Categories: ESB Lodge Reports

Esb Lodge Report

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Esb Lodge Report

Published: April 12, 2021

Fishing Report
April 04 – 11, 2021

 

We had another fun filled week here at ESB Lodge. Four single anglers joined us for 6 days of fishing, an incredibly option that allows guests to opt for their own boat, guide and room. As a single angler you have the opportunity to enjoy almost 50 hours of bow time, a serious amount of fishing that usually leaves you exhausted by the end of the week. We had three guests join us for their return trips and welcomed Gary Forster, a new angler to our wonderful operation.  Fish were caught by all, and an overall solid 6 days that revolved around eating, drinking, and fishing hard.

FISHING:
We’re in the thick of our spring fishery here and that means wind. I was happy to see that we were able to have a tide change that allowed lower water conditions and gave guests the opportunity to chase tarpon and snook in the backcountry. Permit fishing was decent, but proved difficult standing in the bow in rougher water. With the lower tide we had to chase them in deeper water which meant exposed spots that can be tough to negotiate with wind and varying degrees of visibility. We found smaller permit in the river systems on the northern shoreline, and hunted some larger fish along the south shore, and further west in a spot we call “Tabascanos”. Guest Gary Forster was able to land his first 3 permit the last day with guia Victor from the second river, and guest John Pyne landed a smaller permit from a river his first day out with Fernando.

Reed Bumgarner had a fantastic week of permit fishing. His first day out with Alex he managed two smaller permit. Later in the week with guide Pepe, they landed a beautiful fish over 12 pounds. This was Reed’s largest fish to date. They spotted another permit, hooked it and fought the fish close to 45 minutes. This was our largest permit of the year and resulted in being the largest permit Reed landed. This fish was more than 30 pounds, an absolute monster.

Collectively the group of four guests landed an impressive 11 fish for the week.  This brings our season totals to 200 permit with 65 guests.

Anglers were able to enjoy our tarpon and snook fishing much more than previous weeks and everyone had opportunities at both. River 5 system and the entrance to 4 were hit hard every day and there were plenty of tarpon that were moving out from the mangroves. River 5 is an incredible place and when you’re back in the river you truly feel remote. Casting as our guests saw, can be tricky. No longer was it a game of throwing as far as you can into a 15 mph headwind, instead it’s navigating a mangrove lined shoreline that has an overhead canopy. We fish ahead of the boat or “skip” our flies under low hanging branches, easier said than done. I deem and eat and a jump sufficient in these given conditions. Accurately working a 1 foot opening with a low back hand cast, that pulls a tarpon out is quite an accomplishment and more of our guests experienced jumps rather landing multiple fish. A couple small creeks that feed into the back of the 2nd river and 1st also had a handful of snook.  I felt as if these fish were nonexistent that last few weeks and it was a welcome sight to have this part of our fishery available. John Pyne had a fun day jumping 8 and landing 4. Gary Forster landed 6 Tarpon for the week.  Jim Rector tallied up 3 snook landed for his week.

We are all about diversity here with our bay, it’s the last frontier for incredible fishing in an unmolested environment. We have been always targeted as a permit destination. I don’t mind, and we are respectively one of the top producing permit fisheries in the world. There’s also some underappreciated fish we have. The bay holds an impressive population of Barracuda.  I struggle to understand the low level of desire to chase these apex predators. The formula and characteristics these fish have make up for a more than worthy adversary. A fish that hits burst speeds at 30 mph, found in shallow water, insane takes, and is topped off with a row of menacing teeth should be convincing enough to have a rod rigged. Most of guests last week had additional rods in the boats to throw at cuda. John Pyne had some fantastic poppers and larger baitfish imitations preloaded with wire to go after them. Reed and the rest of the group also chased cudas and collectively the group landed a good number of cudas, more than any other week this season so far. I can’t emphasize enough to guests these fish will put up a fight that can easily translate to a high light of their week. With a great population of these fish, they should be a staple adversary to chase. Cuda’s can have funny attitudes when it comes time to hitting our flies. They seem to be very forgiving with some presentations missing their mark by 20 feet, and they’ll close the gap and explode on your fly before you have considered a recast.  We also see them stare down a properly presented fly and not move an inch or express any interest at all. It seems like after a couple casts and the fish doesn’t eat, it becomes a waste of time for guests as they watch the fish swim away annoyed or spooked. If you’re headed down here, do yourself a favor and bring some wire and big crease flies, or flies that displace water when stripped. The lodge also has some house rods and if you wish to chase cudas for a day we’re happy to loan out the needed equipment.

Bonefish were readily available as always and are the heart of our fishery. All the guests that chose to chase bonefish were rewarded with plenty of fish. They’re forgiving here, easy to catch, and everywhere we fish, we find them. Our backcountry held larger bonefish, more solitary cruisers, patrolling edges or inside mangroves. Outside the river systems we found more fish but they were generally smaller. These fish will average 2 -3 pounds, a fun fight on a light 7 weight or 8 weight depending on wind.

FLIES:
Our smaller permit were landed on spawning shrimp tied EP style on #4 hook. Color schemes that worked were white or tan.  Our standby #2 Tan Squimp was responsible for landing a permit. The larger permit succumbed to white Casa Blanca ragheads tied with yellow eyes.  Guests get confused with name labeling of this fly and various companies rename essentially the same fly. When you are load up with crabs to fish here, make sure you have tan and white raghead style flies that have medium yellow eyes. We are also using more traditional ragheads that have the normal lead colored dumbbell eyes.

Toads, EP baitfish, and traditional seducers worked well for tarpon and snook.  Black/purple, chartreuse/white, olive/white, and solid white were all solid color schemes that worked well.  We put suggestions in our travel tackle planner that outlines a selection of different colors or patterns that work really well for tarpon and snook.  The list will look something like this:

Tarpon and Snook:
EP Peanut Butter series 2/0 Hook
You need to have color schemes: Black/Purple, Black/Red, White/Chartreuse, Everglade Special, White/Grey I would suggest 4 of each color

Tarpon toads tied on 2/0 Hook
You need to have color schemes: Black/Purple, White/Chartreuse, Black/Red   I would suggest 4 of each color

Bonefish were enthusiastic to eat any shrimp offering tied on a #8 through #2 hook

Cudas were landed on large poppers and 4 – 6” baitfish with 20 – 40 lb. wire.

WEATHER/TIDES:
Weather for the week was mostly cloudy with the last couple days showing more sun. Our wind was predominately from the east and stayed consistent at 15 mph with some stronger gusts upwards to 20 mph.

Tides for the week were coming in the am and we had a high around 10 am.  Shortly after a quick slack, water moved out and we had dropping tides between 11 – 4 with the tide circling back to incoming as guests finished their day.

Chef Carlos continued his magic in the kitchen and along with sous chef Louis, they provided delicious meals throughout each day. Freddy and the house staff worked hard to keep the grounds and lodge in a neat and orderly manner, creating comfortable accommodations for everyone.

We’ve got a fun week ahead of us.  Close friend Mike Thompson is hosting his third trip down to ESB Lodge. Mike is always accompanied by wonderful guests who have in turned become close with us here at ESB. It’s always a highly anticipated week, and our guides and staff look forward to seeing them return annually. I am also a part of their group chat, and email group.  It’s been fun reading the banter between the group starting weeks ago, with them excited and preparing for the week. We’ll have some mixed weather and by the middle of the week it seems like full sun will be upon us. Either way this crew of fishing enthusiasts will have a fantastic week as always chasing whatever they have an opportunity to catch.

I will be departing with the group this Sunday as I make my way back to the states for a quick break and will pass the reins to our close friend Sam Gigliotti. Sam managed for us in 2019, did a wonderful job, and I very happy to have him back for the next couple months. He will also be crating our weekly newsletters and reports and keeping our group of ESB Lodge enthusiasts informed with fishing, weather, and general up to date info.

If you are curious or would like to have more information about this special operation, please don’t hesitate to call our dear friends at The Fly Shop® a call. The travel department is ready to help set up a trip here or any other destination you might be considering.

I hope everyone has a safe week, gets outside, and enjoys some spring weather. Hopefully you have some fishing in your personal schedule. Take care and stay tuned for the next report!

Saludos desde el Caribe Mexicano,
Dane & Chiara and the entire staff of ESBL

Esb Lodge Report

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Esb Lodge Report

Published: April 5, 2021

Fishing Report
March 28 – April 04, 2021

Spring is in full swing here at ESB Lodge, and we’re welcoming the seasonal change as I’m sure all of you are, wherever that may be. Last week we had the pleasure of hosting 6 new guests to our program and returning close friend Brian Thielicke for his second trip visiting us.  We enjoy hosting newcomers here and we encourage everyone to take advantage of any openings to grab a chance to fish at ESB Lodge. The dynamic of our group was fun, nobody knowing each other prior to arrival, and everyone becoming friends by the end of the week.  Evenings were filled with laughter and hilarious stories, punctuated by a crescendo that was lubricated with bottles of fine Argentinian malbecs and blends. My ears were ringing from the dull roar, and I had a blast with the group of appreciative and friendly guests.

