Lake El Salto, New Lake Picachos and Idaho: Spring 2019
A lot of American anglers don’t think of March and April as prime time to head south to Mexico, largely because fishing is pretty good at home throughout much of the United States – but many of our most ardent repeat customers know that this can be a fantastic time on both of our Mexican properties. The water has dropped substantially and rain is almost entirely absent, but it’s not terribly hot. Meanwhile, the fish are not yet locked into their summertime patterns, so you can still catch them a bunch of different ways. That means if you’re a bank-beater or an offshore specialist you can pursue your preferred tactics to your heart’s content, and if you just want to catch a lot of fish (including BIG fish) you can mix it up day by day or even hour by hour.
We’ve finally reached a tipping point with our Picachos fishery. For several years, many of our longtime El Salto customers said they’d never try the new lake. They liked the service, they’d gotten to know the staff, and they knew the fishing would always be good. As other Mexican lakes got hot and then cooled off quickly, El Salto never disappointed. As news got out, though, some couldn’t resist.
Craig Honkanen of California has visited El Salto 18 times and said he had been putting off a Picachos trip, but eventually the rumors meant that he couldn’t stay away any longer.
“The glowing Picachos reports spurred me to try it,” he said. “We only fished two days and we caught numbers, but on the second day we dialed in on the better grade of fish. My friend Jim landed a 7.85 and my best was 5.85, but I dumped a 9- or 10-pound fish close to the boat. It just jumped and threw my swimbait. We caught many fish in the 3- to 5-pound range.”
Craig threw jerkbaits like the Vision 110, as well as topwaters during low light conditions and plastics throughout the day, but explained that his “favorite lure on both lakes is swimbaits. I throw Storm WildEyes among others. Both 4- and 5-inch sizes work well is preferred. Color doesn't matter most of the time although I usually throw pearl or shad colors. Storm Anchovy in 5-inch is a killer at El Salto.”
Craig has used Antonio almost exclusively as his El Salto guide in recent years, but found his Picachos guide Felix to be equally talented, versatile and personable. Did he like the trip? He’s headed back in early May!
Craig’s friend Jim hasn’t fished with us quite as many times, but he had a fantastic combo trip this month as well. He said that green pumpkin lizards produced the most fish, but that he caught much larger fish on 10-inch black and blue worms and Senkos.
“In my humble opinion, I think a lot of people have success with lizards and keep using them,” he said. “We preferred to use bigger lures. Bigger lures mean bigger fish!”
Jim has caught a bass of at least 8 pounds on every trip he’s fished with us, and noted that “we weigh all of our bigger fish.”
Bill Summers of Missouri is another long time friend. He’s been bringing groups down to El Salto since the late 1990s and this time he added a few days on at Picachos as well.
“Our best lures were lizards and swimbaits,” he said. “My partner and I caught over a hundred fish per day and our biggest fish were around 8 pounds, I weighed a 7 pound 7 ounce fish the first afternoon and then my scale broke. We caught numerous fish bigger that that one so they had to be at least 8 pounds. My biggest fish at El Salto this trip was also an eight pounder.”
Bill has known about our exceptional service for decades, but he really got to see it in action during this last trip, when one of his traveling companions had a seizure and needed medical treatment.
“Jose, the manager of the lodge, and the staff helped get him in a car and taken to meet the ambulance,” he recalled. “Their quick response helped my friend more than we will ever know. Also, Yolanda from Anglers Inn met them at the hospital and helped with the translation about our friend’s condition with the doctors and nurses. She came back the following day to assist my friend’s wife when she arrived. Yolanda was so helpful with everything and she called us back at the lodge to keep us updated on our friend’s condition. She made a very difficult situation much easier to deal with. Everyone at Anglers Inn did everything they could to help all of us and they were very sincere and caring with the whole ordeal. Billy Chapman should be proud of the entire staff as they went over and above expectations.”
We don’t ever expect our guests to have medical emergencies to arise, but when they do we are fully equipped to get them world-class service. We are aware that some Americans are afraid to travel abroad, but this should stand as evidence that there’s no reason to worry. We have you covered and we always go above and beyond.
For the record, Bill’s guide at Picachos was Jose and he said that he “will request him on future trips.” They are all really up to speed with the latest fish finding and fish catching techniques at this point and we’re thrilled at their progress.
Tom VanKeirsbilck of Kansas is another longtime Mexican visitor who has been to El Salto multiple times, along with Huites and Mateos back in the day. He knows that while the fish are always there and have to eat at some point, they don’t always just jump into the boat. Sometimes you really have to dial in the presentation to make the most of your trip.
“Listen to your guide but don't be afraid to deviate from his advice,” Tom said. “For example, Oscar often recommended plastics, Senkos and Texas-rigged worm primarily. It was good advice but I didn't think we were getting the bites we should so I switched to the jig and pig and to a Carolina rig. I don't think those fish see those baits and presentations every day so that played in our favor. Fishing Texas rig structure is usually conducive to a jig and pig -- it's usually around timber and requires a fairly slow presentation so switching to the jig isn't a giant step, just a different presentation. I think that switching up can really pay off.” His best presentation on this trip, especially for big fish, was a half-ounce jig and pig, either green pumpkin or watermelon red.
Tom also had a bit of an adventure on this last trip. When his flight to Mazatlan was canceled and he wasn’t sure he’d be able to get a replacement, he flew to Puerta Vallarta instead, with the goal to drive up the coast to us.
