PUERTO VALLARTA, Mexico — Put a 58-year-old American and a 17-year-old Mexican together in a fishing boat and any language or cultural barriers disappear in the common pursuit of a bass.
That’s what happened March 21-22 when three-time Bassmaster Classic qualifier Mark Dove and Mexico B.A.S.S. Nation Champion Juan Ro Chagollan fished together on Lake Cajon de Penas.
“We all speak bass,” said Dove jokingly, later noting that Chagollan speaks fluent English.
“With the universal language of bass, we had no problem communicating on the water at all.”
The fishing trip was conceived when Chagollan’s father, Juan Chagollan Sr., met Dove during the 2013 B.A.S.S. Nation Championship.
“He is just a real friendly guy and I talk to everybody, too, and we just got talking,” Dove recalled.
When Juan Sr. found out Dove had spent vacation time at Puerto Vallarta, he invited the angler to fish with his son the next time he went on vacation there.
“The trip just progressed from that,” said Dove, who practices law in Indiana when he’s not fishing.
Dove’s trip with Juan Sr., Juan Ro and Ricardo Arreola had its share of delays, including the 1 1/2-hour drive to the lake that turned into a 3 1/2-hour excursion on dirt roads, a blown lower unit on Juan Ro’s engine and time spent waiting for a rental boat.
Dove noted the laid-back culture of his fishing partners also limited their time on the water to only six hours in two days. “Nobody was in a hurry to do anything except Juan Ro and me,” Dove said.
But it didn’t matter, said Dove. “I have caught thousands of bass in my life, and I really didn’t care what I caught. I was just there to soak up the culture and enjoy myself.”
During their time on the water, Juan Ro caught six 10- to 12-inch bass — and Dove got skunked.
“He is an excellent young angler,” Dove said of his young partner. “What impressed me the most about him is the fact that he is driven. You are going to see him in the B.A.S.S. Nation news for years to come.”
Dove said his hosts were apologetic about the delays and Dove’s lack of success on the trip, but Dove told them he wasn’t disappointed.
“They so much wanted the American champion to have this big bass fishing experience,” Dove said. “It was a big experience, it just didn’t include any bass.”