FISHING:
The second part of an enjoyable fishing trip revolves around just that – fishing, and we had an exceptional week to say the least. Last Sunday upon arrival everyone got situated in their rooms, and had a delicious lunch. After lunch I gave a quick orientation with a basic run down of how things work around ESB, fishing conditions, do’s and don’ts and we begin piecing everything together for guests to have a fun filled week. It was brought to my attention that 5 out of the 7 guests had never landed permit and were anxious and hopeful (maybe desperate) to land their bucket list fish. I’d be lying if I was saying that I wasn’t a little nervous with the demand, we’re fairly used to this, and although it always comes as a tall order we work hard to tackle.

Everyone headed to the boats Monday morning and there was full sun, stiff breeze from the southeast, and a quiet intensity had filled our van of anglers highly anticipating the beginning of the week. I returned later to pick up the group at 5:00 PM and was met with smiles, high fives, and a locomotive babbling of excitement as I simultaneously heard 7 guests describe their day.  We had some schools of permit fairly close to our boat launch that had moved into the bay.  They were all fresh schools, and we didn’t see them the week before with the high winds. This same scenario played out for us a few weeks ago as well. All 5 guests that had never landed permit before checked their bucket list fish by lunch. The group collectively landed 36 plus permit Monday. We’ve never landed this many permit in one day here at ESB Lodge. Guides Victor and Pepe, an awesome brother duo each flanked the schools and proceeded to catch one after another. Tony Ankar and Webster Ray were with Victor and their boat landed 24 permit alone. Tony was one of the five hoping to catch his first permit, and succeeded in landing his first twelve…. Newcomer Waverly Crenshaw had traveled to various locations around Mexico and Cuba chasing permit and had yet to land one. He along with Pepe landed his first eight for the day. Guide Marcos along with Louis Fehrenbacher and Steve Gotanda joined in and these two guests landed their first permit each. This was Louis’s second trip in the salt and his first cast of the week was tight on a nice fish. Guide Alex chose to head deeper into the bay and chase fish on the northern side and aided Bill Babb into his first permit and rounded out a grand slam, another first.

There was some excitement later that evening to say the least, and it was a proud moment to raise our glasses at dinner and toast guests with tequila congratulating everyone. Expectations were blown out of the water and I was astounded at the numbers of fish landed. This isn’t normal for us and I begged guests to please understand. Everyone was appreciative and enthusiastic with their day and they knew they had taken part in some exceptional fishing. We see big pushes of schools in the spring. The theory the guides and I have come up with was a hard incoming tide and a proper flush of water movement. We saw some decent fish the previous week but never the schools. Historically spring time brings hard easterly winds that can almost stop tide movement. There’s no tide charts here to follow our even begin to understand, it’s 100% dictated by wind. ESB sees roughly a foot or so of change from low to high tide, or vice versa. When winds change, especially from the southeast normal tidal movement resumes and the schools of fish come flooding in. When there is no movement due to eastern winds we see almost a slack that can last for the better half of a week, with little or no fresh schools of fish moving in and out of the bay. ESB is a small bay comparatively to the much larger bay to the north, Ascension, and even bigger bay to the south, Chetumal. Our bay is 15 miles east to west and 5 miles north to south at its widest. Fish here are always coming and going, riding water movement and pushes with the tide. We had schools along the southern shoreline, and they petered out towards the southwestern corner of the bay. Although schools weren’t seen deeper in the bay, larger fish, singles doubles and smaller groups of permit were seen. The northern flat Ensenada has finally started to show some sign of life, guests found permit and bonefish and continued to work from there moving west towards first and second river. As the week progressed, we found larger fish in 3rd and 4th river system. Big solitary fish, much larger than the 4 – 6-pound schooled fish. Bill Babb and Brian Thielicke did well last Thursday with Victor and landed a few larger fish. Steve Gotanda landed the largest permit for the week, a healthy fish around 25 pounds, an absolute trophy with Pepe.

Guest Waverly Crenshaw was already ecstatic with his fishing results from Monday with Pepe.  The week was sealed for him, having landing his bucket list fish, let alone 8 of them in one day.  I was blown away again last Thursday when Waverly headed out with guide Alex, who was hell bent on finding more schools. He returned with another record, 25 permit in one day. None of this was blind casting in river systems and they had tailing schools that made for visual targets all day long. Waverly fished as a single angler all week and Alex kept him on a couple schools of permit all day. A mantra that I usually preach is there’s no such thing as 8 hours of good permit fishing. Clearly I was dead wrong.

Waverly fished as a single angler for the week and was introduced to us through Brian Berry, owner and operator of Teton Valley Lodge. Brian recently teamed up with The Fly Shop as part of their new domestic program working with fishing lodges in the United States. On a side note, this is a world class operation located on the banks of the famed Teton River located just outside Driggs, Idaho. I look forward to hosting groups here in the future. Waverly was happy to relay his day-to-day fishing with Berry who understandably was in disbelief. The Federal District Court Judge landed an impressive 34 permit for the week, another record. Well done Waverly, and perhaps the closure of the week could be summed up as “case closed”. I very much look forward to seeing Waverly next year.

I’m hesitant to mention the group of 7 anglers collectively landed 74 permit for the week.  By far the most we have landed, heard of, or even knew was possible.  This takes our season totals to an incredible 189 permit with 61 guests.

We did have some decent tarpon fishing for the week although I feel the numbers are a little lower than normal. This is due to the higher tides and the bay unable to reach a real low and preventing fish from coming out from under the mangroves. The handful of tarpon we landed were in the river systems on the northern shoreline and couple small bays that are deep with mangrove stained water. We did see a handful of snook, usually when chasing tarpon.

Bonefish were plentiful as always and helped define the healthy balance of fish we are fortunate to have in our bay.

WEATHER/TIDES:
Weather for the week was beautiful, mostly sunny skies, southeastern winds for much of the week. Last Friday we saw a slight wind change come from the north and ended from the northeast by the end of the day. Tides were high in the morning, and outgoing in the afternoon.

FLIES:
Permit were landed on all of our normal go-to producers.  Raghead crabs white and tan with or without yellow eyes, Squimps, and EP spawning shrimp as well as ESB spawning shrimp tied with heavier yellow eyes.

Tarpon ate toads, and EP style baitfish. Color schemes black/purple, chartreuse/white were hot colors.

Bonefish ate any properly presented shrimp pattern sizes #2 – #8

Chef Carlos and the kitchen continued to put out delicious meals for guests around the clock.  There were constant compliments from guests about the cuisine every day and usually a photo or two taken before courses were served at night. Francisco and Freddy worked hard to keep the lodge grounds and guest rooms orderly and clean for the week.

We’ve got a fun week ahead of us with 4 single anglers. Three of the four guests have fished with us in the past and I happy to have newcomer Gary Forster added our growing ESB Lodge family. There are some high expectations after last week’s numbers and I’m confident we’ll have a solid 6 days of fishing. The sun is shining as I write up this report and I’m a bit envious of our 4 guests who have the entire bay to themselves. I hope everyone had a great Easter, found some easter eggs, and got a chance to get outside and enjoy the spring weather. If you’re interested in this fishery or would like to hear more about the “happenings” around ESB Lodge, give our friends at The Fly Shop® a call. They’re standing by to aid you in booking a trip of a lifetime or help you with any up coming trip you may have. I hope everyone enjoys a safe week and please stay tuned for the next report.

From a special corner in the Yucatan,

Saludos desde el Caribe Mexicano,
Dane & Chiara and the entire staff of ESBL

 

Esb Lodge Report

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Esb Lodge Report

Published: March 29, 2021

Fishing Report
March 21 – 28, 2021

We’ve wrapped another a fun week here at ESB Lodge thus concluding our 8th week of the 2021 season. We had had the pleasure of seeing returning guests Joe Checchio, Dr. Leonard Checchio, and Dr. Christopher Daly. Dr. Leonard was able to celebrate his birthday with us last Tuesday and we shall hold off with mentioning any age. Four new guests joined us for their first-time fishing Espiritu Santo Bay and I was happy to hear at the end of the week inquiries about a possible return from the new group.

FISHING:
We have dived headfirst into spring here and the all the apparent signs have become noticeable. My dogs stare longingly up at bird nests as we welcome another generation of shrieks and cries from newborn chicks. In the unfortunate event one ventures to close to the edge and tumbles down it will find itself inside the cavernous mouth of my Weimaraner and whisked off to a place unbeknownst to us. With all the freshness of budding flora and new fauna we also welcome a less desirable characteristic of spring, WIND. It was a classic early spring week with very strong winds from the east and southeast. It felt as though Mother Nature was doing its best to scrape away any remnants of the winter months. It’s typically windy in the Caribbean for March and April and we begin to feel the warmer winds blow hard. The days become longer with more optimal light for anglers as well as the water temps warming up.

