"Bayou Bill" Scifres
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Fish Like Sinking Baits
Copyright © 2007 by Bill Scifres

One of the biggest mistakes Hoosiers make in fishing artificial lures for bass (and other game species--bass donít have a corner on the market) is that we donít let them get deep enough because we fear losing snagged lures. At five or six bucks each that can run into money.

A case in point was a spot on Salt Creek (downstream from the town of Kurtz in Jackson County). I used to wade fish the creek often in the years immediately after Monroe Reservoir was impounded in the early 1960s.

At one spot the bank sloped gently to waterís edge on the side I was walking. The bottom dropped off sharply as it went out. When the bottom reached the far bank (15 feet away) there was a good five feet of water lapping at the root wad of a two-foot maple tree that leaned out over the fishy-looking pool (and eventually fell in).

It was just as fishy as it looked, hosting a good population of smallish largemouth bass (some longer than the 14-inch minimum limit), a few good crappies, rock bass, and bluegills of eating size. Needless to say, it didnít take long for it to become my favorite spot. No matter how many fish I hauled out, the spot always produced.

There was one small problem, at first. The place was plagued by some underwater brush that my rigs soon encountered if I allowed my offerings to sink, and eventually one of my baits became hopelessly entangled with a waterlogged limb half as big as my wrist. Fortunately, my line was strong enough to horse the limb to the surface and I dragged it out. My efforts at the spot were futile after my extraction of the limb (that stirred the pool pretty well). It was smooth after that, and I noticed I had to give my bait at least five seconds of sinking time to get them to where the fish were. In the case of live baits, I let them go all the way to the bottom, which I later learned in a time of low water was a sand-gravel bar that tapered in depth to the bank where I often stood to fish the hole.

I donít have any idea how many fish I took from that hole, but I do well remember I could always count on eight or ten fish from it, and that several species would be represented. However, surface lures produced little but bass, and live or artificial, they had to sink at least to the count of five seconds. This, of course, somewhat substantiates the theory that fish like sinking baits. I took a lot of fish from that spot with pieces of night crawler fished on a short-shank wire hook proceded by a willow-leaf spinner blade (some times a split shot), but Dan Gapenís Hairy Worm and Ugly-Bug eighth-ounce (usually black) was an effective lure there. No matter what lure or bait I used, it had to sink for best results. The bait seldom made it to the bottom.

Incidentally, the Ugly Bug (with and without the ďLĒ shaped spinner) still is in Gapenís lure stable, and he tells me the Hairy Worm may make a comeback. Dan is pretty high, too, on the ďNepacĒ Spinner in his barn now (thatís Gapen spelled backwards). It looks good to me, too, especially for streams. It is one of those Paul Bunyan types--spinner-buck tail.

All of which is pretty close to another theory of mine on stream fishing: Streams are good better than lakes for most types of fishing because they offer more places for fish to hang out. The lakes may, indeed, host more fish than most streams--makes sense, lake water often is better--but to find them one must cast ďwilly nillyĒ (rather than to cover). Find cover, wherever you try your luck, and you will find fish 


All columns, essays, and photos are copyrighted by Bill Scifres and may not be reproduced in any form without prior permission from the author.  For reproduction permission and media usage fees, contact: Bill Scifres, 6420 East 116th Street, Fishers, IN 46038, E-mail: billscifres@aol.com

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