Travel Blog Categories: travel-blog

Best Flies for Belize

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Best Flies for Belize

Published: January 14, 2021

Belize is a small English-speaking country in Central America, bordered by the Caribbean Sea to the east, dense jungle and mountainous terrain to the west, and just over a two-hour flight from Houston or Miami. The coastline of this Caribbean nation stretches a total of 170 miles north to south, is home to the world’s second largest barrier reef (185 miles in length); and a short boat ride from the mainland, providing protection for the nearly 1,000 square miles of pristine flats and around 450 cayes (pronounced “keys”). Belize is one of the most prolific saltwater fly fishing destinations in the world, with strong populations of bonefish, permit, tarpon and snook, along with jacks and barracuda. Belize is what we call an “opportunistic fishery”; multiple fish species can be encountered at any time on the water, multiple rods each rigged differently should be carried.

Snook-a-roo

Belize is one of The Fly Shop’s favorite flats fishing destinations for anglers looking for: shots at multiple species, easy travel to and from, no language barrier, and an absolutely gorgeous Caribbean landscape. We also like the fact that Belize has aggressively pursued sustainable tourism and enacted many progressive environmental protective measures, including banning gill nets, protecting bonefish, tarpon and permit with a national catch and release law, as well as banning single-use plastics like plastic bags, Styrofoam, and single-use cutlery. Tourism in Belize represents 40% of total export of goods and services, 18% of their GDP, and creates tourism connected jobs in excess of 15,000. Belize takes care of its people and the environment so that we can enjoy it. We like that!

Best flies for Belize:  Being a multi-species destination, the list of flies can be a bit overwhelming, but if you break it down by species, the list is quite short.

Bonefish in BelizeBonefish:  Bonefish in Belize are not big, averaging 3 pounds, with smaller fish common, and a really big bone would be 7 pounds. But what they lack in size they make up for by the sheer numbers. Bonefish live in inshore tropical waters and move onto shallow flats to feed with the incoming and outgoing tides. Adults and juveniles may school together, and they may be found as singles, in pairs or in large schools. Belize is a perfect destination for someone new to bonefishing who is looking for multiple shots each day to help refine their game. Blow a shot, no big deal, you are going to get 10 or more in the next hour.

Green Crab in BelizePermit:  Permit in Belize run from 6 to 25 pounds on average, with smaller and larger specimens landed. Permit are usually found in shallow waters where they are approachable, such as mud-bottomed flats, sand flats, coral flats, and channels. Permit are usually seen as individuals or in small schools, sometimes cruising the deeper flats or tailing in very shallow water. Fishing permit is not easy and not a numbers game. If you are lucky enough to land a permit on a fly, you should count your blessings and tip your guide well. Belize has a very healthy population of permit, and you will definitely see them while fishing and get shots at them.

Tarpon at Turneffe Flats Lodge in BelizeTarpon:  Tarpon in Belize come in two varieties, resident and migratory, and their size can range from 5 to 80 pounds with a few in the 100 pound category or larger. Migratory tarpon range in size from 80 pounds to over 175 pounds. Tarpon are found in both saltwater and freshwater habitats and are able to survive in brackish water, waters of varying pH, and habitats with low oxygen content due to their swim bladders, which they use primarily to breathe. They are also able to rise to the surface and take gulps of air, which gives them a short burst of energy. Tarpon are beasts on a fly rod, extremely strong, and the only fish on a fly that makes our knees shake!

Belize SnookSnook:  Snook average in size from 8 to 15 pounds in Central Belize, with smaller and bigger landed frequently. Snook live in shallow coastal water estuaries and lagoons and often move between saltwater to freshwater. Snook feed on smaller baitfish, shrimp and baby spiny lobsters. Snook are considered opportunistic predators, and studies show a positive relationship between their size and the size of their prey, meaning that as snook grow, they feed on larger and larger prey. Interestingly, snook are protandric hermaphrodites; they are all born as males then some develop into females between 1 and 7 years of age or approximately 22 inches.  Snook are tackle busting apex predators and a terrific sportfish to pursue in Belize — just be ready for a battle!

Belize BarracudaBarracuda:  There are 18 different species of barracuda in the tropical and subtropical waters of the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans. The great barracuda is a solitary predator and is found in the bluewater, along the barrier reef and flats of Belize. The great barracuda has a long,  slender, and streamlined body, covered in tiny scales with a hard bony skeleton supported by strong muscles, all of which propel them through water at great speeds, clocked at close to 40 mph. Barracuda, which can grow up to 6 feet long, are often overlooked by flats fishers, but we can tell you from experience, nothing strikes or sets off on a greyhounding, leaping run like a ‘cuda. They have saved many a day on the flats when other species are tough to find or uncooperative.

