Categories: travel-blog

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.

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.

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 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.

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 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.

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


Top 5 Reasons to Fly Fish Mongolia

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Top 5 Reasons to Fly Fish Mongolia

Published: March 30, 2021

First and foremost, this is a fishing trip, and those interested in fishing for the largest salmonid in the world (taimen) owe it to themselves to travel to Mongolia and fish for these prehistoric beasts. Will you catch a 4- or 5-foot taimen? Who knows, it’s fishing … but each and every day and on each cast you have the chance of hooking a trophy taimen. You will catch taimen, that’s damn near guaranteed and probably more than one for a week’s fishing, and on some days multiple fish will be brought to hand. Yes, the Mongolian people, the culture, the lore of Genghis Khan, the steppes of Mongolia, and the sheer vastness and beauty of the country are added bonuses of the trip, but make no mistake, you travel to Mongolia to catch a big badass taimen first and foremost. The rest is icing on the cake …

Largest Salmonid on Earth:
Largest Salmonid on EarthHucho taimen is one of five species of taimen and is the largest member of the salmonid family, which includes trout, char, whitefish, grayling, and salmon. Just the idea of fishing in waters where these river monsters are known to eat small beavers, ducks, and gophers is enough to suck most fly anglers in, but casting to the largest salmonid on earth makes it all the more appealing. These ferocious predators grow larger than chinook (king) salmon, and fish as big as 230 pounds and 6 feet long have been recorded. Although most of the Mongolian taimen do not get this big, a mature adult can weigh between 30 and 60 pounds, stretch 5 feet, and be over 50 years old.

The People of MongoliaThe People:
Every person we send to Mongolia goes for the fishing but comes back more impressed by the people and the experience. That doesn’t mean the fishing isn’t great, it’s just often overshadowed by the experience of seeing and interacting with the nomadic herders of the Mongolian countryside. You would be hard pressed to find friendlier, more welcoming  people. The native Mongolians hold on to their traditional lifestyle of moving with their livestock and are a very self-reliant and hardy people who live entirely off their herd. They take pride in customs and traditions and live and breathe hospitality. Their circular homes, called gers, can be picked up and moved in a matter of hours, and the colorful clothing they wear hasn’t changed much in hundreds of years, as it’s well adapted to the harsh way of life on the high desert steppe. In a time of smartphones, computers, WiFi and a barrage of technology, it is wonderful to spend time with these amazing people, and it often feels like you are stepping back in time when things were simpler and the pace of life was slower.

Birthplace of Genghis KhanOne of our floats takes you to the birthplace of Genghis Khan, the first Great Khan of the Mongolian empire, which became the largest contiguous empire in history. He is considered by many to be the greatest conqueror of all time, and anybody who is interested in history will enjoy the controversy surrounding this legendary ruler, his military accomplishments, and his ability to unite the Mongol confederations. His invasions were often brutal, and he slaughtered millions of people but  also granted his captors religious freedom, banned slavery in Mongolia, abolished inherited titles, promoted trade, established one of the first international postal systems, and gained the loyalty of many of the Mongolian people. One of every 200 men alive today is related to Ghengis Khan. To this day, officers in military training study Genghis Khan’s battle movements, especially his feigned retreats and flanking counter attacks.

Altai eagle festivalCulture and Festivals:
Mongolians are known throughout the world as being some of the greatest horsemen and archers in history, and they still celebrate their culture through many festivals and competitions. Naadam is a Mongolian holiday that celebrates horses, archery, and wrestling, where men and women compete against each other to show feats of skill and endurance and celebrate their nation through a beautiful mix of art and sport. Eagle festivals, celebrated throughout the country, are some of the most popular festivals, and they are a must see if you have the opportunity to do so. Traditional hunters share their unique skills and celebrate the 4,000-year-old tradition of hunting small game with eagles. These hunters share a primitive bond between man and bird, and their skills have been passed down from generation to generation. This unique cultural heritage is one of the most popular events to see in all of Asia.

Excellent photography in MongoliaPhotography:
There aren’t many countries as photogenic as Mongolia. From the high steppe grasslands contrasting sky and land to the crystal clear rivers and towering mountains that surround the windswept countryside, it is a beautiful country that is wild and alive. Mongolia is a place that makes aspiring photographers feel good about themselves; you couldn’t ask for a better set up to take pictures, with the dramatic lighting, clear, pollution-free air, and colorful traditional clothing of the locals and the gers. Anywhere you point a camera you end up with jaw dropping photos good enough to hang on the wall.

