Categories: ESB Lodge Reports

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

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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

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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

Esb Lodge Report

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Esb Lodge Report

Published: November 23, 2020

Fishing Report
November 15 – 22, 2020

ESB Lodge Report

We have completed another week here at ESB Lodge. This last week concludes our 2020 season and we are looking forward to the new season which will kick off beginning of February 2021. It’s been a hell of year at ESB Lodge to say the least and we are extremely fortunate and thankful for the allowance to operate during some interesting times. We had a group of four close friends with us last week, guests that have been here multiple times over the course of four seasons. It really doesn’t seem like an individual guest coming, instead a growing community of those we are close with that choose ESB Lodge as their premier saltwater destination.

FISHING
I apologize about my frankness in describing the last week of fishing.  Plainly put, if last week was my first time to fish ESB I wouldn’t return. It was tough. We have unfortunately been the recipients for the 5th straight week of bad weather due to hurricanes, fronts, tropical waves, surges, wind, and tropical depression development. Coupled with a massive northern front and weather pushes from hurricane Iota which hit Nicaragua again at category 4, we saw similar conditions as 3 weeks ago from the aftermath of Eta. The road to Punta Herrero where we launch our boats has once again been further pummeled and non- existent. Heavy rain and wind prohibited our chances of launching guests from the lodge and fishing outside of the bay. We were forced to drive up our road as far as we could and use a makeshift channel in the mangroves that tucks itself in the back of Red Lagoon. From there guests would meet their guides and head out to fish. My rough tally of 150 inches rain in 2 ½ weeks combined with strong winds has blown out our bay almost entirely. Normal flats we usually see alive with abundant marine life were void due to a mass of freshwater entering the bay. Guide Fernando has almost 23 years of guiding under his belt and expressed his frustration that he has never seen it this full of freshwater and fishable water had been reduced to a very small offering. In the beginning of the week we saw the approaching weather but made do with still being able to cross the bay and fish areas around Ensenada and our first river system.  Bonefish were fairly plentiful, and some small pockets also held tarpon and a few snook. I was impressed with guides Pepe and Victor, who found a small creek on the southern end of Ensenada. This creek had remained hidden and unfished. Our thoughts were the existing conditions made this area open and accessible with the changing weather. It was full of tarpon and guest Mike Scott was able to jump a few fish.  Fred McCollum enjoyed landing a tarpon his first day out and chasing a few bonefish. By the middle of the week we were unable to cross the bay and our boats were limited to fishing a small area in an area connected to Red Lagoon.  I really admired Joe and Bill Checchio’s enthusiasm to continue and try to fish the limited area hard. They came up with a handful of bonefish a piece for a few days. Our last day Fernando took the two of them across the bay with the wind moderately slowing down and allowing for an interesting crossing.  They were able to catch some nicer sized bonefish on a small inside flat located in river one. They ventured up into Ensenada and were met with even more freshwater than previously seen on Monday. Mike Scott stuck closer on the south side and was able to catch 3 barracudas on his custom tied poppers. This is one of my favorite cuda flies and Mike has taken the responsibility of equipping ESB Lodge with a nice assortment and will continue to make more for future guests to enjoy.

Guides did see a handful of permit, but conditions were not conducive for anglers to get a shot. We didn’t land any permit for the week and this brings season totals to 108 guests and 266 permit. Our numbers have definitely slipped in the last couple weeks due to weather but our season totals are extraordinarily impressive.

WEATHER
High winds, heavy cloud cover, and nonstop rain was the theme for the week. Our neighboring bay, Ascension to the north recorded almost 80 mph at one-point last Wednesday. I was woken early Thursday morning around 2:00 AM with wind gusts estimated at 60 MPH.  Wind direction was mostly east which caused tides to remain high and keep freshwater stacked high in the bay.

FLIES:
The few tarpon that were landed were on toads and a small gurgler, a floating fly that pushes water and entices a fun top water bite. Bonefish were landed on all manner of shrimp flies tied on hook sizes #2 – #8. Bill Ingram and Joe Checchio brought some very nice mantis shrimp variations that I have not seen before and they worked well for the bonefish.

Our kitchen staff remained consistent and worked hard to deliver delicious cuisine for our last week with guests. We brought in an additional cook for the week that will be a part of our house staff starting the 2021 season. I am excited to bring Abi into our ESB Lodge kitchen staff and he comes highly qualified cooking for restaurants in the greater Tulum area for the last 10 years. He will fill the role as a sous chef and will relieve Chef Carlos when he gets rotated out for a quick break.

It’s hard for me to imagine that we are at the end of our 2020 season. My timing has been out of sorts and we have tried hard to maintain normality where it could be controlled. After being forced to close down last March there was much uncertainty of our re-opening and where we would fall with receiving guests in the midst of a global pandemic. It makes me somewhat emotional to reflect on the last 12 weeks since we were given the allowance to re-open. I continue to find ways of amazement for this special place I am deeply thankful for the incredibly hard work of my staff, guides, and surrounding staff for working hard, and ensuring safety for guests to enjoy ESB Lodge. I also thank all of you that made the trip here and abided to safety measures to keep the lodge and fishery open for everyone to enjoy. It’s a collaborative effort that succeeded and our partners at The Fly Shop helped pave a wave for destination travel through a difficult and trying time. The Fly Shop is the best in the business for any destination travel and ESB Lodge couldn’t be more proud to be one of their Signature lodges.