We had nothing unusual or out of the ordinary for our week fishing, it was simply solid, with all guests able to land bucket list fish, experience a new place, and have a classic week here at the lodge. The eastern winds made a couple of our river systems tough to fish on the north side and big waves prohibited guides crossing the bay a couple days. We are settling on fishing the southern shoreline, seeking good protection all the way to the far western reaches of bay.  When we had a slight lull with the winds, the river systems were full of bonefish and provided some shots at a few tarpon and snook. We saw tides trying to drop in the afternoon which proved difficult with a wind that stacked against a tide that normally doesn’t fluctuate more than a foot. Tarpon and snook reside deep in flooded cover not willing to leave their protected domain. Guests ask me when do more tarpon and snook show up and in all honesty our fishery is chocked full of them, but they become difficult to chase in flooded mangroves. A couple of spots located in our red lagoon system, close to Punta Herrero held a couple small schools of tarpon and guide Victor ventured deep into the bay to the far reaches of river 5 to find more. I love river 5, it’s otherworldly with a wide boca and ending deep in the jungle that becomes almost a canopy of mangroves. This leaves clients trying all manner of experimental casts in an attempt to present a fly. If you think punching casts up to 70 feet is difficult, try to get a fly to a snook that’s 15 feet in front of the boat staring at you, as you negotiate a five-foot opening with a nine-foot rod. Prehistoric squawks come from the mangroves as nesting tiger herons voice their displeasure of being disturbed with tarpon toads and EP baitfish being accidently lodged in the branches, a little too close for comfort.

My close friend recently got married last October and his father-in-law was fortunate to join us for the week along with good friend Doug Jackson. There was a slight pressure I placed on myself and we hoped we could execute a fun week for the two with catching plenty of fish.  Doug Jackson along with another guest Lance Baldo had never experienced true flats fishing in saltwater and everyday provided them with new species landed on fly. All manner of snappers, cudas, and hordes of bonefish really shows us the strength of our fishery for all levels of anglers. This is an incredibly pristine environment and one of the last of its kind. When conditions are favorable, we had everything working for us and there was no end what someone could catch.

Our permit fishing was decent, and this again was conducive to conditions. We saw them scattered throughout the southern shoreline with days where we saw singles, and doubles that were following rays. There were not large schools of fish seen as the turbulent water pushed them to deeper depths. All of 7 of our guests were able to land permit for the week and two guests landed their first.  Joe Checchio had an awesome first day with guide Victor fishing single and was able to land two beautiful fish, one of them a personal best a little over 15 lbs.  Joe was also able to head out with guide Marcos last Thursday and landed his first grand slam.  Dr. Leonard went out with his brother on his birthday and was also able to get himself a wonderful present with a permit. My close friend’s father in law- Jim Liebhart had landed a small permit previously on another trip to Belize and he was able to get out with guide Alex and land an awesome fish shy of 15 lbs. another personal best. First time anglers Lance Baldo as well as Doug Jackson also landed their first permit. Jim Liebhart enlightened his fishing partner of the amount of money, time, and trips one might endure before landing a permit. Doug calmly replied that perhaps one might be taking the trips to the wrong destination. Sean Boutros had a good week with us and was relieved to enjoy 6 days of fishing hard with his friend and share his obsession of plying flats with a fly rod. I won’t dive into all the details, but Sean hooked a couple permit throughout the week that broke off for reasons that didn’t come to light until some wine loosened pent up excuses at the dinner table. It never seizes to amaze me the inconceivable number of ways one goes about missing, losing, breaking, and unsuccessfully landing permit.  It’s part of the game and we have or will struggle with this in our careers of chasing these fish.  The last day Sean promptly informed guide Victor this is the last day and he has yet to land a permit for the week, despite two brand new anglers landing theirs, along with the rest of the group. Lance was Sean’s boat mate; I loaded some extra boat beers for Lance to enjoy as we concluded that pretty much all the bow time would be dedicated to a permit for Sean. I was there in Punta Herrero at 5:00 PM to get guests the last day. All the boats came in, the same time promptly at 5 except Sean, Lance, and Victor. 10 minutes later we heard them before we saw them coming through the mangrove channel to the launch. Sean was able to finally get his permit, much to the relief of his boat partner and guide. Victor did a great job working hard and kept them on fish and was able to connect. With the windy conditions that we are having we like to throw out the anchor and chase permit in shallow water to get guests closer to the fish and this helps aid with limiting the need for long range casts. The story was told (only a few times) of how Victor spotted some permit, decided to not immediately voice his discovery, and quietly slipped the anchor out and pulled an extra rod out the boat. Sean and Lance didn’t really think much of it and asked Victor what he was doing. The guide replied nonchalantly “not much” and the two guests carried on whatever deep conversation was being had. Victor then mentioned he was posting up on some incoming permit and suggested Sean get in the water. Slight pandemonium followed as guide and guest got in position, executed the cast, and 20 minutes later had a permit by the tail for a great picture. A job very well done by all!

Collectively the group of 7 landed 9 permit for the week and this brings our season totals to 115 landed permit with 54 guests.

FLIES:
Almost all of our permit were landed for the week on a variation of a Casa Blanca raghead on a #2 hook. Color of the crab was tan with mottled legs. We also landed permit on the same fly with yellow eyes. A smaller permit was landed on a large bonefish gotcha.

The few tarpon and snook that were landed succumbed to Black/purple, Red/black, and Chartreuse/white toads and EP baitfish.

Bonefish ate anything and everything sizes #8 to even a 2/0

WEATHER/TIDES:
We had good sun for much of the week with strong winds 20 – 25 mph from the east.  The tdie was high in the morning and attempting to drop in the afternoon with a partial fall.

Chef Carlos and the kitchen crew did a wonderful job of cooking up delicious cuisine for guests to enjoy. Our house staff worked hard to keep the lodge running in an orderly and comfortable fashion.

We have a fun week lined up for us here, and 6 of the 7 guests were able to take advantage of previous cancellations that enabled them the opportunity to come down. There are some high expectations from the group as we were informed that 5 of the 7 guests are hoping to have a chance to land their first permit on fly. Pressure is on for the lodge and I’m confident our guides will work hard to make the dreams become a reality. Our weather looks solid for the week with decent sun and winds dropping roughly 10 mph less than last week.

If you are reading this newsletter and would like to have more info about this wonderful place, please shoot our friends at The Fly Shop® a call (800) 669-3474. They are standing by to give you up to date news and info regarding the “happenings” of ESB Lodge as well as any other destination you might be interested in.  I hope everyone has a safe and wonderful first week of spring.  Please get outside if you can and of course, stay tuned for the next report.

Saludos desde el Caribe Mexicana
Dane & Chiara and the entire ESB Lodge crew

Esb Lodge Report

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Esb Lodge Report

Published: March 22, 2021

Fishing Report
March 14 – 21, 2021

We’ve enjoyed another week here fishing at ESB Lodge. We had the privilege of returning guests hosted by Captain Ben Paschal. Ben is a very sought-after redfish guide that calls the Texas coast home and also spends a few months every year chasing bull reds in Louisiana.  Chiara and I have come to love having this group and this is our third year with this gang of fun, enthusiastic fisherman. I know fishing is always an important part of any destination trip of the caliber. With this group it’s hard not to get sucked into their web of comradery. The infectious laughs that increase to higher decibels throughout the evening around the dining room table help create and mold another memorable week here at the lodge. I was also excited to meet a couple new faces Ben brought with his crew this week, his wonderful wife Lizzie, and fellow guest/friend Ryan Freeman.

FISHING:
This group has historically had the best fishing weeks in terms of productivity for our spring weeks. I was glancing over previous reports from the same group years prior, and the track record is pretty remarkable.  Last week was a little tougher with some very windy conditions and very little protection offered in the bay. We dealt with some easterly winds that clocked an easy 25 mph, not the most ideal for chasing permit on the open flats. Unfortunately, we got shut out from crossing the bay a couple days due to the open water being too much to handle with big waves and wind.

Permit do not like flats that are turbulent and windblown or even blown out from the bottom churning up. We see them slide off the flats and head to deeper water. When tides are higher we’ll see them head deep onto smaller backcountry flats located in the southwestern portion of the bay and frequent river systems on the north side to feed in calmer waters. The numbers were low for permit for the week, although it seemed to me at least one boat everyday had a breakthrough with opportunities and were able to find a fish or two, get a cast off, and land a fish. I’d say the most one boat saw for permit in a day was about 15 fish, with a school circling around a couple times. When conditions are like this it becomes unforgiving with your margin of error.  You get only a few chances each day if you’re lucky.

Guest Ryan Freeman was able to connect and land his first permit with guide Victor and succeeded in landing another which coincided with a double hook up on permit. Guest Robert Gauntt shared the boat for the double hook up with permit and was also able to seal a grand slam for the day. Robert was able to tag two permit for the week. Lizzie Paschal is a very accomplished angler and she led the group with 3 landed permit for the week. She narrowly missed a grand slam, losing a tarpon to the mangroves and had a routine of landing permit with minutes left of the fishing day. I will confidently say on her behalf that she simply out fished her husband Ben, who added a permit to the group. It was fun having Lizzie with the group this year and she promptly informed me she will be returning next year for another week. Our close friend Kevin Vincent is a diehard permit guru, who succumbs to hours on the bow focusing on getting a shot. I’m not sure how many permit Kevin has landed with ESB Lodge but I know it’s an impressive number. He seemingly decided to wait his last day before landing a permit and it’s the largest of the season for us so far, a great fish easily 25 lbs. It’s fun to see the dynamic Kevin and guide Victor share and when they fish together, usually there are good results. Kevin had an interesting scenario play out with his larger permit. He got a cast off to the fish, fish responded and ate. Everything was tight for a minute close to the boat and then slack with the fly becoming dislodged.  One cast back at the same fish who also seemed to play victim to the confusion, resulted in the permit smashing the same crab again. They were off to the races, ensuing a long played out fight. I will admittingly mention I was a bit jealous of the picture and I suppose we’ll congratulate Kevin on a job well done!

