If you're looking for someplace to thaw out this winter and catch plenty of bass at the same time, consider a trip to Mexico's premier largemouth bass fishery, Lake El Salto.
Located in the central portion of the country along the Pacific Coast and nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Madre Mountain Range, El Salto is home to a mild climate and spectacular scenery. The lake's 25,000 acres offer bass anglers everything from shallow water cuts and bays to deep, twisting channels as well as a number of flooded villages and graveyards.
An average bass will weigh around 3 to 4 pounds, 6- and 7-pounders are considered ordinary and 10-pound-plus specimens are an almost daily occurrence. Catches of 25-60 bass a day are fairly common, depending upon whether you're looking for numbers or size.
No less an angler than Elite Series pro and 19-time Bassmaster Classic qualifier Denny Brauer enjoys the lake so much he makes an annual pilgrimage there.
"El Salto is, without question, one of the premier bass fishing destinations in the world. Besides all the bass, the thing that makes it so great is that you can catch them any way you want and learn to fish in the process.
"It's true that there's usually one pattern that's better one lure or rig that'll catch the most bass on any given day. The guides know where to fish and what's catching them and what isn't. They'll put you on them if you want.
"But if the hot location or pattern of the day isn't your thing, or if you want to do something different, it's your choice. You can catch them on topwater plugs, crankbaits, plastics or jigs. Almost anything will catch a few bass. That's what makes it so great and why I make at least one trip there every year.
"It's a great place to learn to fish, too. You can practice and experiment on El Salto because of the high fish population. It's hard to learn a new technique or develop confidence in it when you aren't catching them. That's not likely to be a problem on El Salto.
"The diversity of habitat is also a big advantage. What I mean is that if you're looking for shallow water to tune up your stickbait skills, you're in business. Find a cut, a cove or a point and start throwing. You'll catch one soon enough. And over time you'll get better because you can see which action catches fish and which one doesn't.
"If you want to work on your deep cranking, there's plenty of water for that, too. Find a point that drops into 15-20 foot of water and go to work. You'll know soon enough if you're up to the task.
"And the same thing is true if you want to fish really deep water. It won't take you long to learn to fish a Carolina rig in 40 feet of water or to establish the difference between a drag and a hop or to find out if they prefer a lizard or a worm."
In short, El Salto has everything a largemouth bass fishery needs. Access is not a problem, either. You can fly into Mazatlan a major city with lots of shopping and sightseeing opportunities from several points in the United States. The lake's only a little over an hour from the airport.
There are a number of quality outfitters on the lake. One of the best is Ron Speed Adventures (www.ronspeedadventures.com). Their camp is on the water's edge, about two minutes from your room. Their drivers and guides are professional and courteous, their boats safe and functional. The food is superb, and the rooms are clean, air conditioned and have private baths.