Jack Crevalle in BelizeJack Crevalle:  Jack crevalle are wide sided with a blunt head with a black spot on the rear edge of their gill cover with hard scutes forward of sickle-shaped tail. They can range in size from 1 pound to 40 pounds, but most Jacks we encounter in Belize will tip the scales between 5 to 15 pounds, with the occasional fish in the 20-pound class. Few fish can out-pull a Jack crevalle of equal size. Jack crevalle are aggressive feeders and found on the inner and outer edges of Belize’s barrier reef as well as on the flats. The fight of a Jack is unspectacular but dogged, usually composed of a long first run followed by waging a tug-o-war as the fish uses its broad sides as a plane to resist the angler’s pull. Jacks love to eat poppers, are tons of fun to hook and catch, and pull like a freight train.

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

Tsimane is Back in 2021

800 • 669 • 3474

Tsimane is Back in 2021

Published: November 6, 2020

The Fly Shop® is Bullish on Tsimane’s Dorado Camps for 2021.

We’re going long on the fabulous Bolivian dorado fishery – Tsimane in 2021! Tsimane blends, like no other destination on Earth, the best aspects of fly fishing: sight casting, freestone mountain rivers, wading, clear waters, floating lines, and four different exotic jungle species of fish reaching very significant sizes. The fishing at Tsimane is like streamer fishing in a freestone river for tarpon on steroids. Dorado are badass game fish, high jumpers, strong runners and tremendously savage! Tsimane is a unique jungle fly rod challenge,  perfect recipe for a jungle fly fishing adventure of a lifetime. 

Christiaan Pretorius with a nice Golden Dorado

All of the Tismane camps will be opening in 2021! That’s right, we recently learned from our friends at Untamed Angling that the Bolivian Environmental Ministry and the National Service of Protected Areas officially authorized the re-opening of the country’s national park for tourism. 

By the start of the 2021 season, all of Tsimane’s fisheries will have been rested for over a year. The fishing will be as good, better than when it first was discovered more than 10 years ago.  Why, because 10 years ago we didn’t know squat about the fishery, except that it was loaded with Dorado. Now we have a thorough understanding of the resources and with virtually no one fishing it for a year, it will no doubt be spectacular. 

Be among the first to fish dorado at Tsimane in 2021. Space will be limited next season due to the number of 2020 anglers that were rolled over to 2021, however, some great weeks are still available.

2021 Pluma Lodge:
From Pluma Lodge anglers have access to three different rivers, each different and unique: the Pluma River, Itirizama River, and the lower Sécure River.  This broad variety of waters and pools allow groups to fish fresh water every day, and rarely, if ever, repeat a beat.  The water types vary from deep pools to rugged terraced pocket water to classic runs and boulders gardens.  

June 12 to 19, 2021 (3 spots)         
July 24 to 31, 2021 (2 spots)
July 31 to Aug 7, 2021 (7 spots)
August 14 to 21, 2021 (2 spots)
October 16 to 23, 2021 (8 spots)

Golden Dorado at Tsimane's Agua Negra Lodge

2021 Sécure Lodge:
Sécure Lodge is far upstream from the other two Tsimane camps and can accommodate six anglers maximum. Its fishing program is varied with upper beats of the Sécure River above the lodge; extremely beautiful with crystal clear water, wedged among mountains with access to two small feeder tributaries. The downstream beats of Sécure are shallow and open, its clear waters gradually infusing color from tributaries and features more logs, sunken trees and subsurface structure, perfect ambush points for holding dorado.

May 28 to June 4, 2021 (6 spots)         
June 4 to 1, 20211 (2 spots)
June 11 to 18, 2021 (1 spot)
June 16 to 23, 2021 (1 spot)

Tsimane's Sécure Lodge2021 Agua Negra Lodge: 
Agua Negra sits high on the banks of the middle Sécure River and only accommodates four anglers maximum at one time – perfect for small inclusive groups of anglers. It’s fishing program focuses on the lower Agua Negra – wide and shallow, the Middle Sécure River and Upper Agua Negra Spike Camp – reminiscent of a Catskill’s trout brook .  The variety of water at Agua Negra is amazing from small pocket water and plunge pools on the upper sector to the massive wood strewn runs that hold ambush-ready dorado.

