September 17 – 24, 2023 #29
Welcome to the Caribbean,
Already sounding more repetitive than a broken record, I have to tell you that we have had another wonderful week! This week, one of the main protagonists was the wind, or rather the absence of it. Searching among the two hundred and fifty deities that form the pantheon of the Maya, the only one who could be capable of such a feat is Kukulcan, God of water, wind and, with his feathered serpent form, conformed the trio of deities responsible for the creation of the earth and human beings. Within this trio Kukulcan was responsible for teaching the Mesoamerican people the rules of law, agriculture, literacy, arts, medicine, architecture and above all these things he taught them to hunt and fish, the creator of the Outdoor man. It is not surprising that one of the most impressive architectural monuments in the world was built in the city of Chichen Itza in honor of Kukulcan by the Itza Maya people during the pre-Columbian period. Chichen Itza is a huge step pyramid, known as El Castillo or Temple of Kukulcan and is one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World.
On the twin equinoxes of each year (spring and fall), the sun magically casts a shadow that slowly descends the stairs from the temple to the carved stone heads of Kukulcan and creates the image of a serpent descending to earth. Even today, many Mayans and non-Mayans congregate at the temple twice a year to receive the blessings of his visit to earth, and yes, as you have well guessed, last Thursday, September 21 was the autumnal equinox for the northern hemisphere and the spring equinox for the southern hemisphere. It’s amazing how the whole universe conspires in our favor every week, we must be doing something right.
Sabrina and Jeff Sellmeyer, Carl Sparks, Ivar Bolander, Don Morris, Bill Bergan and Bob Sytz, all of them more than outstanding students of the fishing lessons of this deity, were invited to this Autumn visit of Kukulcan.
Monday’s day seemed to come out of any fisherman’s dream, almost no easterly winds, sunny and fish determined to give joy to our anglers. These conditions were wisely taken advantage of by Sabrina and Jeff who managed to land almost half a dozen permit with the use of their secret weapon, which logically, due to its secret condition, I will not reveal. Practically the whole group had chances with this species and the sightings were almost continuous. Bonefish, snooks, tarpons, jacks, snappers were repeated figures in the cards of all of them at the end of the day.
As if they were identical twins, Tuesday was an exact copy of the previous day as far as weather conditions were concerned. Around 2:30 pm, I see our guides’ van arrive, something that is logically not normal at that hour, and I leave my office to meet them with ten thousand possible situations crossing my mind. I see Bill and Don getting off with an exhausted look on their faces and our guide with a smile from ear to ear, and I immediately thought… this is going to be a good story. The three of them begin to tell me what happened and I will try to pass it on to you.
With the early hours of the fishing day underway and a favorable tide, several of our guides decided to go in search of some Permit schools almost at the mouth of the bay. As the shots were being fired at each boat, about 300 to 400 yards apart, our guide watched as part of a large school began to head towards them at 6 o’clock and warned Don, who was ready to execute the shot on command. The intrepid school begins to pass underneath the motionless craft with all its crewmen in absolute silence. The quick silver flash that reveals the fish as they lay sideways on the seabed is caught by our guide out of the corner of his eye and, without hesitation he whispers to Don, “three o’clock, thirty-five feet”, and almost as if it were a reflex action Don executes the shot with absolute precision and at a speed faster than the most advanced computer calculates two plus two.
