October 11 – 18, 2020
We’ve had another fun week here at ESB Lodge. Four guests came down and were able to enjoy long solo days on the water, targeting all four of our flats species. We were fortunate to have returning guest Larry Jones aka Lorenzo who had spent a week with us this past September. Our other three anglers were new to our program and quickly learned what a special place Espiritu Santo Bay is. We had decent weather intermittent with rain squalls that kept our wind down for much of the week.
Our fishery is beginning to show all the classic characteristics of fall and we’re enjoying good numbers of fish throughout the system. I would still prefer if we settled into a consistent wind direction from the north. We’ve been seeing our tides drastically change with wind direction varying from northerly to southeast, a wind more conducive to summer fishing. The given amount of northern winds we’re having now is still providing a nice seasonal transition that brings a lot of snook into our system and has big schools of permit in the middle of the bay.
Throughout the week and the Saturday evening before guests leave, I tally fish counts and collect material to base these weekly newsletters from. Larry Jones saved me the time and wrote out his own personal report. It follows as:
“Larry Jones from Pacific Grove, aka Lorenzo came to ESB Lodge a second time under the objection of his 2 ex-wives, but with the blessing of his girlfriend. He caught 2 permit over 20 lbs. and had a super slam with the loquacious guia, Victor”
He had an awesome week and started with our Monday morning program with guia Alex which aided him to catch 2 very big permit. He concluded the week fishing on Saturday with Victor and they saw plenty of fish and were able to land a super slam. Congrats Larry, and well done! I was able to get out on the boat and share the bow with ESB Lodge newcomer Mark Kehke. Mark is an avid outdoorsman, and loves to fly fish and upland bird hunt. He had been on four other saltwater trips with high hopes of landing permit. We started the morning out fishing our tarpon cut while the sun rose higher to provide good light to chase permit. Mid-morning found us 100 yards off the southern shoreline in area we call “Red Buoy”. An hour passed without seeing a fish. Alex decided to move us into deeper water in the middle of the bay where he had seen schools previously. It was my turn on the bow and we were immediately into a school of 50 big permit. My second cast resulted in a solid hook up and was lucky to land a 15 lb. fish on a white crab. While I was fighting the fish, more schools showed up and we were quickly in the midst of hundreds of permit. It was incredible to see so many permit moving through and witnessing a single school in the distance that held 100 fish alone. We landed my permit, got a quick picture, and Mark was immediately on the bow. Alex re positioned the boat and moved into another school of fish in which Mark hooked a permit on his first cast. He was off the to races with a 20 lb. permit peeling more than 250 yards of backing off his reel. Mark played the fish well, with the permit circling the boat multiple times causing Alex and I to dance around avoiding line contact. I noticed Mark’s vocals changed to higher octaves each time the fish circled….. Alex tailed the fish beautifully and it was a special moment sitting in the boat watching Mark hold his first permit, a trophy to say the least. Welcome to the club Mark, a job well done, and very well deserved. We also had first time guest Steve Cart join us for the week. Steve is a fantastic fisherman and previously owned a well-known tarpon and snook lodge located in Brus laguna, located along the northern shoreline of Honduras. This was at one time where legendary sized snook up to 30 lbs. could be caught regularly. Unfortunately, due to high demand the fishery was decimated by gill nets and the area became void of fish. This was the last time Steve was able to land big snook and been to other locations in hopes of seeing big fish again. He didn’t land any 30 lb. snook with us, but was able to catch 3 – 5 fish a day and landed a couple at 20 lbs. Steve is now dedicated to returning to ESB Lodge exclusively to chase big snook. While chasing these fish, he also had some great resident tarpon fishing. Last Wednesday Steve partnered up with guia Alex and succeeded in landing a grand slam. I appreciate his dedication and enthusiasm for chasing snook and it is fun to watch guests specifically target them. Guest Peek Garlinton had a good week landing four permit his first day with Victor and one more on Saturday which translated to a grand slam with guia Fernando.
