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Lake El Salto and New Lake Picachos: February 2021

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February and March are historically two of our most popular months to fish – people want to escape the cold, kids are on break from school, and fishing is top notch at both Mexican lakes. That proved to be the case this year as well, even with the hopefully-dwindling pandemic, and we have great reports from our anglers to share. If you’re headed down in the next few weeks this should give you ample material to work with.  

Jeff Derrick from Texas came down to El Salto with his sons and a close friend, and after some rerouting due to the Lone Star State’s unusual weather, they had a banner trip.

“My best lure was a Zoom Mag Ol’ Monster (12”) worm in watermelon red,” Jeff said. “I called it my ‘culebra’ which is Spanish for snake. I alternated that with the ‘standard’ Berkley 10” black/blue Power Worm. I threw a Wicked Weights Patriot jig several times and it definitely worked too. On one afternoon, our guide took us to a main lake flat and we had no bites in the first five casts, so he moved us about 20 yards and then it was back-to-back fish for over an hour! I truly love fishing Texas rig worms, deep with long casts. It is ‘mi favorito!.’ On average, over the 3 and ½ days of fishing I think we averaged at least 60 to 80 fish a day. Most days, the mornings were not the time we caught the numbers but that is typically when we would catch big fish. The afternoons were warm and breezy and that seemed to turn on the schools of fish and we would catch good numbers.”

Jeff noted that “we ended up overpacking, of course,” but with the assistance of their guides, they managed to experience a variety of bites. Favorite topwaters included the Rico, Sammy and Zara Spook. “Our guides would always go through our tackle boxes, not to be nosey, but to see what we had and to recommend the best lures to use in certain areas. They would take the fish off the hook, re-adjust the lures and every now and then pick up a rod and cast a different lure, just to see if something different will work. On one afternoon, we were fishing with swimbaits and our guide picked up one of my rods, tied on a Jackhammer Chatterbait and in one cast caught a 7.5 pounder. We switched to Chatterbaits and immediately started increasing our catch numbers!

Jeff’s son Mark came to El Salto for the first time and firmly declared: “I will be back.” He loved the service and the fishing did not disappoint. “My brother’s second cast was a 5-pounder. My third cast was a 4-pounder. The guide know that lake inside and out and know what lures to throw and one of them even called it: ‘Use this lure and cast right there there's a big fish waiting.’ Sure enough there was a big fish. He did that for all of us many times. It was a record trip. Three of us broke our personal best with bigger fish we caught there.”  

Mark’s best was an 8.7-pounder that he caught on a square bill crankbait. Indeed, his guide took him daily to a place he called “square bill heaven” because it produced so many quality fish on that lure. He estimated that he caught 150 fish on that single beaten-up crank, and did the rest of his damage with an 8-inch watermelon red worm with the tail dyed chartreuse.

Of course, he raved about the service, too: “Kiki and Sammy were the best. They took care of us like I've never been taken care of before. From food to drinks to getting extra pillows to talking with us making sure we were okay. Both guides were fantastic. Both have different styles of fishing but both know that lake inside and out. The lodge dealt with the COVID situation perfectly. They wore masks, they sanitized the tables and chairs -- everything was perfect.”  

Dave Sheils of Massachusetts joined the Derricks and experienced his best success on a watermelon red lizard and a 10-inch black worm with blue flake – the gold standards for Mexican bass fishing.  

“More often for me, the afternoon was better,” Dave said. “We really didn’t keep count, but I don’t doubt that we caught 50+ fish per day. When we got into them, you could catch a fish on subsequent casts or every other. It was fabulous! My big fish came on a Wicked Weights Wicked Willow Spin 3/8 oz with a 5” white/silver swim bait. I bagged a 7.24 and a 6.84 within 3-4 casts after 5 pm on Thursday. We had already had a very productive day, but catching a personal best late in the day had me pumped. The other baits we threw with success were large crank baits (6XD, 8XD and 10XD in Citrus and sexy shad), Megabass jerkbaits, Sammy topwater, Chatterbaits and jigs. I brought Senkos because of success on my previous trip, but never tied one on. I would still bring them, as they are a standard for the lake.”  

Dave’s key tip is to take your time when retrieving your lures through choice cove. “Fishing slow with the soft plastics was the key,” he said. “Pausing after bumping the bottom was the trigger for swim baits and crankbaits. Often the bite was really subtle. Remember - hooksets are free! While I fished mostly 20lb braid, it seemed to help to fish with a fluoro leader. I also switched a reel to 17lb mono.”

