St Simons Island Fishing Report 3/7/15

Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Art of Artificials Part II: You Big Dummy

Dummy lures. That’s the word my old bass fishing partners use to use when describing a certain class of lures. These lures simply needed to be reeled in steady to be effective. While there are many lures that fit the bill, I’ll give you four that get eaten pretty good in the marsh. 

The Bill Lewis Rattletrap has been around for a long time and is usually classified as a vibrating crank bait. This lure was designed to be fished at varying depths. Its slow sink rate allows you to “countdown” to the depth you desire. With a sink rate of about one foot per second, the angler simply needs to count about one second for every foot until the desired depth is met. One of my favorite ways to fish the “trap” is on deeper grass flats of about 6 feet in depth. I will count the lure down about 4 seconds to obtain a running depth of about 4 feet, which will run this bait right above the grass. The strikes on this bait are usually pretty aggressive and the motion of the lure combined with the speed of the fish usually allows one if not both of the treble hooks to stick the fish pretty good. Bill Lewis also makes a floating rattletrap that allows the angler to work shallow flats. This lure, while called a floater, actually runs about a foot or so below the surface. This is a great tool for covering water as both the floating and sinking models cast a mile. Combine the casting ability of this plug and a steady retrieve this lure can cover a lot of ground fast. As with any lure, once fish are found, you may be able to stake out and work on what may be more than one fish.

The gold spoon may be one of the most well-known but lesser used baits on the market. This is a lure that is manufactured widely in size, shape and color. I pretty much have gone solely to the Captain Mike Hakala Aqua Dream spoon but still keep a few Johnson Silver Minnows on standby (called silver minnow, but I use the gold one). The Aqua Dream spoon comes in some really amazing color patterns to match most forage and water conditions. Both these spoons are weedless and will also cast a mile. Weedless spoons will work at any depth in any condition, but they really are an awesome tool in grass, timber, and weeds. The “hit” or “take” can be fairly obvious, but often it is just a tick or a tap. In any case, set the hook immediately and sharply. One of the nice things about a spoon is that when it does snag, often a quick snap will free the lure, and the retrieve can be continued. Be ready after that “snap”-- sometimes that will trigger a bite.

Another lure that works quite well is the paddle tail soft plastic. This bait is made by hundreds of manufacturers in a wide variety of colors. This particular bait can be rigged in
a variety of ways, both weedless and hooked exposed. Two of the more common presentations are on a jig head or a weighted Extra Wide Gap worm hook. Recently a lot of these plastics are being sold and classified as “swim baits”. While different lengths, thickness, and even jointed features have been added, the paddle tailed feature remains on all of the baits which gives it the “swimming” action due the vibration of the tail. One of the newer designs that many anglers are swearing by features a hollow body and are usually rigged on a weighted worm hook as well. The Yum Money Minnow in the 3 ½” size is one of the hollow bodied soft plastic paddle tails that comes to mind and has been a good bait for me in flooded grass.

Another bait that needs to be mentioned is the spinner bait. This bait works exceptionally well in the marsh. While speckled trout, snook, redfish and many other species will all attack these baits, the spinner bait has been particularly effective targeting flounder. This is another lure that is available by hundreds of manufacturers and every one of them will work.  Over the years, it seems that many inshore anglers have gone to the single Colorado blade with a soft plastic paddle tail as the trailer. One of the more popular examples of this style spinner bait is the Redfish Magic made by Strike King.

While “dummy bait” is pretty harsh language for these baits, it’s fairly true. Simply throw these baits, and begin a steady retrieve. That being said, there are tweaks and techniques that can often trigger more bites. These baits can be “burned”, which is simply speeding up the retrieve. Or, just “slow rolled” by slowing down the retrieve. Another technique is to “kill” the bait, which is just to stop retrieving and let the bait fall, and repeat. As a rule, try to remember exactly how you were working the bait when you got bit. Often, the fish will tell you what they like.

It is always nice to pull up to the honey hole and find it loaded, but this is not always the case (or someone else is sitting there). This is where the “art” in artificial comes in to play. By covering water, and varying lures or retrieves, you will find new “honey holes”. At the very least you will pick off quality fish here and there and develop a pattern. Worst case scenario, you will eliminate some water. In any case, you won’t know unless you go!

by Tim Cutting

The Art of Artificials Part I: A Simple Start

If you ask ten fishermen what their favorite artificial bait is, like many folks say, you’ll get ten different answers. The real question should be: If you could only use one lure, which one would it be? And again, you may get ten different answers. 
In the long run, confidence is going to play a huge role in catching fish. If you don’t have faith in the bait you are throwing, you’re probably not going to have a lot of success. And of course, as anglers catch fish on new lures, they develop a new favorite lure that they become confident with. I guess the fact of the matter is, all lures will catch fish.

 So what is the “art” of artificial fishing? Without sounding redundant, you can’t fish where they ain’t. So how do you find out where they are? This is the beauty and the art of artificials. Artificial baits find the fish. You have to be willing to enter the land of a thousand casts at a thousand targets at a thousand depths. You need to take your hardware and cover a lot of water. At this point, naturally, the where and what questions are popping up. Hopefully I can shine a little light. It would be nearly impossible to touch and everything, but a here’s a few basic approaches that work for us.

 A very basic, but very effective lure is the jig. This can be as simple as a bucktail jig, or jig head with a plastic. Although many retrieves will work, a simple small hop, pick up the slack, and repeat is a good way to start. This lure works best, where the bottom is fairly clean. With time and practice, this lure can be worked over shell and grass, by arying weight and technique, which we will discuss later. As a rule if you think you are going to slow, go slower. The bite of a big trout, snook, flounder or red is often just a tap or tick, so set the hook sharply and immediately.

 Probably one of the deadliest rigs in the marsh is the popping cork. It’s been around for quite some time, and you will find almost every tackle outlet has them. There is a reason: they work, and are very user friendly. The basic set up is a rattling cork with about 28” of leader and an artificial , usually plastic, attached to the hook or jig head. I personally have not found a better plastic to hang under the cork than a ¼ ounce D.O.A. shrimp. (This article is not about brands, but that bait is too deadly not to mention). This outfit simply needs to be cast out, popped and paused for about 3-5 seconds and repeat. If the water is choppy, murky, or the fish are just finicky, 2-3 pops may be made. Try to keep the cork popping in one place if possible, as opposed to letting it pop across the surface. As with any presentation, try to stay as far away from your targeted area as possible, while still being able to reach the desired spot. Depending on wind and current, slack in the line can be created with this rig, so be ready to reel and sweep the rod quickly. Rods with a slightly slower tip in the 7, 7 ½, and even 8 ft length can help, and add distance to your cast.

 If the tides and moon line up, I’ll try to add a few more chapters every week. Until then, you won’t know if you don’t go.
By Tim Cutting