The group collectively landed 9 permit for the week with 8 guests. This brings ESB Lodge 2021 season totals to 106 landed permit with 47 guests. 

The ratio of permit to anglers is still astounding despite some less-than-ideal conditions the last two weeks.  This really shows we have one of the best permit fisheries in the Caribbean and it’s an absolute privilege to share this with our guests.

We had some tarpon around and only one day of seeing some snook. This is due to stacked water from a strong east wind that doesn’t fall. With water high around our mangroves, tarpon and snook will reside far back and out of view from guides and guests. Guide Pepe took guests on a long run back to a tiny flat located on the southern shore. This flat is one of the few backcountry flats along our southern shoreline and with water being so high, it was accessible. We saw some small schools of tarpon back there and a permit or two.

Our bonefish were readily available throughout the week and guests all had chances to catch as many as they would like. I did note that a couple flats we normally fish were scarce with bonefish, probably due to the windy conditions. 1st river proved fantastic and some flats along the southern shoreline for bonefish. Guests John Thomas and Mark Gaskamp fished together the last two days and they easily boated 100 bonefish. I try hard not to bore readers with a weekly mantra about our bonefish, but their great fun, hot, and relatively forgiving to angler error. Ben was able to get a healthy bone that ate a snook fly tied off on 50 lb.  Need I say more?

WEATHER/TIDES:
We had typical spring weather for the week with strong east winds hovering around 25 mph for much of the week. Friday and Saturday winds died down to 10-15 mph and were more from the northeast offering better protection. We had a mixture of cloud cover throughout the week intermittent with more sun the last couple days. Tides were high throughout the week and we never saw a true “low” with so much water stacking up.

FLIES:
White Casa Blanca Ragheads tied on a #2 hook with yellow eyes landed a few permit. We also used spawning shrimp, and got one smaller permit with a #2 Tan Squimp. Kevin landed his monster permit on a self-tied crab fly that I will leave for him to disclose when he wants…Tarpon were landed on Black and Purple EP style baitfish and smaller chartreuse white toads.

Snook were landed on EP style baitfish color schemes Everglade and chartreuse/white.

Ben and Lizzie enjoyed landing some cudas on a big redfish popper their first day out.

Bonefish ate everything, shrimp patterns #2 – #8 as well baitfish flies tied off on 50 lb…….

Our kitchen did a wonderful job last week, cooking up a storm of delicious Mexican cuisine, coupled with desserts, house salsas, and excellent appetizers. I have yet to hear a serious complaint about our food and I’m proud of our culinary accomplishments in our corner of the jungle.  It is not an easy feat orchestrating a menu that relies heavily on our logistics of running to town. Town is a quick two-hour trip one way and we try like hell to not forget the tomatoes!  Freddy and Pancho did a great job keeping the lodge organized and orderly as well as hacking up fresh coconuts daily that were chilled in the palapa.

Weather seems to be looking a little more favorable for this upcoming week and the wind will slightly drop in strength and hail from the southeast. We’ve got a nice group of guests with returning friend Joe Checchio leading the charge. Joe enjoys two trips a year and likes to sample our fishery in the spring and then returns the last week of the season in November. We also have a couple new guests that are trying their hand at saltwater fly fishing for the first time.  I really can’t think of a better place to begin your saltwater journey. We get labeled as permit destination but the diversity, accessibility of what we have to offer lets guests of all ability experience a wonderful place.

We hope everyone is enjoying their March so far and taking advantage of spring weather to aid you in getting outside. If you’d like more up to date info regarding our operation, or interested in coming down here, please call our friends at The Fly Shop®. They’re happy to assist in any manner possible and look forward to hearing from you.

I hope everyone has a great week wherever you may be and please stay tuned for the next report!

From our special corner of the Yucatán,

Saludos desde el Caribe Mexicana

Dane & Chiara and the entire ESB Lodge crew

Esb Lodge Report

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Esb Lodge Report

Published: March 15, 2021

Fishing Report
March 07 – 14, 2021

Another wonderful week has gone by at ESB Lodge, and we are in the midst of some fantastic early spring fishing here in the southern Yucatan. We had the pleasure of having some familiar faces returning last week for their annual trip as well as a couple new guests. It’s always a wonderful feeling seeing so many returning guests. As I scan our 37 week season calendar, every week is filled with familiar names that have been here before. We have been lucky to help facilitate a wonderful family around the ESB Lodge culture and we remain steadfast in our commitment to help angling enthusiasts experience a special fishery. We had some good fishing for the week and every angler was able to capitalize on moments of individualized glory, the highs and lows of anticipated shots intermingled with blessings from the fish gods.

FISHING:
When one mentally designs an ideal weather forecast for a week of fishing it usually consists of light winds, cloudless skies, and calm seas. As with every week here at ESB Lodge our common denominator of success starts specifically with weather. I was happy with our fishing the last 6 days although much of the week it was less than ideal conditions with wind and some rain. Hard east winds made seeking protection a must and we had to make long runs to corners of our bay to find suitable conditions. Our first day with guests was a great start for the week with 7 permit landed between 4 of the 5 guests. We saw permit along the southern shoreline, far west towards the end of the bay, as well as a few smaller schools between river system 1 and the permit flat called Ensenada. Newcomer to ESB Lodge, Chris Hayes kicked his week off well with landing his first permit with guide Fernando and guest Eric Kern. Peter Ellman joined us as well for his first trip down here and was close to landing a slam the first day out with guide Marcos. Tuesday through Thursday proved to be tough with minimal light although we were able to stay off permit flats and focus on chasing bonefish in shallow water. The last two days of the week permit fishing picked back up and we were back into fish with good visibility in the afternoons. Friday guest Bob Francis landed his largest permit to date, a beautiful fish well over 15 lbs. with guide Victor. It was unfortunate that Bob had also hooked another fish roughly the same size and a faulty fluorocarbon leader broke a few feet from where the fly was tied off.  Permit fisherman are constantly placed at the mercy of unfavorable odds that stack against them and we will continue to find ways of how to “lose” a permit. A simple mantra of excuses, failures, and mishaps weave a web of despair that leads us to believe a higher source truly rules our level of success. Victor kept his momentum going on the platform the next day with our close friend Steve Cart. Steve is an awesome stick, well-traveled, and a cowboy of many angling pursuits coupled with self-induced witticisms that leave me rolling on the floor. Steve managed to hook and lose a few permit which aided in a slight meltdown. Whatever the reasons Steve I know it wasn’t your fault……..  He finally lined up a beautiful permit following a ray, delivered the fly, solid hook up, and landed the permit. Well done Steve and kudos on your other landed permit for the week. Pete Ellman was able to close his week with the guide Pepe and the team succeeded in landing a grand slam. Although there weren’t as many permit landed for the week, I do not take that as a slip in productivity, merely less days with ideal “permit” conditions. Simply put when weather was right, we landed fish.

The total for the group for the week was a solid 12 permit with 5 guests. A very respectful number, by far more than one might see in other locations.  ESB Lodge is riding a high rate of success for permit so far with the season and this has been the most productive first 6 weeks we’ve had.  Season totals sit at 97 permit with 38 guests.

Tarpon fishing was slower for the week with stacked tides from a strong eastern breeze. This wind will prevent water levels from dropping which draws resident fish from the mangroves.  Peter Ellman, Bob Francis, and Steve Cart all were able to land a tarpon or two throughout the week. We chased them mostly on the northern shore back in our river systems. Snook fishing seems to parallel tarpon fishing due to the environment they both share. Majority of the group was able to chase snook and land a couple. We did see some large fish at 15 pounds which always feeds to the excitement. Steve Cart is part of small group of dedicated snook enthusiasts that visit ESB Lodge. This group is growing, and more and more guests are beginning to realize how great these fish are, and one should never pass an opportunity to play darts in the mangroves for these ambush predators.

Bonefish, the true heroes of our fishery were available throughout the system and all guests enjoyed quality fishing whether it was schools, singles, or pairs. We encounter them everywhere here, soft bottom outside mangroves, sandy flats, and deeper water with a mixed bottom. I beg any guests coming here dedicate time for these sizeable fish. They are so healthy, vibrant, and perfect missiles for any self-claimed saltwater angler. I have been pondering an incentive and perhaps a reward for guests where we can tally up the largest bonefish by the end of the 2021 season. I am confident we will land a 10-pound fish out of our bay and this truly would establish a milestone for proof of conservation efforts.

WEATHER/TIDES:
Pretty typical spring weather patterns here for last week. We had high winds 10 – 20 mph from the east. Partly sunny days were replaced with fast moving cloud cover intermittent with rain showers. The end of the week we saw pleasant conditions with better visibility and good sun.  Tides remain largely high due to strong eastern pushes of wind.

