Fishing Report
May 14 – 21, 2023

Welcome to the Caribbean!

We have had an extremely fun week, with great adventures and legendary fights but the highlight of this week was the excellent atmosphere created by our group of anglers, with jokes, anecdotes and their excellent predisposition making this week exceptional for us.

Lian and Bill Forrester holding a tarpon at ESB Lodge

This week we were visited by Mike Scott in his second week with us, Larry “Lorenzo” Jones, a very experienced angler who enjoys every fishing day as if it were the first of his life, Lian and Bill Forrester, partners both in life and in fishing, a true example for me, Fred David, another experienced angler who together with Frank Hatanaka keeps intact and with no signs of waning, that fever for fishing that, in my case, I had in my beginnings where 9 hours of fishing per day were not enough and unfortunately with the passing of time I was losing. All of them regular visitors of ESB and some of them in more than one opportunity per season. Finally we welcomed Bob and Tristan Brennan who visited us for the first time and in Tristan’s case he chose us to have his first experiences in saltwater.

The weather was also good, the Mayan gods were infected by the atmosphere of the lodge and put aside their family quarrels, except for the first day when we had heavy rains, which began at night, stopped for much of the morning and around noon were present again forcing our fishermen to return to the lodge to seek shelter from the lightning that began to fall in the vicinity of the bay.

Guide holding tarpon on a rainy day

In spite of this, that window of time fishing in the bay was enough for Bill to make one of those gigantic three-digit silver torpedoes that hang around the bay channel take his fly and submerge it in a battle that lasted several hours, where the comings and goings of that big tarpon was measured against Bill’s strength, who proved to be up to the challenge by proclaiming himself the winner at the moment when the rain started to fall again over the bay, a perfect synchronization, no doubt.

Well into the afternoon and with the end of the rain, Fred and Frank felt that intense itch in their palms that can only be removed by wielding the rod and making a few casts. They toured part of the south shore of the lodge with excellent results, tarpon, bonefish and triggerfish were all they needed to quench their thirst for fishing.

Tuesday was a strange day, although they found many fish when they went around the bay, they were not very cooperative, they followed their flies, but they did not stimulate enough that primitive instinct that makes the fish inevitably attack the fly. Fred and Frank found, at the entrance to river three, their own honey hole and as if they were fishing on a barrel the snappers and jacks gave them a very enjoyable afternoon.

Wednesday gave Lorenzo his first Permit of the week and Frank was the protagonist of the day. Without underestimating his humility and his attempts to play down his feat, I will allow myself to share it and let you draw your own conclusions on whether it is an exaggeration of mine or if it was really a battle worthy of admiration.

Frank Hatanaka with a tarpon at ESB LodgeSearching for baby tarpons in the area near the bay channel, our guide spotted a 100-plus- pound specimen rolling a short distance from them. He urged Frank to tempt it with his 10 wt rod, his 40-pound tippet and a small streamer. Our angler doesn’t hesitate, executes an accurate cast, a few strips and feels the tension in his line, fish on! The game begins!

With more power than our new 50 hp motors, that silver mass shoots out towards the reef leaving Frank without much more to do than let it run and pray that his baking load is enough to resist this first attack. The long arms of our guide and his ability with the push pull, were the factor that made the difference to not finish with the big baking load of Frank’s reel in this first run and little by little he began to recover some of those hundreds of yards of distance between him and his opponent. At the beginning of the second or third run in the best style of Usain Bolt in the 100 meters, our guide no longer found the firmness of the sandy bottoms to push the boat with the push pull and the battle passed to another instance where the management of the brake that Frank has on his reel would be the key to the final victory, regulating the pressure of this and using the drag weight of the skiff as a weapon for the battle, they let this titan of the depths take them slowly but steadily towards deep waters, in the execution of this tactic also participated Fred, his fishing partner, holding Frank at all times, since his physical build is very similar to that of his rival and everything predicted that it would be a robe. It was all over more than three hours later when Frank was finally able to hold his defeated opponent’s mouth and show his exhausted but happy smile for the camera more than 4 miles from where the fight started and in the deep blue waters just beyond the reef.

If you are like me and you like this kind of challenges, don’t tell me you didn’t imagine yourself being Frank while reading these lines.

Frank Hatanaka resting on the bow after releasing his tarpon

As all these emotions were not enough for Fred and Frank on their return to the lodge, they went back to tempt the tarpons that swim in the waters near the lodge and so it is, my dear reader, as the lyric of the famous interpreter Britney Spears says “Oops, I did it again”, of course it was not another specimen of three digits, but of a much more than respectable size taking into account that it was wading in the shallow coastal waters.

On Thursday it was Bob’s turn to land the first permit of his life which, as is tradition, was celebrated with the ritual tequila shot welcoming him to the permit fishing club. Fred was rewarded for assisting his fishing partner the day before, landing another beautiful large permit. The baby tarpons, bonefish and other species in the bay were also very active making the day’s fishing very entertaining for our guests.

Fred David holding a permit at ESB Lodge

Friday was a bit reluctant for the trophy species of the bay, but in the absence of permit, bonefish, tarpons, barracudas, snappers, jacks and every living thing with fins that inhabits the bay are good.

On the last fishing day of the week Lian and Fred managed to land some beautiful Permit, almost all of our guests had a shot at this species, but as we all know Permit are Permit and have not earned their trophy title for being easy to fool. Bob and Tristan had their battles with some snook! Something that is worth noting considering that this is not the best time of the year to look for this species.

On Saturday something also happened that is not directly related to fishing but will certainly be of interest to you, a jaguar was spotted on one of the mangrove islands of the rio cuatro, it is not unusual to find its tracks inside the reserve, but it is unusual to see it, even if it is only for a few seconds.

As you can see, it was a week with many experiences and great adventures, which, in my opinion, is what makes fishing trips unforgettable.

Except for the rainy Monday, the rest of the week we had excellent weather, light easterly winds that briefly rotated to the northeast for a few days. Very warm days and pleasant nights were the constant of the week. The tides were very marked as there were no winds to modify their natural movement.


  • Permit: Nothing out of the ordinary and they are already a classic for the bay, White ragheads with and without yellow eyes or silver eyes, spawning shrimp with yellow eyes, EP spawning on #4.
  • Tarpon and Snook: Seem to know the EP baitfish catalog perfectly and do not try to hide their preference for them.
  • Bonefish: Shrimp are still his favorites in sizes #4 or #6.

Following the suggestion of the brand-new champion of the “wooly bugger challenge”, bonefish edition, Mike Scott launched the Wooly Bugger Challenge 2, where i invite you to try to catch a tarpon with this mythical freshwater fly.

This week I have received comments from the pilots and those responsible for our weekly flights about the increase in weight of the aircraft leaving from the lodge to Cancun. After an arduous investigation and deep analysis, I have conclude that those responsible are our Chef Luis and Suchef Angel who, with their delicious creations, make us all add a few more pounds every week.

Lian Forrester casting from the skiff at ESB Lodge

Our staff continues to be completely dedicated to the needs of our guests and making their experience with us everything they expect and a little bit more.

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 González and the entire ESB family.

Group of guests from May 14-21, 2023 at ESB Lodge


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