“The drive from Puerto Vallarta to Mazatlan was supposed to take seven or eight hours, but we made it in 5 hours and 45 minutes. However, I aged 5 years in that same time span. My DNA is still carved into the center console and the panic handle from the death grip I had on both of them at times. The driver knew what he was doing but I'm telling you it was terrifying at times. We got there safe, although in desperate need of a stiff drink and perhaps a change of underwear, so that's all that mattered, but we were a day behind on an already short trip of only 3 days of fishing.”
It took them until the second day to dial in the jig bite, and that last evening and the few hours on the final morning were when they experienced their best fishing. Brian caught his personal best at 8 pounds 2 ounces and Tom lost one larger than that. They’ll be back!
There’s still some topwater bite going on during low light period, and some flipping, but with water low and warm this is the time when we truly shift into our summertime patterns – fish grouped up in huge schools on offshore structure. The jig is a player, as is the big worm (both Texas-rigged and Carolina-rigged), but this is when a crankbait shines.
For super-deep fish, the 10XD has become the standard in many quarters, but the Berkley Dredger 25.5 is also a great choice for schools that have been worked hard. It gets down deep quickly and has a smaller profile. Remember, these fish aren’t always eating big tilapia. Sometimes they’re gorging themselves on smaller tilapia and small shad. The dredger accomplishes that mission. Also it dives to its promised depth, whether you’re a traditionalist who cranks with fluorocarbon or someone who uses braid to do it around our heavy cover. Be sure to bring extra treble hooks because you will bend some out after a hard day of fishing. Don’t forget some Berkley Warpigs (lipless crankbaits), too. Sometimes fish will occupy the upper levels of the water column or come up schooling and you can cast a ½ or ¾ ounce lipless crankbait a mile with accuracy.
As for plastics, don’t forget fluke-style baits and ribbed swimbaits (4.8” and 5.8”). They can be fished weightless, on a jighead, as a trailer or on a Carolina Rig, and both replicate eating-size baitfish closely.
We’ve been running full houses nonstop at both Picachos and El Salto all season, hosting legions of happy anglers and doing our best to provide them the best service on earth. Fishing can be unpredictable, even on world-class waters, so we control the things that we can to make sure that you have a true bucket-list experience. That’s probably why over 80 percent of our clients are return customers.
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.
As I told you in last month’s report, we’ve purchased an incredible property in Northern Idaho, a waterfront property with a marina, a gorgeous stone-and-timber lodge, home sites, and a breathtaking view of both the water and the adjacent mountains. I’ve been working on it nearly 24/7, getting it ready for initial guests and to make sure it lives up to the Anglers Inn name. Each day I start a new project to make it better and I’m passionate about my first U.S. vacation property.
For all of the smallmouth devotees who’ve been bugging me to add brown fish to my repertoire of largemouths and peacocks, your wishes have been answered. This is trophy smallmouth country – they grow big and mean and they’re relatively unpressured, so you’ll be able to scratch that itch as much as you want. But the fishing doesn’t end there – the region also has trophy largemouths that are even less pressured, big walleyes, hard-fighting northern pike and a variety of trout and salmon. You’ll never want to leave.
In most of my other operations and lodges, if the hard core angler’s family didn’t like to fish, they were just out of luck. There was little reason to bring them. This lodge shifts that paradigm. While the angler fishes, the rest of the family can engage in a variety of water sports, ski, go “glamping,” play golf or ride the hundreds of miles of trails. There are also world-class restaurants and shopping nearby. If you want to fish all day, that’s certainly fine, but it’s also possible to load the boat before everyone else gets up and then join them for a host of other activities.
All of this is less than 55 minutes from an international airport. You’ll feel like you’ve gotten away from it all, but it’s still easy to access – and you’ll be treated to the familiar Anglers Inn way when it comes to service.
Despite being thrilled about Mexico and enchanted with Idaho, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention my other love – peacock bass fishing in the Amazon! I’ve been going there for decades and I manage to learn something new and see something breathtaking on each new journey. I personally hosted every Amazon trip this year on record-class waters and dates are starting to fill up for the 2019-2020 season. If you’re a serious angler and you haven’t been, you owe it to yourself to chase these mean suckers. And if you’ve been before, but not with me, I want to show you the Anglers Inn Way down there – everything is first class.
We have the most luxurious boat available, along with chefs and staff who’ve been trained in the Anglers Inn way. We provide an “Amazon Tough” bag to every customer and it’s filled with all sorts of things like insect repellent, sunscreen and the proper hat to make sure that you don’t miss out on any part of your trip. As with Mexico, we provide quality St. Croix rods and we have Abu-Garcia reels with braided line, as well as all of the right baits for the current conditions. Once you’re in the jungle there’s no tackle shop or mail order outlet, so we want to make sure that your trip of a lifetime is fully stocked.
You may also have seen my ad for a trip I’m taking in September to another part of Brazil to investigate a multi-species fishery that will knock the socks off of the adventurers among you, as well as anyone who wants to catch monster fish. I’ve chased peacocks for decades, and I still love them, but even if you’ve caught numerous 20 pound peacocks, if you haven’t seen a Wolf Fish attack a topwater you’re in for a shock. They are big, mean and prehistoric and I predict they’ll be the next popular exotic gamefish.
This place will also have peacocks, payara, and a variety of monster catfish. It’s going to be a bit more remote, and not for everyone, but I guarantee you that anyone who has “been there, done that” will jump at the chance when I have more details. Of course, everything will be done the Anglers Inn Way. I’ll have more news about that soon, as well as another resource I’ll be providing to the entire peacock bass fishing community.
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 20th, 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.
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