April 18 – 25, 2021
Another week has flown by here at ESB Lodge. We enjoyed the return of three anglers for their second time fishing and enjoying this wonderful operation. Four other new faces stepped off the plane in the remote jungle airstrip to join us for a week of angling and good laughs. It is always enjoyable to witness strangers come together for a week of fishing and leave acting as if they have known each other for years. This group did exactly that, and I believe they thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company. We hope to see all seven of them reunited on our palapa enjoying the ocean breeze and a cold margarita once again someday in the future. We experienced a few days of lighter winds with full sun, while also enduring heavy winds at the end of the week. Southeast winds dominate this year, and are always a challenge for our anglers. Regardless of these conditions, guests managed to have a great week of fishing with comfortable accommodations and enjoyable company.
Monday morning we were greeted with a calm ocean in front of the lodge and full sun. As anglers awoke to the ideal conditions, I was quick to manage expectations and make it clear this was probably going to be the calmest day of the week. It seemed that the wind gradually picked up more and more each day, with Saturday easily described as “ripping.” Sam and Linda Lewis enjoyed their second trip to ESB and took advantage of the calm conditions on Monday. Sam was able to bring a couple nice permit to hand. They headed out on Tuesday morning with guide Marcos and Sam managed to land another permit, in addition to a tarpon and a few bonefish completing the infamous and difficult grand slam. Linda had some great opportunities all week for permit, both with schools of smaller fish and singles/doubles, but was unable to dupe a fish into eating her fly. After a day of battling heavy winds on Saturday and viewing Sam land a few fish, Linda figured she would chalk the week up to educational observation and try next time. Permit fishing can be an exhausting endeavor and right as you may be ready to give up is often when an opportunity presents itself. Linda remained persistent and managed to deceive a nice 5 or so pound permit into eating her crab fly. Congrats to Linda as this was her first permit on the fly rod, but surely not her last. Not only was Linda able to land her first permit, but also her first tarpon on a fly. Needless to say both Sam and Linda were happy with the outcome of their week of fishing. After a day of “failed opportunities” as return angler Mike Seiber would put it, he figured his day was done mid-week. Moments before having to reel up and return to the boat ramp, Mike ended the day on a high note and landed a beautiful 18 pound permit. This would bring his total to 4 for the week. New anglers to ESB Bill and Donna Wichers spent both the first and final day off the week chasing some schools of smaller permit. They were able to get two fish to the boat, while also catching many bonefish as in these situations often the bones will charge and eat the fly before the permit can.
Collectively the group of seven guests landed 14 permit for the week. This brings our season total to 239 permit landed with 80 guests.
I was thrilled with the juvenile tarpon fishing once again this week. We have had very little rain in the southern Yucatan in the last month and a half. This allows for the salinity in the deep backcountry to remain ideal for tarpon and the baitfish they are there to consume. When large amounts of freshwater enter they system, it drives the baitfish out of the backcountry and with them follow the tarpon. With little rain, we were able once again to locate areas with large numbers of the incredibly fun 5 – 15 pound tarpon. All seven anglers enjoyed at least one day of pursuing these fish. Often times when thinking of the challenges of saltwater fly fishing, we break down the difficulties of landing a fly two feet in front of a permit 60 feet away dead into the wind. When deep in the mangroves anglers have to overcome very tight casting conditions to put the fly where it needs to be. A roll cast is often the only way to get a fly in front of the boat when there is a wall of 15 foot high mangroves behind you. Then the task of managing an extremely acrobatic species once it is hooked is presented. Often times there is an equal amount of enjoyment that comes from viewing your angling partner attempting to control these fish as there is in catching them yourself. Wayne and Kathleen Hadley joined us this week for their first experience fishing Espiritu Santo Bay. After three days of difficult fishing with only a few bonefish, snapper and two lost snook, the couple ventured deep into the fifth river system with guide Fernando. It can take some time to get the boat into where these fish are located. At 81 years of age Wayne assisted Fernando and Kathleen in pulling/pushing the boat through some very dense jungle. They were eventually rewarded for the hard work and had a great day jumping well over twenty tarpon and landing at least seven of them. I am always impressed and inspired by anglers of this age that travel to these remote regions of the world and work their butts of in pursuit of different species.
Snook fishing for the week was below average. Mike Seiber did have a great first day landing 4 snook, one of which was in the 20 pound range. With consistent wind coming from the southeast, it is my opinion the snook fishing has been difficult due to the falling tide battling this wind and not being able to drop out. This keeps the water level higher for the entire day in the backcountry, which allows the snook to remain deep in the cover. Bill managed to land one mid-week, leading to all four target species caught for him. Once we have a change in wind direction I believe we will begin to spot more snook. As primarily catch and release anglers we all know that occasionally regardless of all efforts to handle fish correctly and revive them fully, one may not make it. After over a half hour of attempting to revive a snook on Monday, we came to the conclusion it wasn’t going to survive. It is extremely uncommon for us to harvest a snook, but we certainly took advantage of the situation and put the fish to good use. A few of the guests, including myself, were able to try snook for the first time. Mixed into a delicious ceviche, this paired well with a cold margarita a nice ocean breeze.
Bonefish were a bit tougher to find this week. Some of our go to spots that are typically full of tailing bonefish were home to only a few singles or doubles. It will be curious to see if this trend continues into the following weeks. It is my prediction that our bonefish sightings will be back to normal come next week.
As mentioned above, we started our week off with a day of very little wind and full sun. Wind began to get heavier and heavier as the week continued. Some mornings were overcast, making sighting fish more difficult, but always cleared out by early afternoon. Our tide was mostly high in the morning and outgoing starting early in the afternoon.
Our flies that were productive for permit were white and tan rag heads with yellow eyes in size #2. Tan crabs with variegated legs performed better than straight white legs. Once we see more schools of permit in deeper water, spawning shrimp and our classic tan Squimp should become more effective.
Tarpon were taken on Black/Purple and Black/Red EP baitfish patterns. Chartreuse tarpon toads also worked well. The few snook that were lande
d came on light green/white colored baitfish patterns. An Everglades Special EP baitfish fly is always a strong pattern with the snook here.
Bonefish were taken on small shrimp patterns in sizes #6 and #8.
Chef Carlos and kitchen staff did an incredible job of keeping our guests well fed with delicious Mexican cuisine. The house staff worked hard day in and day out to ensure comfortable and clean accommodations.
This upcoming week we will be joined by seven new anglers to ESB. While we always love to see familiar faces, it is also enjoyable to have a week full of new guests that will hopefully become a new member of the ever growing ESB Lodge family.
If you have an upcoming trip here or would like to know more about this special operation, give our friends at The Fly Shop® a ring and they will keep you well informed. Hopefully everyone will get a chance to get outdoors sometime this week and enjoy some beautiful spring weather.
Take advantage of some time on the water, whether that be in a river, lake or on the flats. Stay tuned for next week’s report.
From a special corner in the Yucatan,
Saludos desde el Caribe Mexicano,
Sam Gigliotti and the entire staff of ESB Lodge