The few seconds that the crab imitation takes to gain depth seem like hours, and the flow of time returns to normal at the sound of “strip”. The natural movement of the current begins to gently rotate the bow of the skiff, the guide cannot correct the position with the push pole without giving them away to the permit that keeps passing under them and this made Don’s line stay exactly on the reflection of the sun, limiting the vision of everyone in the boat. Another “strip” is heard and then another. Don’s heart stops for a moment as he feels the tension in the line before finishing the second move and our guide’s “SET; SET; SET!!!” was registered by the navy’s acoustic sensors in the vicinity of Greenland. A fast run begins, the baking yards are cutting through the surface of the water, Don lets him run out into open water trying to put as many factors in his favor in the fight that has just begun. One hundred yards, two hundred yards and he doesn’t stop, the reel’s song is a symphony to all until in the distance a black figure is seen emerging from the water heading skyward, shaking his head like the best heavy metal singer of the 1990’s. Don, Bill, our guide and the other anglers witness such a wonderful spectacle and they all start asking the same questions, “who has hooked that beautiful tarpon?” or “what’s wrong with that fish that jumps by itself?” Don continues the fight with his permit, commenting on the marvelous tarpon and congratulating the other member of the group who surely has it hooked, until a surprising change of direction in the running of his permit and another almost Olympic jump of that splendid animal were enough to make it clear that the tarpon was fighting against his crab, his 16-pound tippet, his 9 weight rod and against his skills. The shout of “Houston, we have a problem” from our guide was also registered by Greenland’s sensors and for a moment the events unfolded with extreme speed, a slight adjustment to the reel brake, the push pole frantically trying to shorten the distance with the silver mole and Bill, like a professional boxing coach, encouraging and assisting Don in his difficult fight. Back and forth, running, jumping and almost 10 miles covered were the ingredients of the three hours that kept the entire crew of El Guero on high alert. Finally, the immense silver torpedo stopped searching the deep waters of the bay and, with determination, sought the shallow waters at the entrance to the Ensenada where, without much difficulty, it passed through the line of mangroves to the slightly deeper waters of “the sunken boat”. This was the moment when our guide put on his Superman cape and jumped into the water, following Don’s line and unhooking it from every mangrove branch that the capricious destiny put in his way.
With almost all the way free and most of the line already inside the reel, the majestic fish made an acrobatic leap again, showing everyone how the little crab was barely hooked on the edge of its bony mouth and, with its frantic head movement, managed to free itself, leaving everyone with a mixture of joy and disappointment.
Despite Don and Bill’s exhaustion, the smile was impossible to hide as they finished telling me the story, what a great adventure!
Of course, the story was repeated several times that night and was celebrated during dinner along with the permit, snook and bonefish that Bob caught. The tarpons that day left both of them with a bittersweet taste.
Wednesday was full of great expectations due to everything that had happened the day before, despite the fact that some clouds were randomly drifting around the bay. Sabrina and Jeff had good chances with their target species for the week, as did Ivar and Carl, but the permits sold out. Bill and Don, still recovering their strength, had a go at bonefish, tarpons, snook and a shark, yes you read that right, they landed a shark on a fly. For those who have not tried it yet, I can tell you that it is a very technical, wild and expensive fishing, I have personally broken rods, reels, lines, hooks, etc. trying to catch this species, but it is still my favorite saltwater fishing.
Thursday again copied the weather characteristics of Monday and Tuesday, with the water surface looking like glass. Bob continued to add permits to his card, Ivar scored a Super Grand Slam and the rest of the group added bonefish, snooks, tarpons, barracudas, snappers, jacks, etc. to their catches.
Friday morning was promising to be another day with high temperatures, no wind and totally clear. Once again, almost everybody had a chance to catch permit, but only Sabrina and Jeff managed to put them on the scoreboard. The tarpons, snooks and bonefish were much more polite and returned the kindness of their visit by showing up and giving moments of fun and joy to the whole group.
The last day of fishing gave Jeff a Grand Slam and Bill a beautiful permit. It was everyone’s comment, during dinner, the amount of fish they managed to see that day, “the best day of the whole week” was the most used phrase and you already read how the previous days were so I will have to check with the guides if on Saturday there were more fish than water in the bay.
I can’t think of any other way to tell you that it was an excellent week, so I hope that, after reading everything that happened, you will come to that conclusion on your own.
Prevailing winds were from the east with some variations to the southeast and northeast, with a maximum wind speed of 12 mph and a minimum of 5 mph.
The tides were totally predictable and created the currents that our guides love to diagram their fishing strategies each day.
We had no heavy rain, just a few isolated showers at night or on the bottom of the bay.
While the permit were receptive to various types of flies such as Flexo, ESB Yellow Eyes Raghead, the champion of the week was the white Casa Blanca Crab.
Tarpon and Snook were not forgiving of EP’s Baitfish presentations, especially in black and violet or purple. If you visit us soon, please don’t forget to bring your intermediate and sinking line to go in search of the big tarpons.
The bonefish took on everything that was presented to them, shrimp and crabs of all sizes and colors available.
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