FLIES:
Permit were landed on the classic raghead style crabs, tied with yellow eyes and color scheme white. We also used small EP shrimp and a Squimp contributed to a fish or two. Check and double check your permit selections before you come down here. We don’t use a lot of different patterns (roughly 6) but it’s important to be well stocked in all our suggested color schemes and sizes. This would easily translate to having 30 or so flies dedicated to permit for ESB Lodge. Tarpon and Snook chased EP style baitfish in color schemes black/purple, chartreuse/white, tan/white, Everglade special. We also landed snook on Dave Merritt’s ESB snook fly in tan/white, and chartreuse/white.

Bonefish simply ate any well-presented fly. Every week we seem to catch a handful on our tarpon and snook set ups!

Chef Carlos and the kitchen crew worked hard for the week, putting out delicious meals, and providing a clean and comfortable environment for all of our guests. It’s been weekly, our compliments from guests regarding the cuisine. I sent the last guests out with small packets of achiote paste to try some of our dishes in their own homes.

We’ve got a great group of returning guests here this upcoming week hosted by Captain Ben Paschal. Ben is a sought-after redfish guide on the Texas coast and chases huge reds for a few months in Louisiana. He tows with him wonderful guests and we are also excited to have his wife Lizzie make the trip down for her first visit to ESB. Our dear friend Kevin Vincent was able to sneak into the group for the week and we have lost count of how many weeks, drinks, permit, and laughs we’ve enjoyed with Kevin. It becomes engrained into our identity with those that have come 2, 3, and even 4 times in one season. I am expected big things for the group, and they have always done well for their annual week here. Returning guest John Thomas thanked me repeatedly last night for another highly anticipated week of fishing with our operation. The feeling is mutual John, I and sincerely thank you for your love and loyalty to the fantastic operation we have been able to build. Guests are friends, friends are family, and this has been the outline of our mission statement since 2017.

If you got an upcoming trip with us or you’d like to learn more about ESB Lodge give our friends over at The Fly Shop® a call. They’ll provide you with current conditions, suggestions, and love to just chat fishing with you.  Please have a safe week, get outside, and stay tuned for our next report!

Saludos desde el Caribe Mexicana

Dane & Chiara and the entire ESB Lodge crew

 

 

Esb Lodge Report

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Esb Lodge Report

Published: March 8, 2021

Fishing Report
February 28 – March 07, 2021

Another week has gone by here at ESB Lodge. We’re coming into our favorite time of year as winter loosens its grip and we began to see traces of warmer weather began to settle in the Yucatan. Chiara and I had a lot of fun with a group of returning guests that have historically fished with us every week since 2017. Some of the original group couldn’t make it down this year, and we had the pleasure of hosting some new guests. It’s always a fun meeting new faces and by the end of the week everyone felt welcomed and experienced the wonders and incredible fishery we are so fortunate to have at our doorstep. I was also happy to enjoy my 33rd birthday with the group last Saturday, and I was informed that I am still young by a long shot.  This is perhaps comforting in the presence of those that are much older (wiser) and I can only hope that I will continue to thrive and enjoy exploring the natural world waving around a fly rod.  It is inspirational and encouraging seeing those continuing to do so in their later years, and I’m happy to have the opportunity to have a place to share with all angling enthusiasts.

FISHING
The idea behind these weekly newsletters is to provide all of our readers who are mostly guests here with up-to-date weather, tides, accomplishments, and trends of our fishery. Insight provided leads to carefully planned and well thought out fly selections, gear, and proper preparation. These fed tidbits are a result of trial and error that as lodge we experience in both glory and frustration. I rarely gloat or brag about various accomplishments guests experience as result of fishing in one of the most incredible flats fisheries in the world. Simply put, we report what happened.

That being said, we had an unbelievable week of fishing, by far the best in varying degrees.  When we picked up guests two Sundays ago it was windy, almost blowing 30 mph and a consistent 20 at the lodge/oceanfront. It was a little daunting trying to get out Sunday afternoon to chase a couple Triggerfish off the beach. This transitioned into Monday morning blowing almost as hard and there were some raised eyebrows at breakfast. I can’t tell you how many times I see an almost desperate look coming from guests as if I can channel their silent pleading and provide more optimal conditions. I am trying like hell to figure this one out. Strong winds were in the forecast and we loaded everyone up and made a go of it. It was sunny for the most part and I remember thinking to myself as I drove back after dropping guests off, “It’s gonna be tough…”

I returned to Punta Herrero with the van at 5:00 pm to grab guests and expected a hasty retreat to the lodge and nurse egos with pitchers of margaritas and provide as much encouragement and tips for fishing in tough conditions. Brian Macdonald and Karl Brantley were the first boat back with guide Alex. Brian yelled at me “16 by Lunch”. I assumed he was referring to wind knots with present conditions. All four boats landed 16 permit by “lunch” and proceeded to land another 4 after. The group collectively landed 20 permit the first day. We’ve never had this happen in our short history of ESB Lodge and I was blown away.  Everyone caught permit, 5 guests who had never landed permit did so the first morning. Craig Langer was the least experienced out of the group and landed his first permit on his third cast. Karl Brantley, Skip Slavin, Chris Langer, and Tom Corbett all enjoyed finally holding one of the most difficult saltwater fish to land on a fly. I had so much fun listening to how the day played out that evening with everyone and it was incredible to be a part of the celebration. I talked with guides later that evening and they had found a few huge schools of fresh permit on the west side of a big island towards the entrance. This is maybe a 5-minute boat ride from the boat launch. We don’t always rally our boats collectively on schools but this was an exception. There were permit for everyone and the guides skillfully maneuvered and situated guests outside the schools. When one hooked up, the boat peeled out and made room for another to slide in. There were 3 hook ups happening at the same time. With the island providing serious wind protection everyone could handle casting with ease. The permit were all mixed sizes which is also a sign of fresh schools coming into the bay.  That’s an incredible day on the water and I’m very proud of our four guides and the teamwork they displayed. They worked hard with everyone and insured all got great opportunities to land a few permit a piece. It’s hard to follow a day like this and sustain momentum.  There was talk of a 100 permit week later that night…….

That didn’t happen, and each day we landed less and less permit. The schools seemed to spread themselves out throughout the bay and we found permit everywhere with plenty of shots every day. All along the southern shoreline down to the far west corner held fish. A big flat on the northern shore we call Ensenada held solid numbers of fish. The permit became a little more difficult midweek and forced us to rifle through our fly selections to find an appropriate pattern. I kind of wish the wind stayed strong and we saw slicked out conditions which can translate to some very technical approaches. Permit spook with anything and everything. We started hunting permit in smaller groups and some great singles. We also lost a handful or permit to weird break offs, extra rod movement upon setting, and one case where the permit simply crushed a crab to nothing. Guest Don Joost enjoyed his week having a personal best with his largest landed permit and landing 4 for the week. Brain Macdonald also had his personal best with number of permit landed and his largest to date as well. Tom Corbett came down a novice permit angler, and finished the week with the most landed for the week at 6.

The group collectively landed 31 permit and this brings the 2021 season to 85 landed permit and 33 guests.

When the wind died the middle of the week we had a much needed tide change which also led to some fantastic snook fishing and some opportunities for tarpon. It seems like tarpon are starting to show up more and haunt their normal mangrove domains. Bill Shaughnessy and Don Joost had a fun day with guide Fernando, and they fished the opening of the bay hoping to run into more fresh of schools permit. They found a huge school of at least 60 tarpon instead and we able to land 5 and jump several others. Interestingly enough these tarpon were picky and finally settled on a classic tarpon fly called a snake. A couple guests were also able to land their first snook on fly as well. We’ve been very impressed with the quality of snook lately and I believe this this is the best start to any of our previous years with winter/spring snook fishing.

WEATHER/TIDES
Weather was mostly sunny skies with strong southeast winds beginning of the week at 20 mph.  Middle of the week we had a north wind that died too almost non inexistent. Tide was very high in the morning and coming in throughout the day and we saw a lower tide starting Thursday that progressively got higher throughout the day.

FLIES:
Permit flies for the week that worked: ESB Spawning Shrimp (white and tan) white Ragheads with yellow eyes, #2 Squimp, EP spawning shrimp, Kung Fu grab #2 tan. Tarpon were landed on a small 2/0 Tarpon snake in black Snook were landed on natural-colored Toads, EP Baitfish in natural colors. Bonefish ate any shrimp pattern thrown to them sizes #2 – #8

Chef Carlos and the kitchen staff did a wonderful job keeping us all well fed with wonderful cuisine throughout the week. We are very proud of the quality of food we have here at the lodge, and I am confident there is something for everyone to enjoy. Average weight gain according to some returning guests is 7 lbs. not exactly a record we are trying to achieve but it’s hard to turn down good food!

We’ve got a fun group with us for the upcoming week. Three singles and one double rounds us out for the next 6 days and I expect we’ll have some great fishing again. 3 of the 5 guests have fished with us past seasons and it’s always a delight to see them return. I hope everyone is enjoying their March thus far and able to enjoy some time outdoors. Do yourself a favor and contact our friends over at The Fly Shop® to inquire about this special place or get up to date info and recommendations for your upcoming trip.

Please have a great week and stay tuned for the next report!

