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Lake El Salto and New Lake Picachos: April - May 2021

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Veterans of the Mexican bass fishing scene know that we’ve entered a very special time of year. Sure, it’s great to get away from the cold – especially in the northern states – in the late fall through the winter, but from May through July we experience some of the best fishing on the planet. It’s consistent like clockwork and that’s why prime dates fill up so quickly on both lakes.

Mike Whitten of Alabama is one of those veterans. He’s fished many of the best lakes around the United States and now lives near many of the TVA’s best, but he continues to join us at Anglers Inn every year for the fishing and the service. This year his group took the combo trip – 2 ½ days on each body of water.

“Water at both lakes was very low,” he said. “Salto was lower than I’ve ever seen it, but fishing was pretty phenomenal. My partner Tony Browning and I caught a total of 619 bass. Our big fish was 8.01, two over 7.5, three over 6.25; and 79 over 4 pounds. Most of the rest were solid 2 to 3.5 pound fish and we had very few fish under 2 pounds.”  

Another member of their group, fishing with Javier, had two fish over 10 pounds, the biggest weighing in on an accurate scale at 10.65. He also had two more big eights. Their best baits for those were heavy jigs and Texas rigged brush hogs in isolated trees. It’s not the easiest way to fish, and bites can be few and far between, but the guides know how to make it happen for seasoned anglers.

“Best lures on Picachos were a 6-inch wacky rigged Senko and a blue back/chartreuse square bill,” Mike said. “We also caught several on the 5-inch Storm WildEye Shad and a 20.5 Berkley dredger. On El Salto, the fish averaged bigger. They were in 4 to 12 feet of water on bluffs. The best lures were a 7-inch Texas rigged Senko with a pegged 1/8 ounce weight. Tony caught most of his on an 8-inch Zoom watermelon red lizard. He also caught several on jigs with a Hard Candy Rage Craw trailer.”  

One other note: Many of our guests prefer to fly through Dallas or Phoenix on American and tend to avoid Mexico City transfers. For those of you in the southeast, where Delta is king, American might not be the best option. Mike reported that their group flew through Mexico City “and had no issues” so don’t be deterred from taking that route.

Mr. Whitten and crew weren’t the only ones who got in on the big fish bonanza. Jerry VanDyke of California reported that after 14 years of trips to El Salto, Picachos and even Mateos he finally surpassed the 10-pound mark with a gorgeous 10-01 that ate a hollow belly swimbait.  

“We fished for 3 1/2 days and had one of our best trips together,” he said about himself and his partner Mike Marrone. “We caught about 300 fish. The quality was the best we have had. We probably caught 90 fish in the 5- to 7-pound range. Most big fish we caught on swim baits, usually a white Money Minnow, but we also got a good number on lipless crankbaits -- about 60 in the 2- to 3-pound range in about an hour and a half.”

Don’t forget about those hollow bellies – fished on a jighead, and underspin, a weighted hook or even a heavy swim jig. I know that we push the Storm WildEye a lot, largely because it produces year after year, and the ribbed paddletails have come on strong in the past few years, but sometimes you need a change of pace.

Michael Banks left big bass country in East Texas for his seventh trip to fish in Mexico, but the first time with us. “I hate to say it, but why did it take us so long to change to Anglers Inn?” he asked. Michael and his partner Randy Gorham caught 609 fish over four days, verified by a close accounting on a handheld clicker. “Two hundred was our best day,” he reported.  

“We used mainly deep crankbaits but also caught fish on topwater, including a 6-2 on a KVD Splash,” he said. “That was fun. We also caught many on plastics - lizards, Senko - color didn't matter. I caught my largest, 8 pounds 3 oz., on a yellow spinnerbait. We also had catches of 7-4, 7-2, 6-14, 6-4, 6-2 and multiple catches of 4- and 5-pounders. With El Salto almost at its lowest water level, the fish were concentrated and we caught 96 at one hole in one sitting – Amazing! Surprisingly, the bass were very healthy and aggressive. I fish almost daily here in Texas and the fish in El Salto are quality fish.”  

