EspÃritu Santo Bay Lodge
Wilderness Fly Fishing on the Yucatan
With only 12 boats allowed per day and over 75 square miles of water, Espiritu Santo Bay on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico is a wilderness angler’s playground. This fishery is a solid option for serious anglers that want a diverse, uncrowded fishing experience. Located in the government protected Sian Ka’an biosphere, the bay is teeming with life and any moment allows for the realistic opportunity to encounter all major gamefish species: Permit, Bonefish, Snook or Tarpon. However, the main draw here is Permit and the opportunities fly fisherman have on a daily basis to catch them. If you are serious Permit angler and have not been to the bay, then keep reading!
You will be saltwater style fly fishing the flats, lagoons, creeks, mangrove forests, reefs and cenotes of Espiritu Santo Bay from the comfort of lightweight, shallow-draft Hells Bay skiffs. One english speaking guide for every two anglers. Your primary targets are Permit, Snook, Tarpon and Bonefish while Barracuda, Jacks, Triggerfish and more are seen everyday.
For permit fishermen, there may be nowhere else on the planet that can compare to ESB. Between August 2014 and August 2015 during initial research, these guides logged 201 days on the bay. In that duration, they averaged 1.5 permit per day. Looking for the grand slam? They registered 12 grand slams, and countless bonefish, tarpon, snook, and barracuda brought to the boat. It is possible to get a grand slam here, but don’t expect it. Either way, populations of major gamefish are abundant.
While the focus will be on the remarkable fishing in the waters of ESB, there are other options available as well. The most productive of the regional cenote lakes, Mosquitero, is also very close to the lodge. A mere 30-minute drive accesses this tremendous juvenile tarpon and snook fishery…another amazing and untouched daily option for guests.
Differences between Ascension Bay and Espiritu Santo
The primary differences between ESB and well known neighbor Ascension Bay are size and accessibility. ESB is approximately half the size of her more famous sister, but Ascension Bay has more than six thousand people living in the towns around her shores. There are nine official lodges plus several backcountry, “unofficial” guides that fish the bay. As of 2015, one hundred and eighty boats with permits for fishing, snorkeling, bird watching, or tours of the bay make for a crowded, high-pressure fishery. Instead, if you’re wanting to find an area in which you can take part in all these activities, as well as watching for exotic birds you could also be interested in making a Costa Rica Focus tour vacation package for you and your loved ones, the major difference here will be the locations which you’ll find yourself in won’t be anywhere near as crowded!
Espiritu Santo Bay (ESB), however, remains perfectly positioned in a remote wilderness, an area devoid of tourism and the impacts of population and people. There is a small community of about 95 lobster fishermen and their families that live in Punta Herrero, the only human settlement on the entire bay. Only twelve boats have legal access to recreationally fish in the bay. This combination of remoteness, lack of human population, and limited access is what makes ESB unique, and one of the most pristine resources left in the region to target fish untouched by human influences.
Full Fishing Days:
Each evening, during cocktail hour or after dinner, the angling options will be discussed with fishermen and a plan will be devised for the next day. Most commonly, anglers are up at 6:00 a.m. Fresh coffee, juices and a delicious breakfast buffet with cooked-to-order eggs will be ready to go at 6:30 a.m. You should be out the door and on your way to the fishing grounds no later than 7:30 a.m. The drive from the lodge to where the boats are moored takes no more than 15 minutes. The guides, who have left earlier in the morning, will be waiting at the flats skiffs, ready to go for the day. The fishing days at ESB Lodge are full, no less than 8 hours total. The most distant fishing areas in Espiritu Santo Bay are no further than a 45-minute boat run under normal conditions, with some areas as close as five minutes from the dock. Lunch is taken on the fly. The guides will have you back to the lodge between 5:30 and 6:00 p.m. for a shower, cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. Dinner is normally served at 7:00 p.m.
Protecting the Fishery
ESB falls under the protection of the 1.3 million acre Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, established in 1986. With a reputation for integrity rarely found in governing bodies of Mexico, the managers of the biosphere work in partnership with the lodge to preserve the fishery and prevent unlicensed fishing. Only 12 boats are allowed to recreationally fish the bay while no commercial fishing is allowed.
How to Get There
Arrive to CancÃºn, Mexico. From CancÃºn, take a 1 hour private plane transfer to an airstrip near the lodge. From there a 45 min-1hr ground transfer on beach road to the ocean front lodge will complete your journey.
- Saturday: Arrival to Cancun and overnight (we recommend the Marriott Courtyard, near the airport and they have a special rate for lodge guests)
- Sunday: Transfer to lodge
- Monday – Saturday: 6 days of guided fishing!
- Sunday: Depart lodge. Flights should be booked to depart no earlier than 2 pm