October 18 – 25, 2020
We’ve enjoyed another week here at ESB Lodge. I apologize for getting the report from last week a little later than usual. We finished the week with a strong tropical depression that resulted in category 1 hurricane that landed 70 miles north of us last night (Monday) around 8:30 PM. Luckily, we escaped major damage and things are resuming as normal. The days leading up to Hurricane Zeta were beautiful and made for some incredible fishing for our guests. We had a wonderful group of 6 friends join us for this special week. It’s weeks like this that give Chiara and I the complete satisfaction as lodge owners and we couldn’t be more proud to operate in one of the most special fisheries in the world.
Our fishing was superb which coincided with some really nice weather. We had multiple days that the bay was flat with little wind. I thought it was interesting with our tide cycles which didn’t seem to be consistent and we never got a true tidal flush. Some days the tides never seemed to change with a never ending incoming or never ending outgoing. This is probably due to the incoming storm. Permit fishing was mixed with days that were unbelievable and days it was hard to find a fish. Our first day out Kevin Vincent was able to land a beautiful fish and the rest came up empty handed. Tuesday there were permit everywhere, boats seeing hundreds of fish, multiple schools close to each other. It seemed like someone just dumped thousands of permit into our system. Close friends Mike Michalak and Mike McVay had a day that would leave any permit enthusiast weary with an overload of permit. The two of them landed 11 permit for the day with guide Fernando and the group tallied up more than 17 fish in one day. This is a new ESB lodge record for one day. Andre Feucht was also a hot boat alongside guide Victor and they had 6 to speak for. Outside of river systems 3 and 4 we saw majority of the fish. They resided in deeper water and transitional flats roughly 4 feet deep. We returned to these spots the next day and the bay seemed void of permit. The only thing the guides and I could come up with was inconsistent current movement from tides. It seemed to be a yo- yo with Friday having some solid numbers of fish turning up again. Since we opened in 2017 I have never seen so many permit show up in impressive droves for the month of October. Usually we see consistent fish but more scattered throughout the bay system. Mike McVay was the hot permit rod for the week totaling 11, and Andre Feucht having his best week yet at ESB Lodge landing 6 one day and 3 another with guide Alex. The Fly Shop owner Mike Michalak added 8 permit to the total count. Kevin Vincent had 7 permit for the week and 11 permit total counting from his previous trip here in September! He also tacked on a super slam with guide Pepe. Mike Michalak is probably one of the most well-traveled fly fisherman with more than 40 years of experience under his belt. At dinner one night someone asked him throughout all his travels which location would he dub as the best permit destination. Without batting an eye, Mike said ESB Lodge holds the best fishing on the planet for permit.
Our group total for the week was 34 permit with 6 guests. This brings season totals to 252 landed permit with 88 guests.
Our tarpon and snook fishing was fantastic and was not about to be overshadowed by chasing permit. When permit fishing hit a lull, or light conditions weren’t optimal we headed into river systems on the north side and also along the northern shoreline outside the bay. Andre Feucht had a fun day with guide Pepe and they saw countless snook well over 15 lbs. I shared the boat with Mike Michalak Tuesday morning and we immediately headed over to chase fish in the mangroves. When guide Pepe stopped the motor we pulled the rods out and saw snook right away. Throughout the morning we worked the shoreline hard and saw plenty of snook and schools of tarpon cruising through. I looked up and noticed another one of our boats a couple hundred yards north and south of us both doing the same thing, and everyone catching fish. A fun spot that we do not usually fish is the west side of the island that splits the entrance to our bay. Most of the time, due to wind direction, this is a tough spot to target fish with muddy water and difficult conditions. Mike and I finished our day there watching schools of small tarpon rolling and had consistent action for the better part of an hour. Outside of river 2 along the bank held solid numbers of snook and we ran across the occasional tarpon. The snook fishing will continue to become stronger with a more predominate north wind during the fall and early winter. Tarpon numbers seem to be higher than normal and I translate this to water temps staying warm and plenty of sardines and other baitfish readily available. We did have a big tarpon jumped almost 80 lbs. by Mike McVay with guide Alex in our tarpon cut on the north side.
Bonefish were always available and all guests that chased them caught plenty. I love the bonefish here. They are energetic, healthy, and could care less about tippet size. They eat absolutely anything that’s presented in front of them. Kevin Vincent has been coming here more times than we can count and this trip was particularly special with his wonderful wife Lee joining him for a week. She’s a solid stick and had great fun chasing tailing bonefish. The finished their week with guide Fernando wading flats that held awesome pushes of fish.
We had pleasant weather for much of the week. Most days had minimal wind that didn’t exceed 7 mph according to the radar. Visibility was good for much of the week with mixed sun and clouds. Some days saw more sun than others and vice versa via clouds. Our wind direction was interesting meaning it was mostly from the west and finished the week coming from the north, northeast.
Tides were difficult to pin down and we saw highs in the morning that lasted throughout the day on a slow fall. We had low tides that also started some of days with a low and seemed to fall throughout much of the day. Days where we saw strong numbers of permit we had high tide in the morning and low tide in the afternoon.
Our permit flies that worked well for the week was the usual for ESB Lodge. White Casa Blanca crabs with yellow eyes, #2 hook, #4 tan and white Spawning Shrimp, and of course our #2 tan Squimp.
Tarpon were landed on Toads and EP baitfish in color schemes black/red, black/purple, solid black, white/chartreuse. Snook were landed mostly on more natural colored EP baitfish that represent small sardines.
Bonefish ate any small shrimp pattern in sizes #2 – #4. We jump from bead chain to heavier eyes depending on the depth we are fishing.
Chef Carlos out did himself again with the help of Francisco (Pancho). They kept the lodge well fed with delicious Mexican dishes accented with a Mayan flare. Emmanuel worked hard keeping the lodge in working order and lending a hand when ever needed. I can’t say enough about Emmanuel and truly appreciate his dedication and hard work he displays day in and a day out. He’s a jack of all trades and has become imprinted into the identity of this operation.
Now that we have Hurricane Zeta behind us everyone is looking forward to another great week here at ESB Lodge. We are joined by 5 new anglers who have been anxiously waiting for a spot on the calendar with us. One of our guests this week remembers me from 7 years ago when I hosted a large group of 30 anglers in Belize. He remembered my group drank the lodge clean out of alcohol……. Different but fun times and I’m glad to reconnect and I also assured him this week would be well stocked with beverages.
I hope everyone is enjoying the last few days of October and able to catch the dying glimpses of any colors left amongst your local foliage. We have had an incredible fall here and are also looking forward to the beginning of our winter season. Do yourself a favor and drop a line to our close friends at The Fly Shop®. They’re on standby to aid you in your next adventure and fill you in on the latest with the happenings of ESB Lodge. Have a safe and wonderful week and check in with us for the next fishing report!
From your Yucatan friends,
Saludos desde el Caribe Mexicana
Dane & Chiara