February 28 – March 07, 2021
Another week has gone by here at ESB Lodge. We’re coming into our favorite time of year as winter loosens its grip and we began to see traces of warmer weather began to settle in the Yucatan. Chiara and I had a lot of fun with a group of returning guests that have historically fished with us every week since 2017. Some of the original group couldn’t make it down this year, and we had the pleasure of hosting some new guests. It’s always a fun meeting new faces and by the end of the week everyone felt welcomed and experienced the wonders and incredible fishery we are so fortunate to have at our doorstep. I was also happy to enjoy my 33rd birthday with the group last Saturday, and I was informed that I am still young by a long shot. This is perhaps comforting in the presence of those that are much older (wiser) and I can only hope that I will continue to thrive and enjoy exploring the natural world waving around a fly rod. It is inspirational and encouraging seeing those continuing to do so in their later years, and I’m happy to have the opportunity to have a place to share with all angling enthusiasts.
The idea behind these weekly newsletters is to provide all of our readers who are mostly guests here with up-to-date weather, tides, accomplishments, and trends of our fishery. Insight provided leads to carefully planned and well thought out fly selections, gear, and proper preparation. These fed tidbits are a result of trial and error that as lodge we experience in both glory and frustration. I rarely gloat or brag about various accomplishments guests experience as result of fishing in one of the most incredible flats fisheries in the world. Simply put, we report what happened.
That being said, we had an unbelievable week of fishing, by far the best in varying degrees. When we picked up guests two Sundays ago it was windy, almost blowing 30 mph and a consistent 20 at the lodge/oceanfront. It was a little daunting trying to get out Sunday afternoon to chase a couple Triggerfish off the beach. This transitioned into Monday morning blowing almost as hard and there were some raised eyebrows at breakfast. I can’t tell you how many times I see an almost desperate look coming from guests as if I can channel their silent pleading and provide more optimal conditions. I am trying like hell to figure this one out. Strong winds were in the forecast and we loaded everyone up and made a go of it. It was sunny for the most part and I remember thinking to myself as I drove back after dropping guests off, “It’s gonna be tough…”
I returned to Punta Herrero with the van at 5:00 pm to grab guests and expected a hasty retreat to the lodge and nurse egos with pitchers of margaritas and provide as much encouragement and tips for fishing in tough conditions. Brian Macdonald and Karl Brantley were the first boat back with guide Alex. Brian yelled at me “16 by Lunch”. I assumed he was referring to wind knots with present conditions. All four boats landed 16 permit by “lunch” and proceeded to land another 4 after. The group collectively landed 20 permit the first day. We’ve never had this happen in our short history of ESB Lodge and I was blown away. Everyone caught permit, 5 guests who had never landed permit did so the first morning. Craig Langer was the least experienced out of the group and landed his first permit on his third cast. Karl Brantley, Skip Slavin, Chris Langer, and Tom Corbett all enjoyed finally holding one of the most difficult saltwater fish to land on a fly. I had so much fun listening to how the day played out that evening with everyone and it was incredible to be a part of the celebration. I talked with guides later that evening and they had found a few huge schools of fresh permit on the west side of a big island towards the entrance. This is maybe a 5-minute boat ride from the boat launch. We don’t always rally our boats collectively on schools but this was an exception. There were permit for everyone and the guides skillfully maneuvered and situated guests outside the schools. When one hooked up, the boat peeled out and made room for another to slide in. There were 3 hook ups happening at the same time. With the island providing serious wind protection everyone could handle casting with ease. The permit were all mixed sizes which is also a sign of fresh schools coming into the bay. That’s an incredible day on the water and I’m very proud of our four guides and the teamwork they displayed. They worked hard with everyone and insured all got great opportunities to land a few permit a piece. It’s hard to follow a day like this and sustain momentum. There was talk of a 100 permit week later that night…….
That didn’t happen, and each day we landed less and less permit. The schools seemed to spread themselves out throughout the bay and we found permit everywhere with plenty of shots every day. All along the southern shoreline down to the far west corner held fish. A big flat on the northern shore we call Ensenada held solid numbers of fish. The permit became a little more difficult midweek and forced us to rifle through our fly selections to find an appropriate pattern. I kind of wish the wind stayed strong and we saw slicked out conditions which can translate to some very technical approaches. Permit spook with anything and everything. We started hunting permit in smaller groups and some great singles. We also lost a handful or permit to weird break offs, extra rod movement upon setting, and one case where the permit simply crushed a crab to nothing. Guest Don Joost enjoyed his week having a personal best with his largest landed permit and landing 4 for the week. Brain Macdonald also had his personal best with number of permit landed and his largest to date as well. Tom Corbett came down a novice permit angler, and finished the week with the most landed for the week at 6.
The group collectively landed 31 permit and this brings the 2021 season to 85 landed permit and 33 guests.
When the wind died the middle of the week we had a much needed tide change which also led to some fantastic snook fishing and some opportunities for tarpon. It seems like tarpon are starting to show up more and haunt their normal mangrove domains. Bill Shaughnessy and Don Joost had a fun day with guide Fernando, and they fished the opening of the bay hoping to run into more fresh of schools permit. They found a huge school of at least 60 tarpon instead and we able to land 5 and jump several others. Interestingly enough these tarpon were picky and finally settled on a classic tarpon fly called a snake. A couple guests were also able to land their first snook on fly as well. We’ve been very impressed with the quality of snook lately and I believe this this is the best start to any of our previous years with winter/spring snook fishing.
Weather was mostly sunny skies with strong southeast winds beginning of the week at 20 mph. Middle of the week we had a north wind that died too almost non inexistent. Tide was very high in the morning and coming in throughout the day and we saw a lower tide starting Thursday that progressively got higher throughout the day.
Permit flies for the week that worked: ESB Spawning Shrimp (white and tan) white Ragheads with yellow eyes, #2 Squimp, EP spawning shrimp, Kung Fu grab #2 tan. Tarpon were landed on a small 2/0 Tarpon snake in black Snook were landed on natural-colored Toads, EP Baitfish in natural colors. Bonefish ate any shrimp pattern thrown to them sizes #2 – #8
Chef Carlos and the kitchen staff did a wonderful job keeping us all well fed with wonderful cuisine throughout the week. We are very proud of the quality of food we have here at the lodge, and I am confident there is something for everyone to enjoy. Average weight gain according to some returning guests is 7 lbs. not exactly a record we are trying to achieve but it’s hard to turn down good food!
We’ve got a fun group with us for the upcoming week. Three singles and one double rounds us out for the next 6 days and I expect we’ll have some great fishing again. 3 of the 5 guests have fished with us past seasons and it’s always a delight to see them return. I hope everyone is enjoying their March thus far and able to enjoy some time outdoors. Do yourself a favor and contact our friends over at The Fly Shop® to inquire about this special place or get up to date info and recommendations for your upcoming trip.
Please have a great week and stay tuned for the next report!
Saludos desde el Caribe Mexicana
Dane & Chiara and the entire ESB Lodge crew