October 31 – November, 2021
We’ve enjoyed another pleasant week here at the lodge. October has slipped away as we have dive into our late fall weeks and welcome November. The weather is cool, comfortable, with the light fading a little quicker and struggling to appear as sunrise comes later. It’s a fun time to be here and the atmosphere is peaceful around the jungle and oceanside. Undoubtedly you feel another seasonal change around the corner tugging away the last few weeks of fall. My ac unit is barely used now with the low overnight temps and is turned to a simple circulation mode so I can detect any foreseeable problems with my generator running all night. Mike Matus joined us again for his 4th trip to ESB this year alone and I jokingly mentioned we look forward to seeing him monthly. In all reality we’re excited to see him in the not-too-distant future with our 2022 season kicking off in February with Mike’s week falling in that time frame. Jim Rector made the trip for a second visit in 2021 and enjoys seeing this fishery during the spring months and fall months. The lodge had the pleasure of meeting some new faces that were unfortunately cancelled the previous season with pandemic driven closures. As I always mention, it’s a treat welcoming new guests and I truly hope they embrace the wonders and privilege to share a special place such as this. It’s a wonderful relationship and a great way to collectively enjoy the natural world and going about while waving a fly rod serves justice.
This week was a perfect example of a late fall fishery. Nice weather for the most part, a day or so less than ideal, and some light winds. Moments of flurried fishing action followed by hours of poling vacant flats, with a nice surprise by showing up at the right place the right time in small hidden lagoon systems loaded with fish. This perhaps could define a lot of weeks and times of the year, but we embrace the consistency of the inconsistency due to some cooler water temps. A few degrees mean a world of difference for fish, and they react by retreating or heading off to unknown watery grounds unbeknownst to us.
Permit fishing is decent with numbers still around, though we have noticed a slight decline in big schools of fish. The game of chasing permit drives one mad with all the variables mainly being lots of sun and light winds playing in your favor drives us to believe we are owed a reward. It’s just not the case pure and simple. A few days guests saw plenty of permit, other days they vanished, and some saw barely any. If you dedicate your time completely to chasing permit this time of year expect your week to be productive for a couple days. Of course, the flip side of this is the opportunity to see and target our other species that can help balance out a healthy week of fishing. River’s one and two were a stronghold for smaller permit and they were schooled up at the mouth, zipping around in circles and mingling with all manner of fish that stage in these areas. Fernando and Jim found some nice schools outside of Ensenada where it meets the main part of the bay. Deep southwest in area known as “Tobascanoes” had some larger singles trickling through. The big cenote in that area held a school circling the outer rim of the blue hole. Alex found some nicer sized fish in river 3 system and him and Mike Matus caught a big fish that was over 20 lbs and took 30 minutes to land. Of course, being with Alex they had to round out their day and complete a grand slam, one of three grand slams and super slam Mike had for the week. Matus and Victor had a hell of day when Victor ventured into a small creek system on the northside in an undisclosed location to find a nice school of small permit in a lagoon the creek led to. The caught an impressive 8 permit for a personal best via numbers and were able to complete a grand slam and another super slam in the same day. They were one fish shy of a double super slam which is not a normal occurrence here but boasts the possibilities when all species are readily available. Jim Rector had a great day with Alex chasing permit and landed 7 in one go and completed a grand slam. Newcomer Mike Bennet landed some smaller permit and was able to tally 4 for his week of fishing. We hooked smaller permit that became the focus for a couple of barracudas and an aggressive shark.
The group of 6 anglers landed a total of 24 permit for the week and we have our season totals at 774 permit with 232 guests.
Tarpon fishing remained solid, and we are seeing numbers of fish in our first 3 river systems as well as along the northern shoreline and further along the shore outside the bay. I’ve noticed less bait piled up around our oceanside beach and I fear my daily walks with a tarpon stick are done for the season. I had a great run of fishing days the last couple months along the beach 200 yards north of the lodge. I was able to get a couple last Friday and it was a small school passing through quickly and lucky for me they tracked well and stayed within a reasonable casting range. The eastside of the island that sits at our bay entrance held fish and we also saw some fishing rolling in the cut where we have previously landed some larger tarpon this season. Guide Marcos had a sweet honey hole where he ran his guests everyday inside river 2 and guests Dennis Morgan and Mike Schneider saw more than 50 tarpon the first day out. Fernando took Mike Matus down to our cenote I mentioned before, and he witnessed some rolling tarpon well over 100 lbs. It’s hard to understand the behavior and why exactly these massive tarpons inhabit the cenote. Cenotes have a mystical feel about them and are limestones tunnels that connect the ocean and waters much further inland. There’s a sense of connectivity to the underworld that we struggle to understand and for simpler measures I’ll leave it at that. We enjoy the monstrous fish that make their appearance in the cenote but can never grasp any regularity or consistent sightings.