Fly fishing for giant taimen, warm and friendly people, the rich culture and history, the beautiful countryside, and more makes Mongolia a location every traveling angler should have on their list of places to visit.

Top 5 Reasons to Fly Fish Mongolia

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.

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.

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

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

Spring Creek Master Fly Fishing School

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Spring Creek Master Fly Fishing School

Published: March 26, 2021

Spring Creek Master Fly Fishing School
Paradise Valley, Montana

— Demystify Spring Creeks —

There are few experiences for a dry fly angler that can surpass catching big trout on the famous spring creeks of Montana’s Paradise Valley. These slow-moving, nutrient-rich, crystal clear waters offer the greatest of fly fishing rewards – big and wild rainbow, cutthroat, and brown trout.

DePuy and Armstrong spring creeks

The DePuy and Armstrong spring creeks are home to prolific hatches and enormous numbers of trout. If you are the type of angler looking for a new fly fishing challenge, these creeks are custom tailored for you. The scenery is straight out of a Robert Redford movie – gin-clear waters touched by willows with the Absaroka and Gallatin Mountain Ranges towering above. These private spring creeks are among the most famous in the world, and their consistent 52-degree water temperature creates the ideal habitat and home for an abundant number of trophy-sized trout. Anglers wanting to up their game and learn from some of the best instructors and spring creek technicians in the Rockies should look no further. You’ll enjoy three days of personal guided and instructional fishing on private waters and finally desmistify what some consider the most difficult freshwater fly fishing there is – spring creeks.

Master Class Instructors:

Brant OswaldBrant Oswald — Brant is known as one of the top spring creek fly fishing instructors in the country, and even has a film credit in the landmark movie, A River Runs Through It. Brant has worked in nearly every segment of the fly fishing industry – as a fly fishing school instructor and director for Orvis and the Mel Krieger International School of Fly Fishing, a commercial fly tyer, a fishing travel consultant, a fly shop manager, and now as a guide, outfitter, and instructor in Livingston, Montana. As a guide, Brant spends most of his days with clients on the Paradise Valley spring creeks and the Yellowstone River, and he teaches fly casting and fly tying clinics around the region.

Beau PeaveyBeau Peavey — Beau started fly fishing at the age of 4 and began his guiding career in Maine chasing landlocked salmon and brook trout. He is known as a professional, friendly, “fishy” veteran guide who teaches his anglers something new every day. Beau has guided over 15 years on Montana rivers and streams, with 10 years of guiding on the Paradise Valley spring creeks. He also teaches a guide school, at fly fishing schools and is an accomplished casting instructor.

Greg BrickerGreg Bricker — Greg is Shields River Lodge’s licensed outfitter. His team of professional guides are some of the best in the Western region. Greg’s fishing addiction has led him to guide in Chile, Argentina, the Bahamas, Christmas Island, and numerous places throughout the U.S. He has been featured in Waypoints (a Confluence Productions film), and The New York Times.

Take your fly fishing skills to a new level:

  • Fly Casting Brush Up
  • Sight Fishing Strategies
  • Reading Spring Creek Water
  • Hatches, Fly Selection, and Matching the Hatch
  • Entomology
  • Knot Tying
  • Spring Creek Rigging
  • Hooking, Landing, and Releasing Spring Creek Trout
  • Spring Creek Rods, Reels, and Fly Lines

Spring Creek Master Fly Fishing School

Four Class Date Options (4 nights / 3 days of fishing instruction):
April 19–23, 2021
19th – Arrive Shields River Lodge (SRL) at 3 pm or after
20th – Class Instruction at SRL & Shields River Fishing
21st – Fishing and Instruction at DePuy Spring Creek
22nd – Fishing and Instruction at Armstrong Spring Creek
23rd – Departure (or we invite you to extend your stay and hone your newly-gained skills)

April 25–29, 2021
25th – Arrive Shields River Lodge (SRL) at 3 pm or after
26th – Class Instruction at SRL & Shields River Fishing
27th – Fishing and Instruction on DePuy Spring Creek
28th – Fishing and Instruction on Armstrong Spring Creek
29th – Departure (or we invite you to extend your stay and hone your newly-gained skills)