 

Saludos desde el Caribe Mexicana
Dane & Chiara and the entire ESB Lodge crew

Esb Lodge Report

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Esb Lodge Report

Published: March 1, 2021

Fishing Report
February 21 – 28, 2021

We’ve wrapped up another great week here at ESB Lodge. We were joined by 6 familiar faces who have frequented our wonderful operation over the years and we’re already putting them on the books for 2022 and trying hard to find them any availability to get them additional openings if possible. Our dear friends at The Fly Shop® have been working tirelessly to accommodate guests with constant changes with schedule, travel, and providing everyone with up-to-date info regarding ESB Lodge. I have been very happy with how the season is progressing and we’ve been enjoying ourselves immensely with everyone making the trip down to fish with us.  THANK YOU!

FISHING:
We had some great fishing last week. This was the best permit week yet with numbers of permit caught for the 2021 season thus far. Majority of the fishing part of this report will revolve around permit. Due to a semi low tide that was rapidly coming in for most of the day, we chose to focus on permit and give the tarpon and snook a rest. The wonderful thing about ESB Lodge is diversity. When one targeted species becomes difficult, we optimize conditions for another. The permit arrived in solid numbers last week and everyone caught plenty of fish. I wouldn’t say we had unbelievable numbers of fish seen on the flats, but it was consistent enough for everyone.  Our famed permit flat on the north side called Ensenada finally saw nice pushes of fish. All along the northern coast of Ensenada down to first river was a go throughout the week. We started seeing some fish inside the third river and deep in the southwest corner of the bay.  Afternoons gave way to hitting some “home” flats along the southeast portion of the bay where we had decent protection from a southeast wind. The first two days of the week were minimal with numbers of fish and by Tuesday we started seeing more fish. Permit create a roller coaster of emotions with guests and it becomes a mental test that seems throw the most humble of anglers into realm of depression and personal despair. Our friend Jon Wheat (sorry Jon, I know you’re reading this) was pretty upset with himself after we picked up guests Monday. He had plenty of shots, worked himself sideways, and was just disgusted with himself with his performance with so many shots presented to him. He was very quiet at happy hour, sat out his daily cigar routine, and retired to bed early after dinner. To Jon’s defense it was windy the first day and he was using an 8 weight which did not help at all. Jon took it personally, and I told him if it helped it could have also been blamed on equipment… This is a guest who hooked and landed a 20 lb. permit BLIND casting in a river system last year. Jon went out the next day and landed 5 permit with guide Alex. It was comical after the day finished and he seemed to shed 20 years of age. The daily happy hour cigar was lit to say the least. Jon picked up another nice permit with Fernando and the last day rallied to catch 5 more permit with a total of 11 for the week. Majority of these fish were solid size and not schooled up smaller fish the size of small plate. Jon mentioned to me he’d like to catch a triggerfish, he’s never caught one, and was more ecstatic about sharing the pic with his trigger than permit. To each is their own Jon, and well done!

Rich Kracum joined us for his annual trip to ESB Lodge and I really appreciate Rich’s dedication and enthusiasm for fishing with us. Rich has fished with us since the start in 2017.  He’s a very accomplished angler and a slightly obsessive permit hound. He brings 2 rods every trip, one for permit and the other for permit and chases them non-stop no matter the conditions. He joined the group midday Tuesday, was set up with Pepe for the afternoon, saw one permit and caught it. I believe this is one of his best weeks at ESB Lodge with quality of permit landed, 3 of his 5 landed fish for the week were north of 16 pounds.

Mike Matus, another returning guest also had his personal best week permit fishing landing 5 total with a large fish around 18 pounds on Pepe’s boat. Mike brought an alarming detail to my attention at the end of the week regarding his fishing experience at ESB Lodge. We pride ourselves in diversity and Mike ironically has landed more permit here than tarpon and snook.  We’re looking forward to seeing Mike again this upcoming May and we will not allow him to fish for anything but tarpon and snook! A healthy balance is the key to everything! I write about another guest that has returned for what I believe was his 9th week with us? Don Morris is a dear friend, dedicated outdoorsman, and is fully ingrained in our fishing culture and lodge life.  It’s always wonderful to have him again, and again, and again. He landed 5 total for the week and was able to get 3 very solid fish with guides Alex and Fernando. He shared the boat with returning guest Charlie O’Neill who had a wonderful day on the boat with Fernando, landed a couple permit and was able to get 3 for the week. Charlie’s wife also enjoys fishing and has gotten into tying. She sent some flies along with Charlie and he proceeded to catch countless bonefish on a classic woolly bugger. Perhaps we will add this to our bonefish arsenal of fly suggestions. He also had a smaller permit chase the Bugger. Our goal is to catch a permit on a woolly bugger and this will indeed throw a wrench in the works with anglers constantly tying the latest and greatest permit fly found on the globe.

Our group totaled 29 permit for the week which brings our 2021 season total to 54 permit with 25 guests.

I would like to take a moment clarify some rod choices that we suggest for throwing for permit.  Springtime is historically our windiest season which translates to difficult casting to an already difficult fish. I see many anglers use 8 weights for permit, for a more “sporting approach” and also lends itself to a “better” fight. This seems to have similar traits to an upland bird hunter that chooses a 28 gauge versus a 20 gauge. In terms of fishing, use the tool that gets the job done better and more efficiently. To each is their own and if you enjoy using 8 weights then so be it and disregard the suggestion. Almost ALL of our guests are not interested in how the permit fight. After a hook up it’s incredibly long runs that are not very animated with a guest on the verge of a mental breakdown who wants nothing more than to finally hold that fish. Throwing 9 weights will cover most conditions and when it becomes windy, we highly suggest using a 10 weight to punch the wind to accomplish an extra few feet that historically anglers fall short of.  Most guests will bring a 9 weight for permit and a 10 for our resident tarpon and snook. With windy conditions I ask guests to use the 10 for permit and the 9 for tarpon and snook. 90% of the time a 9 weight is more than enough casting into mangroves, and you will generally find yourself more accurate as well. Rods and lines these days are all about being heavy/fast to deliver a cast to the moon. I personally find myself struggling with some of the newer 10 weights out there in tight mangrove quarter and it feels like using a rocket launcher that’s harder to control a fly amongst the foliage.

WEATHER:
Weather for the week was mixed clouds and sun from the southeast and changing almost straight east by Friday.  We had lower tide in the morning but rising rapidly throughout the day.

FLIES:
Our ESB spawning shrimp tied with white color phase started coming into play as well as smaller EP Spawning shrimp on a #4 hook. Squimps were responsible for a few fish as well as were white raghead crabs tied with yellow eyes. Bonefish were landed on all manner of small shrimp and a #8 brown woolly bugger…

Chef Carlos and the cocina delivered wonderful dishes and we enjoyed another wonderful week of great food. Freddy and Francisco with our house staff made sure the lodge was clean, orderly, and operational for our guest’s comfort.

We’ve got a fun week ahead of us. We’re joined by some returning guests that are usually hosted by our friend Justin Miller who couldn’t make this trip. We love this crew, both Chiara and I enjoy them immensely and this will be the 5 trip down for everyone. We have a couple new guys that took Miller’s spot temporarily and I am happy to meet them and hope they enjoy the week. We have some strong winds our first couple days and then it looks like the wind will lay down by Wednesday and start to edge from the north. I hope everyone is enjoying their March thus far as we slip away from the grips of winter. Make sure you check in with our friends at The Fly Shop® to inquire about this special place or are interested in joining us sometime in the future.

Please stay safe and stay tuned for the next report.

Saludos desde el Caribe Mexicana
Dane & Chiara and the entire ESB Lodge Team

 

They are working on our road!  Yeah!

Esb Lodge Report

800 • 669 • 3474

Esb Lodge Report

Published: February 17, 2021

Fishing Report
February 14 – 21, 2021

We’ve had another wonderful week slip by here as we get closer to spring. Last week we were joined by a group of wonderful friends who have been fishing with us for a few seasons.  I was also happy to meet newcomers Antonio and Tom Robaina who enjoyed themselves and are looking for a return trip in 2022. Weather was a little inconsistent for our 6 days of fishing and it seemed like we had a sample of every wind direction possible and some days windier than others. We were also watching some severe conditions that have hit the southern states hard with an unusual amount of snow and ice coupled with freezing temps. This huge cold front has moved south across the gulf and is currently sitting over our area of the Yucatan. We’re looking at some cooler temps in the coming days which will change our normal approach to the bay for the next week’s guests.

FISHING
Despite some inconsistencies due to weather, I thought we had some decent days on the water.  It seemed like the day was very productive or not good at all with nothing offered in between.  Beginning of the week was the nicest weather with the group arriving last Sunday to a calm ocean front with some shots at Triggerfish, Jacks, bonefish, and a nice permit that was spotted.  Monday’s condition followed suit and the bay was alive with great opportunities for permit. We didn’t see a lot of fish, but it was a great day with 5 out of the guests landing some nice fish.  Our permit fishing is very hit or miss right now with weather and I have faith it’ll become more productive once we shake our weekly three-day cold fronts that have been coming through.  Permit fishing was best on the southern side of the bay, and late afternoons with a tide that was starting to go out. More fish were seen closer to Punta Herrero. We did see some random fish show up on the northern side in our river systems but nothing consistent. Despite not seeing a lot of schools we had great opportunities at larger fish that were on top of rays, or singles and doubles patrolling through in shallower water. For me I love this kind of permit fishing, it makes for technical casting and your margin for error changes facing one permit rather than a school of 50 fish. We did have some unfortunate larger fish that came unbuttoned for guests that would have attributed to three more for the week. Classic scenarios find themselves unraveling fast and leaves us all in disbelief and disappointment. True permit anglers can attest to these moments, luckily for our guest’s this heartbreak is numbed and nursed back to health with the aid of a cold margarita and specialized counseling.

