The hype for my first trip to Mexico's Lake Agua Milpa was unparalleled.
Mark Davis, the main man in public relations for Shakespeare Fishing Tackle, helped to set the trip up for me and did all in his power to get me excited about going.
My first question was "What is Agua Milpa?"
I had heard of Guerrero, Huites, Baccarac and other Mexican lakes, but Agua Milpa? It sounded like a fancy brand of bottled water.
"Dude," said Davis, "you have to believe me; this lake is unnatural. There are more good bass here than anywhere else. It's incredible, and yet virtually no one really knows about it. You have to do whatever you can to get down there. It'll be like being the first outdoor writer to go and fish Lake Fork."
After I agreed to go during that initial conversation, I received another phone call from Davis. I figured telling him that it doesn't take much to get me excited about fishing would get the message to him, but he kept leaving messages on my answering machine and sending over faxes to let me know we were going to have a good trip. A really good trip.
"This is the greatest bass lake on the planet. There's nothing else like it," said one answering machine message.
On one fax he wrote in all caps "GET READY TO GET TIRED OF CATCHING FISH IF THAT'S POSSIBLE."
By the time I actually got to fish on the lake I didn't know if he was trying to pull something over on me or if the lake is really that good. Well, it didn't take long to figure out it is indeed that good. Actually, Agua Milpa is better than good.
My first day of fishing was with Pradco's public relations man Bruce Stanton. After our Mexican guide, Ramone, took us into a picturesque rocky canyon it didn't take ong to pattern the fish.
The smaller fish were hugging the bank, and the big fish were on a break parallel to the shoreline out in 15 feet of water. By the time we made our way around the creek and into a more open area we had already boated around 20 bass, with most of them the 2- to 4-pound class.
Stanton was the first to catch a really nice fish. While fishing a midnight shad-colored Fat Free Shad, he caught a bass that weighed more than 7 pounds. This big fish caught on a crankbait was, it turned out, symbolic of things to come.
After lunch that day, Ramone took us to an area he said was good for fishing with crankbaits. We immediately picked up some fish in the 4-pound class, and they were all in the same general area in relation to the bank. Every one was holding out parallel in 15 feet of water.
As we rounded the corner of one valley, I made a long cast toward a large boulder that extended into the water. Immediately I got hit and began battling what seemed like a "nice" fish. When the fish finally surfaced, however, Ramone began hollering "grande" "grande", "grande bass." Translation: this was a bona fide lunker bass. Ramone took out the landing net.
When it got close to the boat, the thrashing fish decided it didn't like the idea of being caught and made several powerful runs. Finally, I carefully led the bass into Ramone's waiting net. The fish, we realized, would easily weigh 8 pounds. It sported a mouth that looked as if it could swallow a basketball or small child.
After taking pictures and releasing the fish we continued catching on crankbaits. And while we didn't catch anything that matched that fish, the quality of the fish continued to be impressive. Two, 4- and 5-pound fish were a dime a dozen.
It was only the first day of the trip, and I had broken my personal record for bass. Furthermore, before the day was over I had caught more than 50 fish. What would the rest of the trip have in store for me? The best days of bass fishing in my life.
On day two I fished with Mark Davis. Davis is a knowledgeable, hard-core bass fisherman with deep tournament fishing roots who had fished the lake four months prior. His experience here led him to come prepared with specialized equipment and well-planned strategies.
"The one thing I learned here," Davis said, "was that it pays to fish with braided line and a good, stiff rod. On my last trip here, I pulled several bass in the 8-pound class out of really heavy cover - of which this lake has plenty. The brush on Agua Milpa can be unforgiving," he cautioned, "so you've got to have the right gear."
For the first few hours we worked our way around several brushy islands and caught a number of bass in the 4- to 6-pound range. And I quickly realized that Davis was absolutely right about the need to use sturdy equipment.
By lunchtime we had caught more than 50 fish. Most of them ranged in the 2- to 4-pound class, and nearly all of them were caught on crankbaits.
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