Our total permit count for the week was 11 and this brings our season total to 218 landed permit with 82 guests.
I mentioned seeing big schools of permit in the middle of the bay. This seems to be where the majority of the fish are residing and we are not seeing them up on shallow flats as we had weeks before. When a north wind blows a bit some deeper flats along the northern shoreline will hold fish that pass through, transitioning to deep water. It’s fun to see so many fish concentrated in one area but can be very frustrating for anglers and guides. The deep water becomes hard to pole, and the exposed location also will become windy and makes for a rough ride trying to balance on the bow in the 2 – 3 foot waves. I am confident that once conditions become consistent with wind direction the permit will feel comfortable moving onto shallower flats resulting in a more classic shallow water experience. Snook and tarpon fishing remain strong and the backcountry systems are holding solid numbers of fish. When tides are in full swing the rivers become concentrated with baitfish that fall prey to snook and tarpon. We had a couple mornings where guests fished the northern shoreline outside of the bay along the coast. This is prime habitat for snook as they make their way into in the bay system.
Squimps and White crabs tied with yellow eyes continue to dominate our selection for permit. One thing I noticed while permit fishing to schools was the crab was less likely to be picked up by jacks and small blue runners. Squimps will work very well under these conditions but seemed to be quickly eaten by the less desirable quarry.
EP Baitfish and Tarpon Toads continue to produce well for tarpon and snook. Classic color schemes black/purple, and chartreuse/white do well for the resident tarpon and the snook seem to like more natural colors. One fortunate thing we have is lack of pressure on these fish. For guests that are tying some of these patterns you can get away using 3/0 hooks with amount of material associated with a 2/0 hook. This larger hook greatly improves hook ups and landing the acrobatic resident tarpon.
Bonefish are enthusiastic to eat all manner of shrimp patterns tied in sizes #2 -#8.
Weather for the week was mostly pleasant with some rain squalls that moved through during the day and night. We had 3 days where bay conditions were relatively calm, easy, and comfortable to navigate. Wind direction was changing constantly with north, northeast, east, and southeast all present during the week.
Chef Carlos and the house staff continue to work hard in our kitchens delivering tasty cuisine and being mindful of safety protocols to ensure a healthy longevity for guests and ESB Lodge. We enjoyed a well-run, orderly lodge and I appreciate the dedication this crew has shown us working 2 ½ months with no day off or rest.
This week is going to be fun and we have a group of 6 anglers for the week. Most guests are repeat fisherman and are looking forward to getting back on the bay. Close friend Kevin Vincent fished with us last August/September and this time brought his lovely wife Lee for her first trip to ESB Lodge. We’ve grown close to this couple and communicate weekly with them with updates regarding a rescue dog they saved from our jungle airstrip almost a year ago. It is very moving to see such a wonderful dog come under the care of ESB Lodge and then given a true home amongst friends. We also have The Fly Shop’s own Mike Michalak joining us for the week. Mike is of legendary status amongst the fly-fishing community and has created the most successful retail/outfitting/travel agency in the world. I am humbled to share our palapa with him and look forward to spending time together. As a young, budding angler in the 90s I used to obsessively turn the pages of The Fly Shop’s retail catalogue in awe and envy of the newest, greatest equipment at the time. Looking at the travel department of the catalogue opened new doors in my imagination and the places fly fishing could take you. Fast forward 20 years, owning now an exclusive lodge to Mike’s operation is an achievement as well as a dream come true for me and I couldn’t be prouder and more excited.
I hope everyone is enjoying some fall colors and navigating pumpkin patches. This is a favorite season of mine and perhaps you can get outside to enjoy it. Give our friends at The Fly Shop a call to inquire about this special place or line out a winter destination that will aid in your escape for a week of warmer weather. Stay safe, kind, and true to yourself and of course check in with us for next week’s fishing report.
From your loving friends at ESB Lodge
Saludos desde el Caribe Mexicana
Dane & Chiara