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Lake El Salto, New Lake Picachos and The Amazon: April 2018

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As April ends and May begins, we are firmly in the “Summer” portion of our Mexican fishing season. The gates are closed, and after draining a lot of water for agricultural purposes our levels will start to stabilize. This year the water level is low, which slightly shrinks the playing field, but experienced anglers know that it’s the best possible condition because it bunches huge schools of bass up on promising ambush points and makes the big girls predictable as they fatten up after the spawn.

We can’t thank our customers enough for making this one of our busiest and most fulfilling seasons ever. We hope that our staff consistently shows their appreciation through their actions, but if there’s ever any doubt, please know that we truly appreciate your business whether it’s your first “bucket list” trip south of the border or the 20th time you’ve fished with us.

One group of first-timers was a quartet of Army buddies who’ve been taking annual fishing trips together within the United States for quite a while. This April the group, led by Chuck Schrankel, decided to expand their collective horizons and visited us at El Salto. They weren’t disappointed by the fishing, the service or the quality of the guides.

Chuck said that their best lures were “half-ounce spinnerbaits with large gold and small silver willowleaf blades, either chartreuse and white or sexy shad. Second was probably the 5XD (crankbait) in Citrus Shad Third was a magnum lizard in watermelon magic.” They also caught plenty of fish on watermelon magic, watermelon black, and watermelon/lemon laminate colored Senkos, as well was Keitech swimbaits affixed to white jigheads.

“The average was probably 70 fish a day,” Chuck continued. “We had at least two 100 fish day and probably three 50=plus fish days. Several of us have bruises on our sides from setting the hook and fighting the fish.”

His advice for first-timers is to “let the guides do the rigging” and he added that the “best retrieve is slooooow. About one turn every two seconds, and bouncing off the bottom or structure. Once you hit something, pause and they will smash it. I also got a lot of strikes when the angle of retrieve changed. I would be below the boat and start pulling it up and they would smash it.”

His traveling partner Michael Barron was likewise a first time Anglers Inn customer, and he fished with Herman and Eduardo, and found the same baits to work well. He also stressed that dipping the tail of your 6-inch Senko in chartreuse/garlic Spike-It increased the quantity and quality of their catch.

Barron emphasized that anglers should bring nothing less than 14-17 pound monofilament or fluorocarbon and 30 pound braid. Line size and type is a frequent question from our guests, and we agree that this is no place for light line. We don’t think that our fish are particularly line-shy, and indeed we have many guests who use nothing but braid and do quite well. The bottom line is that you should stay within your comfort zone, but when in doubt err on the side of going heavier.

Barron was amazed by how “exceptionally attentive” the staff was from the time they were picked up at the airport until they headed home, and Schrankel spoke for all of them when he said, “It was truly the trip of a lifetime and we’re already planning for next year.”

Jim Barton also came down this month, but unlike our first-timers this was his 10th trip. Fishing with Lacho, he said that he averaged 82 fish per day, but unlike our Army buddies, his best producers for both size and numbers were black/blue and junebug Speed Worms (a paddletail style soft plastic). He also caught fish on ¾ ounce spinnerbaits, Storm swimbaits, a bone-colored Yellow Magic and a black and blue jig with a Money Minnow trailer. Unlike some of his past trips, Jim didn’t land a true grande this time around, but there were plenty of sixes and sevens “and more four to fives than we could count.”

“Fantastic food and service as always,” Jim concluded. “My only advice is to prepare yourself for a great trip and maybe lose a few pounds before the trip because you will gain weight while there.”

Jeff Derrick, a newly-retired fishing nomad, came back for the second time in six months and brought his friend Dave Sheils, another first-timer. Fishing with Lorenzo, they lost track of the number of fish they caught per day, but Jeff estimated that they averaged at least 60 to 80.

For numbers, their best lures were a watermelon/red magnum lizards and a 10-inch black and blue Power Worm. “Typically we would through them Texas-rigged with a ½ or 5/8 ounce bullet weight on 17 or 20 lb. test fluorocarbon,” Jeff recalled. “We were fishing them mostly in the 10 to 15 foot range. We also threw 6-inch Senko style baits rigged wacky style, and those caught fish in shallower water.”

While the numbers are fun, Jeff and Dave came for big fish, and they specifically targeted the monsters by throwing bigger lures. Jeff used a watermelon/red 12-inch worm that his guide referred to as “culebra” (snake). “Throwing it in the same areas that we threw the lizards would assure me that the biggest fish in the group would bite the culebra,” Jeff said. “the other bait that would catch the bigger fish was a large (3/4 or 1 ounce) white spinnerbait with gold/silver willowleaf blades fished in the shallower 3 to 5 foot areas.”

Although this is typically considered the hot season for cranking, Jeff proved that you need to remain flexible. He caught some fish on diving plugs, but was “surprised at how well the spinnerbait bite was and confirmed it by talking to other anglers. “Be sure to bring a bunch on your next trip. You won’t lose many, but after getting whacked by a bunch of mean Mexican bass you’ll need to swap them out before the wire twists and breaks.

Jeff’s key advice is to “trust your guides. Most have been in the area 20+ years and know every hump, bump, point and ditch.  Our guide took us every day to one spot he called the ‘arroyo’ -- ditch, in Spanish.  It was an underwater area that very few others knew about and we would consistently catch 20 to 30 bass out of this one spot every day.”

As he can affirm, the hardest part of every trip is to figure out what to bring. Just because you loaded the boat last year under the same conditions with a crankbait doesn’t mean that a spinnerbait or jig won’t be a better tool this time around. We don’t know why it happens, but for a creature with a brain the size of a pea bass certainly like to change their minds.

