A Secret Bass Fishing Lake in Mexico (Part 1)
Today we will talk about an old lake in Mexico in the state of Durango named Palmito. This old lake was built during World War II and stocked with Northern black bass.
The story starts with a group of clients and myself going to Lake Guerrero maybe in 1976. We were still catching lots of bass at Guerrero but they were mostly small. I had made many checkout trips to other lakes in Mexico but found none that were suitable for my operations. Upon returning from Guerrero in a charter plane from Rio Airways we stopped in McAllen to clear US customs.
Everyone went to the men’s room and while I was in a stall I overheard 2 men say that they hoped Ron Speed never finds Palmito. These 2 guys were from Dallas and were in the printing business. They had been pulling their boats to this mystery lake for many years and they didn’t want me to bring hundreds of American fisherman to their secret lake.
Upon returning to Dallas and my home in Forney, Texas I began the search for this mystery lake. I had no idea where it was or anything about it. I made many calls all over the US & Mexico and nobody had ever heard of it. I can’t remember how I finally found it but in less than 2 weeks I was dragging a boat and motor from Guerrero west to the city of Torreon. I found out in Torreon that we still had 5 more hours of traveling west to reach the lake. The last 14 miles were non-paved and the roughest road in Mexico.
Upon arriving in the small village of Palmito we discovered 2 flats from the rough road. I visited the mayor’s office and he gave me a history of the lake and advised me to contact a local merchant named Javier Boca Negro. Javier was an avid bass fisherman but he sold groceries to the local commercial fishermen on credit so he had lots of stroke in that small village.
I went to meet Javier and liked him from the very start as he was quite a character and prankster. He took me over to the only hotel in the village and helped me and my driver (Chagueoy) get rooms. I believe the cost was $3.00 per night and they were over-priced. I had never seen that bad of a room in my life. The sheets were almost black and sewer water was running through one corner of the room. I still get the shivers from thinking about that room.
Javier made arrangments for one of the best fishermen to go with me the next morning early. I went to bed early but couldn’t sleep as I kept thinking about the dirty sheets. Maybe around 11 pm I finally dropped off to sleep only to be awakened by loud pistol shots outside my room. I jumped up and looked out the window to see a very drunk mayor staggering down main street and shooting at the moon. If you saw the movie Tombstone you can recall Curlie Bill Brochas getting high on opium and shooting at the moon. Well this was almost the same to a tee except nobody tried to get him out of the street. I thought WHAT HAVE I GOTTEN INTO THIS TIME?!
I got very little sleep that night due to the dirty room, drunk mayor, and the excitement of fishing a new lake. The next morning Javier came and took me for coffee at his store and I got to meet my guide for the day. His name was Baltarsar Bustamente. He was and still is–if living–the best bass fisherman I ever met.
It was May and the bass were right up on the bank spawning and easy to catch. The local fishermen did not use nets or outboard motors. Most used a coke can for a reel and they caught their bass by casting their baits by hand. Baltasar did have an old reel that I feel was given him by the American printers from Dallas.
That first day we caught over 200 bass with many fish in the 4 to 6 pound range. It was fantastic and I was on cloud 9 as I had found that mystery lake we needed so badly for our clients. I fished 2 more days and caught over 200 bass each day up to 7 pounds. Now remember… these were the days before Florida bass and a 7 pound bass was considered a real trophy.
My driver and I left with a really good feeling about this secret lake that was not to be a secret very much longer (to be continued next week)….
I wish you good fishing and please wear that lifejacket!