May 3–7, 2021 (This school is full)
3rd – Arrive Shields River Lodge (SRL) at 3 pm or after
4th – Class Instruction at SRL & Shields River Fishing
5th – Fishing and Instruction on DePuy Spring Creek
6th – Fishing and Instruction on Armstrong Spring Creek
7th – Departure (or we invite you to extend your stay and hone your newly-gained skills)

May 17–21, 2021
17th – Arrive at Shields River Lodge (SRL) at 3 pm or after
18th – Class Instruction at SRL & Shields River Fishing
19th – Fishing and Instruction on DePuy Spring Creek
20th – Fishing and Instruction on Armstrong Spring Creek
21st – Departure (or we invite you to extend your stay and hone your newly-gained skills)

Cost – $5,000 per person  (all-inclusive, including guide gratuities)

Guests are invited to arrive days early or stay days after class completion to fish Shields River Lodge’s local waters with their talented guide staff … or add a few days to explore local favorites like Yellowstone National Park, Bozeman, and Livingston. Call or email for quotes for additional days.

For more information and early reservations please contact:

The Fly Shop®
4140 Churn Creek Road
Redding, California 96002 / (800) 669-3474

Introducing Lava Creek Lodge Family Activities & Excursions

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Introducing Lava Creek Lodge Family Activities & Excursions

Published: March 22, 2021


Hello and welcome to Alaska,

Phil & Beth ByrdThe Alaska Peninsula extends approximately 800 miles southwest from the mainland to the Aleutian Islands and is home to an incredible number of diverse North American wildlife populations. Guests visiting Lava Creek Lodge can expect sightings of brown bear, barren ground caribou, Arctic wolves, red fox, bald eagles and a variety of raptors along with many species of waterfowl and shorebirds using the Pacific Flyway. Moose and brown bear sightings from the ground and air are common, as are river otters, seals, walrus, and whales. Pairs of snow-white tundra swan can be seen from the air dotting the infinite number of small lakes, waterways and lagoons, while thousands of ducks and geese – including the rare emperor goose, found only in western Alaska – fly the peninsula on their twice a year migration.

It’s a land filled with a million different hues of green, and never-ending veins of waterways connecting thousands of ponds, rivers, creeks and sloughs. All surrounded by massive volcanoes that reach from sea level deep into the sky and bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the south, Bering Sea to the north, and Kamchatka, Russia, to the west. It’s a prehistoric land, shaped by water, wind, and tectonic forces, and full of life and amazing scenery.

Aerial of Alaska

This is our home, April through October, and we thank you for coming up to visit us. We look forward to sharing our Alaska with you.

In addition to our world-class fishing, we are excited to offer a wide variety of non-fishing activities that are unique to our location and that we feel adds to your Alaskan adventure. Below are a few of our favorite excursions. Please feel free to talk with Phil or Beth if you are interested in arranging some of these while you are visiting Lava Creek Lodge.

Thank you and welcome to Alaska.

Phil & Beth Byrd
Lava Creek Lodge

Build a Family Fishing Tradition
If you are looking for a summertime family vacation that will make the entire family happy, look no further than Alaska – Land of the Last Frontier. And we can’t think of a better spot to consider than Lava Creek Lodge, a wilderness, family-oriented, full service fishing and adventure destination on the Alaska Peninsula. Lava Creek Lodge is remote, only a rifle shot from the Bering Sea, and has near exclusive access to three world-class salmon rivers and a number of smaller streams that offer incredible Dolly Varden fishing along with wild rainbow trout. The fishing is accessed by jet boat directly from the lodge, or a short, spectacularly beautiful bush plane flight over tundra dotted with swans, moose, caribou, wolves, and brown bear. The fishing is downright ridiculous – you and your family will catch plenty of fish! And you can take home fresh-caught wild Pacific salmon that will be filleted, vacuum-sealed and frozen, ready for the flight home and then into the smoker or on to the barbeque.

