[Mexico] Dreaming Of Lake El Salto - Todd Kline
February 28, 2017 by Todd Kline
Ever dreamed of fishing Lake El Salto? I have for years, and that dream came true recently. I was invited by Savage Gear/Okuma to head south of the border to Lake El Salto to film some new-product videos and an episode of Stoked On Fishing, which airs on FOX Sports.
I met Dave Brown from Savage Gear/Okuma and Shea McIntee from Stoked On Fishing at LAX. We jumped on our Alaska Airlines direct flight to Mazatlan, and in just over two hours we arrived.
Our pick-up from El Salto Lodge was waiting when we cleared the customs doors. Pretty easy to spot our guy as he was wearing a tournament jersey and flagged us down when he saw our tackle and rod tubes.
We loaded our gear in a van and were off to the El Salto Lodge. With my background as a surfer I have been blessed to travel many parts of the world, but this was my first time traveling outside of the United States on a bass fishing-specific trip.
Once we cleared Mazatlan, it was open land for the most part with the occasional small town. After riding in the van for about 90 minutes, we pulled up to the lodge, where we were greeted with a tray of pina coladas and big smiles. The staff was very accommodating and unloaded all of our gear and took it into our rooms.
We arrived in the evening, so after checking in we walked over to the small restaurant to have dinner. We met the staff, and were given the A-Z about the lodge, including our schedule.
5:20 a.m. - knock on room door, greeting with fresh OJ and coffee
5:30 a.m. - breakfast of fresh fruit, eggs and toast
6:00 a.m. - load in van and head to lake
11:30 a.m. - leave the lake for lunch at the lodge
1:30 p.m. - head back for the afternoon fishing session
6:00 p.m. - head back to lodge for dinner and sleep
The lodge was an easy 10-minute drive from the lake. Once we reached the water, we jumped on the boats, which were older Skeeters with fairly new Mercury outboards. The boats had plenty of room and worked well.
Our goal on this trip was to nail some footage of the Savage Gear baits catching some good fish and hopefully some nice blow-ups on topwater. The guides informed us that the topwater bite was tough but was possible during the first and last hour of light each day.
With that said, every morning we committed to the topwater bite, throwing the Savage Gear 3D Rat, Suicide Duck and Hard Mud Minnow. I was very confident in catching some Rat fish, knowing I had already caught fish in California on that bait. Surprisingly, though, we caught more fish on the Suicide Duck. This was my first time fishing the duck, and I was super impressed with this bait. There are three options to rig up the hooks. El Salto has a ton of stick-ups, so we chose to run the stinger hook up the back of the duck and not run the hook on the bottom to avoid constant snags in the trees. This bait came through the wood cover amazingly well. We got some vicious blow-ups on the duck, and when the bass committed, it was like a great white shark breaching on a baby seal.
After the morning topwater bite, we changed it up and fished the deeper outside spots in hopes of catching some bigger staging fish, as they were already beginning to spawn. My buddy Dave absolutely crushed them on a little swimbait that Savage Gear makes called a Sand Eel. He would slow-roll the bait or sometimes hop it on the bottom. Not only did he catch big numbers on this bait, but he got the fish of the trip that was just over 9 pounds. On these same outside spots, we mixed in the lipless crank, throwing the Fat Vibe, as well as catching them on the 3D Bluegill. After the morning fishing, it was back to the lodge for lunch. We were stoked on lunch each day. We ate fish, beef, chicken and more. Everything tastes good wrapped up in a tortilla with salsa, right?
After lunch, we arrived back to the boats at about 1:45 p.m. The fishing was epic all day, but the slowest time was right after lunch. Knowing this, we used the slow time to knock out some of the product shoots we needed to do, including action videos and close-ups. Shea, from Stoked On Fishing, had all angles covered, including taking his drone up a few times. He even captured cool underwater angles of the lures coming to the boat.
With my surfing background, I have some pretty cool equipment for shooting video and still photos in the water, and I wanted to help out where I could. One afternoon after lunch, I jumped in the water and shot some of the baits using a port that allows you to simultaneously see above the water and below. Despite the chilly water, I enjoyed shooting the product and was happy with the shots we got.
Once the sun dropped lower in the sky, it was back to ripping lips again. The wind blew in the afternoons, so we threw reaction baits. My favorite was the lipless Fat Vibe, which, if we had committed to throwing all day, would have produced more than 100 fish per day, no problem. It was unreal. Roll up on a wind-blown bank and just drift it, casting the bait toward the bank. They would rip it. Super fun!!!
Then it was back to the topwater bite again in the evening.
Outside of the amazing fishing at El Salto, it is a beautiful lake, with some of the most amazing sunrises and sunsets, tons of beautiful birds, the mountain range, and awesome structure throughout the lake.
El Salto is not only a world-class bass fishery, but it is also a thriving tilapia fishery for the local economy. Eight months a year the locals set out nets throughout the lake. During these eight months, they schedule the nets 14 days in the water and seven days out of the water to give small breaks to the fishery. It was challenging at times for us to avoid the nets while fishing, but not too bad. On occasion we turned the corner, eyeing a cove, only to see floating plastic bottles lining the cove and signifying that the nets were there. You can catch fish all around the tilapia nets. It’s just challenging at times when casting to avoid hanging up in them. You would think that with the number of nets placed in the water that the tilapia population would be hurting, but that is far from true. We saw tilapia swimming everywhere, and we had multiple bass spit them up as we were reeling them into the boat. This lake is thriving all the way around.
To summarize my trip, it was all I expected and more: great food, great staff, amazing fishing, beautiful lake, tons of birds and wonderful scenery. I hope that I not only get to go again, but that I get to make it an annual trip to Lake El Salto. The Stoked On Fishing episode from our trip should air soon, and you will be able to view it not only on FOX Sports, but on the Stoked On Fishing YouTube channel. I hope my experience motivates you to make the trip south of the border. Tight lines!