In the short time of our upcoming closure we will be working hard tackling endless projects around the lodge and getting ready for another sold out season in 2021. I have also received news that funding has been placed aside for a mandated repair of our road. This comes from the governor of Quintana Roo, who last week had begun sending engineers up and down the 30+ KM road. To say we are ecstatic for this improvement is an understatement.

Chiara and I are looking forward to well-deserved R & R and spending time with our immediate family during the holidays. I hope everyone can do the same and safely enjoy the company of those that mean the most. Please be safe and reach out anytime to our friends at The Fly Shop to inquire about this incredible place and check up on the newest developments of ESB Lodge.  I humbly thank everyone for their interest and love for such a wonderful operation and we look forward to seeing you all in 2021.

From your Yucatan friends,

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

Esb Lodge Report

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Esb Lodge Report

Published: November 16, 2020

Fishing Report
November 08 – 15, 2020

We’ve enjoyed another wonderful week here at ESB Lodge. We were joined by 5 guests for the week, four of whom had never been to our wonderful operation. Close friend Marlin Roush joined us for his second trip to ESB Lodge and we were happy to see him return. On November 8, I was waiting at our jungle airstrip to receive the group and when the plane landed Peter Herzog stepped off with his son Austin.  Peter called me out and said we’ve met before and it was nice to see me again. I was a bit caught off guard and provided a numb (neutral) response that it was great to see both of them. I chastised myself in lack of remembrance and wallowed in a fume of light embarrassment. Without skipping a beat, Peter mentioned to me that we had met seven years ago at Paradise Lodge when I came to visit the area in hopes of finding future saltwater destinations to host trips. I laughed immediately and a memorable week came flooding back as I reminisced of this special time. This was also the week Chiara was visiting her father before embarking on a path to chase her career as an Industrial engineer in Sydney, Australia. Peter said he had enjoyed watching both of us coincidentally meet for the first time and could plainly tell I was doing my very best to spur a budding relationship with Chiara. Both Peter and Austin said they had little hope for me at the time but appreciated my efforts. We fast forward seven years and I am the product of owning an incredible operation and married to a very special person whom I am lucky to share my life with. I was extremely excited, Chiara a bit embarrassed, and it was fun to share with them our wonderful lodge and operation.

We were nervous about the weather last week and still picking up pieces of a disastrous week from before in the aftermath of Hurricane Eta. I didn’t know what to expect with weather, road conditions, and the condition of our fishery. We had received a total of more than 40 inches of rain and this can lead to some difficult conditions due to an excessive amount of freshwater in the bay. All the variables listed above proved true and we struggled momentarily with uncharted procedures of approaching difficult launches, and drastic changes to our fishery. With a chameleon like adaptation to situations and quickly made decisions, I stood by and watched an incredible week of fishing unfold. Our guides and staff already taxed with more than 80 straight days of work put on a show of resilience and teamwork to provide another seamless week for guests.

FSIHNG:
Fishing was tough in the bay, extremely difficult to find areas where things were not flooded out with too much freshwater. For obvious reasons saltwater fish vacate flats when salinity levels drop and every living thing in that environment relocates to areas outside of affected zones. Monday was tough and guides were a little nervous and worried about the conditions they saw. Tuesday began to shed light on the bay, and we found some places where there were still populations of bonefish with a snook or two thrown in.  Due to road conditions and a local effort with road repair I had enough and we formulated a plan to launch guests right in front of the lodge for the remainder of the week. This is the first time we have done this and I thought it was awesome. Wind and weather conditions were almost glasslike due to western winds and made the morning commute relatively easy. Out of possible ingenuity (or exasperation) the guides sought plans of fishing and working flats entirely in front of the lodge, oceanside, and moving across the bay to the northern exposed shoreline. We frequented areas in the bay like the first river system, skipped the second river system, and worked outside of river three and Rio Loco’s. There were A LOT of fish outside the bay in front of ESB Lodge, all the way to the light house point. Huge schools of tarpon were found, schools of larger bonefish, occasional permit, and groups of triggerfish all were found.  A couple guests landed the majority of a slam late mornings, multiple days. This occurred less than 5 minutes from the lodge. Guide Victor had Tony Schopf and Ryan Rice on tarpon schools that surpassed 100 fish and were more than enthusiastic to eat. They lost count of jumps and landed fish at one point.  Guide Victor is a well versed and experienced guide. He mentioned to me later that he had never seen such large schools of tarpon that were not shy of anything and hung around the boat for the better part of 3 hours. They would follow tarpon toads and EP baitfish all the way to the boat and eat flies less than 6 feet from the rod tip. Missed hook sets were quickly forgiven as multiple fish fought over the baitfish imitations. Big permit would appear out of the schools of tarpon and quickly disappear. It seemed like a smorgasbord of fish. That same day Tony and Ryan succeeded in landing their first grand slams and a first permit for Ryan. Ryan would later on in the week land another permit with Victor. Peter and Austin had a fun week chasing tarpon and some snook around the mangrove islands of river one and Rio Loco’s. Peter had landed a couple small permit 7 years ago with guide Fernando at Paradise Lodge and last week Austin was able to seal the deal and landed his first permit with guide Fernando. The stars continued to align for Austin, and he rounded out the day with his first grand slam. We had customary tequila shots to celebrate angling achievements and progressed that night with a shot to represent each fish. I was informed as an owner it was respectful to partake. I found myself obliging partially and the evening went along blissful, and conclusively blurry. Close friend Marlin Roush had an awesome week here with us. He was supposed to have another close friend Ron Hagan join him but due to medical issues had to back out the last minute. Marlin had his fill as a single angler for the week and went home a tired and happy guest. Fishing solo almost 50 hours on the bow can be tiring and tough both mentally and physically. He had decent fishing beginning and middle of the week. Guide Victor took him out Friday and they accomplished a super slam. Marlin teamed up with Fernando the last day and jokingly declared in the palapa at the end of the day he only succeeded in a grand slam for the day. What a great way to finish strong for a week of fishing.

