October 08 – 15, 2023 #32
ESB Lodge enjoyed another wonderful week here in the southern Riviera. Graced once again with familiar smiling faces who enjoy their annual trip to the lodge. It all runs together with the same drumroll of returning guests to the point I confuse myself with the current year. It’s a wonderful feeling to get lost in the years with our friends waving around fly rods as we trudge along the path father time laid before us. Chiara and I have enjoyed staying on the backburners of ESB. It’s like a Broadway show where we reside behind the curtains and usher the next acts/scenes into the spotlight. Bouncing around and making alternating trips to check on things we couldn’t have been happier with how things have moved along. Frontman Martin has done more than an incredible job. My debt of gratitude runs deep for his hard work and dedication to keep ESB running at a high level. He’s a chameleon of sorts that dances between several job titles and often fills the roles of two or three at the same time.
Chiara and I have finally enjoyed our home that we purchased in 2021. Instead of just being a place to drop bags before our next adventure it was a great thing to spend time together and truly make it ours. I felt a little domesticated to say the least charging around furniture depots, nurseries, box stores stuffing our place with all the normal pieces of comfort. Our plan is to be here at the lodge for the closing weeks with a few days spent off the property tangling ourselves with more projects. It’s a great feeling being back, and our dogs happily scolded us regarding the absence. After making peace with bags of dog treats and wet kisses they walked us through property and quickly brought us up to speed.
It was a decent week in the bay with the normal highs and lows that come with any angling adventure. We had the eclipse yesterday, fun to see and observe this natural phenomenon. I was reading up on the importance/significance an eclipse has with Mayan culture. We paralleled the rituals in our own fashion and kept sacrificing to a minimum aside from Lucia (our Weimaraner) digging up her favorite headless iguana and presenting it to the four directions. She’s always been my spirit animal.
Traditionally October greets us with cooler temps, moderate rainfall, and north winds. It was full summer mode here with hot temps, zero moisture, and east, southeast winds. We coupled that with an enormous tide that seemed to grow day by day. Chiara was in Chetumal the other day taking care of paperwork and reported a “real feel” of 118. That’s scalding for us makes things seem unbearably difficult. We’re off track of the norm with weather but rather than complain we adjusted to it. This appropriately becomes an excuse, something fishermen are notorious for doing. It was too much water, and the tide was way too high. It felt like the bay was a semi clogged toilet that needed a proper flush. You need a healthy flush of tides to keep the system teeming with incoming and outgoing fish riding the fronts. Permit were around but scarce. Southwest parts of the bay held the handful we saw. Anglers had an opportunity or two each day but not much after that. The boca of river 4 and outside 5 held some bigger fish passing through. Guest John enjoyed the week running solo on the bow and was able to catch a nice permit midweek and closed the deal yesterday landing another one to tally himself 2 for the week. Leo was dragged 200 plus yards through waist deep water in pursuit of a smaller school which happened to turn around head back towards him. One beautiful cast later went tight and he was off to the races with an impressive fish. Lorenzo chased permit as another solo angler and buttoned up two in the 7th inning on the last day with Victor as his guide. On the last day a very special guest who had paid her dues over and over finally sealed the deal with guide Fernando. Vikki tagged her first permit and rounded it out with her first grand slam. Her joy was infectious, and I am beyond tickled for this to come together for such a sweet individual.
Those that chased resident bonefish were happily rewarded as they seemed unaffected by higher tides. River systems on the north side hold strong numbers and the southside spit of land in area we call Tabascanoes held plenty of fish. They’re fun, consistent, and plentiful. While most come to ESB with permit on the brain, some will experience reality checks due to conditions. Bonefish on the other hand are always available and more times than not easier to locate and catch. Shallower water, beautiful sand, and droves of 3-pound missiles sound like nothing short of a perfect day in ESB.
Tarpon and snook were a little more difficult this week with higher water that seemed to flood miles into the mangroves. A few guests enjoyed some backcountry bushwacking with the boats and found both snook and tarpon. A couple days we saw “mud spots” that usually means small concentrations of snook but ended up catching both. It’s a treat being on Fernando’s boat as he takes you through the back mangrove tunnel out of casitas. Brock and Vikki enjoyed the experience on the last day with Fernando as he helped her to the grand slam. I have a sneaking suspicion that perhaps next week with a forecast of north winds we should start seeing some of the bigger snook start trickling into the system.
The weather for the week was mostly sunny, very warm and wind directions hailing from SE to E. Tides were high with a weak fall that still stayed stacked and high.
Normal ragheads #2, #4 both tan and white – with no yellow eyes did the trick for permit
Tarpon and snook ate EPs and toads preferably a darker color when fishing stained water. A Vikki special was responsible for a couple snook.
Bonefish were enthusiastic to munch most shrimp offerings sizes #2 – #8. The determining factor sits on matching depth of water with appropriately weighted flies.
Chef Luis continues his daily knockouts of delicious food. I am so impressed with his determination and execution to maintain the quality of the food we are known to have. House staff are sharp and work as a well-oiled machine. They stay attentive, dedicated, and keep the heart of ESB going and ensure comfort and enjoyment for guests.
As I conclude this report, I can hear the plane fly overhead the lodge heading to our jungle airstrip loaded with next week’s guests. The sun stays shining, stifling hot and still, with the ocean beachside as a painted mosaic of blues. We’ve got a great group of returning friends, all of whom we enjoyed over the last few years. I’m looking forward to happy hour and catching up with old friends in our palapa with storytelling, and innovative code-cracking ideas to catch fish. This will be lightly lubricated by a cocktail or two.
I hope everyone is enjoying their fall thus far and able to partake in some activity that gets them outside. Deer season coupled with grouse and swinging flies for anadromous fish is the name of the game for my friends in Northern Michigan. With the Fall season upon us means it’s spring in Patagonia. Seasonal reversals that give us a pleasant opportunity to have an upcoming crack at another summer. Our partners in crime at The Fly Shop are jamming away with what appears to be a very busy season south of the equator. Touch base with them if you’re curious and want to learn more and also get the latest happenings in our neck of the woods.
Take care, have a safe week, conserve, and protect our wild places. We’ll make a point to gather again next week for another report!
From a very special place in the Yucatan,
Saludos desde el Caribe Mexicano,
Dane & Chiara