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Friday, March 02, 2018
Buying ammo in California today

California hunters extend duck season
While this part of the Pacific flyway offered up only fare shooting this past season, waterfowlers enjoyed excellent hunting in Mexico. Longtime Western Outdoor News subscriber Dennis Slater of Bakersfield journeyed down to Los Mochis with his hunting partner Jim DelMarter, along with his two adult sons, where they joined in with Team Osterkamp’s Gus Osterkamp of Tustin, Mark Osterkamp of Brawley, Steve Hoblick of Fullerton and this WON hunting editor for some awesome duck shoots.

The waterfowl season in Mexico runs through mid March, with the vast farming Mecca of Los Mochis Valley offering up an excellent food source and plenty of fresh water along with prime marshland, where flocks of puddle and diving ducks loaf. Hunts in the Mexican state of Sinaloa are accessed by way of airboats that skim over shallow marshes and a maze of tules and mangroves to natural blinds.

BULL SPRIG HIGHLIGHT SINALO PATO DUCK HUNTING — Mark Osterkamp of Brawley filled his game strap with bull sprig and a few mixed species of teal while hunting the North Marsh with the Sinalo Pato Duck and Dove Club. WON PHOTO BY JIM NIEMIEC

Hunters have been coming down to Los Mochis and Culiacan for well over a half a century to enjoy great duck gunning and the opportunity to hunt mature bull sprig and all three species of teal. In addition to those highly prized ducks, there is plenty of opportunity to bag daily limits of widgeon, spoonbills, a variety of diving ducks and occasionally enjoy success along coastal estuaries for Pacific black Brant.

The Slater/DelMarter group and Team Osterkamp was split up by hunt master Edgar Hernandez to assigned blinds on huge marshes. If one blind is not producing good shooting, the airboat is called back in to move hunters to a better spot on the marsh. Hunters are each handed five boxes of CI 12 gauge #4 shot ammo, already having made a choice of either a Benelli or Beretta auto-loader shotgun and a back up shotgun for both morning and afternoon hunts. Duck blinds are dry and a bird boy puts out a spread of decoys and makes an attempt to retrieve all ducks killed.

There is a liberal limit of ducks in Mexico, making for exciting shooting as teal wing over a blind and mature bull sprig cup into a decoy spread. Many duck hunters, from all over America, head to the marshes of Los Mochis to harvest the grand slam of teal consisting of a green-winged, cinnamon and blue-winged teal. It is very possible to harvest these three teal in a single hunt and almost a for sure harvest when the entire day is spent on the marsh with a break for lunch. Our group of hunters took a midday break from the north marsh and enjoyed a wonderful Mexican luncheon at Roberto Balderrama’s hacienda, where the meal was prepared by chefs from the Plaza Inn Hotel Deluxe. Interesting to note: Mexico is known for its great beers with Pacifico, Corona and Modelo topping the list, but local wines of Mexico are also offering an excellent selection of reds and now a very tasty new Chardonnay is being produced by Mision Cerocahui.

WON asked Slater about booking late season hunts with Sinalo Pato. “Our club, the Burbank Land Club located on the southern end of the San Joaquin Valley, didn’t shoot all that well this year,” he said. “I don’t think that the club harvested more than 1,000 ducks. Coming down to hunt the vast marshes of Los Mochis makes up for time spent in blinds state side. A waterfowl hunter can shoot more ducks in a couple days down here in Mexico than he can the whole season back home.”

Not only does the Sinalo Pato Duck and Dove Club (800-862-9026) offer up excellent duck hunting, but there are hunt packages available for dove, blue pigeon and Gambel’s quail. Now hunters crossing the border in San Yasidro can use the bridge that connects the U.S. with Mexico and the cost to use the bridge is only $10. The bridge connects with the airport in Tijuana for daily Mexican flights to some of the best hunting/fishing destinations in the Mexican states of Sonora and Sinaloa. Team Osterkamp boarded an Aero Commander at the Chino Airport and made the quick 2.5-hour flight directly into Los Mochis.

LAKE HUITES KICKING OUT BIG BUCKETMOUTHS — Lake Huites, located high in the Sierra Madre Mountains, offers up excellent largemouth bass fishing. Gus Osterkamp of Tustin topped off his stay at La Estancia Lodge with this 8-pound bass that engulfed the newly introduced Daiwa Evergreen CR-8 pattern crankbait. WON PHOTO BY JIM NIEMIEC

While not a new lake in the Sierra Madre Mountains of Sinaloa, Lake Huites is probably the least known of all the bass fishing lakes in Mexico, but offers up excellent largemouth bass action. Our group opted for a couple of fishing periods on this high mountain lake as part of a “Cast and Blast” trip to maximize the potential of a truly awesome hunting and fishing experience. La Estancia Fishing Lodge overlooks Lake Huites and it’s just a few minutes’ drive down to the lakeshore, where bass boats and guides await anglers. Peak fishing months for huge bass at Lake Huites are late September, October and early November, but due to a lack of pressure; this fishery provides plenty of action all year long. The lake record, established last February, stands at 12 pounds, 14 ounces, and many double-digit bass are caught and released every year. This WON writer had an opportunity to pass around some new Daiwa Evergreen Custom crankbaits and Daiwa’s SV Concept worms, manufactured by Gary Yamamoto, and they produced fish after fish along miles of rocky shoreline. Huites is a beautiful lake with high mountain peaks jutting up from the clear water and vast green vegetation at higher elevations. Topping off a fishing trip on Lake Huites is seeing “El Chepe” rail cars cross trestles of this lake on its way up through Copper Canyon, North America’s deepest canyon.

Lake Huites is about a two-hour drive from the Plaza Inn Hotel in Los Mochis and a short one-hour drive from the Hotel Posada del Hidalgo in the old Mexican town of El Fuerte. Most anglers stay at La Estancia due its close proximity to fishing. Anglers average between 50 to 100 bass a day on this lake, but there are some prime fishing periods when 200 bass, weighing in the 2- to 5-pound class can be caught in a single day. Big fish of our trip was Gus Osterkamp’s chunky 8 pounder that hammered a newly introduced Daiwa Evergreen Custom CR-8 crankbait.

Considering that most of our hunting seasons close at the end of January and good bass fishing doesn’t kick off until April, outdoorsmen should put a “Cast and Blast” option on their calendars for next year, as it’s a destination that will offer up many good stories and memories.

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