Our permit total for the week with guests was 9 landed.  This brings our budding 2021 season to 25 permit with 19 guests.

I was ecstatic with the snook fishing for the week. It’s sensitive timing, adjacent an outgoing tide but not at the lowest point we find our success. Snook fishing was typical fashion where one day anything you throw in front of them will be rewarded and other days snook will stubbornly stare at all manner of flies as they reside in their mangrove domain. Guest Peter Petruzzi had one of his best snook days yet with guide Pepe and they were able to see solid numbers of fish and land a few. We saw most of our snook along the northern shoreline and also closer to the fishing village located outside the bay heading north. We have in past seasons labeled our fall months as designated time for chasing large snook. More and more we are seeing solid numbers of these fish at 10 lbs. or better.  We can only reason that lack of netting in the bay and forage fish the snook feed on are all abundant.

Tarpon fishing for the week was solid for this time of year and guests were able to find fish in the backcountry sections of our river systems on the north side.

Bonefish are steady and plentiful. When we had less desirable weather conditions, we opted to chase these fish and often lost count of landed fish. I strongly suggest investing in a quality 7 weight before you come down here to enjoy these awesome fish.

I’d also like to take a moment and welcome a new guide for ESB Lodge. Marcos Neri will be joining our crew for the 2021 season and I couldn’t be happier having him on the team. He may be new to our program, but he is well versed and seasoned fishing the bay with Playa Blanca 10 years as well Ascension and Chetumal Bay. His English is outstanding, and his calm demeanor will play a big role with guests chasing permit in the months ahead.

WEATHER/TIDES:
We experienced wind from almost every direction throughout the week. We had strong winds most days with mixed sun and clouds. Middle of the week guests were greeted with a tough day and heavy rain squalls and low light. Our tide was mostly high in the morning and outgoing starting early in the afternoon.

FLIES:
Our permit flies that were productive were white Ragheads with yellow eyes and the Squimp.  It seems that the white crab has begun to dominate our other choice flies for permit. I think we will see spawning shrimp start to work better as we see consistent numbers schooling permit show up.

Tarpon and snook were landed on EP style baitfish and tarpon toads in our normal color schemes: Black/red, White/chartreuse, Black/purple, and White/grey.

Bonefish were landed on all manner of shrimp flies #8 – #2.

Chef Carlos and the house staff did an awesome job, keeping our guests well fed and maintaining a clean and orderly lodge.

This upcoming week we are joined by 5 guests all who have been with us past seasons. One guest in particular, Don Morris has been an ESB Lodge guest since we started in 2017 and has been to our wonderful operation more than any other guest, often coming 2 weeks in a row and spending on average 3 weeks a year with us. At some point we may warrant Don his own boat to enjoy the bay he loves so much. It’s very rewarding for us to see such dedicated anglers and this makes us rise to the occasion and provide the best service possible.

Whether you’re a seasoned regular here at ESB Lodge or newcomer we welcome all and know that you will come to enjoy this place as much as we do. If you have an up-and-coming trip with us or would like more info about our operation shoot our friends over at The Fly Shop® a call to bring you up to speed.

I hope everyone is staying safe and is finding some time to spend outdoors despite some frigid temperatures.  Have a great week and stay tuned for our next report.

Saludos desde el Caribe Mexicana
Dane & Chiara and the entire ESB Lodge Team

Esb Lodge Report

800 • 669 • 3474

Esb Lodge Report

Published: February 15, 2021

Fishing Report
February 07 – 14, 2021

We’ve been enjoying ourselves here at ESB Lodge, thus concluding our second week of the 2021 season. We were joined by seven guests all of whom have become regular faces around here and we’re happy they enjoyed another great week. ESB Lodge has a long season, almost 38 weeks for the year. Our calendar, for every week, has familiar names and faces that have fished with us in past seasons. It’s a great feeling to provide an awesome place to provide a gateway to one of the best flats fisheries in the Caribbean. Everyone in our group last week had stand-out moments on that water and celebrations were had by all.

FISHING
Things are starting to warm up in the bay and I feel as though we’re right on the cusp of classic early spring fishing around the corner. We had a lot of wind this week which changed our tides a little bit. We don’t mind the wind here, almost to be expected throughout the winter and spring months. The key to productivity we’ve learned is consistency. In most cases despite strong winds, if the direction doesn’t change sporadically, we can maintain some solid days on the water. Last week the wind was steadily out of the southeast for the most part and a high tide that was stacked early in the morning. This brings in warm water and slows the “leeching” process of fresh water leaking out of the backcountry mingled with a tannic stain from mangroves.  We were able to fish parts of our river systems as well as some flats deep in the southwest part of the bay that were void of fish two weeks ago. Permit fishing is starting to pick up and almost every day provided a few shots to each guest. We’re finding them close to shore for the most part with the higher tides in the morning. The last two days of the week it seemed we started seeing good pushes of fish and some very large schools closer along the shoreline, not far from where we launch guests in the morning. These schools hold mixed size fish ranging from 5 lbs. upward to 20lbs. We saw a few schools that held 50 or so fish in them and a couple guides commented on two schools that easily had 100 permit, mixed with bonefish, jacks, runners, and other smaller fish. We should start seeing some of these schools break up and disperse throughout the fishery, based on food availability and tidal change. Guest Ron Dozeman had a fun week with us and landed his largest permit to date his first day on the water with guide Alex.  Ron jokingly commented he caught his first permit, 30 minutes into the week and finished with an incredible father son double the last 10 minutes of the week. He was also able to get another fish middle of the week. Ron also enjoyed celebrating his birthday with us and we will refrain from sharing an actual age, although we chose to decorate his tres leches birthday cake with only two candles properly representing his age. Blackwell Smith joined us for another week and was able to fish as a single for the week. Blackwell got after it, chased and caught permit throughout. We were able to sneak him into some spots located on some backcountry flats located on the southside of the bay. There’s a significant weight difference fishing single and sometimes we can get you deeper into our bay systems, ride out the last bit of outgoing tide to optimize time. Blackwell ended up landing 3 permit for the week.  Most of our guests landed their permit last Friday and Saturday.

We had a solid count for the week with 11 permit and 7 guests.  This brings season totals to 16 permit and 14 guests.

Our afternoons we had shots at Tarpon in the river systems on the north side of the bay.  Tarpon didn’t seem as strong as the previous week and I believe it’s due to much more water in the bay. Guest Matt Fender had an interesting encounter with a very large Tarpon between 80 and 100 lbs. with guide Alex. Alex poled Matt and Mark in the southwest corner of the bay looking for permit without any luck and chose to have lunch and take a break. They finished lunch and were motoring out, when Matt asked if there were any tarpon spots close to their location. Alex promptly said no, they’re more fish on the northside. A couple minutes later Alex announced Tarpon to the anglers. Those that know Guia Alex, understand he is the quietest out of the group of guides and has one the fishiest boats in the bay. Tarpon announcement from Alex perhaps was a couple octaves higher than his usual baritone. There were 4 huge Tarpon calmly traversing a flat in front of them. As an angler I would have lost it seeing such huge fish in skinny water. I admire Alex’s determination, and he poled more than 400 yards chasing the 4 big fish. They eventually turned and Matt laid a nice cast, one strip, and one of the tarpon ingulfed his fly. A chaotic fight followed, with beautiful tail walks across the flats. Both Alex and I believe these fish came from a large cenote close by where these fish are probably resident to the bottomless hole. The tarpon was able to return into the cenote where it became a process of deadlifting the big fish from the depths. I at one time dropped 150 feet of line down this hole with a live runner in hopes to catch a big grouper, I never hit bottom. They got the fish back on the flats and Alex was able to leader the fish once before a last-minute charge from the tarpon led to a break off. Heartbreaking in the sense of not cradling a special fish such as this, but leadered regardless. Mark was able to capture an awesome photo of the fish doing a headstand seconds before the disconnect. Understandably once we put this photo to social media I was blown up about inquiries of the possibilities of seeing fish this size in the coming weeks. Don’t count on it, it’s known to happen occasionally this time of year especially around a couple big cenotes we have. Should you be geared with a 12 weight to appropriately fight these fish?  No is my answer, if you are you’ll never see one again, correct?  When these opportunities come around use the resources you have at hand and trust the guide to do everything in his power to make it all come together.

Our snook fishing was better than our first week. Interesting how we saw a reversal between tarpon and snook. We had more shots last week and landed some nice fish. Mark Fender and Jon Hop enjoyed their last day with Guide Fernando and got into some classic size snook around 10 pounds. Our snook fishery is one of the best in the Caribbean. This was affirmed by saltwater guru (my hero) Chico Fernandez when he visited us in 2017. Some of the pictures we share in this week’s newsletter are a solid average for us and we find them year-round.

