Lake Amistad's misperception, close proximity to Mexico shying visitors away, outfitter says

‘I fish Mexico every day and I have never had any trouble,' he says

DEL RIO, Texas – Lake Amistad in Del Rio attracts anglers from across the world every year but visitors from nearby Texas cities are not coming.

“Why aren’t people coming here? I don’t know. We're close to San Antonio. We’re close to Austin. All the people need to do is show up,” Lake Amistad outfitter Jon Ducharme said.

Despite the nationally televised publicity it receives during fishing tournaments and being known as one of the largest lakes in Texas, Ducharme said Lake Amistad’s close proximity to Mexico might be the reason people are staying clear from the area.

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“If people have that in their mind, it is 100 percent incorrect. We have never had an incident on this lake,” Ducharme said. “I fish Mexico every day, and I have never had any trouble.”

Mark Lewis, who lives in San Antonio but leases ranches across the border, described Lake Amistad as one of the most beautiful lakes in Texas.

“Gorgeous emerald green water, nobody out here, totally underdeveloped. It doesn't get any better than this,” Lewis said. “Look at it. It’s one of the most beautiful lakes in Texas (and) even in the United States. It rivals Lake Mead (in Nevada).”

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Lewis believes Lake Amistad is being confused with Falcon Lake in Zapata, Texas, where a man was shot and killed while he and his wife were riding jet skis through the Mexican side of the lake nearly eight years ago.

While the lakes are both on the Texas-Mexico border, Lewis said Lake Amistad should not be compared to Falcon Lake.

“That situation happened in Falcon Lake, which is about 150 miles south of us. It’s just people couldn't put the two lakes together. 'Where did it happen? Did it happen here?' No. That was 150 miles away from us,” Lewis said. “Never had one problem, not in 32 years.”

While the reputation of Mexico may factor into slow business at Lake Amistad, Ducharme said another issue is the lack of lodging near the lake. The nearest motels are in town. 

About the Authors:

Steve Spriester started at KSAT in 1995 as a general assignments reporter. Now, he anchors the station's top-rated 5, 6 and 10 p.m. newscasts.