June 26 to July 3, 2021 (2 spots)     
October 23 to 30, 2021 (4 spots)
Sep 25 to October 2, 2021 (4 spots)

Peace of Mind:
If the 2021 season is closed due to Covid-19 in Bolivia, you will be assigned to the 2022 season with 100% credit.

Tsimane availability next season will be tight, but space still exists. If you are interested in fishing Bolivian Dorado next summer, please don’t delay in making your plans.  Give us a call at (800) 669-3474, or email us at travel@theflyshop.com.

The Fly Shop Team®
travel@theflyshop.com
(800) 669-3474(530) 222-3555

Seasons at Agua Boa 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

 

Esb Lodge Report

800 • 669 • 3474

Esb Lodge Report

Published: October 12, 2020

Fishing Report
October 04 – 11, 2020

We’ve had another week pass here as we settle into the fall season. This last week was eventful for us in the way of weather. We started the week out picking up the leftover pieces of tropical storm Gamma.  There was also another development showing promising growth to hurricane levels set to split between the northeast Yucatan coast and western Cuba. I was confident we would only see rain and some wind out of the system. Unfortunately, The National Hurricane center updated projections for the storm to start heading more inland into the Yucatan and was dubbed as major hurricane and named Delta.

ESB Lodge began monitoring the development of Delta hourly, through local, national, and world weather platforms. I made the call Tuesday morning to fish the morning and have guests return 12:00 PM to see what continued development showed. By the time guests returned midday Delta was projected to be the strongest hurricane to make landfall on Mexican soil in 15 years and storm tracking continued to show movement closer to Playa del Carmen. Category 4 was predicted for hurricane strength. While this storm was still a ways north of us, various spaghetti models showed chances of this storm coming close to Espiritu Santo and Ascension Bay. State government agencies declared mandatory evacuation of all coastal towns in the region. Chiara and I opted to evacuate guests to Mahahual where everyone spent the night at a nice hotel out of harm’s way. Staff, guides, and I stayed at the lodge and executed well-rehearsed hurricane protocols. Storm barriers, window blocks, and the entire lodge underwent a transformation to be prepared for the worst. The guides and I situated our boats and also aided locals in the town, locking everything down. It was a sleepless night for much of us as we continued to watch and set up for an anticipated landfall roughly around 4:00 AM. I remember standing on my deck at 2:00 AM and witnessed one of the most eerie weather transformations I have seen here.  Things became still, so quiet, with all the normal jungle noises paused. My dogs began to whine and chose safety under my bed as this ominous presence was felt. It’s the first time I have never heard waves softly crashing on the beach. My crew and I had previously prepared a couple vehicles ready for immediate evacuation for our personal safety. It was interesting because the silence had awakened the rest of our crew and I said to be ready to move quickly. We watched the weather for another hour and conditions became windy, with some heavy rain. This was short lived and by daybreak we saw broken weather with a rising sun. We watched live cams as the hurricane made landfall further north than originally projected. It was clear the storm had lost significant strength and still did cause damage around Cancun and Playa del Carmen. It was baffling to see something so intense lose its power quickly as it hit land. Weather forecasters and meteorologists could not figure out or justify why Delta lost its momentum and all conditions were set to fuel this predicted catastrophe.

To say we were relieved was an understatement. Staff, guides and myself ran to put everything back together and resume a normal week. Chiara brought guests back to the lodge and we settled for a late lunch followed by a normal evening. Wednesday morning, we proceeded with our typical  fishing day and were able to get guests back on the water and finish out 4 days of fishing.

FISHING:
Historically we have seen fishing become tough around storms. Fresh water, extremely high tides, muddy shorelines, varying pressures, and windy conditions all can shut out a productive week of fishing.  I was impressed at the resilience our fishery showed and despite not having perfect weather we were able to manage some fantastic fishing. The bay was far from ideal but nothing we have not seen before. We had a drawn-out tide that was lower than normal which gave way to some decent tarpon and snook fishing.  Bonefish were readily available when pursued. Our river systems held all manner of species with the backcountry losing water to falling tides. A couple days guests that chased permit were able to see a few flats with numbers fluctuating between schools, singles, and small groups of 2-6 fish. Guest Ivar Bolander joined us for his first week at ESB Lodge and succeeded in landing two beautiful permit. Ivar is an accomplished saltwater angler from Florida, and we were encouraged by his success. Guest Anne Spavin and her husband Jim shared a boat catching all manner of fish including a big tarpon with guide Pepe. Anne was happy to pull her first permit from one our river systems. Guest David Isaac worked hard to catch permit and was able to get a couple fish that ate his fly as well as hooking a nice fish that became unbuttoned after a few minutes. He also landed some smaller tarpon and was able to redeem himself at ESB Lodge after explaining his last outing with juvenile tarpon that seemed to always throw the hook. Guide Fernando and David landed one of the largest Barracudas we have seen boat side, and easily the largest that Fernando has had a guest land in 15 years. Angler of the week goes to first time guest Rodney Neil. Rodney landed his first permit and proceeded to complete a super slam with guide Fernando. Later in the week he landed another permit along with another super slam with guide Alex.  Rodney is a very humble and mild-mannered fisherman and very well versed in the outdoors. It was fun to share this experience with him and we look forward to seeing him next May! Our group of 5 anglers landed 5 permit total for the shortened week.  This brings our permit totals for the season to 207 permit with 78 guests. The other day I was looking at permit totals for our 4 seasons of operating and we have landed over 1,000 permit at this point. This is an incredible feat for guests, guides, and speaks volumes about the wonderful fishery we have.

