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Anglers Inn “Ay Caramba, Mui Grande Lumbino!” Billy Chapman’s Mexico Bass By Bob Mehsikomer Years ago I ventured for the first time into Mexico’s interior in search of trophy Largemouth Bass. That trip fell a bit short of my expectations, and quite frankly I was less than impressed. However, after returning to experience this lake for a second time, I would have to say I somewhat misjudged its potential. Recently, I was able to return to Mexico’s Lago El Salto, often referred to as one of the worlds best bass lakes, nestled in the Sierra Madres some ninety minutes northeast of Mazatlan. El Salto is a roughly 24,000 acre impoundment (depending on the water level), with sprawling shorelines dotted with flooded timber stands, coves, pockets, hydrilla, and even a flooded village or two. All of these factors conspire to construct a potentially incredible bass fishery. The water is slightly off color by our upper Midwest standards, often offering incredible shallow water action. My main objective for returning to El Salto was to assist long time friend Ed Colfer in his endeavor to show fellow EPSON employees and clients an enjoyable bass fishing experience. Ed had contacted me for suggestions regarding a likely location for giant bass. My only solid recommendation was El Salto, and although I had not caught any of the true giants of the lake, many others had. There was without question evidence of some true monsters. With a simple phone call, Ed made contact with Billy Chapman, owner and operator of Anglers Inn. He was greeted with great enthusiasm, and Bill shared his insights pertaining to the area in general as well as bass fishing. Bill indicated some of the techniques and presentations that might be useful while at Lago El Salto. This invaluable information assisted Ed in securing the necessary equipment for his guest. Equipment, or should I say the proper equipment, is a necessity. Far too often, anglers are not prepared for reality, and that reality in this case is the presence of truly monster bass - fish ranging far above ten pounds. The lake record as of this writing exceeds 18 lbs. Upon arrival at the lake we were greeted by Bill’s entire staff. Tony, the camp manager, informed everyone who their guides would be. We paired up, and proceeded to assemble and arrange equipment. It was at this point that we noticed a slight problem. We actually needed larger sized lures than we had on hand. Not to worry, hanging in the camp’s tackle shop were many of the lake favorites. After a bit of shopping, we distributed our tackle, rods and reels, and proceeded with a brief instructional meet

Looking at El-Salto from the main lodge ing. After all, 4:30 am would be upon us soon. I took this opportunity to stroll the area around the camp, gazing into the moonlit Mexican sky. It was snow covered back home, and the warm 60 degrees felt very nice. There is something to be said about meeting eight new friends only a few hours earlier, all sharing the some common goal, to have fun and catch a big - and I mean big! - Lago El Salto bass. In my case I felt a bit more pressure than the others might have. You see, I knew I was on this trip to help in any way I could to ensure a good time for everyone, including myself. That meant locating and catching El Salto’s most precious bounty, the eight pound plus El Salto bass. The night air was still, and I couldn’t help but notice how quiet things were, not a peep except for the occasional frog. The whole experience had brought me back to my child hood days, waiting for, preparing for, and expecting an incredible day on the water. Thankfully, many of them have been just that. Morning broke, and the tranquility of night was soon shattered as we were greeted at our door by Jose, bearing coffee and freshly-squeezed juices. Showers were taken, duties were done and some of us even shaved, and then it was off to the breakfast table. Everything - and I mean everything - you needed for an authentic Mexican breakfast was there. We all shared in a few war stories and were off to the water. Dale Brown and I were paired for the first day with guide Fermin Rodriguez Vega. In short order, Fermin proved his skills. We traveled only a few miles up the lake and turned into a very small cove which would be our starting place. Because of our calendar period and the moon phase, one could expect to find spawning or at least prespawn bass, and Fermin knew this. His approach was to work the mouths of these smaller pockets, fishing every stump and standing tree in our path. Prespawn stage fish will often hang on these structures prior to entering their actual spawning areas. However, I was able to discover through conversations with Bill, Tony and Fermin that a severe cold front had come through only a few days prior. This meant we could expect to find our bigger fish staged a bit deeper, and not quite into the bays on beds, exactly what our guide’s approach was indicating. Although there may at times be a language barrier, these folks really