed landing a large snook with guia Alex. Most of other guests were able to have good success in landing a snook throughout the week. My experience with these fish is the inconsistency they can display with willingness to eat a fly. I have seen these incredible game fish act very moody and results in multiple fly changes with follows that still leave anglers empty handed. Jeff Lowe and Troy Brazzoni experienced a morning where good numbers of fish were spotted but refused many color/style changes. Later in the week they threw at fish that were not committed to any particular color and readily ate any well-presented fly.
We had low tides for much of the week and were able to see a fair number tarpon outside mangrove lined shoreline located in the northwest corner of the bay. Bill Forester was able to hook up and land a beautiful resident fish on a baitfish fly he tied himself.
Bonefish were around in good numbers and the group was able to land some very healthy fish at 5 pounds or bigger. I try not bragging or ranting about our bonefish, but we are really enjoying a world class fishery for bones due to conservation efforts supported by local fisherman and the Sian Ka’an Reserve. Myself, along with returning guests, and guides continue to see these fish grow consistently bigger each year. I am encouraging guests to take a moment and chase this fish. Pound for pound a large bonefish is a treat any saltwater angler would enjoy. Another perk we have is the willingness this fish have to eat flies. They have been caught on all manner of shrimp, crabs, and tarpon/snook flies ties off on 60 lb. We have seen every week guests fishing backcountry systems hunting cruising snook and laid up tarpon to stumble on a 5-7 pound bonefish. When clarity isn’t in our favor, we can’t always distinguish the species ahead of the boat other than it’s a sizable fish. When distance gives way to recognition of species it’s often to late to change out rods and anglers must present their offerings in hand. It has been fantastic to watch these larger backcountry bonefish attack and eat larger baitfish flies.
Weather for the week was windy with a sustained speed of 15 MPH that had gusts upward reaching in the high 20s. There was a mixture of clarity that coincided with partly sunny days. We had a minimal to no rain and guests did enjoy one bluebird day with no clouds. Our tides were very low for the week with an outgoing tide starting the week and an incoming tide towards the end of the week. We see these tides reflect on inconsistent wind directions. We experienced wind directions coming from all directions except west. Our strongest wind was from the east.
Our usual permit flies worked well. Spawning shrimp and #2 tan Squimp. The white Casa Blanca raghead tied with yellow eyes is becoming a staple in our permit boxes and I hold this fly to the caliber of our success seen with Squimp.
It was hard to decide on an outstanding snook fly. All manners of EP style baitfish in color schemes blk/purple, chartreuse/white, white/grey, blue/white worked. Chartreuse toads also worked well. Tarpon were caught on same fly patterns as snook and were generally less selective.
Bonefish were eager to eat any patterns but most success was had by smaller shrimp patterns sizes #4-#8.
We have some pleasant changes for the upcoming season in our kitchen. ESB has been known over the years to delivery incredible dishes that far exceed guests expectations. While maintaining a high level of quality cuisine we have brought on a classically trained chef that has traveled the globe working, designing, and running kitchens. Chef Martin Emmanuel Climent (Ema) is now in charge of our culinary program and studied at one the best culinary institutes in the America’s, Instituto Argentino De Gastronomia. Chef Ema’s background will work well in our daily strive to deliver great food with emphasis on freshness, authenticity, and a compliment to our great days on the water. Returning guests will see traditional dishes we’ve enjoyed in the past that will reflect a unique style. We gave a sample run of our updated menu last week and it was very well received by guests. Daily fresh breads, variations of ceviches, slow roasted pork, and fish cooked in many different styles, and desserts that are reflective of many Central and South American cultures. I am very proud at what we have developed into from a culinary standpoint and it takes great restraint to poking my head into either of our kitchens to sample our dishes throughout the day. Alongside and acting as sous chef we have brought on local Carlos Alejandro Rameriez Pereira. Carlos will be transitioning into head chef this up coming August and has years of experience running fine dining establishments in the foodie circles of Merida, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum. His passion for re creating incredible Mayan dishes is delivered with pride and passion to a long-lasting heritage.
We are looking forward to our second week here at ESB and have a great group of friends that have been fishing with us in the year’s past. Our weather continues to hold strong winds, but we should see a good amount of sunshine mid-week. I am looking forward to seeing all of our returning friends this season and welcome those that will be joining us for their first time. This is a treasured fishery and ESB has morphed into one the most sought out saltwater destinations in the world. Alongside with our dear friends at The Fly Shop we are looking at a 37 week season that is booked out 100% for 2020. That being said please take the time to check your fly boxes, updated needed gear and prepare yourselves for a great season.
Always feel free to reach out to The Fly Shop to get the new updates for ESB regrading fly lists, itinerary changes, and things to expect heading this way. I hope everyone has an enjoyable week and please stay tuned for our weekly reports.
All our best,
Saludos desde el Caribe Mexicana