Fishing Report #4
February 18 – 25, 2024

ESB Crocodile on the beach

We’ve concluded our 4th week of the season here at ESB. It’s been a busy one, hectic around the lodge, incredible weather, and guests busy catching plenty of fish. If one had to choose from a menu of variable conditions to fish, this last week would be top choice. Light winds, sporadic high clouds, full sun all was had for our 6 days of fishing. It really doesn’t get better than that. We had a smaller group, six total for the week with 2 anglers opting to fish as single occupancy guests. A couple of our guests have been with us since we opened in 2017 and it’s always rewarding seeing familiar faces pile off the plane at our jungle airstrip on Sunday.

Lots of fun, some personal bests, first slams, first permit etc. was a smidgen of the week’s happenings. Plenty of good food, maybe too much vino, and fun dinners that went up in decibels by the time I took the drink order. Classic ESB lodge at its best serving up still one of the best flats fishing destinations in the Caribbean.

ESB Angler with bonefish

We’re on a roll with good weather and great permit fishing. The wind directions are still a little squirrelly but when it’s blowing at a minimum it doesn’t matter to much in the bay. Healthy numbers of fish are around, and we’re well stocked with schools of fish. Singles and doubles have been found in the normal haunts, typically a little shallower water and rays have been promising as well with a fish or two behind. All in all, it’s an absolute fantastic time for permit. Another week concluded and everyone was able to land at least one fish. Rodger Nye had a personal best week of landing permit every day. He was able to capitalize on fishing single and I was a little jealous of the opportunities our single anglers had for the week. Fishing single is a double edge sword in my opinion. You selfishly wish to have as many shots as you can, especially when the weather is beautiful. On the flip side when weather turns sour it becomes a monotonous mental trudge having no one to relieve you on the bow. Erol Akchurin had a hell of a week with two personal best permit and a couple others. Bigger fish starting at 15 lbs and bigger. He was fishing with Alex and Charly when he landed the big boys. Don Joost had a terrific week also a personal best with 5 fish landed total. One of my favorite moments of the week was with Jim Lintz and Lance Blanchard. These two rode on the coattails of Don Joost’s double occupancy slots and were excited to come down. They each had some experience in Belize but nothing in the way of permit fishing. They collectively landed their first permit together and also succeeded in landing a grand slam and super slam. It was a first followed by another first. I am ecstatic for these two anglers, and it goes to show the magic ESB can produce when the cards are right. Dear friend Mike Matus, back for his umpteenth trip was on board with our new guide Luis and caught some very nice fish rounding out a solid 3 for the week. It was a little dizzying to have the guides relay where they were fishing daily. Seemed like everywhere at some produced fish. Or even if someone didn’t land fish at least a couple boats saw and had multiple shots. Outside the bay working north (Maria Alena) held solid schools of 50 or more permit. These schools held a plethora of other species just enough to annoy you when a permit was homing in on your fly and then gets swiped by a jack. We’ve all been there. Outside sunken boat and inside Ensenada held plenty of fish. Guide Charly worked Ensenada hard for the week and this is the strongest that bay system has been for the last month. Our tarpon cut was a small highway with fish when conditions were right. Much larger fish were found here and a little harder to get. Midweek found us working the southern shoreline starting at Casitas past red buoy, through Tabascanoes. At the end of Tabascaones you’d find Nando and his son poling for bigger singles. Crossing over to river one and river three had our house schools of smaller fish also mixed with other species. End of the week we fished outside and south between the lighthouse and Punta Herrero as well as a nice school around the first bay to the left. Literally a five-minute ride in the am got you into a school. Pretty dreamy right now for permit fishing in the bay!

ESB Angler with Tarpon

We had some decent tarpon and snook fishing when tide was a little lower and those that wanted to focus on those had some decent shots. Tarpon and Snook master Nando had a stellar day with Mike Matus inside river one. He later took Jim and Lance in the same area running around a couple mangrove islands. The back side of 1 probably has been producing the most tarpon and snook for us in the last 2 weeks. Rodger was on the tarpon cut focusing on permit the last morning and had glass conditions that had him fishing floating crabs. A little nervous water with a cast to follow ended with an 80 -100 pound tarpon engulfing the crab. Short lived and probably a heart stopper. 16 lb. becomes a tough situation when you have one those at the end of your line.

ESB Angler with Permit

Our heroes of the bay – bonefish – were readily available to anyone that gave them the attention they deserved. While most focused on permit for the six days most guests grabbed a bonefish or two. Jim and Lance had a great time when permit slowed and easily landed north of 50 fish. All sight fishing, no mud. Pure and simple. It really doesn’t get more classic than that.

Beautiful weather with sunny skies, light chop, and we had breezes from all directions except straight west. Tide was incoming most of the day with a slight slack and a weak fall out. We’re slipping into late winter and early spring conditions.

We’re still all over the board with flies working for permit. You need to be loaded if you’re headed this way in the coming weeks with: ESB crabs, Casa Blancas #2 yellow eyes, no yellow eyes, tan Casa’s ESB shrimp white and tan, EP shrimp in white and tan sizes #2 and #4. Flexos in tan are good ones to have and I believe lack of success with this is strictly due to not throwing it enough. If you tie strong arms don’t have any red in the claw and focus on tan and white with yellow eyes and white legs.

Chartreuse EP baitfish and the normal smattering of colors. Toads are always a fallback. Mike Matus had his tarpon and snook day with a fishalicious that had a black body and chartreuse head. This is a great shallow water fly.

Bonefish snatched up pretty much any shrimp pattern sizes #8 up to a #2.

ESB Angler with Permit

A new industrial stove helped the kitchen crew pump out more tasty goodness for the week, and everyone left overfed and a couple pounds heavier. Ground crew kept up with supply runs and making sure all things mechanical were sound and guests were comfortable. I’m very impressed and proud of our crew right now, completely on point and running like the best well-oiled machine!

ESB Angler with Permit

We’ve got a very busy week coming up with a dear group of friends who’ve been enjoying ESB since 2017. The group is led by The Fly Shop’s own Justin Miller playing host. He’s an incredibly fishy dude who works tirelessly to share his love of fishing and travel with anyone. We chatted about a trip he hosted in Honduras last week and it sounds like this will become another bucket list trip you might consider. Speaking of bucket list trips, our El Saltamontes operation is off to a great start with a growing number of guests getting on the list to book. You got to check it out, we’re so excited and I’m positive anyone who loves trout fishing in beautiful places will love this place. I’ve been putting together some groups myself and if anyone is interested, please touch base with our friends at The Fly Shop or email me to get the latest on our new operation.

The weather continues to be beautiful as I pound the keyboard for this week’s report. I’m going to take the dogs for a walk up the beach later this afternoon to enjoy this special place. It truly never gets old for us here. Speaking of beautiful places, make sure you take a moment during this upcoming week and find your own outdoor sanctuary. Enjoy, reflect, and protect all natural things worth defending. Have a great week and we’ll be here 7 days from now, same time, same place, with another report.



ESB Group Image FEB 18 - 25, 2024

Dane & Chiara Emerson

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

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