Bonefish were readily available throughout the system and everyone was able to enjoy some large Yucatan bonefish. A weekly mantra is guests claiming how big these fish are. Indeed, we have the best quality bonefish in Mexico or Belize.

WEATHER/TIDES
We had a little bit of everything in the way of weather. Mixed clouds, sun, heavy rain, all made an appearance last week. Winds were fairly consistent from the southeast with an average of 15 – 20 mph.  Tides were high in the am and subsided in the afternoon.

FLIES:
Our choice permit fly for the week was a Casa Blanca (white) with yellow eyes on a #2 hook. Tarpon and snook succumbed to EP style baitfish flies and toad variations.  Classic color combos, Black/Purple, White/Chartreuse, White/Grey, and everglade color combo. Bonefish ate anything and everything from a #8 bonefish shrimp to a 2/0 EP baitfish tied off on 60 lb.

Carlos and the kitchen crew did well for the week, making sure guests had wonderful food, throughout their days. We enjoyed rellenos, ceviches, sopas, tacos (carnitas, pescado), slow roasted pork, and array of delicious desserts.

We’ve got a fun crew this week with most of the guests having been here before. Close friend Peter Petruzzi is the band leader for this week’s crew and has become a regular here at ESB Lodge. We have an awesome group of talented fishermen and I expect some fish to be caught.  I might add this current group could easily hold a record for number of strung rods on the boat and in our lodge rack. We’re loaded with serious inventory and no shortage of equipment.

There’s some mixed weather for the week, with perhaps a significant wind change in a few days and it’ll be interesting to see how the fish respond. I’m confident in our crew and guides that’ll we lock down another memorable week here at ESB Lodge. If you have an upcoming trip with us or interested in a nearly sold out 2021 season, do not hesitate to call our friends at The Fly Shop. They’ll give you up to date info and provide you with what you need before you head down. Hopefully, everyone had a nice Valentine’s Day and are looking forward to another great week. Stay safe, and look for us with the next fishing report.

Saludos desde el Caribe Mexicana

Dane & Chiara and the entire ESB Lodge Team

Esb Lodge Report

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Esb Lodge Report

Published: February 8, 2021

Fishing Report
January 31 – February 07, 2021

We are excited to announce our reopening for 2021 and the new season is underway here at ESB Lodge. We completed our first week and were joined by some familiar faces and newcomers as well. It’s great to see everything up and running and the normal bustle of lodge life resuming with traces of normality. We’re enjoying ourselves, staying safe, and checking all the boxes as to why ESB Lodge is a favorite destination for many of our anglers. Chiara and I are both struggling with the realization we are beginning our 5th season. The mantra of “time flies” has settled amongst us and I have no choice but to embrace this reality.

FISHING:
Everyone knows the common denominator for fishing success revolves heavily around weather.  Last week we had sunny skies, light winds, and cooler temps. It was cold….. really cold for this part of the world. The Yucatan experienced a cold front that came off the coast Texas and hung around with us for much of the week. I consider myself educated in the way of cold, being from northern Michigan and residing in Colorado. My morning wakeup call at 4:45 from my three dogs anxiously wanting to inspect the property to sniff out various night visitors required me to wear a Patagonia puffy jacket. This jacket helps me commute from the states in the winter to Mexico and usually stays stashed away for the duration of my time on the beach. I am glad I had it and I can’t recall the last time I needed to seek warmth here. Cold air temps and light winds gave way to very cold water temps which led to some sluggish fish. Each day all the boats saw fish but also noticed sometimes fish weren’t quite as eager to move quickly or some of our flats were void of fish with very low tides. One of our managers Sam Gigliotti joined us for the week and I was able to fish Tuesday and Wednesday with him. I was bundled up for the commute to the fishing grounds. We fished some mangrove islands deep inside the first river system for tarpon and we saw plenty of fish, perhaps 40 or so total in a couple hours. They were circling the islands slowly and we could only get one to eat a fly. After 5 or six 6 fly changes with nothing standing out we realized the fish were affected by the cooler water. We left the tarpon and went to hunt permit in the southeast corner of the bay. 2 ½ hours later we had seen nothing except the odd smaller barracuda.

After lunch we headed back to the first river and decided to fish the system where it enters the main part of the bay. Surprisingly we saw school after school of nice size bonefish and we each happily lost count of landed fish. Bonefish were the hero’s for the week for many of our guests and I was glad to see so many throughout the system. Permit were hard to find in any numbers, although a couple shots were made each day. As the week progressed we saw a slight wind shift coming from the southeast and some stronger winds.  This changed the chemistry of the fishery and the guides mentioned they were starting to significantly see more fish and some of the tarpon and snook seemed to become a little more active. We had concentrated on the north side with river systems 1 and 2 the first couple days.  River systems 3 to 5 were to low, held fresh water, and the cooler temps. By midweek it seemed that these river systems started to come alive with influx of more saltwater and a much needed tide change. Guests Troy Brazzoni and Jeff Lowe had a fun day chasing tarpon in the fourth river where there seemed to be steady stream of fish for few hours along the west side of the river system. Interestingly enough we immediately revisited the same flat the next day and it was simply void of life. Father and son duo Dave and Conner O’Leary joined us for their first trip to ESB Lodge and were ecstatic to land countless bones some tarpon and a snook for the trip.  Our dear friend Ed Church returned for his second trip to the lodge and his first day out he hooked a nice permit that fell victim to a very large barracuda. Ed was content chasing bones, viewing wildlife, and was excited to land his first tarpon and snook with guide Alex. I invited our manager Sam to come and check out the lodge to start the season and go over some adjustments we have made for the 2021 season so far and to be with our guides and house staff. He will relieve myself starting in April and will oversee the operation through June this year. We missed Sam last season due to Covid closures in March. Sam had his best week saltwater fishing yet.  He carried the group for landed permit and tallied up five. I was with him for the first one, a small fish out of a school at the boca of First River. Friday he went out with Alex and they landed a couple nice permit on a flat in the southeast part of the bay. Sam chose to have a rod ready for barracuda and was able to break up bow time chasing permit with throwing poppers to these apex predators. He was able to land a couple that didn’t hesitate to move on the fly. Alex spotted what they thought were two barracuda laid up and after getting into casting range they realized they were enormous snook. With no time to change gear, Sam chucked the popper which is easily the size of a canary, tied of on 40 lb. knotable wire.  The “smaller” snook came unglued and just smashed the offering in a foot of water.

This is not our normal tactic for chasing snook and so much for our theory of a tactical approach. I guess when you’re hungry, you’re hungry. To say I was a little jealous of Sam makes me feel guilty, but I was! Sam returned the next day moving a little deeper in the southeast corner with Fernando and they found more permit tailing in shallow water. He landed his first by 8:50 and proceeded to land another three.

This brings our numbers of permit for the 2021 season to 5 landed with 6 guests total.

WEATHER:
Weather for the week was cool and sunny with winds from the north and changed to much warmer temps and a wind direction from the southeast. We had low tides in the am with an incoming tide late in the afternoon. Friday and Saturday we saw a tide change correlating with the change of wind direction. We were greeted with a high tide in the morning.

FLIES:
Permit landed were on our Pato’s white crab which is essentially a casa balance raghead with yellow eyes on a #2 hook.

Tarpon and snook were landed on the usual assortment of toads, EP bait fish, and gamechangers.  Color schemes were black and red, solid black, black and purple, white and red, and chartreuse.  For good measure a snook were also landed on 6-inch articulated popper with a 3/0 hook…

Our Bonefish per usual, ate every fly we threw at them and any shrimp pattern size #2 to #8 was rewarded with an eat.

Chef Carlos is back with us again for another season. He and our new sous chef Luis cooked up an array of delicious meals for guests. I usually take the first week and try all the dishes we’ve been working on to give it a “test” run. Unfortunately, this will be short-lived and I must succumb to an abbreviated menu for the preservation of my waistline in the weeks ahead. Our menu is better than ever with a lot of dishes returning guests will remember with the addition to some new desserts, a couple adjustments to our lunches, and incredible dinners.

We’ve got a group of returning guests this week, all of which have fished with us in past seasons. I really enjoy this friendly group and most of them hail from Holland Michigan which I have a very close connection with family and the hometown of my parents.  The group is a little apprehensive about some strong winds in the forecast for the week but I think fish numbers will significantly improve with a consistent warm breeze to bring more fish into our system. The positivity and enthusiasm the group portrays is infectious and will translate to another memorable week.

As most of our readers and guests know ESB Lodge is now using a Rapid Antigen Test on Friday afternoons to aid in required health screening and documentation for a return to the US.  Our first week of testing went without at hitch and I’m happy to see we are able to execute this flawlessly.

For guests that are planning on joining us for the 2021 season please see updated travel info, double check your gear and make sure you’re prepared. Any questions or concerns shoot a call over to our friends at The Fly Shop® where they are standing by to assist and will aid you in your preparations traveling to ESB Lodge.

We hope everyone has a safe week and gets a chance to get outside and enjoy winter activities offered in your area.  Take care and stay tuned for next week’s report.

From your Yucatan friends,

Saludos desde el Caribe Mexicana
Dane & Chiara & the ESB Lodge Team