Babes in Toyland


Just when I thought it was done, Kevin Baxter forced me back in the game.

I’m headed to El Salto this week for the second of my two annual trips (I overachieved in 2015 and went three times) and you’d think that by this time I’d have the drill locked down pretty solid. After all, I have 60 or 70 pounds of tackle, mostly proven winners, waiting for me at the lodge. At the end of each trip, I take a written inventory of the items I have down there and make a “must-reorder” list.

When I got home in January, I waited for the next sale and got everything I “needed.” They didn’t even make it up onto the garage pegboard, instead going straight into my luggage. In theory I was done, with everything that I knew I’d need already in my possession..

Of course, theory and practice often diverge wildly. I made a couple of orders after February, but set a hard deadline of May 1 for Mexico-oriented tackle acquisitions. I stuck to it pretty well until my friend Kevin Baxter of posted that he’d gotten “The Babe” into his shop. For those of you who haven’t heard of it, The Babe is a dead-nuts knockoff of the old XPS swimbait that Steve Kennedy, Takahiro Omori and Fred Roumbanis use to win more money on than the GDP of Ecuador.

I’m not a swimbait expert by any means – I’ve caught a lot of fish in Mexico on sub-5-inch ribbed lures, hollow bellies, and Storm WildEyes, but very few on true California- or TVA-style models, either hard or soft versions. On the last day of my January trip, I caught two really good fish on the Optimum Boom-Boom Swimbait. They choked it but I didn’t have more time to dial in that bite. The offshore bite should be even better this time around, with fish in true summer patterns and the water ultra-low. I certainly added a few of those to my travel bag, but figured I’d supplement that selection with The Babe. 

It never fails that no matter how much I plan in advance, and how much I think I have all of my bases covered, there’s always a last minute acquisition that switches things up. I don’t know how people who don’t already have two massive tackle bags down there manage to make sure they’ll have what they need.