June 11 – 18, 2023 #20
Welcome to the Caribbean!
We have had a good week at ESB. “The wind is a horse; hear it as it runs, across the sea, across the sky” wrote Pablo Neruda, no doubt he was not thinking of us when he wrote the poem “the wind on the Island” but it perfectly exemplifies how the unbridled easterly winds treated us this week, which also brought with it annoying clouds that, like the dust kicked up by a galloping horse, at times tinged the bay with a uniform light devoid of shadows and reflections.
This week we were visited by Dodd Russell and Rocky Lipsman, very experienced fishermen and regular guests of our house, we also welcomed for the first time Joe Quandt, Dave Brazelton, Kevin Murphy along with Rick Bailey and Harrison Moulton, excellent people who decided to live the experience that ESB offers them.
Since their arrival on Sunday the winds were already blowing stronger than the previous weeks and Monday’s sunrise clearly showed us that “San Pedro was in no hurry to close the window”. Without fear of success our anglers faced the first day of fishing with the highest of spirits and although the fish were not too cooperative, that night the emblematic phrase of the week was born “what’s wrong with you” that could be perfectly applied to some species except the noble bonefish and snappers that did stay present, as well as two baby tarpon that accepted the flies that Harrison presented them in his first saltwater fishing trip in search of all the trophy species of the bay.
Tuesday’s weather followed the line of the previous day and already set a clear trend for the whole week. The fishing duo of Dodd and Joe chased a giant tarpon in the middle of the bay that, despite their insistent attempts, could not wake up from its migratory trance. That same day our young angler Harrison had his first hand to hand with a permit and managed to proclaim himself the winner for the first time in his life against this species and during the inevitable ritual of the tequila shot with which we welcomed him to the Permit Fishing Club, he began to show clear symptoms of a disease that luckily many of us have “salt water fever”, which acquires a more “serious” character if we take into account that at his young age Harrison is a super experienced guide at Teton Valley Lodge.
Wednesday left us with Joe putting his first permit of the week on the scoreboard thanks to the invaluable assistance of his fishing partner Dodd who was there for every moment of the fight with his sound advice and film coverage of the event enviable for the super bowl. Harrison, badly infected with “saltwater fever”, continued to add new species to his angler’s log and all our guests found solace from the mistreatment they were receiving from the bay’s flagship species in the other species inhabiting the bay.
As the fishing days of Thursday and Friday went by, the tons of bonefish caught only increased, along with snapper and a long etc. but the species that everyone was targeting continued to show little and was extremely elusive when it came to accepting lures, such was the case of Harrison who managed to hook a “big ojona” and resisting its supersonic run, managed to spit out the fly as two simple head movements. I don’t need to describe the sensation that this situation leaves us with because we all know it already.
Without realizing it, we arrived at the last day of fishing, tired, but with our morale and spirit intact, thanks to the incredible stories and jokes that Rick told us every night during dinner, on the trips in the van or at any time of the day when he would say “that reminds me of a story”.
Next, and as I promised Rick I would, I will try to be as faithful as possible in relating the events of that day as he told them to us over dinner.
Our guide’s super-developed sense of sight noted the stirring in the bottom sediments caused by the nervous movement of a permit searching for food no less than 400 yards away and informed Rick who immediately calculated how the headwind would affect his shot and how much correction he would need to make to reach his target. With a quick lift and lay of his line he moved his crab imitation about 300 yards away from the skiff and into perfect alignment with the increasingly visible mud slick. Our guide tells him that his shot fell short by about 100 yards and Rick corrected the situation with a quick roll cast that lifted all his backing and line without much effort to reposition his fly a few feet from the beginning of the mud slick that was heading towards them. With a mend he eliminated the effect of the waves on his line and set out to estimate the time he had to wait for his fly to reach the bottom. Once the mud stain was a few inches away from his fly he started a slow stripping with the baking between his fingers and immediately felt how his line tightened, the quick pull of the baking had the expected consequence and the tip of his sharp hook got stuck inside the lower lip of a monstrous permit. The fish, feeling the discomfort of the lure in its mouth, began a rapid run that quickly diminished the 200 yards of baking reserve that remained to our intrepid angler who applied all those years of experience fishing for bluegills in the Rocky Mountains to be able to handle the fierce battle that his rival was presenting to him. While he felt the beads of sweat running down his face the agile movements of his hand help him to recover baking yards shortening the distance between him and his opponent, a new run of that demonic fish left him again with only a few turns of reserve on his reel and he knew it was time to apply more forceful measures if he wanted to achieve victory and so he did, imitating the movements of big sailfish or tuna fishing in open waters, he began to cut distance helping himself with both hands while holding the rod between his knees. After twenty-five minutes of hard fighting, our guide’s hands managed to capture his opponent’s tail, marking the end of the battle.
I hope Rick will forgive me if any part of my story is not a literal reflection of his words, you know well that my management of the English language is often not very good.
As you can see, despite the not very comfortable weather we had a good week full of adventures, but above all we have shared a great experience with an excellent group of people.
Sadly, the light winds that accompanied us for four consecutive weeks are over, at least for the moment, and in their place, we were accompanied by easterly winds with speeds ranging from 12 mph to 22 mph.
These winds brought with them fast moving low clouds that were extremely unwelcome for sighting or chasing fish or schools around the bay.
Because of the wind the tides were again unpredictable forcing our guides to always have backup plans in case the expected current changes did not occur.
Permit were tempted with all the classic and not-so-classic imitations for the bay, Flexo, ESB spawning shrimp, Casa Blanca, Esb Yellow Eyes Raghead Crab, Tequila twister, etc.
The bonefish had the rewarding good presentations and good work from the imitations in the usual sizes #6 to #8 of crabs and shrimp.
Although the tarpons were not seen much this week in the bay, those that were, gladly accepted the streamers in a wide range of colors.
It is with great regret that I must inform you that I have gained 8lbs in weight, reason why our Chef Luis and Sous Chef Angel are more than happy and already savoring the victory, but I will not give up and despite their delicious creations I hope to return to my usual weight soon.
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)
Martin Ferreyra Gonzalez and the entire ESB Family.
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