March 27 – April 03, 2022
Another beautiful spring week has gone by here on the beach. It’s full spring conditions and we welcome the new season with open arms and count ourselves fortunate to have access to one of the most special places in the Yucatan. ESB Lodge had the pleasure of seeing some familiar faces again with returning guests Rob Hewett, David and Catherine McCann, and Lou Fehrenbacher. We also had the pleasure of having along The Fly Shop’s own Erik Argotti. Erik is a travel specialist, and I was excited to have him join us on his routine tours to operations they represent. The constant upkeep and involvement these agents have with their represented operations is key to having up to date information and understanding fisheries on a global scale. This in my opinion is one of the leading factors as to why The Fly Shop hails as the best in the business for traveling anglers. They care, they travel, involved on all fronts, and are diehard fishermen at heart.
We also welcomed to our team Martin Ferreyra. Martin calls Bariloche,, Argentina home where he runs and guides through his own outfitting programs as well as spending part of the year managing and guiding the famed Amazonian operation Rio Marie. He will be sliding into management position here at the lodge for us the next few months and I couldn’t be more pleased to have him on board. One of the unfortunate things that is necessary for a new manager here is the required time one must take to learn a new fishery. Martin enjoyed the week fishing with Erik and the entire guide crew seeing the bay understanding the reason behind why we have become one of the most sought out saltwater destinations in the world.
Hard spring winds was theme for the week on the bay. Normally this time of year is historically windy, nonetheless it doesn’t fail to make the fishing a little tougher. It’d be a safe bet we clocked a consistent 25 mph east wind for most of our fishing week. Coming from the east it creates a direct shot to our fishery and we are now in swing with what I describe as Sargasso season. It’s normal all over the Caribbean to see this noxious ocean algae collect and build up on beaches. Fortunately, we come across it in open water, but for the most part it doesn’t collect to heavily on our flats. This is a big benefit to our fishery and allows mangroves and estuaries to stay clean and avoid being choked out by the oxygen depleting grass.
High winds sent us running far southwest in the bay and working back east internally to an area called Flamingo. Permit were hard pressed to locate on the “bay side” of flats due to turbulent wind driven water. With these conditions we find them hunkering down in deeper water until things calm down where they slide back in the shallow in numbers that has made this bay so famous. You still have chances, just not as much. You count yourself lucky with a handful shots each day and it’s important to obviously work hard to capitalize on the few chances presented. Not many schools were found, instead larger singles, and doubles braving rough water and moving onto the flats to feed. River 3 and 4 in the northwest part of our bay saw a few permit each day. Tabasquenos in the southwest was a stronghold and particular cut saw of our larger school of permit for the week. When wind touched a little southeast, we poled shallow around red buoy and also worked tight to casitas another small flat closer to our launch point. Lou was kind enough to bring newcomer Thor Start along for his first saltwater experience. Thor is an avid trout fisherman, and we were happy to see him jump into the world of salt. After the mandatory dos and don’ts and the aid of some eager bonefish he was off to the races each day taking it all in and soaking up the new experience. By the end of the week trout “sets” were less used and strip sets became the new norm. He appropriately waited until the last day with guide Alex to finally lay a crab down in front of a permit and succeeded with a beautiful 10-pound fish. As with many of you, I find myself cringing. My first saltwater trip was 9 days straight fishing solo chasing permit and I was nowhere near meeting the expectations of my guides or the permit. I salute/congratulate Thor with his first flats experience and landing a permit. We look forward to seeing Thor again and I hope his luck carries him to any other future saltwater destination. I’m sure he still feels the burn from the double tequila celebratory shot one must endure here when catching a first permit. Speaking of firsts, Erik Argotti enjoyed his first permit with guide Marcos and Martin graciously gave up the bow for the grand slam completion. David McCann was able to land permit with guide Pepe and Catherine also was able to land one with Alex. Todd Darling stepped in for his father George for the week and also enjoyed a new flats fishing experience. He shared the boat with fishing guru and flats mentor Rob Hewett. Rob informed us of the fortunate position Todd found himself in not only having wonderful guides but sharing the boat with such an experienced and accomplished saltwater angler… Todd worked out some habits associated with striper fishing in his home state of Massachusetts and enjoyed landing his first two permit. Both he and Rob landed a permit each their second day out with Victor deep in the river four system. Last day of fishing they reunited Victor to land their second permit each for the week. It played out well and the two enjoyed a rare opportunity to hook up with a double on nice fish. We don’t see it all the time, but sometimes other permit will see the hooked permit running all over the flats and will follow the hooked fish into casting range. I am not sure why this happens other than curiosity and perhaps a chance at an easy meal? Regardless it’s a special moment to enjoy and excellent guiding on Victor’s behalf. Mandatory double permit photos were required, and I find no need to discuss who landed the bigger fish.
