Lake El Salto, deep in the Mexican Sierra, is a place of legend. Feasting on a diet of shad and tilapia, the Florida-strain largemouth bass introduced to this body of water decades ago grow to gargantuan proportions. Those who fish this hallowed lake have a great shot of walking away with a double-digit trophy, but 5 to 9 pounders are as common as bluegills in a farm pond. Find out if host Joe Cermele and Abu Garcia’s Kevin Jarnagin score a true “heffe” south of the border.
The Deal: With an incredible supply of food, ideal year-round climate conditions and the kind of structure trophy largemouth hunters dream about, Lake El Salto offers a world-class fishery in a very unique setting. Flanked by the mountains of western Mexico, this body of water can not only earn you the biggest bass of your life in short order, but provides near non-stop action with fish in the 2- to 6-pound range. With no predator species in the lake, the bass thrive and get very fat and happy.
When To Go: The fishing at El Salto is epic any time of year. But Billy Chapman, owner of renowned Angler’s Inn International on the lake shore, says anglers can actually taylor their visits around how they prefer to fish. As an example, mid-summer through early fall is considered the rainy season, which means fishermen can count on more cloudy days. So if topwater fishing or fly fishing is your game, that’s the time to come. The winter months can offer exceptional opportunities to the anglers that dig deep cranking and flipping to submerged trees in deeper water. But in truth, you won’t be disappointed with the action no matter when you go.
What To Bring: Though traveling with mass amounts of fishing gear can be a pain, we highly recommend bringing as much of your own tackle as you can. Though Angler’s Inn has a pretty well stocked tackle shop on the premises, they may not have your favorite worm, crankbait, or spinnerbait. Likewise, they have rods and reels available, but selection is limited. Bringing your own sticks is worth it to ensure you have the right tools for any situation, and gear you’re comfortable with using. One thing’s for sure: black-and-blue is the color at El Salto because of the off-color water, so make sure you have jigs, worms, and trailers in the money hue. Aside from fishing gear, load up on sun block, light-weight, quick-dry clothing, and a wide-brim hat doesn’t hurt. The sun will roast you here.
How To Fish: Fish however your guide tells you to. Seriously, the guides at Angler’s Inn have the lake dialed in with pin-point accuracy, right down to which tree out of 20 in front of you is holding the biggest bass. You should, however, practice before coming down. El Salto is not exactly a beginner’s lake. Work on your flipping and pitching skills as you’ll need them here and you’ll need to be accurate. Make sure you can detect the slightest bump on a plastic worm, as the bigger fish have a habitat of being subtle on the pick-up. Exercise your forearms, as deep cranking is a big part of the game and the trick to hooking up is often ripping those cranks as hard as you can.
Where To Stay: There are several lodges at El Salto, but do not book any besides Billy Chapman’s Angler’s Inn. Billy, a freshwater fishing hall of fame inductee, literally made El Salto what it is today, stocking the first bass in the lake decades ago. Started in 1973, he has the longest-running operation on the lake, he hires the best guides, and his lodge trumps all the rest in terms of service. The food is top-shelf, the accommodations are exceptional, and his staff goes out of their way to make sure you are having the time of your life. Any question you have about the process of getting to the lodge, when to visit, or how much a stay costs can be answered by calling 1-800-GOTA-FISH or visiting Anglersinn.com.