Fishing Report #18
May 26 – June 02, 2024

Welcome to the Caribbean!

In ancient times, in a small Mayan village, there lived a man named Hunab Ku. He was a wise farmer, known throughout the region for his skill in cultivating corn, the sacred food of the Mayans. Hunab Ku had a son, Ixbalanqué, a curious and energetic young man who deeply admired his father.

Hunab Ku spent long days in the fields with Ixbalanqué, teaching him everything he knew about corn: how to select the best seeds, the right time to plant, and the techniques to care for the plants. Every morning, before the sun rose, they would walk together to the fields, breathing in the fresh morning air and listening to the birds singing. Hunab Ku showed his son how to feel the soil between his fingers, how to understand its moisture and texture to decide the perfect time to plant.

In the afternoons, they would sit under the shade of a large ceiba, the sacred tree of the Mayans, and Hunab Ku would tell him ancestral stories about the gods and the creation of the world. Ixbalanqué, with eyes full of wonder, listened to every word, feeling that each story connected him more deeply with his heritage and his land.

Angler holding a permit at ESB Lodge

One year, a great drought struck the region. The rivers dried up, and the plants began to wither. The villagers were desperate, as the corn would not grow, and food was scarce. Hunab Ku decided it was time to share an ancient secret with his son.

One night, under the light of the full moon, Hunab Ku took Ixbalanqué to a sacred hill. As they climbed the hill, Hunab Ku explained the importance of that night and how the stars told stories of ancient rituals and sacrifices. Upon reaching the top, he told the story of the Sun god, Kinich Ahau, and how he provided the vital energy for the growth of corn. He explained that to save their people, they needed to invoke the help of the Sun god through a sacred ritual.

For days, father and son prepared the offerings for the ritual. They gathered wildflowers, fresh fruits, and corn they had saved from the last good harvest. Hunab Ku taught Ixbalanqué the sacred prayers and songs, and together they practiced until their voices resonated in perfect harmony.

On the night of the ritual, under a starry sky, they performed the ceremony. Hunab Ku and Ixbalanqué, standing before the altar they had built, offered their prayers and offerings to the Sun god. Ixbalanqué, with a firm and confident voice, promised the Sun god that he would always care for the corn and respect nature.

Angler holding a tarpon at ESB Lodge

The next day, something miraculous happened. Clouds began to gather in the sky, and a gentle but steady rain started to fall over the fields. The corn plants, which had seemed doomed, began to revive. The villagers, filled with gratitude, celebrated the abundance of the harvest.

From that day on, Ixbalanqué took on his father’s role as the guardian of the corn. Together, they continued working in the fields, sharing knowledge and strengthening their bond. Years passed, and Ixbalanqué became a great farmer, respected and admired by his community.

The relationship between Hunab Ku and Ixbalanqué became a legend that would be told for centuries. It was a reminder of the importance of shared love and wisdom between father and son, and how, thanks to two hearts united by love and devotion to their land and people, corn continued to be the sustenance of the Mayan people.

Father and son holding a tarpon at ESB Lodge

This same union, based on respect, love, and shared wisdom, was represented this week at ESB in the figures of Blackwell and Dawson Smith, Dick and Daniel Meyer, father and son respectively, along with Beth and Tom Eberle, who, although not mother and son, reflect the same respect and love in their marriage, as do Bryan Rudisill and David Patten in their great friendship.

Leaping tarpon at ESB LodgeThe first day of fishing presented very pleasant weather, gentle easterly winds, and some sporadic capricious clouds playing with the light and shadows in the bay. With the recent news of the slow but steady arrival of the migrating tarpons, the goal for almost everyone in the group was to seek out these silver giants that devour backing. Daniel was the first to have his chance when one of these giants did not hesitate to take the fly he had tied specifically for that moment. The energetic pulls on the line embedded the sharp point of his hook into the bony mouth of his rival, which finally, in its frantic struggle filled with runs and jumps, managed to break free, leaving everyone with a bittersweet taste. Blackwell and Dawson tried their luck with several schools of Permit but without achieving the expected results. As always, the ones that enlivened the day were the bonefish, snappers, jacks, and other species in the bay.

Angler holding a permit at ESB LodgeTuesday’s sunrise was again a masterpiece of nature, predicting another day of gentle winds and just a couple of restless and playful clouds that enjoyed showing and hiding the dark silhouettes of the fish. Like in the Mayan legend, it was Blackwell and Dick’s time to pass on the ancient ritual to deceive the Permit to their sons. Dawson and Daniel were skilled learners and managed to land some specimens of this elusive and suspicious species. David, an expert in this ancient ritual, offered some bonefish, tarpons, and a beautiful snook to the Sun god, hoping he would be rewarded with the missing species that would certify his Super Grand Slam. But at that time, it seemed that the demigods of the underworld were playing a football match against the descendants of Ixchel, and the Sun god was entertained and did not hear his prayers.

ESB Guide holding a permit at ESB Lodge

The arrival of midweek gifted us with another epic sunrise, and as the day progressed, some heavy clouds that shed a few timid drops of rain over the lodge and some sectors of the bay. The protagonists of the day were the bonefish, which surrendered by the dozens to the arms of our fishermen. Some tarpons, snappers, jacks, and barracudas completed the day’s catch menu.

Thursday presented again with gentle winds, practically fully sunny, and willing fishermen. Dick passed on to Daniel the invaluable knowledge of how to deceive saltwater fish with surface flies. Thus, in a masterful lesson of subtlety and skill, he caught bonefish with this demanding technique, preparing Daniel to apply it with the Ojonas. Tom, for his part, landed a beautiful Permit, alongside Beth, who the next day took advantage of all the experience shared by Tom to duel with her first fish of this species. Not only did she manage to declare herself the winner, but encouraged and accompanied by her husband, she went after her first Grand Slam and achieved it. As they say, shared achievements are enjoyed much more, and that night we joined Beth’s celebrations with the traditional tequila shot ceremony.

Beth and guide holding a permit at ESB Lodge

Inevitably, the beginning of the last day of fishing brings with it a palpable sense of satisfaction and relaxation among our guests. Satisfaction because, regardless of the results of the fishing or the weather that week, they enjoyed new adventures in the company of the people chosen to do so, and relaxation because they feel they have given their best to achieve their individual goals. That was exactly the case for David, who, far from feeling frustrated because the Sun god had ignored his prayers and offerings to achieve his Super Grand Slam, tried again. This time, he only intended to measure his strength with a great Permit. That’s how fate, or perhaps the Sun god, placed him in Ensenada, with his eyes fixed on a group of two or three large Permit swimming in waters too shallow for their size. A soft, accurate, and calm cast left his fly just inches away from one of them. Two strips later, a battle began that would be indelibly engraved in his memory, with both adversaries posing for the photo. Beth, for her part, landed another beautiful permit, no doubt finding her way to success with this trophy species!

Angler holding a snook at ESB LodgeWeather:
This week we had excellent weather, with gentle winds that stayed between 12 and 17 mph, always from the east. The tides were predictable and well-marked. Although we had a few minutes of rain, the first since January in this area, it did not affect the fishing day at all; on the contrary, it was refreshingly welcomed.

Flexo Crabs, ESB white crabs, and white Casa Blanca crabs tallied our Permit for the week. Tarpon ate a mix of toads and EP baitfish as well as a gurgler. Snook fly for the week was a black and purple EP baitfish on a 2/0 600 hook. Bonefish munched any well-placed shrimp imitation sizes #4 through #8.

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

This weeks group of anglers standing on the steps at ESB Lodge

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