While Michael fishes nearly every day at home, he enjoyed the fact that he got to experiment successfully on this trip with lures that he doesn’t otherwise use much. His most important advice? “Listen to your guide. They know what baits work for a location and the guide will take care of you to maximize catching. Don't be afraid to cast to areas you wouldn't normally cast to in fear of getting hung up -- your guide will set you free.”  

He raved about our service, claiming that now he knows that the rumors are true: “Anglers Inn is known for its service and I understand why now; nothing was lacking. Example - I came in one evening and just mentioned guacamole and it appeared on my table. A custom made margarita was waiting on me when I got to my table for dinner.” That’s the Anglers Inn  way – SERVICE IS OUR FOCUS.

Jared Taliaferro of Arkansas became interested in fishing with us at El Salto when he saw Anglers Inn featured on TV with our partner Joe Thomas. Now he’s visited us twice and became addicted like everyone else. That’s why over 80 percent of our clientele is returning customers.  

This time he came down and fished with Martin and Loretto and had a blast. He and his partner caught 50 to 75 fish a day, up to 7.6 pounds, and they kept it simple. “Our best lure for numbers was an 8-inch Zoom Lizard with a 3/8 ounce lead weight and our best lure for big fish was a ½ ounce black and blue Arkie jig with a black and blue Zoom Speed Craw on the back.”  

We tell people all of the time that you don’t need to reinvent the wheel when you come down here. Large but simple soft plastics, jigs, swimbaits and crankbaits will do a lot of the heavy lifting this time of year at both lakes. Throw in few topwaters, lipless cranks, spinnerbaits and chatterbaits and your most of the way there. Unlike the high water periods, now’s the time to go to work on the biggest schools you’ve ever experienced, and if you’re spending all of your time changing lures you may miss out on a personal best.  

Our guides are aware of your skill set and your preferences and their vast long-term knowledge of the lake allows them to adjust accordingly. Don’t let anyone tell you that there’s just a single pattern going on at any one time.  

You swimbait fanatics are in for a treat. The simple (and inexpensive) Storm Wildeye Shad produces year after year after year, but some of the more niche baits also have their moment in the sun.

Although the pandemic seems to be winding down, we’ll continue to take appropriate and necessary COVID precautions for the foreseeable future. That includes testing done at our facility, at our expense prior to your return to the United States, so you don’t need to miss a minute of fishing. We’ll also make sure that our staff protects you however possible. We clean diligently, there is hand sanitizer available everywhere, and we take social distancing seriously.  

“It may be one of the safest places I’ve been,” longtime friend Gary Giudice recently recalled. “The people who clean the rooms do an exceptional job. When you get out f the van they disinfect you before they hand you that first margarita, and I didn’t even see a gardener without a mask.”  

Prime dates at both Mexican lakes for 2021 and early 2022 are almost gone, and with postponements due to COVID-19, we’ve rescheduled a lot of people further reducing the available dates. As noted above, fishing has been exceptional, so I recommend blocking out your vacation sooner rather than later. If you know when you want to come, please contact us as soon as possible to make sure you get your preferred time slot. As indicated above, you should also consider either a trip to Picachos, or a combo trip involving both lakes. Do you want to work on your flipping? Wear your arm out with topwaters? Find out what a glide bait bite feels like? This is the place to do it. 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 55 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. 

Brazil, and the Amazon region in particular, suffered a tough go of it last year, but you peacock bass fanatics should be ready to get back out on some waters that haven’t seen any recent pressure. I have the best, fastest and most luxurious mothership in Amazonas, and we used the down time to increase the creature comforts. We’re heading back when the season opens, with all appropriate precautions in place, so if you’re ready for your first – or next – peacock trip, give me a call.  

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 at every Anglers Inn property. “They made fishing pure pleasure,” said one recent guest. These technique-specific 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. Both lakes have an ample supply ready for you to use. We’re seeing fewer and fewer guests bringing their own rods. With the St. Croix sticks tailored to specific techniques, and available in a wide range of lengths and options, so you really can’t go wrong…and it makes packing much easier to just bring your reels and tackle.  

Whether it’s your first trip to an Anglers Inn property or your 40th, 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. We want to make sure that you’re outfitted properly to make the most of your vacation.  

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