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

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