Our group of 5 anglers landed 6 permit for the week and this brings our season totals to 104 guests with 266 permit.

FLIES:
ESB white Raghead Crabs with yellow eyes and EP spawning shrimp worked for our permit for the week. For the crab we opt for a #2 hook and the spawning shrimp, a #4 2X long hook.

Tarpon and snook were landed on toads and EP style baitfish. Our usual color combinations worked and has provided consist success for us throughout the season. We use more bright color combos for tarpon, black/red, purple/black, chartreuse/yellow. Snook tend to eat more natural colored baitfish imitations and color phases white, white/grey, and color combo “everglade.

WEATHER/TIDES:
Weather for the week was pleasant with minimal wind out of the west and mostly sunny skies. We had a couple rain showers that passed through quickly. Tides were low in the morning and incoming in the afternoon for majority of the week.

Chef Carlos continues to impress guests with his excellent dishes accented with a Mayan flair. His unwavering enthusiasm in the kitchen for the season has been impeccable. Emmanuel and the house staff worked really hard to smoothly execute daily duties and provide a seamless and clean environment.

I sat last night at dinner in the company of four guests who have all frequented ESB Lodge over the last 4 seasons. This is our last week of the 2020 season and I couldn’t be happier to sit amongst close friends and enjoy our conclusive week. We have some mixed weather in store for us and an hour before writing this report Hurricane Iota has become a category 5 storm that will hit the northern portion of Nicaragua around 1:00 AM Tuesday. This will bring changes to our weather patterns and the only thing to do is to stay prepared and adjust accordingly. I feel for the people of Nicaragua and Honduras as they continue to writhe in devastation from recent Hurricane Eta. It’s been a bumpy storm season in the Caribe this year.

I hope everyone is having a safe November and anticipating the holiday season around the corner. Do yourself a favor and call our friends at The Fly Shop® to inquire about this special place or any other destination you wish to visit in the future. Please enjoy the week and or course, stay tuned for our latest report.

From your Yucatan friends,
Saludos desde el Caribe Mexicana
Dane & Chiara & the ESB Lodge Team

 

Esb Lodge Report

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Esb Lodge Report

Published: November 9, 2020

Fishing Report
November 01 – 08, 2020

Bird viewing at Espiritu Santo Bay Lodge

We’ve had an eventful week here at ESB Lodge. Weather predictions suggested heavy rainfall and moderate winds for much of the week. Guests remained optimistic and we enjoyed a nice day upon arrival with fairly pleasant conditions. Triggerfish were putting on a display in front of the lodge, tailing, and chasing flies. Chiara and I were watching closely as Hurricane Eta was closer to our vicinity than previously predicted. Monday led to a decent day on the water and by the end of the day the weather had worsened significantly. We had heavy rainfall all night with strong wind gusts. Tuesday morning was looking far from a picturesque day on the water but guests were enthusiastic to give it a try. I voiced a careful crossing for guides to access the north side of the bay for protection and better fishing. When I drove guests through the small village of Punta Herrero it was slightly alarming how high the water had risen. Throughout the day the weather had significantly worsened, and a couple of guests had returned early. I drove up to town and water was beginning to climb higher and fill the road. I couldn’t get into town to receive guests and had to park well before the entrance due to the surge. I saw remaining guests and guides wading through the middle of town and I quickly made sure boats were secure and we drove through what was the road that had in turn connected with the ocean.

