Fishing Report #7
March 10 – 17, 2024

Double with Permit at ESB Lodge

Welcome to the Caribbean!

The Maya civilization reached a dazzling cultural, scientific, and technological splendor during its classic period, which occurred between 250 and 900 AD. Their society was complex and hierarchical, with priests, aristocrats, merchants, artisans, and peasants, and rested on powerful city-states. So far, more than 50 important settlements of that era have been found, and it is believed that this civilization came to occupy an area of 350,000 square kilometers. But everything comes at a price. The Maya system depended on a complex and dense network of roads and trade routes and vast expanses of agricultural fields, terraces and irrigated land, which had to scratch away at the dense jungle to feed the population.

Around that time, the Mayan civilization fell, almost overnight, and most of its cities were abandoned, for reasons that are not well known. It has been suggested that war, political instability, declining trade and environmental decay may have shaken the foundations of this proud culture. And that, above all, a local climatic change brought with it intense and long droughts, which were fatal to the Maya’s main crops.

In response to these droughts, the Maya built immense canal systems to distribute water and transform the jungle into wetlands in which to grow crops and obtain food to feed their people. These systems were so extensive that they released enough greenhouse gases to change the climate and kick-start the Anthropocene, the geological era marked by human activity, as a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has concluded.

This week we can blame not the whims of the Mayan deities for the constant wind we experienced while sharing time with John Heck, John Thomas, Tim Kelly, Josh Fields, Ryan Freeman, Kevin Vincent, Jack Jordan and Captain Ben Pascal, but the inordinate habit of the ancient Maya to eat camote, a variety of sweet potato typical of the area, for those who do not know it or do not remember having tasted it in ESB.

Guide Alex holding a Permit at ESB Lodge

Although Monday morning woke us up with moderate winds and low clouds, which predicted inconveniences for locating schools or lone boaters in the waters of the bay, as the hours passed the clouds dissipated, greatly improving the chances of ambushing the most coveted species in the bay. This was the case, for example, for Josh, who added his first permit to the week’s tally, along with some bonefish. Kevin had good opportunities tempting the elusive Permit and managed to nail a good-sized one, but his tippet denied him the win. The quality control operators of a famed leader and line brand must still have their ears pricked up.

Tuesday’s sunrise was not much different than the previous day, and all of our guests were hoping it would be so for new opportunities with the week’s target species. Ryan not only achieved his goal for the day, but also set a personal record with the size of his permit caught, as well as adding one more to his counter, which might as well have been two more, but like Kevin the day before, his tippet gave up prematurely. Jack managed to get his first victory photo with a permit and, naturally, the tequila shots that night could be counted almost by the dozens. The fishing duo of John Heck (JH) and John Thomas (JT) had decided that their strategic plan for the day would be based on Tarpons and Bonefish, but as we say in Spanish, “they went for coconuts and found lemons”, so they added permits to the overall tally for the week almost unintentionally.

Wednesday’s day surprised no one, maybe a few less clouds but the weather continued to be a carbon copy of the previous day. Ryan continued to add permits to the scoreboard, JH and JT, perhaps out of habit, repeated their strategy of the previous day and went in search of tarpon and bonefish catching snooks, bonefish and again the “lemons” crossed their path giving them good shooting opportunities. David and Jack added tarpons to the day’s catch menu and the group was able to rest with the satisfaction of having caught all the species with sporting value that inhabit the bay.

Ben Paschal holding a nice Permit at ESB Lodge

On Thursday Ben managed to lift a permit of excellent size. Kevin had some very good opportunities, but luck was on the other side of the coin this time. We could say that all of them had good opportunities for schooling and solitary permits, but the two or three miles of wind made it difficult for all of them, that’s how fishing for this species is.

Guide and angler holding a permit at ESB LodgeAs if the weather was copied with a stencil day after day, clouds and moderate winds were also present on Friday. Little did it matter to Kevin, who added a few permits, while the rest of the group also had new opportunities. Ben had a situation worthy of being told in detail because of its uniqueness, I had never heard anything like it. As Julio (known worldwide as Niño) was scouring a flat of the bay with his scope scanning every inch of the bottom trying to locate these masters of camouflage that, here in Mexico, we call palometas (permit), he came across a lone female traveler that appeared to be of good size. With more speed than a Wall Street broker trying to sell stocks that are down after having bought them at a premium, he relayed the information to Ben, who was standing on the deck, with his artillery ready to execute the shot as soon as he had visual confirmation of the target, which happened only a few seconds later. He executed a precise, quick, long cast that deposited his deceptive crab just far enough for the permit to run into it on the bottom. Time seemed to stand still and the few feet that remained to find out whether or not the ambush would take effect seemed like hours. When the big eyes of the permit seemed to find the sharp wire bent and dressed as a crab, Ben began to execute those smooth, long tugs on the line to endow the inanimate deception with life. His possible future opponent began to follow the rectilinear wandering of his fly and the distance to Ben, Jack and Niño began to shrink rapidly. As in those melodies that begin to increase in tempo and strength presaging an imminent denouement, the permit followed the fly closer and closer and at the climax of the melodic climax of the accompanying soundtrack, the victim of the deception slowed abruptly and began a rapid escape into deeper water. The stunned faces on the skiff were worthy of an Oscar for best dramatic actor, no one understood what had happened. Ben began to stripe his line quickly and noticed that something offered a slight resistance to his strips, he continued until he had the fly in sight and with a great laugh lifted the leader to show his fellow anglers the reason. The point of his sharp hook had pierced the delicate skin of a jellyfish and it was still hooked to his fly, too bad the permit had not decided to take a bite.

Angler smoking a cigar holding a snook at ESB Lodge

The start of the last day of fishing surprised us all, or it seemed possible that they were already at the end of the week. The duo of JH and JT said goodbye to the bay adding new permits and had several more opportunities. The menu of species in the bay was completed again and, we could say, it was the cherry on the cake for an excellent week, even though the irrigation system of the 1100 year old nets would have worked against us.

Winds from the east and southeast remained virtually constant with speeds ranging from 15 to 25 mph.

Tides were affected by wind action and were quite unpredictable.

The high clouds were not a big problem per se, but the low clouds affected the viewing of the bay waters quite a bit.

Angler and guide holding a permit at ESB Lodge

For permit, the immortal ESB Yellow Eyes Raghead and Casa Blanca Crabs are still the most reliable options, but we won’t say they’re the only ones that work. There are plenty of examples of flies, like the Tequila Twister Crab, that have proven to be worthy of the attack of the permit in my two seasons here.

Tarpon showed a more than acquired taste for flies with the characteristics of the Puglisi Baitfish Pinfish or Mangrove Baitfish, without leaving aside the traditional black and purple EP or completely chartreuse.

The bonefish this week were not at all shy attacking without fear or embarrassment crabs, shrimp of the same size used for permit, you can see they were hungry.

See you next week with a new report and do not hesitate to contact our friends at The Fly Shop so they can tell you first-hand what life is like in Espiritu Santo Bay, the Sian Ka’an biosphere reserve (which means “Where the sky begins”, in the Mayan language).

Taak ulak k’iin and Ka xi’ik teech utsil!!!!
(See you later and good luck! in Mayan language)
Martin Ferreyra Gonzalez and the entire ESB Family

The group for Week 7 at ESB Lodge

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