Lava Creek Lodge Family Activities & Excursions

Create Lifelong Memories
A week at Lava Creek Lodge is so much more than experiencing world-class fishing. Alaska is extraordinarily beautiful, wild and full of natural wonders. By land, water and air, guests will have access to 5,500 square miles of the Alaska Peninsula National Wildlife Refuge, as well as Aniakchak National Monument and Preserve, a volcanic natural wonder a short flight from the lodge. Imagine landing on a lake inside the massive volcanic crater of Mount Aniakchak, a dormant volcano, to take in the views and enjoy a glass of champagne. Or how about taking a short plane ride down the beach to a promontory where, below, hundreds or even thousands of bull walrus are hauled out on the beach sunning themselves. Our favorite day trip is the ultimate guided beach-combing walk on a remote stretch of coastline where explorers might find Japanese glass floats, tracks of bears and wolves, or maybe an unearthed mammoth tusk – the possibilities for treasure hunters are endless. End the day on the beach with a massive bonfire while sipping a cold (or hot) beverage and watching the Bering Sea waves crash, seals bob in the surf, and sandpipers skittering across the sand, feeding  on crustaceans.

Comfort at Lava Creek Lodge

Enjoy Comfort in Alaska Wilderness 
Just because you are literally in the middle of nowhere, doesn’t mean you have to be uncomfortable. Guests are accommodated in separate private cabins with comfortable beds, comfy and warm linens, full private bathrooms with running water, and 24-hour electricity. Meals are taken in the cozy main lodge and include such dishes as steaks on the barbecue with grilled shrimp, spiral cut honey-baked ham with sweet potatoes and green beans, Cornish game hen stuffed with orange wedge, wild rice and vegetables,  barbequed salmon, rice pilaf and salad, barbequed pork chops (or loin) and grilled potatoes, and baked or barbequed halibut with crab cakes. Don’t plan on losing any weight, especially when talented Chef Betty serves homemade pie and ice cream for dessert.

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.

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?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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



El Escondido Exploratory Trips

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El Escondido Exploratory Trips

Published: March 12, 2021

Introducing the NEW El Escondido Exploratory Trips Program with Patagonian BaseCamp for 2022

By Pat Pendergast & Mike Mercer

Marcel and Carolina SijnesaelOver the past 10 years, Marcel Sijnesael, owner of Patagonian BaseCamp (PBC), has been acquiring a vast amount of land in the hidden valley of Río Escondido. The Escondido River flows freely from a lake that is surrounded by Queulat National Park, a massive 154,093-hectares tract of untouched wilderness. The area is pristine, private and remote, with limited access and zero development. With the help of Chile’s National Park Service (CONAF), Marcel is developing a conservation project and has been able to construct a trail system through virgin forests for access to never-before-seen wilderness and world-class angling.

El Escondido

During 2019 and 2020, Marcel and his staff built a very comfortable camp for a maximum of 4 anglers, or a total of 6 guests. The camp overlooks an evergreen forest of the Escondido Valley and the turquoise waters of Lago Verde. The views are spectacular, and enjoying a morning coffee on a private deck will be just the start of each adventurous day at Escondido.

Mercer with El Escondido Brown TroutLast season Marcel, his guides, and a few of us from The Fly Shop® embarked on serious exploration of the valley and discovered amazing trout fishing. We caught spectacular wild brown trout up to 30 inches and great numbers of feisty wild rainbow trout. Most often the trout were taken on large dry flies while sight-fishing gin clear waters. We fished small creeks, larger rivers, small back channels, large lakes, small hidden lagoons, and even under waterfalls – the diversity of the fishery is unparalleled. But there is still much more to explore, and we would like to invite a few of our friends to be part of our first official exploratory season.

El Escondido Exploratory Trips

The Rio Escondido Valley is tucked away in an isolated corner of Chilean Patagonia, close to the Argentina border, and its waters are wild and virtually untouched. The trout you will stalk here will have never seen a fly before and are very cooperative. Access to these waters can be challenging, but for those who are physically fit, have a measure of adventure in their souls, and a willingness to go beyond the normal scope of fly fishing will be rewarded. Explorers should be prepared for a considerable amount of hiking, bushwhacking, log jumping, river crossing, horseback riding, and remote glamping in complete isolation. You’ll sight-fish crystal clear waters for trophy-size trout in virgin territory. It’s not a destination for everyone, but if you are game for a truly unique experience and want to be the first, Escondido is the wilderness fly fishing adventure you have been looking for. We couldn’t be more bullish on this unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, all orchestrated by Marcel and his talented team of guides and staff at Patagonian BaseCamp.

