Fall 2023 Newsletter

[Editor: this article first appeared on www.ronsfishingblog and may only be used by permission of Ron Speed Jr.]


John Speed with his Picachos 9.8lbs GIANT!

Well I’ve been wanting to get out an update on our fishing in Brazil as well as Mexico. The only reason it has not happened sooner is because I was waiting for the monsoon season in Mexico to end…which is generally mid to late October. Now that we are at that point, I want to bring everyone up to date.

Ron Jr enjoying a beautiful sunrise on the water in Mexico

This summer was NOT our normal monsoon season. This means we did not receive much rain during the normal heavy rain months of July, August and September. At the first of October, all the lakes were down from their “normal” levels for October. Well I am happy to report that recent Hurricane Norma dumped a lot of rain/water at the lakes last week. More importantly, Hurricane Norma dumped a lot of rain/water up in the mountains that provided a lot of runoff into the lakes. Two weeks ago Lake Picachos was around 65% – 70% full. After “Norma” finished with her torrential rains, Picachos is now approximately 95% full. Prior to “Norma” arriving, El Salto was approximately 50% – 55% full but today it is approximately 70% full…AND still rising. This is GREAT NEWS when you consider the dry months (Nov – June) are long and the lakes normally become very low in April, May and June. If not for “Norma” hitting the lakes, those late dry months could have been …well, I don’t even want to think about it but thank the Lord, all is well again and the outlook for great fishing has me feeling very confident!

Picachos is almost full after Hurricane Norma


John and Neil got in on the BIG bass action at Picachos!

Just when I didn’t think this lake (Picachos) could surprise me any more than it has over the past 10 years, well…it’s done it AGAIN! I have been sitting on this story for 6 months and just itching to share it with you. Unfortunately the timing wasn’t the best to share any sooner. You see, in my business, everything is “seasonal”…during the warm to hot months here in the U.S., very few are thinking about places south of the border where everyone believes it’s even HOTTER. This is why I try and refrain from sending out updates during our hot summer months in the U.S. Now that summer has ended and our first cool/cold temperatures have arrived, well….IT’S TIME! Boy do I have a fish story for you…but this one is not your typical “fish story”…I was there…and it’s 100% TRUTH!

Tammy Smith with her 8.82lbs Picachos bass caught on a sexy shad Strike King Pop R.

Off and on over the past 10 years of operating on Lake Picachos, I’ve sent out several updates strongly recommending you fish Lake Picachos during April/May time of year as that’s when those giant Gizzard Shad spawn. These giant shad are so big that it requires at least a 4 lbs bass and larger to eat it. These Gizzard Shad generally spawn on mud bottoms and banks. When those big shad move shallow to the mud creeks and coves, the bigger bass move in from deep water and “hem them up”…and FEAST! This makes those bigger bass in the lake much easier to locate and of course produces more big bass opportunities for the angler…our valuable customers! That also causes a mass exodus of the smaller bass from those mud bottom coves/creeks. Bass do eat bass…ya know?

Dan Hayes of Major League Fishing enjoying his time at lake Picachos!

Alright, on with it…I spent 3 weeks at Lake Picachos last April. We had 4 really big groups of customers booked to fish at Picachos during that time. I won’t waste time sharing the catch numbers of every angler and group during April but rather the “eye-popping” ones that stand out. Just know that every group in April/May landed a lot of bass over 4 and 5 lbs with the bigger bass weighing 8 and 9lbs!

Ron Jr landed this 8.4lbs Picachos chunk on a KVD Splash topwater!!