Clients all got back to the lodge in a raging downpour and sought hot showers and a comforting drink or two. I had to leave at that point and drive further south an hour where our supply of fuel resided in the bed of our pickup trucks that was dead in the road. It had become flooded and there was standing water in the main cabin of the truck. Emmanuel and I unloaded all the fuel into another truck and towed the broken-down vehicle to higher ground for the time being. Unfortunately, the truck is still there, and it’s probably totaled due to significant water damage.

Wednesday morning, we proceeded to be hopeful with a normal breakfast and I said I would go with the guides to Punta Herrero to check on things. We couldn’t make it more than 1 km north before we had to park and wade the rest of the way to town. It was pandemonium in town with water in everyone’s houses and the ocean continuing to rise. We moved and secured our boats elsewhere, I talked with a couple members in town on how they would get out. They opted to clean out and drive through the water with the larger of their vehicles. Estimated number of people to leave was 40 and half were young kids. I couldn’t get one of my lodge SUVs out in time and that’s still stuck in the town.

We all rendezvoused back at the lodge for lunch and I voiced a concern that the weather will not improve and it will be a long shot to go and fish the bay due to dangerous conditions until at least Friday at the very best. I respected the group’s joint decision to pack up quick and be driven out by Chiara and Emmanuel and to be shuttled to Cancun for an early finish to the week. I am glad they left when they did.  Chiara and Emmanuel were not able to make it back to the lodge until last Saturday. I used the remaining daylight hours to help move some locals to the lighthouse and temporarily put them up. Everyone was able to get out and I and my crew stayed with the lodge and chose to wait it out.

Usually these fishing reports are busting with info regarding wonderful catches by guests during their week with us. We did have one wonderful catch for the week which was caught by 18-year-old David Benkert. He succeeded in landing his first permit, on his first saltwater trip! Congrats David and we look forward to seeing you next February.

This was the only permit landed for the week for our group of 6 and this brings our totals to 261 landed permit with 99 people.

Yesterday we received a group of 5 guests and things are looking better. Five minutes after guests got to the lodge and were enjoying their welcome beers, we saw a mid-size permit tailing in front of the lodge.  We have improvised another location to launch our boats and guests from for the week and this will probably carry into our last week of the season. Weather looks good for now and I’m confident we will resume fulfilling guests’ expectations with spectacular fishing.

I hope everyone is having a safe week thus far and please don’t hesitate to call our friends at The Fly Shop to check in on us or inquire about this special place. Please stay tuned for next week’s report.

From your Yucatan friends,
Saludos desde el Caribe Mexicana
Dane & Chiara

Birds at Espiritu Santo Bay Lodge

Esb Lodge Report

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Esb Lodge Report

Published: November 2, 2020

Fishing Report
October 25 – November 01, 2020

Another great week has flown by us here at ESB Lodge. We had a mixed bag of weather with Hurricane Zeta making landfall as a category 1 or 2 north of us 70 miles close to Tulum October 26 roughly around 8:00 PM. It’s been a very eventful storm season and we seem to have a weekly occurrence with building storm systems that are becoming advanced and growing to hurricane strength. We are currently watching and monitoring Hurricane Eta as it rapidly approaches the coast of Nicaragua. Estimated landfall is projected a little after midnight. We have heavy rains in our forecast for the week as the storm is projected to work its way inland along a northern track. With any storm we’re on top of monitoring hourly progress with storm and weather projections. These weekly storm occurrences are not our favorite thing to watch and the unfortunate consistency keeps us on high alert. Historically hurricane season lasts until November 30 and we would be more than grateful if these storm systems could subside.

That being said, we had a really fun group for the week. Five new anglers came to enjoy our operation and of course catch fish! We rode out some bad days of weather and I was happy to see the skies open up with sunshine and provide the world-class fish this bay has been known to produce.

FISHING:
This fishery never seems to disappoint me; its resilience to bad weather, many protected bays, and entire backcountry offer a menu for anglers to chase all our targeted species on a daily basis. This group had nothing in particular they were focused on catching and allowed the guides to work the fishery and optimize certain points of the day chasing various species. There was an undertone from a couple guests that had yet to land their first permit. I have been putting out newsletters that would make any permit enthusiast weak with anticipation, and drive anyone a little stir crazy. Your only antidote to the diagnosis is to call The Fly Shop and jump on the next available slot!

Our visibility window for the week was maybe 30%, meaning we had only a couple days that offered up enough light to productively chase permit. We found permit again in a couple large schools in the middle of the bay, edging closer to the southside in an area dubbed, “red buoy”. It wasn’t until Thursday did we see the large schools and guests were able to get adequate shots. River systems one and two along the northern shoreline held a handful of permit that were in shallower water. Tanner Summers had a great day with Fernando and succeeded in landing his first three permit from the larger schools. Tanner chose to fish solo for the week. This a long week of fishing, more than 50 hours of bow time will leave you exhausted, delusional, and weary. After each long day on the water, Tanner grabbed his 9 weight and would fish another solo 2 hours along our beach going south. He chased jacks and triggers until dark almost every night. To say he was dedicated is an understatement… I am happy Tanner was able close the deal with landing his first permit and his unwavering enthusiasm of chasing anything that swims.  Same day as Tanner, guest Josh Randolph was also able to close the deal on landing his first two permit with guide Alex. Josh was able to land a permit Friday and Saturday as well with guides Pepe and Victor.  Brock Anderson and Viki Dietchler each had good shots at permit and Brock was able to land his first with Victor. Viki easily hooked the largest permit of the week and unfortunately after a reel screaming run came unbuttoned.