Snook fishing has picked up significantly and all the guests had great chances to catch these migratory cousins of our local fish. I will note we saw more than we caught, a common occurrence that has us twisting up new baitfish flies at the vise seemingly trying to crack a code that holds no solution. It’s an addictive obsession I find myself every snook season. Ask four guides their favorite snook fly and you’ll get four different responses. Ask the again the following week and you’ll four answers that differ from the prior week. This is our snook fishing and I have no idea what will make these fish turn from ravenous predators to tightlipped and refusing to acknowledge any offering we drag across their face. Mike Bennet and Ewing Phiblin had scenario like this with Alex as they came across 40 snook along the northern shoreline close to the other fishing village. Dennis Morgan was able to land a couple decent snook and him and boatmate Mike Schnieder had some exciting snook fishing with Marcos.
Our bonefish are plentiful and deserve attention this time of year. The north side is becoming the main haunt to see bigger bonefish and when the tide is right in the river systems, there’s a steady stream of fish moving with the change. Dennis and Mike had a pleasant day inside river one with an outgoing tide. The bonefish were pouring out of the mangroves in small droves of 2-5 fish at a time. This is skinny water fishing as we know it and these guys complimented the afternoon using a 6 and 7 weight to add a light tackle element that is sporty and very fun. I have mentioned it only a hundred times or so…… One would be HIGHLY encouraged to invest in a crisp fast action 7 weight and devote a day out of your week chasing bones in shallow water. If this is not fun for you, I perhaps suggest working on your daily outlook and go back to the drawing board of what defines a fun fishing week in the salt.
Barracuda have held an overlooked presence lately and I was happy to see some anglers torment them with flies. Whenever you want to cross the bridge and accept the Cuda as a worthy gamefish let us know and we’ll be happy to show you a very healthy and aggressive population. They are easy to find, staging in all the river systems and they seem to have the last word on the happenings of a localized area. Other than the rare shark or croc, they have few predators and exercise their authority prohibiting us from landing fish. I really believe we have trained some large Cuda’s in river one. Our skiffs mean easy food and they post up within casting distance and wait until we have a bonefish or small permit to then charge and reduce the size of our catches.
Weather was very mild with mostly sunny skies and lighter winds from the north. We had two days with decent cloud cover and a bit of rain fell along the southern shoreline. Tide was lower in the morning but coming in and we saw a fall begin early afternoon with a low when we finished our fishing days.
Small spawning shrimp and white crabs were the ticket for permit. The white crabs that were productive had yellow eyes. We also landed a couple fish on #4 Squimps.
Tarpon and snook ate toads and mostly EP baitfish. Color schemes that were working were black/red, solid black, black/purple, and chartreuse/white.
Bonefish happily ate lighter shrimp flies in skinny water and any shrimp pattern in deeper water.
Chef Carlos is at the top of his game and continues to whip up delicious meals around the clock. Emmanuel and the dream team that consists of the house staff works steadily on making sure we’re running smoothly and insuring guest comfort.
Our weather looks promising this upcoming week and I’m loving the cooler temperatures. We have a cloudless day currently and I have plans to try out a new snorkel and mask a guest brought down for me. We’re joined again by some familiar faces for the week and some new friends that have been towed along to experience this wonderful place. I hope everyone is enjoying cooler temps wherever that may be and still finding time to get outdoors. If you want to know more about this special place don’t hesitate and call our friends over at The Fly Shop for the latest news and some exciting things around the corner for 2022. I hope you all have great week, and please stand by for the next report.
Saludos desde el Caribe Mexicana
Dane & Chiara and the entire ESB crew