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This article previously appeared in the June 2007 issue of Sportsman's News and is re-printed here with permission.

7 MAY 2007

A CUT ABOVE

Mexico's Lake Comedero Lodge offers world-class bass fishing and enough personal touches to make it the premier getaway for fisherman.

By Wayne Crowder

 "Holy Cow!" My brother exclaimed from the back of the boat. I turned to look back after hearing what sounded like a beaver tail slapping the water, and saw him frantically reeling against his drag. His rod was held high as he maneuvered what appeared to be a monstrous largemouth bass through the clear water. Moments before, we were watching a frog I was working, bobbing up and down through the flooded timber near the water's edge. We were anxiously awaiting the anticipated blow up with every pause or hop over a branch. While watching, my brother Keith had cast his chug-bug out the back of the boat near an isolated bush. He turned his attention toward the front of the boat to watch for the next big bass to hit my frog, and then, BOOM! FISH ON!

     A few days before, I met my younger brother at the Phoenix airport along with two other fishing buddies. I introduced him to Rodney Hurst and Powell Rods Pro Roy Hawk. My brother had flown in from Anchorage, Alaska and was excited to spend some time with me in Mexico and soak up some sun. The destination Lake Comedero Lodge on the shores of Lake Comedero, about 90 miles outside of Mazatlan, Mexico. We were going there to do one thing, catch big largemouth bass. Mexico is known in the bass fishing world as the ultimate destination for consistently big, largemouth bass.

     The flight into Mazatlan was stunning, with the ocean on one side of the plane and the lush, jagged mountains on the other. The new passport rule allowed us through customs without a problem and I was excited to use the Spanish I hadn't spoken in years. A nice gentleman from Ole` Tours was there to greet us at the airport, and we loaded up our gear into a new van and headed out. Mazatlan is a large city with many tourists and resorts along its white, sandy beaches. The drive out of Mazatlan reminded us all of the humble way in which many live in Mexico. We stopped a couple of times along the way in some of the smaller communities to let the local farm animals move off the road or to buy bread and candies from children. The driver from Ole' Tours was very pleasant and the van was stocked with an ice cooler full of drinks and water to keep us fresh.

     As we approached our destination, the reservoir could occasionally be seen between the peaks and hills of the lush tropical mountains. The sun was setting and the water was sparkling like a diamond in a coal deposit. One of the lodge residents met us at the gate and helped us unload all our gear from the van. I noticed right away that the accommodations at the lodge were clean, safe, and tidy with a classic Sante Fe look to them. You could tell this was a labor of love for the owners, James and Debbie Luebker. We quickly put our gear in the clean and spacious rooms, knowing that an exceptional steak dinner was on the table in the clubhouse. I was so caught up in the image and smell of dinner I smacked the rim of my hat into the closed sliding glass door when approaching! Thankfully, it kept me from completely walking into it. The dinner was so good that it would have been worth the embarrassment!

       Morning couldn't come soon enough, and at 5:30 a.m. we answered the chow bell with a breakfast spread that would rival a Las Vegas buffet. Debbie had been up since 4 a.m. to prepare eggs, bacon, sausage, ham, hash browns, pancakes, waffles, oatmeal, fruit, milk, coffee, juice, etc. As a few of us were eating breakfast, one of our group approached and was so excited to get going he walked right into the sliding glass door. We choked back laughter much to his embarrassment, and I had smiled remembering what had happened to me the night before. Needless to say, a piece of paper was taped to the ultra clean glass door to prevent further mishaps.

     After breakfast the four of us met our guides, Chapo, and Chayo, who led us down to our boats. The boats we fished out of were true bass boats, with a spacious platform and a trolling motor on the front that made a big difference compared to most guide services in Mexico. Each boat had a cooler that was stocked twice a day with two kinds of beer, bottled water and several different types of juice.

When we left the shore, the stars were slowly fading away to the bright purple and orange of dawn, and I felt a strange, dreamlike detachment from reality as we skimmed across the lake in the brisk twilight of the morning. We pulled into a bay, and within minutes I caught my first fish. The morning was humid and cold but the fish was warm, a stark contrast to the feel of fish back home.

     Lizards, tubes, worms and spinner baits all worked. My brother had never caught a bass before, but was quickly welcomed to the club with over 25 fish before lunch! We released all but 5 small fish, weighing one to two pounds to take back for lunch. All of the guests shared stories of the morning’s catch on the short ride back to the lodge. It was a good thing we were late for Rodney had caught a ten-pound bass just after noon on big swimbait. We gawked at the photos on his digital camera as his smile lit up the lunch table.

     Lunch everyday consisted of fresh salsa, fish and chips, beans, fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, and anything else we desired. Notes were compared during lunch and we quickly modified our gear accordingly.

     The afternoon was focused on trying to catch a fish over 10 pounds. My brother and I laughed and joked and got to know the guide as he put us on fish time and time again.

     By the end of the first day my brother and I had caught over 100 bass with a few tilapias and catfish mixed in. Many fish were over 5 pounds and a few were in the seven to eight pound range. We again compared notes over dinner and couldn’t believe the day!

    The wonderful Mexican food Debbie made for dinner could only be rivaled by her bread pudding dessert. I can truly say Debbie’s food is better than going home to Momma’s house to eat. You had to be careful and watch what you said in the lodge for she remembered everything you said and would surprise you with a special drink or dish to make the experience even more enjoyable.

     Just before lunch on the second day I was reeling in a huge bass, easily over 10 pounds, but when I got her to the boat she came unbuttoned. She actually stayed by the boat for what seemed like an eternity and then we all watched in awe and horror as she swam away. We went back to that spot several times over the next two days but never found her again. Keith’s biggest catch of the trip, the one I shared at the beginning of this story, came during the afternoon of the second day. I snapped a picture of him as he reached down to lip the eight-pound bass out of the water; it’s the only picture I have of him smiling.

     Over the course of three days, the four of us had an amazing experience and we’ve all vowed to return next year and do it again. In one boat, Keith and I both caught several fish in the five to eight-pound range, and I had a few pushing nine pounds on the frog. In the other boat, Roy Hawk was a fishing machine, consistently catching more big fish. We all caught our personal best, saw some incredible scenery and not one of us got sick, which is a testament to the great way we were taken care of.

     We’d like to thank Sportsman’s News for recommending the lodge and for giving us this wonderful opportunity to fish; and Powell Rods for sending Roy Hawk and the excellent rods we each got to use. Most of all, thanks to James and Debbie Luebker for memories that will last a lifetime.

     Lake Comedero Lodge is a five-star resort with a personal, almost family like touch. James and Debbie Luebker are the epitome of southern hospitality, and I have decided to adopt them as my grandparents. Whether it’s James’ famous margaritas, or Debbie’s shrimp heaven and ceviche, everything is made with love and pride. The fishing makes Lake Comedero spectacular, but James and Debbie make the Lake Comedero Lodge a cut above. Be sure to visit their website, www.lakecomederolodge.com.