With that said, we are getting into the lowest water months, with bass in true summer patterns, so be sure you bring a variety of crankbaits. The Fat Free Shad (Citrus Shad) has been the gold standard for decades, and the 10XD fills a unique niche, but our guests are reporting increasing success in firing up the big girls with a Berkley Dredger 25.5. It has a smaller profile and a different sound pattern than the others, and it still gets deep where the biggest fish often reside. If history is a guide this bite will continue to improve through May, June and July. There will be days where you can tie on a crankbait and catch your personal best as well as numbers you never thought possible.

If you’ve noticed through these monthly reports that we’re starting to sound like a broken record – recommending the same baits over and over again – it’s because they’re proven winners. Returning guests seems to come back with less tackle than first-timers, because they’ve eliminated a lot of the fluff. 

 A 10” black/blue Power Worm, an 8” watermelon lizard and a 6” watermelon Senko will produce every day of the year in Mexico. Add in some lipless crankbaits, deep diving crankbaits, swimbaits, spinnerbaits and topwaters and you have most if not all of your bases covered. We’ll never discourage you from bringing your favorite lure or from trying something new. After all, that’s how we got turned onto lures like the Megabass 110, the Chatterbait and the Whopper Plopper, but the key is usually to stick with the fundamentals rather than reinventing the wheel. Rather than focusing on something like color, make sure your line is fresh, your hooks are sharp and your drag is set properly. Getting the big fish that bite into the boat can be a challenge, and the best way to win that battle is to be prepared. 

This is also a time of year when the swimbait bite gets hot. Earlier this year Bill Siemantel of the Big Bass Zone visited and put on a show with the big SPRO jointed hard swimbaits, but most of our guests experience their best success with soft plastic models. Of course, the Storm Wildeye has been a top producer here for decades, and at a buck apiece you won’t hesitate to throw them in the heaviest timber and rockpiles you can find. Other versions that are consistent producers include the hollow bellies like the Basstrix and the Zoom Swimmer, as well as ribbed versions like the Keitech, usually in the 4.8 or 5.8 size, although increasing number of guest are utilizing the 6.8 and even the 7.8. Swim them slowly across the bottom, and don’t set the hook on that first tap. Instead, wait until the rod loads up and then cross her eyes.

Because the economy is strong and fishing has been exceptional, some key dates for next year are already almost completely full. If you know when you want to come, please contact us as soon as possible to make sure you get your preferred time slot. You should also consider either a trip to Picachos, or a combo trip involving both lakes. I know that Picachos has the reputation as the “numbers factory,” but it is increasingly pumping out lunkers, and our local guides get better and more knowledgeable every time out. You can literally expect to catch 100 fish a day if you are even semi-competent, and you can do it just about any way you want. Bring pounds and pounds of plastics because it’s possible to decimate even a healthy supply. It is only going to continue to get better. We’ve only tapped a small portion of its potential.

Picachos is just 45 minutes from the Golden Zone of Mazatlan, so it’s even perfect for day trips, but for you hard core guys, if you can’t decide which lake to visit, a combo trip is the way to go. Our new dining room sits right at the edge of the lake and you’ll be tempted to make a few casts between sips of your margarita.

Remember, our goal is to make your trip as hassle-free as possible, and one step in that direction is that we now have loaner rods for everyone to use at no cost. Thanks to our newly-developed partnership, our lodges now have a varied supply of St. Croix rods. “They made fishing pure pleasure,” said one recent guest. These technique-specific rods rods are the real deal, folks, and we are committed to giving you the best possible tools to land that fish of a lifetime. You don’t need to travel with a heavy and burdensome rod tube anymore if you don’t want to.

If you haven’t seen it already, be sure to click on our new website at www.anglersinn.com at your earliest convenience. We’ve had it up since early 2017, and the feedback has been tremendous – especially from guests who’ve found pictures of themselves with big fish gracing the site. Our theme is “Making Every Angler’s Dream Come True,” and while our web presence is no substitute for a trip to Mexico or Brazil, it’s the next best thing and a valuable tool for planning your next trip.

We’ll be bringing you some new world-class opportunities in both Brazil and Idaho soon, so stay tuned for those announcements. We’ve been searching for the perfect chance to extend the Anglers Inn way from north to south and we believe that what we’re just about ready to offer will knock your socks off.

Since the Bassmaster Classic I’ve been working nonstop on our new Amazon operations, barely coming up for air. I guarantee you that this is going to set a new standard of accommodations and quality angling for the region, all with the same attention to detail that you receive at my Mexican properties. We’ll have the best service, on the best waters, with the best equipment. That’s the Anglers Inn way. I’m still spending time in Idaho, getting ready for a little bit of smallmouth fishing (as well as some multi-species excursions). We expect to host our first guests up there by the end of the summer, with a fully-functioning operation in place next year. You’re going to love it. The biggest issue is going to be whether you want to spend your vacation time in Mexico, Brazil or the gorgeous Pacific Northwest.

Just as we set the standard for international fishing trips, we want to set the standard online, too. The new site includes information about all of our properties, pricing and bios of our staff. We also update it regularly with new videos on our “Anglers Inn TV” channel, and provide detailed monthly reports like this one.

Whether it’s your first trip to an Anglers Inn property or your 20 th, we hope that this site will provide all of the information that you need, but if it doesn't we're always just a phone call or email away.

While we often provide a generalized list of lures that work throughout the year, there are times when specific bites are ongoing and we don’t ever want you to arrive under gunned. Monitor the website and social media for updated info, and if you’re ever in doubt about what you need to bring, please call us or email us. We want to make sure that you’re outfitted properly to make the most of your vacation.

If you’ve received this report from a friend, please be sure to sign up for future mailings at www.anglersinn.com. If you know a friend who would benefit from these newsletters, please make sure that they are receiving them, too.