Fishing Report #3
February 11 – 18, 2024

Bill Stroh & Guide with ESB Permit

It’s hard to believe we’ve wrapped up our 3rd week of the season down here at ESB.  The lodge has shaken free of the opening phase and has settled into a comfortable groove that will carry us the next 35 weeks.  It always takes a moment or two to dial in details with new guides, update buying lists, menu adjustments, and the small little glitches that seem to hide and surface when you least expect it.  We run full steam from day one, but consistency breeds the well oiled machine that ESB has become.

Super fun crew last week led by Grizzly Hackle Fly Shop owner Brenden Bannigan.  Crawling out of the Missoula Montana dregs of winter these guys were hot and ready to fish.  Our dear friend Bill Stroh joined us for his annual pilgrimage, one he has been making since we opened our doors in 2017.  As a fellow Michigan man there’s an unspoken bond forged between us and it’s always great catching up over a glass of rum in the Palapa.

Hard charging and high energy oozed from the group, and it seemed infectious.  My staff doubled down; the guides enthusiastically hit the flats, and it was an incredibly fun week for all.

ESB Angler with Snook

The group did very well for their six days of fishing.  We had a mixed bag of wind direction and a couple days of so-so conditions.  Outside of that visibility was excellent and we’re having more fish pour into the system as temps seem to be climbing.  Permit were the key focus for the group and I’m thankful bay conditions catered well  and showed us plenty of fish.  As a carryover from the previous week we started out with easterly winds.  This kept us moving to flats that covered the southern shoreline.  You could be into permit less than 10 minutes out of the gate.  Starting around the boca of Red lagoon working west to the tip/end of Tabascanoes all held fish.  Schools, singles, doubles, small schools, shallow water, deep water all had fish.  There’s a very healthy tide right now pushing water in and dumping fast.  My favorite permit tide is lower in the am but incoming with a high around midday and smooth drop later in the day.  You’re working different water columns throughout the day and a lot of times you’ll come back to the same place in the afternoon that you started in the morning.  Bill Stroh and Steve Dunn started out with a bang on David’s boat.  They boated 6 the first day and the rest of the group added another 4.  Solid start in my book and it makes you a little leery when things start this strong.  Momentum continued and we were able to land a permit every day of the week and more importantly everyone in the group landed fish.  As the week wore on we were hit with more northernly winds which pushed us more north and focusing outside of river one down to Rio Locos.  Nando and his son got Bill Stroh into a big fish outside of Rio Locos.  Solid single cruising in the shallows.  It’s as classic as it gets.  It seemed some of the northern flats held more schools of mixed sized fish and also were mixed with a variety of jacks, snappers, and runners.  Bannigan brothers hit nice fish in the western part of the bay situated exactly halfway between river four and tip of Tabascanoes.  Brenden held the high permit rod for the week with a total of 7.  We covered outside the bay working north just above the small fishing village of Maria Alena.  Schools of smaller fish mixed with a single or two kept things busy  Max Wolf fished with his father Ken for the week and boated a few.  Max fished with Alex his last day and completed a personal best and grand slam.  Alex also had David Paoli and Tab Bannigan deep southwest one morning and they had fish moving through for the better half of 4 hours….  You’ll see me spitting all these different locations and quick highlights but it really boils down to the amount of fish that have pushed in.  No matter where we went at least couple boats were on fish.  I will not share the group total of fish but it was impressive and kudos to my hard working guides that make this all come together.

ESB Angler with Permit

Tarpon and snook were backburner for the week with how the tide played out. Same drill, work mangroves at the lows and hope we find them cruising the edges.  Ken Wolf had a fun day with Nando deep inside river one working west.  They jumped a total of five and saw more. Sunken boat on the northside holds our local tarpon and if the timing was right, you had shots.  This little cove is probably one the most known tarpon spots in the bay so it sees some pressure but they are always there.  Jory Dellinger and David Paoli had Luis and Charly take them down to river five the last day.  It’s by far one of my favorite pieces of water and is primarily a tarpon and snook system that goes forever deep into the Jungle.  Aside from the incredible birdlife, it can be very productive with the willing angler.  It’s a massive run to the end of five and you feel like you’re on the set of Apocalypse Now.  They found tarpon, the occasional snook and experienced some crafty techniques with casting.  Bow and arrow, side arm, roll cast, and reach casts are required and we focus on finesse rather than bombing hail Mary’s like we seem to do with permit.  Tab and Brenden were a little further west of Tasacanoes with Alex and they saw a couple fish laid up that in turn were big snook.  It translated to a fun couple hours of finding more snook and landing 3-4 impressive fish.

Our bonefish were around and anyone that took the time to chase these little missiles was always rewarded.  Brenden brought an 8-foot 7weight glass rod to play with.  3-4 lb. Fish on glass!?  Yes, please and keep it coming with the nonstop fun this produces.  I’ll always say it, but we have simply the best bonefishing in all of Mexico.  When our guides suggest you throw to one cruising by jump on it.  This is also checks the box and moves you in the direction of landing 3 or 4 of our main targets in one day.  You all know and understand what this means.  Small tip for the photo hounds, never pass up a bonefish picture you might need the proof later…

Weather was mostly pleasant medium wind with only a couple days with heavier cloud cover.  Tides were incoming in the am and dropping after lunch.

Spawning shrimp, ESB crabs, squimps, and ragheads ALL caught permit for the week.

Normal toads, EP’s, and sardine patterns took care of snook and tarpon

Bonefish munched any properly presented shrimp pattern sizes #2 – #8.

Bill Stroh & Guide with Permit

Chef Luis and sous chef Angel rocked the kitchen and overfed the crew with a dizzying array of superb cuisine.  These guys are putting out food with a gastronomical gusto that I’m very proud of.  I slipped and probably indulged in too much food, but it’s so hard when it’s so darn good!  On our to-do list for the day is installing a brand new industrial stove for the kitchen which has been suggested to me for the better half of 6 months.  Chef convinced me it that it’ll open new doors for even better food for our guests.  I’m scared and find myself reaching for heartburn medicine as I spiral towards indigestion from so much rich food.

Emmanuel and our dream team of house staff took care of the grounds, bar, and every conceivable thing one normally takes for granted.  If you don’t notice it, it’s because these guys are on it and making sure everything is comfortable and in working order.

ESB Angler with Permit

The ESB engines are roaring and we’re heading into what looks like one of our better weather weeks of the year.  It was chilly this morning hitting mid 60’s.  I woke up last night and shut off my ac with the cold creeping in.  My poor dogs were freezing and decided that two human bodies and three canines on the bed was a good way to address this.  We’ve got some familiar faces this week (like every week) and it’s a blast picking up where we left off from the previous season.

My job list is just swamped with lodge life and the rapidly growing El Saltamontes lodge in Chile.  We’re running in every direction and I have about 40 plus orders headed to Miami where shipping containers are waiting to make the journey over to Santiago and down to Patagonia.  This is going to be a good one, we feel it, and we want you all to come check it out.  Watch for upcoming press releases from our friends over at The Fly Shop and make sure you get on the list to join us next year.

Despite whatever workload your facing for the upcoming week make sure you take the time to get outside, enjoy the last quarter of winter, and focus on natural beauty around you.  Conserve and protect our natural resources and enjoy them to their fullest extent.

Let’s catch up again next week, same time, same place, for the next report.

Dane & Chiara Emerson

Saludos desde el Caribe Mexicano,
Dane, Chiara, Negri, Canela, Lucia

800-669-3474530-222-3555 | | ESB Lodge

ESB Lodge night shot