Let’s start first with a big bass topwater story…
It was mid-April and I was fishing with my brother John Speed. My brother had already spent two days in the back end of this “mud creek” hammering mostly 5 – 7 lbs bass on Strike King’s 8xD and 10xD crankbaits but on his last day, John landed a beautiful 9 lbs toad! Upon releasing that giant back to the lake, the sun was getting low which meant topwater time was quickly approaching. John told me he wanted to go to a cove up the river that he and his partner Dickie Sorrell had great afternoon topwater action the previous 3 days. I told John that we should not waste good topwater time and a 15 – 20 minute boat ride when we already have BIG bass right here where we’re fishing. These big bass didn’t go anywhere. John agreed. So I had our guide Rigo get on the trolling motor and head for the nearest shoreline….a muddy shoreline. I sat in the back of the boat enjoying a diet coke while watching my brother cast toward the shore and work his topwater lure (KVD Splash) vigorously back to the boat. I told my brother to “slow that topwater down…pop it, let it sit for 5 seconds or more…then pop it twice and let sit another 5 seconds”…the bigger bass “generally” like that topwater lure sitting or moving slooooooow. My brother couldn’t help it as he was absolutely ramped up to catch a big bass on topwater. So…twist my arm…I got up from my backseat of the boat, grabbed my rod with a KVD Splash topwater lure on it, and cast toward the muddy shoreline. I actually cast the topwater ON THE SHORE and slowly dragged it into the water. I was just going to show him how slow to work the topwater. I then gave it a quick “pop”…then let it sit…after about 6 or 7 seconds and before I could pop it again, this HUGE bass jumped completely out of the water and did a nosedive on top of my KVD Splash topwater lure! The deepest water near the strike was approximately 8 feet so the giant bass couldn’t surge but rather run sideways. She ended up jumping 4 times in her attempt to throw the lure but to no avail. I let her wear down and slowly led her to the net that our guide Rigo was patiently holding. After a nice round of “High Fives”, we put her on the Boga Grip scales…EIGHT POUNDS!!! That was the largest bass I’ve caught on topwater AT PICACHOS! I’ve landed bass over 10 lbs on Picachos but that was the largest on topwater…at Picachos! I had to apologise to my brother for robbing him of that big topwater bass. Honestly I did not intend to be “that guy”…a bass thief. I only wanted to cast one time to show him how I recommend fishing that topwater sloooooow. Oh well, John was happy for my big catch…but he got so excited that big bass topwater action was along that shore, I think my catching that big girl had a reverse effect….he started fishing his topwater even FASTER! LOL.

Cory Landed this 8.2lbs Picachos beauty in April 2023

During this same week in mid-April, I was hosting longtime friend and customer, Leighton Haselgrove, and his group of friends. The numbers his group of 15 anglers caught during their 4 days of fishing has to have broken most records for Lake Picachos! IT. WAS. INSANE! At least the records for most bass over 4 and 5 lbs in 4 days of fishing! We’re really talking about 5 and 6 lbs bass here. After their first day of fishing, I’m having dinner in the RSJA Restaurant with my brother and Leighton’s group. My manager “Little Jorge” was going around to each table and customer asking them their numbers/catch for the day, like he does every night….so he can send back to the office in Texas to get on our website’s fishing report. When Little Jorge asked our customer Cory Elling for his report, Cory said, “Tiny (Cory’s fishing partner) and I landed 105 bass today on swim baits. We landed three bass over 7lbs but we landed 35 over 5 lbs”…I immediately got up from my table and went to talk with Cory about his great day of fishing…particularly the “35 over 5 lbs” claim. Cory said he and “Tiny” (Michael Hare real name) were fishing the backend of mud creeks and coves. I was like “Ya don’t say?”…of course knowing this is the main pattern for catching bigger bass on Picachos during April and most of May. It’s not the only pattern but it’s the easiest to locate and isolate those bigger bass in the lake…and in big numbers. Cory and Tiny would split up and fish with other anglers on Days 2 and 3…with Tiny landing a 9.87 lbs whopper on Day 2…and Cory landiing a 8lbs hawg on Day 3. Well as staggering and incredible those numbers were for Cory and Tiny that first day, that would not even come close to their best day! After three days of hammering 5 and 6 lbs bass in shallow mud creeks/coves, their last day they decided to head to deeper water and try that pattern for a possible 10lbs or larger bass. While they did not land or hook a double digit size bass that last day, what they DID land was beyond incredible. Cory and Tiny landed 80 bass over 5 lbs that last day. Again…EIGHT BASS OVER 5LBS IN ONE DAY! Cory told me “It was just stupid”…lol. Okaaaay…that’s one way to put it. I asked about the pattern…depth? Structure? Cory told me the exact location…mid-lake and next to the river. He and Tiny were sitting their boat in 40+ feet of water but throwing their big swim bait lures on top of a 25 ft shelf…and dragging the swimbait off the deep water ledge/break…then BAM! It was almost every cast for about 2 hours. That, my friends…has to be as good as bass fishing gets short of catching double digit size bass! That’s what Picachos has become…making fishing memories of a lifetime! The bass in Picachos have continued to grow larger every year. It’s on the verge of becoming a true trophy bass lake. Until it finally arrives at that trophy status, one can have a great opportunity at catching a lot of quality bass up to 8 and 9 lbs!

