Fishing Report
September 10 – 17, 2023 #28

ESB Angler with Tarpon

Welcome to the Caribbean,

We have had a great week in all aspects, we are getting used to the good weather, gentle winds and predictable tides, a true gift from Ah Xoc, the shark lord for the Mayan culture, whose pronunciation is (ah-chaak) and gave origin to the word “shark”, attributed to the British explorer John Hawkings in his voyage through the Caribbean in 1568.

The story about the god Ah Xoc relates it to the underworld and in fact all the representations of the Mayan gods that connect with death and the afterlife have in their illustrations a shark tooth. For all pre-Hispanic cultures, death has a very deep meaning and not as negative as today.

ESB Angler with Permit

A traditional tale about Ah Xoc, allows us to understand a little more about its importance and its true power over the oceans and its inhabitants. Legend has it that a fisherman was unable to catch fish, like Santiago in Ernest Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea”. It was then when Ah Xoc appears to him in the shallow Caribbean waters offering him a deal, he would give him a very abundant catch in exchange for the life of one of his sons. The fisherman accepts and delivers his daughter, gets hundreds of fish and Ah Xoc takes the young girl to live in the marine world. The fisherman’s ambition to catch more fish makes him propose to exchange his son’s life for more fish and, once the deal is closed, the young man escapes to high lands without water, where Ah Xoc could not reach him.  Before this deception, the enraged Lord shark took all the sea creatures of the area and there was never again any fishing or life in those waters. Undoubtedly it is not the best plot for a Hollywood movie, but it makes it very clear what the conservation spirit of these cultures was. When humans respect nature, she gives us her resources, however, when our ambition leads us to “cheat” her, nature leaves us with nothing. It is sobering to know that these civilizations of the Mesoamerican period had these concepts more than two thousand years ago.

This week could be called “The Captain’s Table”, where our “Captain” Dane shared the week with Jon Wheat, Thresa Van Nooten, Jim Bartschi, Dodd Russell, Brendan and Thomas Bannigan, all of them accomplished fishermen and excellent people.

With this unbeatable group of friends, willing to have a good time and having the main objective of enjoying good times together during the week, success was guaranteed from the first minute.

Just based on the conversations that took place during dinner on Sunday, we could already anticipate that the first day of fishing would be full of laughs, jokes and adventures, with maybe a few fish as cherry on the cake. Jon placed the first cherry by dueling with a beautiful permit that had no choice but to surrender to the years of experience and good work of this incredible angler. Luck was a little more elusive when he measured his strength against the big silver torpedoes in the bay and they managed to break free from his hook on several occasions, leaving our angler empty-handed as he watched those almost triple-digit fishes swam away with the mocking laughter that naturally appears on their faces. Thresa and Jim, although they had repeated chances against our flagship species, proved to be immune to the flies. Those who could not resist were Snook, tarpon and bonefish that crossed their path. Thomas and Brendan also had their chances with permit but with the same result as Thresa and Jim unfortunately. Dodd hit the board with a grand slam in his first few hours of fishing the bay.

ESB Angler with Permit

Tuesday began with a gray sky laden with clouds, which although they didn’t seem to have any intention of unloading their wet contents, they did forecast the absence of shadows and reflections under the surface of the water. With this limited visibility, the chances of spotting permit in the distance were scarce, while the rest of the species in the bay were more than willing to brighten up our anglers’ day. Many times, people talk about the instinct of the fisherman as if they were Jedi powers, out of the imagination of George Lucas, and that is how Thomas, as if he were the Great Master Yoda, followed the designs of the force and executed a long cast in the gray waters of a small corner of the bay, closed his eyes and let his instincts guide his movements, strip, strip, strip, strip and set!  The demonic chirping of his reel indicated that it was not a snapper that had taken his fly, the theories and conjectures began about what living being would be on the other side of his line, is it a bird, no, it’s a plane, no, it’s a magnificent permit!

ESB Angler with permit

With the skies a little clearer, Wednesday lent itself to many more chances against the elusive permit, which proved once again why they are considered a trophy species in the world of sport fishing, and most of us who tried to catch them, not only know exactly how many victories we have had, but we treasure the memory of each one of them, just as Brendan did that day.

After the middle of the week and with the rods a little tired from so much use, Thursday was a much calmer day where bonefish, snook, tarpon, snappers, baracuda and jacks were the protagonists, leaving the permit punished to see if they would reflect a little on their elusive behavior in the previous days.

The strategy of being the anglers who showed indifference to the permits paid off and on Friday Thomas, Dodd and Dane were the ones who added their catches to their scorecards. It was also a very special day as we celebrated Dodd’s birthday and Ah Xoc, Mr. Shark, also presented him with a tarpon and a bonefish to sign his second Grand Slam of the week.

With the start of the last day of fishing, the individual smiles made evident the satisfaction of the group and without relaxing, they faced the day as if it were their first. Brendan quenched his thirst for experience with a Super Grand Slam, what an incredible way to end the week!

ESB Angler with Permit

The invariably light easterly winds, which never exceeded 12 mph and at a low of 8 mph, were more than appreciated by our anglers except for those times when temperatures exceeded 92º.

The tides were not affected by the almost zero winds, so they were very strong and created strong currents in the river systems of the bay.

The rains were not present during the fishing days, and we only had a heavy downpour on Sunday morning.

Flies that worked well for permit were tan Squimps #2, white raghead crabs #2, Beck’s fleeing crab #4, smaller EP spawning shrimp #4.

It is almost my obligation to tell you about a situation that, for those who know Dane and the strength with which he stands up for his convictions, is striking to say the least. While setting up his gear the day before his first day of fishing, I was surprised to see that his permit rod was perfectly tied on with a flexo, and I decided not to say anything to him because I figured he would change it later. My surprise was even greater when he hands me his rods to place them next to those of the other guests and the flexo is still there! I look at it, he looks at me, we look at each other and he says, “it’s horrible, but it works”.

ESB Angler with Barracuda

Only great people can recognize the virtues of something they don’t like, so Dane welcome to the world of FLEXO!

Tarpon were caught on EP, purple, everglade special, white/gray, Tarpon toads black and purple 2/0 colored lures.

Bonefish were landed on all types of shrimp patterns sizes #2 – #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 Lodge family

800-669-3474530-222-3555 |




ESB Guests Group Shot