FLIES:
Our permit were landed on #2 tan Squimp and #2 white Casa Blanca Raghead crabs with yellow eyes. Tarpon and Snook were landed mostly on EP style baitfish in color schemes chartreuse/white, black/purple, and an everglade color combo (olive, white, tan)

Bonefish were happy to hit any shrimp pattern sizes #2 to #8

WEATHER/TIDES:
Weather for the week was stormy conditions the first couple days and began to clear up with partly sunny skies and medium winds from the northeast. Tides were high in the AM beginning of the week and became very lower after Delta passed.

Chef Carlos and our house staff did an amazing job working through difficult scenarios and stayed consistent with our normal cuisine which is rated top notch by guests. I also must take a moment and say that I extremely proud to have this crew and guides working alongside us. They are the heart and soul of the operation. We worked long hours, had little sleep, and had an unbelievable turnaround after Delta skirted us.

We’re going to put storms behind us for the time being. NOAA sites indicate a quiet week with tropical disturbances and we have some decent weather in the forecast. We have returning friend Lorenzo, (from Pacific Grove) joining us again for his second trip in 4 weeks. Lorenzo has become another guest who has made ESB Lodge his home and I love watching my crew light up in anticipation of his return. It’s really a highlight sharing a cocktail in the Palapa reminiscing and sharing conversation with Lorenzo. He is embedded into ESB Lodge culture and family.

I hope everyone has a great week and able to get out and enjoy some fall weather. Do yourself a favor and give our friends at The Fly Shop a call to inquire about this wonderful place. Be safe and stay tuned for next week’s report.

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

Esb Lodge Report

800 • 669 • 3474

Esb Lodge Report

Published: October 5, 2020

Fishing Report
September 27 – October 04, 2020

We’ve enjoyed another wonderful week here at ESB Lodge. Unfortunately for guests we lost our last fishing on Saturday to Tropical storm Gamma as it made landfall north of us. We were lucky coming out of the storm fairly unscathed with no damage to our property and everyone remained safe. Heavy rainfall and winds brought a big storm surge that flooded the local fishing village where we launch guests from each morning. Myself, along with the guides helped yesterday morning digging things out with the locals and making the road passable for this upcoming week so we could get to our boats and so the lobster co-ops could get their catch out to local markets. We are proud of our relations with locals in the community and it is heartwarming to see a collaborative effort displayed on both ends.

We were joined by four new guests for the week.  ESB Lodge was happy to host Clark Smith, a fly shop owner/ outfitter based out of Sheridan, Wyoming. Clark also recently transitioned into becoming the new owner of travel- based fly- fishing company, Angling Adventures. He brought along close friend James Ryan and Mike Schwartz. We also had new guest Ed Church who had enjoyed his first saltwater fly fishing trip with The Fly Shop’s own Eric Ersch on Crooked Island in the Bahamas. Ed enjoyed it so much he jumped at the chance to come down and fish with us. Don Morris stayed on and completed his second consecutive week with us. Don truly has become ingrained in our ESB Lodge culture and it’s hard to imagine this place running without Don around.

