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Fishing For El Salto’s Big Bass

Fishing For El Salto’s Big Bass El Salto has a reputation for yielding trophy bass every year. Here's what you need to know.

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Bruce Holt of G Loomis has caught more than 15 double-digit bass at El Salto Lake during the 16 years he has fished there.

Bruce Holt of G Loomis has caught more than 15 double-digit bass at El Salto Lake during the 16 years he has fished there.

Muy grande!

   That’s the Spanish phrase I love to hear from my guide when I hook a bass at El Salto Lake in Mexico.  While fishing with Bruce Holt of G Loomis in December at El Salto, we heard our guide Agapito say muy grande (very big in English) several times when we hooked bass.

   El Salto has a reputation for yielding muy grande bass (10 pounds or heavier) every year; the lake record stands at 18 pounds, 6 ounces.  The lake was stocked in 1985 with Florida-strain largemouth fingerlings that have now grown to gargantuan proportions. I caught my biggest bass ever-- a 12-pound, 7-ounce fish--on my first trip to the Mexican lake in 1999.  

   Although I didn’t catch a double-digit  bass on our latest three-day adventure at El Salto, I did land a fish we estimated weighed 9 or 9 1/2  pounds and another bass about 8 pounds. I estimated my best five fish on the first day of the trip probably weighed around 30 1/2 pounds.  During our stay at Anglers Inn (a premier resort on the lake), other guests caught a 12-pounder, 11-pounder and some 10-pound bass.

   Double-digit bass can be caught any time you visit El Salto but the prime time to catch numbers of big bass is from late May through July when the lake is low and the fish are more concentrated.  “Most big fish are caught in the summer months in the last half of May through June and July because the fish have all spawned and they are schooled up according to size,” says Herbie Ziegenhorn, Anglers Inn’s host.   He noted the biggest bass caught by an Anglers Inn guest in 2016 weighed 14 pounds.

   Bruce Holt has been coming to El Salto for 16 years and has seen the fishing remain “pretty steady” throughout the years.  “The best part of this lake is that it has enough deep water sanctuaries that if the big fish feel like they are getting too much pressure they just go to deep water and just suspend out there,” he says.

   Holt has caught more than 15-double-digit bass from the lake with his personal best weighing 13 pounds, 5 ounces. He caught his biggest fish in December, but his favorite time to fish El Salto for big bass is the end of May to the middle of June. 

   Visiting anglers can bring a variety of lures to trick El Salto’s muy grande bass. “I definitely recommend bringing 5- to 6-inch watermelon color Senkos, 8-inch watermelon plastic lizards, black-and-blue 10-inch Berkley Power Worms, deep-diving crankbaits and medium-diving crankbaits,” Ziegenhorn says.  He also suggests packing pearl Zoom Flukes and 1/2- and 3/4-ounce spinnerbaits. Topwater lures produce best from October through January until the water gets too hot.

The author caught this heavyweight bass on a deep-diving crankbait during a December trip to El Salto Lake in Mexico.

The author caught this heavyweight bass on a deep-diving crankbait during a December trip to El Salto Lake in Mexico.

   When packing for his El Salto trips, Holt loads his bag with a wide array of favorite lures.  “I always bring a bunch of lizards in watermelon and green pumpkin and some chartreuse dip or a chartreuse magic marker,” he says.  Holt also packs plenty of 3/8 - to 3/4-ounce jigs in brown-and-purple, black-and-blue and green pumpkin along with Strike King Rage Tail Craws for jig trailers.  Other lures Holt recommends bringing to El Salto are Zoom Flukes, Senkos, Rebel Pop R’s, Zara Spooks, buzz baits, deep-diving crankbaits and plastic worms.

   During our trip, I caught the 9-pounder on a citrus shad Fat Free Shad deep-diving crankbait and the 8-pounder on a Texas-rigged green 8.5-inch Gene Larew Biffle-O plastic lizard. I also caught some 6-pounders on 3/4-ounce Hart Tackle spinnerbaits with double willowleaf blades and some 4- and 5 pounders on Strike King 5.5–inch Shadalicious Clear Sexy Shad swimbaits and 4.75-inch Rage Tail Swimmer swimbaits attached to 1/2-ounce Fish Head Spin jigheads. 

   Since El Salto is loaded with big bass and full of brushy snags, heavy line is a must.  Most of the lake contains stained water with murky water in the upper end so you can use heavier line without spooking the fish.   Holt ties his buzz baits, spinnerbaits and topwater lures on 30-pound Power Pro Braid and uses 20-pound Sunline Fluorocarbon for his worm and jig fishing tactics.  He ties his crankbaits on 16-pound test Sunline Fluorocarbon and he never uses less than 16-pound test when fishing El Salto.

   Deciding which rods and reels to bring to El Salto depends on personal preference, Holt says. He suggests anglers should bring at least five rod-and-reel combos to the lake.  G Loomis rods he usually takes on his trips include two GLXC 843 MBR rods, 6 1/2-foot medium-heavy power, fast-action for flukes and swimbaits; a MBR 844C GL3 rod, 7-foot heavy power, fast-action for jigs, worms and plastic lizards; a MBR 783C GL3, 6 1/2-foot medium-heavy power, fast-action; and a CBR 847, 7-foot moderate-fast power, heavy action for crankbaits. 

   For more information about bass fishing at El Salto, visit Anglers Inn’s website at www.anglersinn.com.

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