September 06 – 13, 2020
If an angler could describe ideal weather conditions revolving around a week of fishing here, that’s what our guests experienced for the entire week. We had minimal wind, good tides, plenty of sunshine, and often glass like conditions. This was one of the most productive weeks we have seen at the lodge and I was ecstatic for our guests and guides. 6 days of textbook perfect conditions provided an unforgettable experience. Every week I keep a small notepad that helps keep track of our catches and the fishing program. I became overwhelmed keeping up with so many fish caught and the high level of success, it became difficult to track. I will briefly touch on individuals during the week with some of their highlighted moments. It would take me pages to describe all the fantastic fish guests caught and drive all of us saltwater enthusiasts to an envious frenzy that cannot be repaired.
We had permit everywhere and we caught them in almost every part of our fishery. There was every imaginable permit scenario, big singles in shallow water, large schools of smaller fish in deeper water, and medium sized schools in all parts of the water column. The only spot we did not focus on permit was in the southwest corner of the bay. I am sure there were fish in this spot as well. When the tides were high, we chased permit in the backcountry and when tides dropped, we focused in deeper water anticipating the movement of fish. We had one guest request to not have lunch on a permit flat in fear of constantly seeing fish and not getting a chance to relax and have a bite to eat. Angler Brent Marcantel came back Monday landing 3 grand slams fishing solo on the boat and succeeded in landing his first 3 tarpon. Chris Koch landed his first permit and proceeded to land another 5 more. Owner of Onion Creek Fly Co. Wes McNew landed 2 super slams in one day to aid his first 2 permit. Our 5 anglers came back Tuesday with everyone accomplishing a grand or super slam. We had 4 super slams and 2 grand slams for the day. Tequila replaced water…. Captain Billy out did himself and landed a dozen permit. Collectively the group landed 35 permit for the week. This brings our count up to 143 permit with 58 guests. We had 11 grand slams and 6 super slams for the week.
We had fantastic tarpon fishing. I was greeted every morning by a beautiful sunrise and rolling tarpon outside my office window. Our famed northern cut and along the northern shoreline held at least one hundred rolling tarpon. Big schools were constantly moving in and out of our river systems. Tarpon were landed in almost every imaginable scenario we can possibly have. I put aside morning work last Tuesday and walked up to a small flat 300 yards north of the lodge. There was tarpon everywhere, laid up and cruising. I jumped 9 and landed 5 wading. I walked away from rolling tarpon and small pushes of fish. On my 300-yard walk back to the lodge it was amazing to see more tarpon, snook, bonefish and a few permit. The group landed roughly 40 tarpon and jumped twice that amount. We did see some bigger tarpon, but majority of the fish landed were in the 10 -40 lb. range.
Snook were abundant and we saw some very large fish that had moved into the system. Brent Marcantel landed a couple big fish that were over 15 lbs. Tight along the northern shoreline amongst the mangroves held great numbers of snook as the tide dropped, we saw them begin cruising the outer edg es and recklessly attack our baitfish flies. Sometimes we see snook become very picky with fly selections or worse decide not to eat. These fish were aggressive, and our guests became believers in using straight 60-80 lb. for these powerful fish. Two large snook were lost on 80 lb. bite due to their razor sharp gill plate. Snook hold a special place here in our fishery and I am confident we have some of the best snook fishing on the planet. As we move further into fall we should see more fish showing up. The hand to hand combat that follows a hook up with large snook will test any accomplished angler’s skill.
Bonefish were not to be overshadowed during the week. They were readily available in every spot guests were fishing and some large fish close to 6 lbs. were landed. Guide Alex pulled me aside after a day out and told me about 2 bonefish he saw that he thought were easily 8 pounds. I trust Alex and it will be exciting to see how the size of the bonefish continues to grow in this fishery. Another boat was snook fishing and the guide barked an alarm at incoming snook only to realize they were enormous bonefish. It’s an interesting phenomenon that we see big pushes of larger bonefish inhabit our waters in the fall months.
All of our classic permit flies produced: Squimps, Spawning Shrimp (tan and white) white and tan Casa Blanca ragheads. If you are coming in the following weeks you must arm yourself with a solid assortment of the listed flies above. While guests enjoyed good success this last week with permit it was partially due to being properly outfitted with the exact patterns we demand. Tarpon flies that worked were EP Baitfish blk/purple, white/chartreuse, blk/red, tan/white, solid white, tarpon toads worked well in similar color schemes. A couple guests threw traditional cockroaches and Black Death variations with good success. It is important to have different colors for these fish and a lot of the specific water conditions will result in our color choice.
Snook were landed on all the same flies as our tarpon but required more natural colors that represent the abundant sardines, we see this time of year. Tan/white, everglades, yellow, grey/white all produced for us.
Pick a fly out of your box and it works for bonefish. They attacked tarpon flies tied off on 60 lb. They ate spawning shrimp on 2 lb tippet. Our “normal” assortment worked well in sizes #2 – #6. All manner of Gotchas, Beck’s Sili Legs, Christmas islands, Bitters, and Clousers were a safe bet.
Weather was incredible, with sunny skies, light winds from the north, and southeast. Last Thursday we had a west wind. Wind speed rarely exceeded 10 Mph for the week. We had some decent rain showers that occurred in the early morning hours between 3:00 am and 5:00 am. Late Friday evening gave way to an electric storm that had me believing the roof over Chiara and I was on fire. It’s a spectacular show to watch the lighting streak across the ocean and reef at night.
Tides were high in the morning and dropped in the afternoon and we saw a complete reversal by the end of the week.
Chef Carlos kept the guests fueled for the week cooking and baking delicious cuisine. All manner of traditional Mexican dishes were accented with Carlo’s Mayan background. Anglers returned from their day fishing loading up on appetizers, margs, and fresh coconuts accompanied with rum. With glass like conditions, guests grabbed their drinks and floated in the shallows in front of our palapa welcoming the oncoming sunset.
Our staff worked extremely hard to properly sanitize and keep everything in working order and had guests feeling safe and comfortable. Chiara and I are very grateful for the collaborative effort all of our guests and staff have shown to maintain a safe environment. It means the world to us and I cannot thank everyone enough.
This week is lining out to be another good one and we are joined by 3 returning guests and 1 new angler. Tom Blailock and Mike Scott have been coming down to this part of the Caribe for years and it’s wonderful to see them again. Chip Thor came last year for the first time and we are excited to see him make this an annual trip.
Please check in with our friends at The Fly Shop to get up to date information regarding your upcoming trip here or if you are interested in jumping on a trip here in the future. Please stay safe and enjoy our transition into fall. Hopefully, everyone can take a minute and get to enjoy whatever offering the new season brings to your home. Enjoy the week and stay tuned for next week’s report.
From your loving friends at ESB Lodge
Saludos desde el Caribe Mexicana,
Dane & Chiara