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
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