FISHING:
I thought the fishing was decent for the week and all of our guests were able to land plenty of fish. It seemed to go in intervals of productivity that had guests fishing hard with little success and then experiencing a banner day. Monday mornings with guide Alex Martinez continues to be a success and he was able to find a couple nice schools of permit. Guests Clark Smith and James Ryan succeeded in landing 8 permit and this was James’s first couple permit on fly. I asked Ed Church what his hopes were in terms of fishing for the week. He mentioned to me that he had caught bonefish in the Bahamas and was excited to try and catch permit and tarpon if the chance became available. I told Ed he will definitely have the opportunity and we will work hard to fulfill his bucket list. Ed went out the first day with Victor and decided he did not want to fish right away and took advantage of the calm conditions to take a quick swim and snorkel a bit. Ed returned to the boat was in the midst of toweling off and Victor noticed a nice permit casually swimming towards them. Ed, with no time to gather himself promptly grabbed his permit rod and first cast hooked, fought, and landed the permit. This is classic and I cannot think of a better way to start your week. First day, first fish, first cast, first permit! Ed then proceeded to catch another smaller permit later in the day as well. We were ecstatic for Ed and gently explained this is not entirely the normal progression of how someone usually lands their first permit. Later on during the week was also able to land his first tarpon. Well done Ed and I’d be lying if I were to say some of us may be a little jealous of your second week of fly fishing in the salt.

Guest Mike Schwartz had a good week and was also hoping to land his first permit. He had some great shots and saw plenty of fish the first few days but it wasn’t until later in the week along with guide Victor he got a slam with multiple permit. It was fun to witness Mike’s ear to ear grin during dinner that night along with the additional bottles of wine. Don Morris had another great week and contributed to another 6 permit for the group total. One of the last days out Don was with guia Fernando and landed 4 permit and had Fernando land a permit as well. Don started fishing with us when we first opened in 2017 and has a special connection with Fernando. He landed his first saltwater fish with him as well as his first permit, and last week his first grand slam. I know Don cherishes his moments with all our guides but it’s fun to watch the two head out together in the morning, working as a team, and usually landing some impressive fish.

The group total for permit for the week was 21 with 5 guests.  This brings our season total thus far to 202 permit landed with 73 guests.

Most days we spent working the northern shoreline outside the bay and along our river systems further west. We had some very calm days where it became so hot and still, fishing became tough. We all hope for minimal wind conditions, but it can be very tricky to chase fish, especially permit in these conditions.  Longer casts, longer tippet, lighter tippet and stealthy leads are required. Clark mentioned to me a couple times even false casts were spooking fish. It seemed like the fish were almost on edge and spooked with incoming weather. I will admit I felt similar, closely monitoring the incoming storm. We still found good numbers of tarpon rolling and we were not successful with chasing the larger tarpon in our “tarpon cut”.  Don hooked a massive permit in the cut that easily topped 30 lbs. and it came unbuttoned after a short- lived fight. Guests saw a hammerhead shark easily the size of one of our skiffs which I am sure moved some of the bigger tarpon around and made them uneasy. I requested for the health of these beautiful fish that we rest them in fear of hooking a large tarpon, only to have it killed by a shark. We do not see many sharks of this size in our system and are careful to leave them alone. Higher tides kept the snook buried deep in the mangroves for much of the week and some tricky casts were required to place a fly in front of them. Our bonefish numbers remain strong and guests had their fill whenever the desire to chase them came about.

FLIES:
White Casa Blanca ragheads, smaller spawning shrimp, and Squimps were all hot tickets for permit. These are not doubt the most productive flies we use to chase permit.

Toads and EP shrimp continue to work well for tarpon and snook. We like color schemes black/purple, chartreuse/white as well as natural sardine colors. Our bay is packed with these small baitfish and it’s important to have a pattern representing these on a 2/0 hook

Bonefish were eager to eat any small shrimp pattern in sizes #8 -#2.

WEATHER/TIDES
Weather for the week was mostly overcast with some rain showers passing through. Wind was minimal for most of the week coming from the north, northwest, and west. Last Saturday we experienced tropical storm conditions. The tide was mostly high for much of the week and as Tropical storm Gamma approached we never experienced a low tide.

Chef Carlos and the kitchen crew cooked up a “storm” delivering delicious cuisine to the table every evening. I also thank our house staff for keeping the lodge clean, operating, and comfortable for guests.

This upcoming week we have some new guests that have yet to experience ESB Lodge as well as a wonderful couple Jim and Anne joining us again for their second trip here. They fished with us during the first fall season we had in 2017. It’s great to see them again and fun to catch up. The weather looks decent for the week with scattered rain showers, some sun, and lighter winds. Wind direction is forecasted coming from the west our first few days. I hope everyone is enjoying their October so far and able to get out and enjoy the fall season.  Feel free to give our friends at The Fly Shop a call to inquire about this special place or get up to date info with gear, travels, or any questions you may have. Please enjoy your week and stay tuned for next week’s report.

From your loving friends at ESB Lodge

Saludos desde el Caribe Mexicana

Dane & Chiara