Tall, jagged like a speed freak’s teeth and reaching close to 5,000 feet above sea level, peaks of the Sierra Madre mountain range circle the waters of Lake Comedero, for now keeping cool air trapped down close to the water.
Even during the hot part of the midday, it’s still comfortable fishing out here, which some members of our group decide to do in lieu of lunch back at camp. The main reason for that choice is that the bass — really big bass — are biting all day and nobody wants to give up those three hours just to eat or rest.
But today it’s still early, and there’s a chill on the water as Ron Speed Jr. and I fish down the north side of an island far up a river that feeds the lake.
“This is one of my favorite spots,” Speed is saying, going on to mention how many big bass he’s caught here this spring.
“When we first started fishing here in January, the water was up over this island and way up the bank,” Speed continues. “We were catching big bass out of that brush up on top of this thing.”
Speed limits the number of trips to Comedero, one of a number of prime fishing spots he has located in the mountains north of Mazatlán, along Mexico’s west coast. Salto, Picachos and Huites are the others, where Ron Speed’s Adventures operate.
But Comedero, at 34,000 acres, can get too hot in the summer for fishing, and the big bass drop off into very deep water to hold at depths that make catching them tough for the average guy. Already, most of the fish are coming from 14- to 25-foot depths, and that means heavy jigs and 1-ounce spinners fished very slowly through the brush to catch anything except shoreline babies.
The early part of the year has been spectacular on Comedero, with multiple fish over 12 pounds and dozens more between 8 and 12 pounds. Almost every angler on every trip will eventually catch a fish pushing 10 pounds and probably will lose more than one in the heavy brush.
What’s more, the fish have finished spawning and are feeding in packs, trying to put weight back on before the summer doldrums arrive. It’s not uncommon, Speed says, to hang a big bass and have another five or six or seven fish of the same size follow it to the boat, trying to grab the lure out of its mouth.
As we glide down toward the end of our island, Speed is casting a jig to likely spots and I’m following with a spinner bait, a big, gaudy beast of a thing custom-made by Terry Oldham, a Central Texas lure-maker who knows how to catch fish and get them to hit a custom jig or spinner.
I cast next to a clump of brush and feel the strike of a bass that immediately explodes 3 feet out of the water, clearing the brush and giving me a better chance of landing her. I do that as we drift past the spot and begin to turn back to the same area.
Speed weighs the fish at more than 7 pounds and then says to me, “Mike, cast right back into that same spot.” I do and watch as the spinner bait is engulfed as soon as it reaches the water. I set the hook again and can feel the power of a big fish that’s fighting to get back into the brush and rub off the hook.
With 65-pound braided line, though, I can apply lots of pressure and get the fish turned toward the boat. Speed scoops her up and weighs her at 8.8 pounds, my largest fish of the trip and the largest for this day.
I caught other bass 8 pounds and up on the trip but never broke 9 pounds. I was fishing with Oldham, though, when he landed a 10 and another over 9 pounds, and Speed caught a 10-pounder the last morning.
Comedero is in prime condition right now, having filled itself after years of low water. Tilapia are the main food fish for the bass, and they are plentiful. Oldham and I found more than one big bass foundering on the surface, struggling with a tilapia it had inhaled but couldn’t swallow.
The lake is about four hours north of Mazatlán near the little village of Higueras. Travel is easy due to a modern toll road that takes you almost all the way there. And even though there are marijuana fields visible around the lake, we never felt unsafe in any way.
Speed is taking reservations for trips next January through March and is already nearly booked because of the fabulous fishing this year. But Comedero has always been good. In 2002, Speed and I had an unbelievable fishing trip there, landing a group of 10 bass our first morning that weighed 91 pounds and didn’t include a bass I caught later in the week of more than 11 pounds.
That’s championship fishing wherever you find it.