Manager Martin also enjoyed landing a beautiful fish and rounded out our group total permit for the week at 9 landed. This moves our permit numbers to 158 for the season with 76 guests.
Snook and Tarpon were around but with high winds that in turn kept the tides high I wouldn’t say it was spectacular. Normal haunts in our river systems held fish and we had to work hard to get flies deep in mangrove openings to provoke a strike. Victor took Erik and Martin deep into river 5 system to take a needed break from the wind and a chance for them to see some new water. We haven’t been in there for a couple weeks now it was nice to get a report. They found some where the system ends and when they started poling out of the river, they had rolling tarpon off the bow. Casting is always an entertaining feat with tight quarters and heavy mangrove canopies. It’s a very special place back in river five and one of the highlights of our fishery regardless of productivity on board. The birdlife and remoteness make the 1 ½ hour boat ride worth it in my opinion.
Cuda fishing was good for the week, and we enjoyed chasing them when the opportunity came about. I’ll save time ranting about my feelings and the recognition these fish deserve. For those that were rigged for the apex predator were usually rewarded. Lou Fehrenbacher landed a massive cuda the last with guide Alex along the south bank.
I’m happy to say (relieved) the Alphonse flexo crab was not responsible for permit for the week. We had a fish come to a raghead with yellow eyes and most of the permit were landed on a white Casa Blanca Raghead tied with no yellow eye. This is a key pattern to have here and one of the top producing flies for ESB.
The few tarpon and snook were landed on EP style baitfish and tarpon toads.
Bonefish ate light beadchain shrimp imitations for shallow water fishing.
Cudas loved Mike Scott’s popper, a big flashy high floating popper that displaces a lot of water.
Weather for the week was partly sunny and strong winds from the east at 25 mph. Tides were mostly high all day with the east wind stacking water and late afternoon we saw an outgoing tide.
Sous Chef Luis worked the kitchen for most of the week for guests and did a phenomenal job serving up delicious food. I can’t rave enough about the food these guys are knocking out and I think it’s a very highlighted part of every guest’s experience. I guarantee you will be hard pressed to find another lodge so remote that has the ability and desire to execute such a high caliber of cuisine. Emmanuel and the grounds staff worked hard keeping the property working and running while maintaining a nice comfort level for the guests.
Just like that we have the new crew of guests heading our way as I type this newsletter. Close friend Don Morris is charging in for the week, the first one of 2022 and we’ll be seeing him again in the fall as well. Jim Rector, another familiar face is joining us as a single angler and grabs a couple weeks each year with us. Webster Ray and Tony Ankar are coming back for their second trip to ESB and I’m a little nervous. The last time these two were here we landed the weekly lodge record of 69 permit. I have little doubt these guys will produce some fish and will enjoy this incredible place regardless of the fishing outcome for the week.
At this point in time, I will also be handing over the weekly reports to head manager Martin. Chiara and I will be stepping away end of April to take our mandatory break and will be handing over the reins. You’ll find yourself in good hands and we are very lucky to have Martin with us for the season. You’ll still see the fishing reports up to date, current with all the weekly tidbits, highlights, flies, etc. Martin will add his own spices to the mix and translate the newsletter at the standard you all have been accustomed to. I tend to carry on, babbling, philosophizing, and overkill a bit with my metaphors and adjectives … Martin will translate the week clean, precise and to the point!
I hope everyone is off to a great April so far and I’m sure some of you are excited to a rapidly approaching opening day for the 2022 trout season. If you have a chance, take a moment, and call our friends over at The Fly Shop. Request to speak with Erik Argotti and get his read on up-to-date information regarding this place. The whole crew over there works nonstop staying up to speed and helping everyone prepare for their next trip to ESB or any other destination.
Please enjoy your spring season. Have a great week and remember to get outside, practice conservation, and take in a great 2022 spring thus far. Please check in next week for Martin’s report.
Saludos desde el Caribe Mexicana
Dane & Chiara and the entire ESBL crew