February 19 – 26, 2023
We enjoyed a nice week here at ESB with a small group of returning guests and welcomed Tom Levandoski for his first trip to the lodge. He had fished the bay years ago and joined ESB guru Dave Horn for the week. Single anglers Mike Matus, Rich Kracum, and Jon Wheat also were back for their annual trip. Most of the these guys knock out 2 trips a year here to experience the varying seasons ESB puts on display. We had a quiet week having 3 singles and two double occupancy slots. Fishing as a single angler here is no joke and one racks up almost 50 hours or so of bow time for the 6 days of fishing. It kicks your butt a bit, wears you out and can be demanding depending on the conditions. I was also happy to get a chance to fish last Monday with close friend Billy Trimble. Billy brings a couple weeks’ worth of guests/friends at the end of August and September every year since we opened in 2017. He took a month off guiding the Texas coast and stayed in Mahahual which is our closest town to the lodge. It’s a nice little getaway and off the beaten path with access to some more than decent DIY fishing. It was a blast spending the day on the water with Billy reminiscing, philosophizing bs, and casting at permit.
Our winter season is starting to wind down and the slightest tell tale sign of early spring are starting to trickle in. It’s a pleasant time to be here aside from the unusual wind pattern. Fishing has its ups and downs as we all know and finding a balance for yourself mentally with acceptance will breed an optimistic appreciation of just how special this place is.
If ESB was powered through wind energy I’d say we’d be stockpiled for the rest of the year. It’s been relentless the last four weeks and doesn’t seem to be breaking the pattern anytime soon. I keep claiming this as unusual but perhaps this is settling into a normal cycle. For obvious reasons it’s not ideal for us probing the flats with a fly rod but what can one do except go out and give it a shot. The permit fishing is picking up and I think with some decent visibility days we had helped everyone to see more fish and find them in deeper water. Singles and doubles are making the rare occurrence via shallow water with a shot or two. The majority of the permit are found in deeper water which is a daunting task for guests and guides and it feels like a joint bucking rodeo bobbing in the waves. Some days guests had few shots and others had 10 plus shots at permit. That’s not terrible by any stretch of the imagination. Red buoy on the southside and outside casitas is the stronghold for the time being. Third river is holding fish on a higher tide and the western portion of tabascanoes is seeing a small trickle of fish. I talked with a local fisherman from Punta Herrero the other day as he was wrapping the final lobster crates to send out before the season closes tomorrow. He noted outside the bay (east) where a few of his traps are had a couple schools that easily numbered 500 permit all mixed in terms of size. Unfortunately we’re talking a depth of 30 feet or so which is almost impossible to fish with wind and exposure. Maybe a spawning shrimp trolled?? Who knows and I expect these fish will be coming into the bay sooner than later. Based on prior experience when a big school of varying sizes permit are together it’s weather related and it causes them to “group”. Last Monday Billy and I fished Ensenada on the northside with Fernando as our guide. The southside of the flat held the most fish and we had plenty of shots with permit mudding and aggressively feeding. Alas, the tried and true patterns were all thrown with a couple follows and mostly refusals. Frustrating but fun and entertaining to boot having them peel out and chase our flies. The largest school we saw held roughly 8 fish or so and it was mostly singles popping out of the mud with a quick draw shot at 30 feet. I looked back at reports from this time of year and noted we had enormous success with a translucent #4 EP spawning shrimp. I’m not entirely sure if this is representing lobster larva but we end up seeing them pop out of the water in the same fashion shrimp do. Of course, I had zero of the specific EP shrimp in my box and it makes me wonder. I feel rejuvenated with my theories and am ready throw my speculations at permit when time allows. Rich spent a day working hard with Fernando chasing permit and saw one fish. The flipside to that is they landed it. One fish, one cast, and done for the day thank you very much! He also tagged another nice fish with Alex and had multiple shots with a high vis day. Fernando also guided Mike Matus into a beautiful fish. Tom had a nice permit on but got tagged on some coral that made short work of the leader after three nice runs. Brutally tough and always a heartbreaker.
Tarpon and snook are around but are becoming a little more difficult to chase with tides starting to rise each week. Guide Victor has a couple secret creek locations holding a decent number of tarpon that are eager and willing to eat. Rio locos, and river 4 held both snook and tarpon as well as rivers 1 and 2 deep in the backcountry. Billy and I had a fun couple hours inside sunken lagoon chasing a number of tarpon that were tough to catch due to the amount of bait tucked in the cove. Laguna Roja close to the lobster village holds tarpon that seem to move through daily.
Our bonefish are in full force and those willing to put the time in can be rewarded with an impressive amount fish. I will never tire babbling about the bonefish here and it’s one fish I can guarantee you won’t have a problem finding them or landing them. I can also guarantee you will land some of the largest bonefish you can find in the Yucatan right out our back door.
Strong easterly winds touching a bit north and later south was general direction. The wind was consistent at 25 mph and at times much stronger. Protected spots could knock off at least 10 mph but still breezy. We had two days of almost 100% sun and the rest of the week I’d give it 50% sun and clouds. The wind keeps things cooler but we’re definitely noticing a pickup with warmer temps. Tides were lower in the am but coming in throughout most of the day.
Spawning shrimp and a raghead were responsible for the permit.
Tarpon and snook chased EP baitfish, smaller deceivers, old standby cockroach variations.
Those willing to chase bonefish threw any manner of shrimp patterns sizes #2 – #8
Chef Luis overfed the group of 5 guests, and we had a great spread every evening accompanied with a healthy selection of wines to choose from. It never ceases to amaze me with our culinary talent and willingness to put out top shelf meals that would rival any other saltwater destination given the remoteness. Emmanuel and Fredy knocked out routine maintenance and kept the property up and running with guests comfortable and content.
We’re back to 8 guests this week and it’s a highly anticipated group of amigos Chiara and I have grown very fond of over the years. Super salty, and way too much fun with frontman Justin Miller running lead. Justin is a close friend of mine and it’s great to see him break away from the travel department at The Fly Shop to host this annual week. Bely aching laughter filled the dining room last night and the familiar faces we’ve grown so fond of once again filled the lodge for another week, another season.
If you have a moment check in with our friends over at The Fly Shop. They’ll bring you up to speed on the latest with our wonderful operation or get you pointed in the right direction wherever your next fishing adventure may be. Please enjoy the last days of February, get outside if you can, and we’ll see everyone next week for the next report.
Saludos desde el Caribe Mexicano,
Dane & Chiara, Lucia, Negri, Canela
And the entire ESB crew!
CHECK IT OUT!