Proving grounds. It’s where companies go to push the envelope in product development, punishing and testing gear to the nth-degree. Say, for example, you wanted to produce the most cold-tolerant car battery on earth. You’d be packing for International Falls, MN (“Ice Box of the Nation”) and The Cold Weather Testing Facility, where Pluto-like temperatures push prototypes to the limit.
In similar fashion, if you claim to build the “Best Rods on Earth,” you better be testing them on what might be the best bass lakes on earth. And that precise thinking is behind St. Croix’s union with Angler’s Inn International.
Located in the beautifully bucolic outskirts of Mazatlán, Mexico, Lakes El Salto and Picachos are shoreline basecamps for two epic Angler’s Inn fishing resorts, and where St. Croix recently pitted man against fish (hundreds of them) in the final development stages of the new, extra-long Legend Glass and Legend Tournament Bass rods. In the end, the rods won, but the black bass put up one heck of a fight.
Angler’s Inn International owner Billy Chapman Jr. sings high praise of his new relationship with St. Croix. “It’s an honor to be with St. Croix Rod. They make great products. My customers are going to love it.” Moreover, Chapman says his guests will be appreciative of not having to carry their own rods, because of the wide variety of St. Croix rods he carries in camp. Flippin’, buzzing, cranking, dropshotting.... whatever. St. Croix and Angler’s Inn have it covered.
Choosing between Lakes Picachos and El Salto could be the toughest decision you make all year. The newest lake in North America – quite literally – Lake Picachos offers an unimaginable biomass of bass. “Numbers galore,” says Chapman. “You’ll wear the skin off your thumb” from lipping bass all day long. 200 to 300 fish days are commonplace, and average sizes are rapidly running up the size chart.
Iconic El Salto is the Holy Grail of bass fishing. It’s, as Chapman says, “Where the trophies are caught.” Proof positive for the proving grounds, a father and son duo recently nabbed 31 fish over 7 lbs., capped by a 10.2-lb. Mexican whale. Try doing that anywhere else on God’s green earth.
The successes and failures of most “fish camps” are dictated solely by catch-rates, and maybe the edibility of Uncle Ed’s chili. Not the case with Billy Chapman Jr.’s establishments. At equal footing with the fishing are the facilities, cuisine and service. Think of it like Sandals or a Royal Caribbean Cruise with world-class black bass swimming in the swan shaped pool, and you casting St. Croix’s from a chase lounger.
St. Croix’s master prototype-punisher and field-refiner, Dan Johnston, gushes about the grounds. “Unbelievable facilities. Unbelievable service. So proud to be part of this.”
So how is it possible to improve upon an Angler’s Inn bass fishing vacation? Do it with a clutch of St. Croix rods in your professionally guided boat.
“Billy, this is going to be a good, long ride,” closes St. Croix Marketing Director Jesse Simpkins, reaching out with two hands – one for shaking, and the other clasping the evening’s first cerveza.