The group of 5 landed 8 permit total for the week which brings our season totals to 260 permit and 93 guests.

Tarpon and snook fishing was solid for the week and the low morning tides kept the fish out of the mangroves for the most part and become feasible targets for guests. Josh Randolph knocked out his first tarpon and an impressive snook his first day out with guide Pepe. Sam Wells and Brock were able to also land their first snook for the week and proceeded to land a few more. It’s been exciting to hear the guides reporting more and more snook moving into the bay system. This occurrence repeatedly presents itself every fall and has been a highlight for many of our fall anglers. We are always on the hunt for the newest and greatest snook flies. Snook can become very moody and we often find ourselves emptying our fly box out in search of a fly the snook will commit to. It can be a little frustrating as you rifle through your selections as a snook casually observes your attempts of persuasion as it resides comfortably in its mangrove domain. Well known fly tier Blane Chocklett created a series of baitfish flies called gamechangers.  A couple guests have been bringing down the finesse gamechanger tied on a 2/0 hook in colors chartreuse and solid white. These are incredible flies for snook and the movement of this fly incredible and we have been seeing great results from this pattern. If you’re planning on coming down in the next couple weeks pick up a few to try when the snook become difficult.

Our Tarpon fishing was solid and they were more than willing to commit on all manner of baitfish and toad imitations. A couple guests were able to have some fun fishing around mangrove islands located in the first river system on the north side of the bay. Outside the first river system working north we saw decent schools of tarpon as they rode in on an incoming tide. We work the fish hard outside along the northern shoreline when the tide is coming in or the rivers systems are flooded too much for productive fishing.

I will quickly rant about one of my favorite fish to chase here, bonefish. We caught the hell out of bonefish last week. All guests were able to catch bonefish everyday and we found them everywhere. Guides worked hard to position guests in skinny water where we could see tailing fish. Light conditions were tough and in some cases impossible with a turtle grass bottom. When they begin tail and push water they become immediate targets and throwing a light shrimp pattern will almost always be rewarded with a grab. Brock and Viki had a banner last day chasing tailing fish and lost count of landed bonefish with guide Pepe. Sam Wells couldn’t stop praising the healthy condition and size of the bonefish and he was happy to chase them at any moment they presented themselves. Brock has fished the Bahamas multiple times and said he believes this fishery rivals any other bonefish flat he’s fished. We landed a couple of fish that hovered around the 5 pound mark. I cannot stop talking about these fish and they should never be overshadowed by our other fish. Do yourself a favor, buy a nice 7 weight, or a little 8 weight and dedicate time here for the largest bonefish in the Yucatan.

WEATHER/TIDES:
Weather for the week was mostly cloudy, with heavy rains squalls passing over the bay.  On Thursday the wind died and we had decent sun for the day and into Friday.  Wind direction was mainly from the north.  Tides were low in the morning and incoming most afternoons.

FLIES:
Our permit flies for the week was mainly Spawning Shrimp tied on #4 hook in colors tan and white.  We landed a couple fish on the #2 white crab with yellow eyes.

Snook and Tarpon were landed on all manner of Tarpon Toads, EP style baitfish, Finesse Gamechangers.  Color combos that were productive: black/purple, white/grey, white, chartreuse, shad, blue/white, and red/black.

Bonefish were happy to eat any manner of shrimp flies in sizes #2 – #8.  We would match the depth of water to weight of our shrimp to avoid hang ups.

Chef Carlos and the kitchen crew worked hard to provide guests with wonderful cuisine, hearty lunches, and delicious desserts.  I appreciate the hard work our house staff is doing and can’t thank them enough for working everyday nonstop since the third week of August.

We’ve got a fun crew of guests for the week with six new faces that have been patiently waiting for an opportunity to fish with us.  One incoming guest informed me has been waiting since 2017 for a chance to experience this incredible fishery. We will have mixed weather for the week as we continue to monitor the path hurricane Eta takes after it makes landfall tonight. We hope everyone had a fun and safe Halloween.  Do yourself a favor and check in with our friends at The Fly Shop for the latest intel and to help prepare you for your next trip with us.  Look ahead to 2021 and try to grab an opening if you can.  We are looking forward to another sold out season and would love for you to be a part of it.  Have a safe week and check in again for the next fishing report.