Tiny with his largest bass on Picachos in April 2023! 9.8lbs HAWG!!!

As for the rest of Leighton’s group? Well most if not all got to experience tons of action on “quality” size bass. The group of 15 ended up with 4,248 bass landed…and right at 200 bass over 5lbs! Tiny’s 9.87 lbs and Cory’s 8lbs ended up being the two largest bass caught by the group but there were a half dozen over 7 lbs…and the number of 5 and 6 lbs bass were just too many to count. To say Leighton and his group were happy would be the ultra understatement!

Cory with one of the 80 bass over 5lbs he landed at Picachos in April 2023

The last week of April had us host Legendary Pro Angler Denny Brauer and longtime friend and President/Owner of Strike King Lures, John Barns…and their group of 13 anglers.

Ron Jr with former pro Football players (Billy Klemstein and Terrance Mann) Both part of the Pony Express at SMU.

They were supposed to have 14 anglers but one of their members became ill the day before trip departure and could not make it. Therefore Ron Jr decided to fish with the odd man out…my good friend and longtime customer Greg Wilkinson. Greg has fished with us at Lake El Salto for many years as he’s more about the TROPHY BASS…but decided to come give Picachos a try with his friend that was unable to make the trip. The first day I asked Greg if he preferred topwater? Crankbait? Plastics? Jig? Spinnerbait? Greg responded with, “I’m just happy to be here and get to fish with you. Whatever you want to do is fine with me.”…well I was glad to hear that as I knew then I was going to stick with the backend of creeks/coves pattern that was already established. The first 3 days of the 4 days the group was fishing, was very good…but my Hole #1 that was holding a lot of bass over 5 lbs prior to Denny and John’s group arriving, saw the size drop “a little” as it was stacked full of 3 – 4.5 lbs bass…a few over 5 lbs but not like the week before. So the afternoon of Day 3, I moved us up the lake to a different “mud cove” and it was absolutely FILTHY with bass 5 lbs and larger. I had told Greg on the first day to have at least one rod rigged with a 1 oz Oldham Spinnerbait and at least one rod rigged with a 1 oz Oldham jig…trailed with a Rage Tail Rage Craw (chartreuse/pepper color). Every time we would enter one of these coves, we would start with Oldham’s giant spinnerbait…positioning the boat right in the middle of these narrow coves and throwing the spinnerbait toward each shore. The average water depth once we got halfway back in these coves was around 10 feet or less…but the “drainage” depth in the middle was around 12 – 15 feet. We would cast those spinnerbaits and work the coves all the way to the back…usually hooking up with a lot of 3 – 5 lbs bass. Then after the bite would slow down, we would pick up our rods with the big Oldham jigs and Rage Craws…dropping right over the side of the boat as the bass had piled up in the belly of these coves/drainages when the feeding or bite slowed down. Lord have mercy…those “guts” were jam packed with quality size bass…and even though the spinnerbait bite had slowed, which meant they were no longer chasing…you could still drop that jig right on their noggins and get a bite…a reaction strike or whatever you want to call it. Again, it was insane! The bass never left these shallow narrow mud coves for the better part of 2 months. Those bigger bass kept those shad hemmed up until the shad spawn ended…about the 3rd week of May.

Scott Lomax landed this Picachos 9.1 lbs HAWG on an Oldham tilapia-color jig in May 2023.

Denny and John’s group of 13 actually fished just 3 1/2 days as they decided they had caught enough bass and needed some “healing time” before flying home. So they spent the last afternoon/night in Mazatlan. Their total numbers for the group was just shy of 4,000 bass (3,965 to be exact) for 13 anglers in 3.5 days of fishing. Greg and I had right at 100 bass that last morning…IN ONE COVE! Denny landed the largest bass of the trip with a 8.9 lbs toad…and John Barns landed one of 8.0 lbs even. There were several landed over 7 lbs and again, tons of 5 lbs! Just another day at the office for this incredible lake…LAKE PICACHOS!!!

Cory with another 5lbs Picachos Toad he landed at Picachos in April 2023 !!

