It’s no secret that bass grow big when they can feed on hatchery trout. A bass can easily cream a trout up to one-third its own size. A couple of years ago, Lucky Craft Lures entered the premium swimbait market with the Real Bait Premium Trout line and they became a favorite. These lures have swimming action and liveliness due to eye placement, fin position and jointed body action. The weighting system was designed to match the weight of a live fish. The T130 is 136mm or 5 1/2 inches long and is available in 10 finishes.
In shallow water, smallmouth bass stage around boulders and drop-offs to ambush shad, bluegill, trout, baby bass and other baitfish. When conditions call for a minnow imitation, I like to tie on a Daiwa DB Minnow SP.
Smallmouth mistake the DB Minnow SP – with its realistic scale patterns, 3-D eyes and life-like movement – for the real thing. I like to trade out the front hook for a Daiichi bleeding red treble. On the retrieve, it runs with a wiggle and when you pause it, the lure hangs at depth, vulnerable.
Night was almost upon us. I aimed a cast toward shore and began to retrieve. My line stopped. This time it wasn’t sunk in the weeds. Instead, it was stuck in what looked like a log, just under the surface. The log shook his head. And then it ran.
All that turmoil on the surface represents a crippled fish, a muskrat headed for cover or a duckling with a broken leg. You have to move a lot of water to coax a big fish up out of the weeds. One of my favorites is the Bionic Bucktail Spinnerbait. The offset spinnerbait design with two single hooks make this lure run weedless. Cast it and crank it over the cabbage to trigger a strike from a big northern pike.
Whenever possible, a walleye bait should be presented on a long line or off to the side of the boat’s path of travel. When you feel the strike, drop the rod and count to three before lifting the tip, gently setting the hook.
The Double Whammy Walleye rig from Mack’s Lure will take walleye throughout the season employs a three-foot leader, a light blade, beads, and a single hook baited with a crawler. The worm is rigged to hang straight down. A length of hollow core lead on a slider rig keeps the bait bouncing along the bottom.
Worden’s Rooster Tail, one of the world’s most popular spinners, has been one of my favorites since I hooked my first steelhead at the age of 11. For me, the Rooster Tail is one of the best searching lures there is. Because spinners catch the most aggressive fish, an angler should employ it on the move, casting and cranking with a slow, tempting retrieve. They come in dozens of colors and finishes and several sizes, but my standby is a 1/6-ounce brown with a gold blade.
Grubs, micro-jigs, crawlers and mealworms, they all catch bluegill and crappie and perch, but my favorite way to tempt panfish is with fly tackle. When I’m targeting bluegill, there’s nothing I like to do better than tie on a No. 12-14 Zug Bug or Brown Hackle wet fly. The fly sinks slowly, the peacock gleams, the soft webbed fibers pulsates and it drives bluegill crazy. If you don’t have fly tackle, use a casting bubble and four feet of four-pound test leader. To make it doubly effective, run a second fly on a dropper.