From your Yucatan friends,
Saludos desde el Caribe Mexicana
Dane & Chiara

 

 

Esb Lodge Report

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Esb Lodge Report

Published: October 27, 2020

Fishing Report
October 18 – 25, 2020

We’ve enjoyed another week here at ESB Lodge. I apologize for getting the report from last week a little later than usual. We finished the week with a strong tropical depression that resulted in category 1 hurricane that landed 70 miles north of us last night (Monday) around 8:30 PM. Luckily, we escaped major damage and things are resuming as normal. The days leading up to Hurricane Zeta were beautiful and made for some incredible fishing for our guests.  We had a wonderful group of 6 friends join us for this special week. It’s weeks like this that give Chiara and I the complete satisfaction as lodge owners and we couldn’t be more proud to operate in one of the most special fisheries in the world.

FISHING:
Our fishing was superb which coincided with some really nice weather. We had multiple days that the bay was flat with little wind. I thought it was interesting with our tide cycles which didn’t seem to be consistent and we never got a true tidal flush. Some days the tides never seemed to change with a never ending incoming or never ending outgoing. This is probably due to the incoming storm. Permit fishing was mixed with days that were unbelievable and days it was hard to find a fish. Our first day out Kevin Vincent was able to land a beautiful fish and the rest came up empty handed. Tuesday there were permit everywhere, boats seeing hundreds of fish, multiple schools close to each other. It seemed like someone just dumped thousands of permit into our system. Close friends Mike Michalak and Mike McVay had a day that would leave any permit enthusiast weary with an overload of permit. The two of them landed 11 permit for the day with guide Fernando and the group tallied up more than 17 fish in one day. This is a new ESB lodge record for one day. Andre Feucht was also a hot boat alongside guide Victor and they had 6 to speak for. Outside of river systems 3 and 4 we saw majority of the fish. They resided in deeper water and transitional flats roughly 4 feet deep. We returned to these spots the next day and the bay seemed void of permit. The only thing the guides and I could come up with was inconsistent current movement from tides. It seemed to be a yo- yo with Friday having some solid numbers of fish turning up again. Since we opened in 2017 I have never seen so many permit show up in impressive droves for the month of October. Usually we see consistent fish but more scattered throughout the bay system. Mike McVay was the hot permit rod for the week totaling 11, and Andre Feucht having his best week yet at ESB Lodge landing 6 one day and 3 another with guide Alex. The Fly Shop owner Mike Michalak added 8 permit to the total count. Kevin Vincent had 7 permit for the week and 11 permit total counting from his previous trip here in September! He also tacked on a super slam with guide Pepe. Mike Michalak is probably one of the most well-traveled fly fisherman with more than 40 years of experience under his belt. At dinner one night someone asked him throughout all his travels which location would he dub as the best permit destination. Without batting an eye, Mike said ESB Lodge holds the best fishing on the planet for permit.

Our group total for the week was 34 permit with 6 guests.  This brings season totals to 252 landed permit with 88 guests.

Our tarpon and snook fishing was fantastic and was not about to be overshadowed by chasing permit. When permit fishing hit a lull, or light conditions weren’t optimal we headed into river systems on the north side and also along the northern shoreline outside the bay. Andre Feucht had a fun day with guide Pepe and they saw countless snook well over 15 lbs. I shared the boat with Mike Michalak Tuesday morning and we immediately headed over to chase fish in the mangroves. When guide Pepe stopped the motor we pulled the rods out and saw snook right away. Throughout the morning we worked the shoreline hard and saw plenty of snook and schools of tarpon cruising through. I looked up and noticed another one of our boats a couple hundred yards north and south of us both doing the same thing, and everyone catching fish. A fun spot that we do not usually fish is the west side of the island that splits the entrance to our bay. Most of the time, due to wind direction, this is a tough spot to target fish with muddy water and difficult conditions. Mike and I finished our day there watching schools of small tarpon rolling and had consistent action for the better part of an hour. Outside of river 2 along the bank held solid numbers of snook and we ran across the occasional tarpon. The snook fishing will continue to become stronger with a more predominate north wind during the fall and early winter. Tarpon numbers seem to be higher than normal and I translate this to water temps staying warm and plenty of sardines and other baitfish readily available. We did have a big tarpon jumped almost 80 lbs. by Mike McVay with guide Alex in our tarpon cut on the north side.

Bonefish were always available and all guests that chased them caught plenty. I love the bonefish here. They are energetic, healthy, and could care less about tippet size. They eat absolutely anything that’s presented in front of them. Kevin Vincent has been coming here more times than we can count and this trip was particularly special with his wonderful wife Lee joining him for a week. She’s a solid stick and had great fun chasing tailing bonefish. The finished their week with guide Fernando wading flats that held awesome pushes of fish.

WEATHER/TIDES:
We had pleasant weather for much of the week. Most days had minimal wind that didn’t exceed 7 mph according to the radar. Visibility was good for much of the week with mixed sun and clouds. Some days saw more sun than others and vice versa via clouds. Our wind direction was interesting meaning it was mostly from the west and finished the week coming from the north, northeast.

Tides were difficult to pin down and we saw highs in the morning that lasted throughout the day on a slow fall. We had low tides that also started some of days with a low and seemed to fall throughout much of the day. Days where we saw strong numbers of permit we had high tide in the morning and low tide in the afternoon.