Rick Drake and his wife Sheila from Missouri came down to El Salto for a week – in fact, he likes it so much that it was his second trip this year and they fished with Javier and experienced great variety: “We caught fish on many different baits,” Rick reported. “Plastic worms, flukes, Senkos, top water, Chatterbaits, swimbaits and rattle traps. Popping top water baits were good early. The biggest fish on the trip was 7.5 lbs caught by Sheila on a Rio Rico in Lightning Shad color. Many large fish were caught on a Rebel Mag Pop-R in Foxy Shad color. Anything shad in color with some red or orange seemed effective. Worked very slow, 2-5 seconds between twitches, started right on the edge of the bank appeared most effective. A two hook Spook and a Sammy were also good.

Of course, Picachos has also been on fire. Fred Preston came down for trip number three – the first was to El Salto, the second was a combo, and this time was Picachos only, and he said that, “In March at Lake Picachos plan on fishing for bigger fish with swimbaits and deep cranks like a Fat Free Shad citrus shad pattern, because they are mostly post spawn fish.”  

Often, the bet option is to take a combo trip, to see both lakes and experience their varied bites. That’s what Kelby Waldrip of Indiana did for his first trip to the lake, and he and his fishing partner experienced a banner trip. They averaged a remarkable 225 fish per day at Picachos and 125 per day at El Salto, with individual bass up to 8.75 pounds – and at one point he caught two fish over 5 on the same crankbait at the same time.  

Kelby reported that at Picachos their best baits were a 6-inch green pumpkin red Senko, a 10-inch trick worm in Black/Blue and Pumpkin red, a square bill and an 8-inch lizard in pumpkin with a chartreuse tail. At El Salto, they added to that mix 6XD, 8XD and 10XD crankbaits, all in chartreuse with a blue back, and 5- to 7-inch Keitech swimbaits in Pro Blue Red Pearl and Shad colors. “We caught over 110 fish between 4 and 8 pounds on a 6XD and a swimbait,” he said. His key tips for anyone making a trip in the near future are to “bring a cranking reel made to grind large crankbaits,” employ a stop-and-go retrieve, and make sure to use quality line for abrasion resistance.  

As you probably know by now, on January 12th the United States Center for Disease Control (CDC) instituted a new policy requiring all air passengers entering the United States to obtain a negative COVID test within 72 hours of their flight’s departure to the U.S. This policy became effective on January 26, 2021. Currently there is no testing requirement to enter Mexico from the U.S.

In order to ensure maximum safety and convenience (and so that you will not have to miss one minute of fishing time) we have arranged with a local laboratory to come to the lake, swab your nose, and return your results within 24 hours. You will then have the appropriate documentation to present to the airlines. Unlike in much of the United States, this test is not free, but we will gladly absorb its cost to make sure that you are able to travel. Testing is also available at the Mazatlán airport. We never want to put you in a position where you are unsafe or outside of your comfort zone. Accordingly, if you need to reschedule an upcoming trip, please call the office and we will accommodate your request. So far, t his process has run very well.

As Jeff Derrick reported: “If you are planning a trip to Anglers Inn at Lake El Salto or Picachos, do not hesitate! They have taken the COVID situation very seriously and in every aspect of the trip we felt clean and well cared for. The owner, Billy Chapman, has made arrangements for the required COVID test to be done at the lodge before you head back to the US. The day before our departure, the nurse came to the lodge and performed our nasal swab. It was totally effortless and results, with official documentation, were given to us in just a few hours!”  

Rick Drake agreed: “We were a little apprehensive about the COVID situation but all went as planned. Testing for our return trip was scheduled by the lodge staff the day prior to our departure and was completed professionally and effectively. Written test results accepted by the airlines were in our hands forty minutes after testing. Face masks were worn by staffers and tables socially distanced.”  

You may have noticed by now that our anglers have continued to experience success in recent weeks with a fairly wide variety of techniques in a broad range of depths. 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.  

Don’t forget an ample supply of soft plastics – but we also recommend the Berkley Dredger, the Warpig, some topwaters like the incredible Choppo – and several of our guides like to take trophy seekers out hunting with a meaty flipping jig or football jig. They’re all part of the puzzle.

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.

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. 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 really can’t go wrong…and it makes packing much easier to just bring your reels and tackle.

By now you’ve also likely seen on social media some of the footage that Humminbird and Minn Kota shot at our facilities as part of their One Boat Challenge (www.oneboatchallenge.com). The episodes are now dropping regularly, so be sure to go check them out. They’ll convince you that not only do we have an incredible fishery, but that you need to get some of these products on your own boat at home.

If you haven’t seen it already, be sure to click on our website at www.anglersinn.com. 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 continue to update it with new information and items constantly, so don’t forget to hit us up regularly.

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 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, 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.