I cannot stress enough the importance of experiencing Lake Picachos in April/May. Don’t get me wrong about the “other months” as they are outstanding as well. It’s just that April/May are for the guys that want to catch as many bass over 5 lbs in one 3-day or 4-day trip as possible. Those two months are when the percentages are much higher of experiencing such catches! It’s warm but hasn’t really gotten “summertime hot” during April and early May. If you’re from the southern part of the U.S., you know “Hot”…especially July/Aug “Hot”…and it’s nowhere close to that in April/May. Book it NOW. You won’t be sorry.


Long time customer Ric Younkin with one of his many El Salto topwater trophies !! Ric fishes El Salto every year for his Birthday!

While I don’t have much to report about Lake El Salto “at this time,” I have enough to share that you should like. One, as I reported above, the lake has caught a lot of water after being struck by recent Hurricane Norma. That is excellent news for us and all of our valuable customers scheduled to fish with us there this season! Two…we just hosted Denny Brauer and John Barns group (reported about their Picachos trip above) of 20 anglers earlier this month and prior to Hurricane Norma’s arrival. While there were no “giants” caught…giants meaning 10 lbs and larger, There were several bass landed of 9 lbs as well as several 8 lbs. What was great to see is the overall numbers and overall size being 5 – 7 lbs. Last year we saw big bass landed by our customers for most of the season but the overall numbers per day/per boat (2 anglers) were down considerably…with the average total numbers per boat being around 50 bass per day…again, LAST season. During Denny/John’s 4 days earlier this month, the average was around 75 bass per day, per boat but every day there would be one or two boats exceeding 100 bass for the day…and these weren’t a lot of “dinks” either.

RSJA guide Jorge with a GIANT El Salto lunker!!

One day saw Todd Melson and his fishing partner Brian Shows land bass of 9.3 lbs, 2 over 7 lbs and 2 over 6 lbs…and many bass 4 and 5 lbs! Mike Grimes and his fishing partner Travis Owen landed 100 bass one day with the largest weighing 9.5 lbs and many in the 4 and 5 lbs class! Chris Nunnelee got in on the big bass action with his 8.5 lbs hawg. Hal Hanes also landed a 8.0 pound beauty. Ross Jewel and his partner landed one of 8.0 lbs along with several over 7 lbs while catching a total of 84 bass…in one day. Denny and John had bass of 8 and 9 lbs and lots of bass in the 5 – 7 lbs category!

Ron Speed Jr’s Adventures offers the best bass boats in Mexico. XPRESS BOATS!!

So while there’s not much to report “at this time,” the first group of the new season had good to great fishing. Our next groups will be arriving on or around the time this update goes out. So hopefully there will be MORE good news to report on soon. Again, it’s great to have more water in the lake and also great to see the fishing started out GREAT with the first group of the season! After 33 years since it’s opening, El Salto still produces big bass and great fishing. IF you want that giant bass of a lifetime, El Salto should be your choice! Even our customers that don’t land that GIANT, most report “I HAD HER ON”…which is what most anglers want…a shot. A chance. El Salto usually provides the angler with the best CHANCE!

Nobody leaves Ron Speed Jr’s lodge hungry!


Dale Morrell loves fishing for GIANT peacock bass with RSJA!!

Last Spring I put out an update on Brazil. In that update I mentioned some changes for the better…changes that most of our Brazil customers have been wanting to see. Better flights, particularly non-stop direct flights…and no more mandatory showing proof of Covid-19 vaccination. Well, the new flights are still flying and so far so good…the feedback we’ve received has been VERY POSITIVE. There are several options…two non-stop direct from Florida (Ft. Lauderdale being the best) and one from Houston through Panama City on United and Copa respectively. This is great news on both as these two issues (air schedules and vaccine mandates) are what was holding many of our customers back and not going. Well, for the time being, those two issues are fixed. If you’re one of those that’s been waiting for these issues to change for the better, NOW IS THE TIME TO GO!!!

We’ll have more updates on Brazil and the FISHING (hopefully the catching) after our groups fish in January/February. In the meantime, I strongly encourage you to call Bill in our office and see the dates we have available. Also, I strongly recommend that you call our travel agent Kevin Martin of Martin Travel. Kevin and his assistant David can give you the very latest on current flights to Manaus, Brazil from the U.S. Kevin and David are on top of this and can give you all the details of each airline/flight. Kevin 954-558-8154 David 954-748-6881 Ext 2

Call us today to book your next TRIP OF A LIFETIME!

Good Fishin’ and God Bless!
Ron Speed, Jr.

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