FLIES:
Our permit flies that worked well for the week was the usual for ESB Lodge. White Casa Blanca crabs with yellow eyes, #2 hook, #4 tan and white Spawning Shrimp, and of course our #2 tan Squimp.

Tarpon were landed on Toads and EP baitfish in color schemes black/red, black/purple, solid black, white/chartreuse. Snook were landed mostly on more natural colored EP baitfish that represent small sardines.

Bonefish ate any small shrimp pattern in sizes #2 – #4. We jump from bead chain to heavier eyes depending on the depth we are fishing.

Chef Carlos out did himself again with the help of Francisco (Pancho). They kept the lodge well fed with delicious Mexican dishes accented with a Mayan flare. Emmanuel worked hard keeping the lodge in working order and lending a hand when ever needed. I can’t say enough about Emmanuel and truly appreciate his dedication and hard work he displays day in and a day out.  He’s a jack of all trades and has become imprinted into the identity of this operation.

Now that we have Hurricane Zeta behind us everyone is looking forward to another great week here at ESB Lodge. We are joined by 5 new anglers who have been anxiously waiting for a spot on the calendar with us. One of our guests this week remembers me from 7 years ago when I hosted a large group of 30 anglers in Belize. He remembered my group drank the lodge clean out of alcohol……. Different but fun times and I’m glad to reconnect and I also assured him this week would be well stocked with beverages.

I hope everyone is enjoying the last few days of October and able to catch the dying glimpses of any colors left amongst your local foliage. We have had an incredible fall here and are also looking forward to the beginning of our winter season. Do yourself a favor and drop a line to our close friends at The Fly Shop®. They’re on standby to aid you in your next adventure and fill you in on the latest with the happenings of ESB Lodge. Have a safe and wonderful week and check in with us for the next fishing report!

From your Yucatan friends,
Saludos desde el Caribe Mexicana
Dane & Chiara

Esb Lodge Report

800 • 669 • 3474

Esb Lodge Report

Published: October 19, 2020

Fishing Report
October 11 – 18, 2020

We’ve had another fun week here at ESB Lodge. Four guests came down and were able to enjoy long solo days on the water, targeting all four of our flats species. We were fortunate to have returning guest Larry Jones aka Lorenzo who had spent a week with us this past September. Our other three anglers were new to our program and quickly learned what a special place Espiritu Santo Bay is. We had decent weather intermittent with rain squalls that kept our wind down for much of the week.

FISHING:
Our fishery is beginning to show all the classic characteristics of fall and we’re enjoying good numbers of fish throughout the system. I would still prefer if we settled into a consistent wind direction from the north.  We’ve been seeing our tides drastically change with wind direction varying from northerly to southeast, a wind more conducive to summer fishing. The given amount of northern winds we’re having now is still providing a nice seasonal transition that brings a lot of snook into our system and has big schools of permit in the middle of the bay.

Throughout the week and the Saturday evening before guests leave, I tally fish counts and collect material to base these weekly newsletters from. Larry Jones saved me the time and wrote out his own personal report.  It follows as:

“Larry Jones from Pacific Grove, aka Lorenzo came to ESB Lodge a second time under the objection of his 2 ex-wives, but with the blessing of his girlfriend.  He caught 2 permit over 20 lbs. and had a super slam with the loquacious guia, Victor”

He had an awesome week and started with our Monday morning program with guia Alex which aided him to catch 2 very big permit. He concluded the week fishing on Saturday with Victor and they saw plenty of fish and were able to land a super slam. Congrats Larry, and well done! I was able to get out on the boat and share the bow with ESB Lodge newcomer Mark Kehke. Mark is an avid outdoorsman, and loves to fly fish and upland bird hunt. He had been on four other saltwater trips with high hopes of landing permit.  We started the morning out fishing our tarpon cut while the sun rose higher to provide good light to chase permit. Mid-morning found us 100 yards off the southern shoreline in area we call “Red Buoy”. An hour passed without seeing a fish. Alex decided to move us into deeper water in the middle of the bay where he had seen schools previously. It was my turn on the bow and we were immediately into a school of 50 big permit.  My second cast resulted in a solid hook up and was lucky to land a 15 lb. fish on a white crab.  While I was fighting the fish, more schools showed up and we were quickly in the midst of hundreds of permit. It was incredible to see so many permit moving through and witnessing a single school in the distance that held 100 fish alone. We landed my permit, got a quick picture, and Mark was immediately on the bow. Alex re positioned the boat and moved into another school of fish in which Mark hooked a permit on his first cast. He was off the to races with a 20 lb. permit peeling more than 250 yards of backing off his reel. Mark played the fish well, with the permit circling the boat multiple times causing Alex and I to dance around avoiding line contact. I noticed Mark’s vocals changed to higher octaves each time the fish circled….. Alex tailed the fish beautifully and it was a special moment sitting in the boat watching Mark hold his first permit, a trophy to say the least. Welcome to the club Mark, a job well done, and very well deserved. We also had first time guest Steve Cart join us for the week. Steve is a fantastic fisherman and previously owned a well-known tarpon and snook lodge located in Brus laguna, located along the northern shoreline of Honduras. This was at one time where legendary sized snook up to 30 lbs. could be caught regularly. Unfortunately, due to high demand the fishery was decimated by gill nets and the area became void of fish.  This was the last time Steve was able to land big snook and been to other locations in hopes of seeing big fish again. He didn’t land any 30 lb. snook with us, but was able to catch 3 – 5 fish a day and landed a couple at 20 lbs. Steve is now dedicated to returning to ESB Lodge exclusively to chase big snook. While chasing these fish, he also had some great resident tarpon fishing. Last Wednesday Steve partnered up with guia Alex and succeeded in landing a grand slam.  I appreciate his dedication and enthusiasm for chasing snook and it is fun to watch guests specifically target them. Guest Peek Garlinton had a good week landing four permit his first day with Victor and one more on Saturday which translated to a grand slam with guia Fernando.

