DEL RIO, TX — An incident Sunday on Lake Amistad has heightened worries of some avid fishermen who enjoy the lake near Del Rio that the border crisis is turning the large, 1.8 million acre-foot reservoir into a dangerous place. National Parks Service’s Superintendent for the Amistad National Recreation Area Chris Ryan said law enforcement is monitoring the area closely, but did not believe an incident reported Sunday and widely discussed on Internet fishing forums was related to the drug cartels.
According to Ryan, two male fishermen from San Antonio were in their boat fishing near Marker 9 on the Mexico side of the lake when a Mexican male driving solo in a speed boat rammed the fishermen’s boat in the area where the engine was. The incident happened at around 8 a.m. on Sunday, July 13.
“He sped up to us in a white Honda speedboat,” one of the fishermen told San Angelo LIVE! “He intentionally hit our motor to disable us.” The man then circled back around while yelling at the fishermen to “get off the lake.”
The fishermen were able to limp back to the U.S. side of the lake using a trolling motor, Ryan said. The fishermen said the NPS then towed them back to the dock. Marker 9 is located near Box Canyon and Amistad Acres to the north. To the south, on the Mexico side of the lake, is Cañon Del Burro. Both Burro and nearby Cañon Del Zorro on the Mexico side of the lake are popular fishing spots, the fishermen told us.
According to anonymous reports on the Texas Fishing Forum, the solo man in the Honda boat was sporting a mohawk but neither fisherman could confirm he was armed. Ryan said he was well aware of the incident but also told us no arrests have been made.
Ryan said fishermen should be mindful of fishing on the Mexico side of the lake as neither his patrols, the Customs and Border Protection, or the Texas Game Warden have explicit jurisdiction there unless allowed by the Mexico Consulate, and permission takes time to acquire.
Ryan said with all of the surveillance of the lake and the natural barriers, the cartel traffickers are more likely to use areas where there are easier crossings of the Rio Grande located to the north or south of Lake Amistad. Generally, the cartels don’t want to be seen, he added.
Ryan said bad publicity at Lake Amistad could hurt the prospects of many fishing tournaments scheduled this year. He stressed that the NPS believes the incident was isolated and not indicative of a trend. He was also skeptical it involved any of the Mexican drug cartels.
Bass fishing is popular on Lake Amistad. Every weekend there is some sort of tournament. The largest tournament upcoming this year is the Border Battle Bass Tournament put on by the Del Rio Chamber of Commerce that is expected to attract 150 boats. It is scheduled for the weekend of September 25.
Ryan said the biggest threat to tourism right now are the lake water levels. They have been low for a couple years. Ryan said irrigation on the US and Mexico side upstream has impacted the lake levels the most. He said a weather event where a storm parks itself over the lake or over the Rio Grande or Pecos upstream will fill the lake up the quickest. During the summer of 2019, the lake was over 80 percent full. Today, the lake water levels indicate it is 52.8 percent full. Still, the lake is huge, covering just under 30,000 acres even at its current lower water levels.
Lake Amistad straddles the Texas-Mexico border on the west side of Del Rio, just downstream of the confluence of the Pecos River and the Rio Grande.