Mexico has had some bad press lately for real reasons

James Hall
James Hall

Mexico has had some bad press lately for some very real reasons. Drug cartel murders and swine flu top the list. However, all is not lost for the American tourist, especially the one who is in search of bass. With some simple precautions, you can have some of the world's best bass fishing to yourself ... at least until the bad press subsides.

My trip to Mexico's Lake El Salto was scheduled well before the cartel assassinations erupted. Once the American press started showing footage of the brutality, I called Chappy Chapman of Anglers Inn, the lodge where my group would be staying.

"Look, this is a drug issue, plain and simple, and the vast majority of the fighting is going on around border towns. So, flying into Mazatlan is very, very safe and very far from the border (800 miles)," he reassured.

And then swine flu surfaced, focusing the eyes of the world on Mexico and the potential of a global pandemic. The mainstream press feasted on fear before ever really understanding the depth of the illness. Mexico shut down all schools until the country had a better understanding of what it was dealing with.

Now, all the schools are back in session, and early detection is controlling the spread of the disease.

"We didn't have a single case in Sinaloa until May 11," explained Chapman.

"According to the health department, there have been three confirmed cases in our state, but none in Mazatlan. And in all three cases, the people were treated and released from the hospital and are reported to be in good health."

(Editor's Note: On May 15, 2009, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lifted its recommendation that American citizens avoid all nonessential travel to Mexico. As a result of the CDC's decision, the U.S. State Department's Travel Alert relating to the 2009-H1N1 influenza outbreak is no longer in effect.)

Once I arrived, I was curious as to how painful the entry process would be, how strict the security. I was pleased to find it simple: I filled out a questionnaire about my current health (check off symptoms, if any) and checked through customs in a matter of minutes. There was no difficulty whatsoever.

Anglers Inn had a shuttle waiting for my group, so we were only at the airport for a few minutes, allowing very little time for mingling with the general population. We arrived at the lake two hours later. We were fishing within the following half-hour — and here is where the silver lining of Mexico's bad press emerged.

My first cast was awarded with a 7-pound, 2-ounce largemouth. And the fishing remained red hot. The second morning might have been the best, with 51 bass (biggest went 9-2) in only four hours.

"The fishing is always good at El Salto," grinned Chapman. "But with our booking being down because of the tough press we've receive the past six months, there has been zero fishing pressure. We are averaging two double-digit bass per day, with half of the fish being caught going over 5 pounds. It is incredible out there right now."

I couldn't agree more. If ever you've wanted to experience Mexico's bass fishing at its best, now is the time. The bad press won't last forever ... but the memory of a 10-pounder will.

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