Our total permit count for the week was 11 and this brings our season total to 218 landed permit with 82 guests.

I mentioned seeing big schools of permit in the middle of the bay. This seems to be where the majority of the fish are residing and we are not seeing them up on shallow flats as we had weeks before. When a north wind blows a bit some deeper flats along the northern shoreline will hold fish that pass through, transitioning to deep water. It’s fun to see so many fish concentrated in one area but can be very frustrating for anglers and guides. The deep water becomes hard to pole, and the exposed location also will become windy and makes for a rough ride trying to balance on the bow in the 2 – 3 foot waves. I am confident that once conditions become consistent with wind direction the permit will feel comfortable moving onto shallower flats resulting in a more classic shallow water experience. Snook and tarpon fishing remain strong and the backcountry systems are holding solid numbers of fish. When tides are in full swing the rivers become concentrated with baitfish that fall prey to snook and tarpon. We had a couple mornings where guests fished the northern shoreline outside of the bay along the coast. This is prime habitat for snook as they make their way into in the bay system.

FLIES:
Squimps and White crabs tied with yellow eyes continue to dominate our selection for permit. One thing I noticed while permit fishing to schools was the crab was less likely to be picked up by jacks and small blue runners. Squimps will work very well under these conditions but seemed to be quickly eaten by the less desirable quarry.

EP Baitfish and Tarpon Toads continue to produce well for tarpon and snook. Classic color schemes black/purple, and chartreuse/white do well for the resident tarpon and the snook seem to like more natural colors. One fortunate thing we have is lack of pressure on these fish. For guests that are tying some of these patterns you can get away using 3/0 hooks with amount of material associated with a 2/0 hook.  This larger hook greatly improves hook ups and landing the acrobatic resident tarpon.

Bonefish are enthusiastic to eat all manner of shrimp patterns tied in sizes #2 -#8.

WEATHER/TIDES.
Weather for the week was mostly pleasant with some rain squalls that moved through during the day and night. We had 3 days where bay conditions were relatively calm, easy, and comfortable to navigate.  Wind direction was changing constantly with north, northeast, east, and southeast all present during the week.

Chef Carlos and the house staff continue to work hard in our kitchens delivering tasty cuisine and being mindful of safety protocols to ensure a healthy longevity for guests and ESB Lodge.  We enjoyed a well-run, orderly lodge and I appreciate the dedication this crew has shown us working 2 ½ months with no day off or rest.

This week is going to be fun and we have a group of 6 anglers for the week. Most guests are repeat fisherman and are looking forward to getting back on the bay. Close friend Kevin Vincent fished with us last August/September and this time brought his lovely wife Lee for her first trip to ESB Lodge.  We’ve grown close to this couple and communicate weekly with them with updates regarding a rescue dog they saved from our jungle airstrip almost a year ago. It is very moving to see such a wonderful dog come under the care of ESB Lodge and then given a true home amongst friends. We also have The Fly Shop’s own Mike Michalak joining us for the week. Mike is of legendary status amongst the fly-fishing community and has created the most successful retail/outfitting/travel agency in the world. I am humbled to share our palapa with him and look forward to spending time together. As a young, budding angler in the 90s I used to obsessively turn the pages of The Fly Shop’s retail catalogue in awe and envy of the newest, greatest equipment at the time. Looking at the travel department of the catalogue opened new doors in my imagination and the places fly fishing could take you. Fast forward 20 years, owning now an exclusive lodge to Mike’s operation is an achievement as well as a dream come true for me and I couldn’t be prouder and more excited.

I hope everyone is enjoying some fall colors and navigating pumpkin patches. This is a favorite season of mine and perhaps you can get outside to enjoy it. Give our friends at The Fly Shop a call to inquire about this special place or line out a winter destination that will aid in your escape for a week of warmer weather. Stay safe, kind, and true to yourself and of course check in with us for next week’s fishing report.

From your loving friends at ESB Lodge
Saludos desde el Caribe Mexicana
Dane & Chiara