One morning back in July, my spouse abruptly woke me to a news report of continued violence on the U.S.-Mexican border. At 6 a.m., I was in that halfway stage between sleep and consciousness. Why is she waking me up? My alarm doesn’t go off for another hour. In a daze, I remembered hearing the terms Mexican drug cartel, Falcon Lake, Today Show and machine guns.
A few hours later I arrived at the office and pondered what had happened that morning. Was it all a dream? The details were surely sketchy. So I called my wife and she assured me it was no vision. The NBC crew, namely, Janet Shamlian, did a report from Zapata, Texas, on the situation brewing along the Rio Grande River. You can view the segment here.
Let’s just say I now have mixed feelings. I’ve been to Falcon three times to cover the season-opening event of the American Fishing Series Texas Division. It’s become an annual assignment and it’s always a treat for a Minnesotan to escape the cold and see some true giants. And I was really keyed up when the 2011 FLW Tour schedule was first announced – complete with an early March trip to south Texas. While the American Fishing Series always visited in January, the fishing on Falcon is actually better in March. That’s hard to believe I know.
Local guide and FLW Tour pro Keith Combs predicted it could take as much as 150 pounds over four days to take home the title. That’s roughly a 37-pound average per day with the mean fish weighing 7 1/2 pounds. Combs isn’t blowing smoke either. Last year, he caught a 41-pound stringer on the final day of the AFS event. In fact, Combs routinely catches 40s and even 50s on occasion. By all accounts, the March tournament would have rewritten the record books. That’s the good side.
The bad side is that the violence is real. There have been several incidents (at least five by my count) of Mexican marauders robbing fishermen at gunpoint with AK-47s or AR-15 rifles. Falcon supporters will argue that the incidents have taken place only on the Mexico side of the lake. That may be true. But I can tell you that some of Falcon’s best fishing areas are located in Mexico. And when you dangle a six-figure payday in front of fishermen, they can’t help but gravitate to the best areas, no matter how dangerous they may be.
Long story longer, I want to go to Falcon, I really do, but only if it’s safe for everyone involved. These FLW Tour pros aren’t just fishermen. They’re fathers, husbands, brothers and friends. In this case, FLW Outdoors made the right call switching the first major to Beaver Lake. But I hope to see Falcon back on the schedule once the concerns have been alleviated.