Brown Trout at El Escondido Exploratory TripsThere are only seven Escondido Exploratory weeks being offered for a maximum of 4 anglers per week in January and February of 2022. Space is limited to keep this fishery as wild and fresh as when we discovered it.

The weekly rate is $5,995 per angler, for shared lodging and guides, and includes the round trip charter flight from Puerto Montt, vehicle and boat transfers, licenses, and all food and drinks, with an open bar.

Help us make history, and become a member of the 2022 Escondido Exploratory Team.  “PBC” opened its doors to traveling anglers 15 years ago, and in that time has established itself as among the elite fly fishing lodges of Patagonian Chile. Located in one of the least fished and most spectacularly beautiful regions of Patagonia, owner Marcel Sijnesael has built his reputation by exploring and pioneering remote rivers accessible only via floating or use of motorized boats.

El Escondido Exploratory

Using a combination of state-of-the-art inflatable fishing rafts and jet sleds, his guides are able to access and effectively fish rivers tucked into deep canyons of the Aysen region, where the waters are filled with large brown and rainbow trout. Guests most often fish huge size #2 – #8 dry flies here, casting them alone or with nymph droppers to the endless current seams, riffle drops, and forested riverbanks. The main lodge – the “BaseCamp” – is about as far from camping as can be imagined, with comfortable private rooms and cabins with en suite bathrooms, a glass-walled great room overlooking the Rio Palena, and a dedicated mudroom where guests suit up every morning and shed waders at the end of each fish-filled day. In addition, for those wanting a night or two away from the main facility, the lodge has uber-remote outcamps located on wilderness sections of rivers and with comfortable amenities that can only be described as “glamping,” including hot showers, flush toilets and heated lodging. Marcel’s wife, Carolina, is in charge of the evening farm-to-table meals at the lodge, and they are spectacular combinations of local and international fare, much of it sourced from the Palena River Valley and the family farm. All meals are truly memorable events paired with the best Chilean varietals. Patagonian BaseCamp has an extended early season friendly to those desiring to fish in the region’s productive November and December time frame (first anglers on the fish for the season), as well as the typical Patagonia fishing months of January through March.

El Escondido Exploratory Trips

Why we are bullish on Patagonian BaseCamp

•  The lodge is located in a very remote and visually spectacular part of Chilean Patagonia; you will fish daily on rivers that get almost no outside pressure. Little pressure on the fisheries assures guests of ample opportunities to cast dry flies over happy and hungry trout.

•  Patagonian BaseCamp is custom-tailored to anglers who prefer to float and fish. They have pioneered access to many rivers that can only be fished via rafts and jet boats, and guests cast large foam dries to miles of streambanks. If your wading days are over but you still like to trout fish, then PBC is the place for you.

•  Owner Marcel Sijnesael has built numerous comfortable overnight camps on various rivers, allowing anglers the option to float and fish into a vast wilderness area, overnight in relative luxury far from any civilization, then float and fish out the following day before finding themselves back at the lodge that night. Guests can experience true Patagonia wilderness solitude without sacrificing the creature comforts of a world-class lodge.

•  Marcel has spared no expense in acquiring the finest (largely Rocky Mountain) guide staff. Anglers will learn techniques from these guides that will serve them in trout rivers anywhere in the world, and never experience communication challenges.

El Escondido Exploratory Trips

•  Despite its remote location, PBC is wonderfully appointed, with spacious private rooms featuring large beds with comfy, padded comforters, beautiful picture windows, and private baths. Enjoy the hot tub or sauna, or relax in the common gathering area around the fireplace with a cocktail. You will be royally spoiled; the lodge staff will take care of the logistics of the trip – even doing your laundry! – so all you have to do is fish to your heart’s content.

•  Marcel’s wife, Carolina, is a trained chef, and the lodge adheres to a farm-to-table meal plan; the masterpieces Caro creates daily are made even better by the fact that all the ingredients are locally sourced. Don’t plan on losing weight on this trip, and don’t miss any meals … you’ll need the fuel for every action packed fishing day.

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.

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 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.

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