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Event Article

Okuma Goes Savage at Lake El Salto, Mexico (continued)

It was near lunch time and Dave and Joey pulled up alongside us and with our boats tied up no more than ten feet away from each other and all four of us proceeded to land a combined 50 plus more fish using the Sandeels right off the very same point. I couldn’t believe how many fish were stacked up in here and we were getting plenty of quality fish between 3-5lbs., and even the occasional 6lbr. coming up as well, and it just didn’t seem like there was any end to how many fish were down there!

No more than 10 feet away Dave and Joey are getting the fish too

At one point we had a triple hookup and we would have had a quad except Dave was busy trying to salvage a Sandeel tail. While the bite was hot our Sandeel cache was quickly depleting. The tails proved to be pretty durable but viscous head shakes or fish leaping out of the water was doing a real number on what few tails we had left. We became so desperate that we started biting off the tops of the swimbait tail when they got too damaged just so we could reuse the remaining paddletail section.

Brandon releases a healthy fish

When we finally ran out of usable paddle tails we started using Savage Gear Sandeel slugs both by themselves and as tails on our Sandeel jigheads. The Sandeel slugs feature a hollow body and are rigged like a fluke but because they are so light they can be rigged with special soft tungsten nugget weights that can be worked onto the hook into a forward position so that the lure dives and swims like a swimbait. Positioning the nugget at the rear position near the bend the lure will not sink as quickly and can be worked near the surface. This implementation also worked but after another hour of constant fish strikes even that arsenal was eventually depleted and we started applying tails from whatever swimbaits we could scratch up from our tackle bags.

Joey holds up his catch

When we finally ran out of tails altogether we switched back to crankbaits and swim jigs and they just didn’t prove to be effective. It was amazing how keyed in the fish were to this one style of bait and simply didn’t want anything else. Reminder to self… bring more Sandeel paddletail swimbaits to El Salto next time.  

The El Salto bass absolutely love the Savage Gear Sandeels

The rest of the day was a little anti-climatic after what was probably the most productive point that I have ever fished. It is easy to get spoiled at El Salto and after a hundred or so fish we targeted bigger non-schooling fish by pitching plastics into structure and as the day wound down I got to spend some time fishing with the Helios spinning reel baitcaster which I found to be both lightweight and well constructed. Okuma’s roots are in spinning and I really look forward to seeing what the mass production reels look and feel like post ICAST.

Putting on a crankbait clinic Corey shows us one of his fish

The new Savage Gear finesse hardbaits also are very intriguing and we were impressed with the design, build quality and pattern options in this new series. Admittedly while have heard about Savage Gear we haven’t fished the brand much prior to this trip and while we did catch some fish on these baits here at El Salto we wanted to bring the baits back to California to see just how well they perform on our home water before making a final judgment.

Brandon fishes the Helios spinning reel prototype

At the end of the trip we compared notes with everyone and the guys from Tackle Warehouse had also done well using a variety of lures. Joey pitched plastics with success into tight submerged timber and Corey had continued to dominate with the crankbaits including the brightly colored Savage Gear lures. Sam, Brandon and Dave were gracious hosts, allowing us to fish off the front of the boats and yet they still managed to catch the biggest fish of the trip, a number of them in the 9-10lb. class.

The entire crew at Okuma's El Salto event

The biggest fish for Cal and I topped out at around 8lbs. and while I wasn’t able to break double digits on this particular trip some of the Okuma guys did. It seems that the decline of El Salto has been greatly exaggerated, and the two hours spend pulling fish after fish off the “point” was nothing short of epic. It was comical how all of us were trying to stretch out just one more fish from each battered and ripped out Sandeel, and without mend-it or super glue all we could do was try and re-rig around the damage. At one point I was sure Dave was going to dive in after his last Sandeel swimbait tail as it flipped off during the battle.

Fishing this good can be described as absolutely "Savage!"

Savage Gear is still a relatively new brand to the U.S. market but some of their upcoming baits look like they are sure to garner attention from anglers that pursue largemouth, smallmouth, trout and saltwater species stateside. When it comes to bass there are few testing grounds that represent the unique opportunity that El Salto provides day in and day out to not only have a 50 plus fish day but also land a double digit one as well, now that is what I call “Savage.”