I received the following nice comment Stan Hall, Ph. D. after he read my page titled “Memories – Never forget the ones who got you there.”
“This is perhaps one of the best ways to pay homage to those who helped mold you into who you are today. I believe every fishermen has a similar story and I want to thank you for reminding me of that old flat bottom aluminum boat, the trusty zebco 33, grunting for earthworms before the crack of dawn, and ending the day with a stop at the local store for a fanta grape soda. ”
His nice comments got me thinking about getting bait. Growing up I was the all American kid on a bike, riding to any place I could catch a fish. For me getting bait started out simply digging in the garden for earthworms with my dad. Now those worms were good enough for the sunfish and bluegill, but as my fishing world expanded, I needed cooler bait, and growing up in Iowa there was always more.
As it began to warm in the spring, and the rains began to fall, out came the flashlight and the hunt was on. We had huge night-crawlers, big, fat, and juicy. And if our timing was right, we could catch them by the hundreds in the wet grass. Now they were good for everything, especially the catfish and carp I had declared war on. There was even this guy over by Rich’s house who sold worms out of his fridge on the porch on the honor system, you just had to be sure you had a quarter. And I must admit, I owe him an apology, there was a time or two I just did not have that quarter. But as my fishing world expanded to the mighty bass, so did the kind of bait I had to get.
Next it was frogs. Now let me tell you, there is nothing like a small frog on a hook trying to swim around moss in the pond. It was like jaws, he would struggle, and then boom, disappear in a boil as he was sucked into the vacuum. It must have sucked to be that frog. And if you got real lucky, you could get one of those big bull frogs to bite your line if you got it close enough to him. We had some great bites from bass on those big bull frogs, but to this day I do not remember ever landing one, wonder if we did? And in those days, the thought of eating those bull frogs never crossed our mind, no Cajuns in my family.
And there was always the crawdad. We would wade the small creeks that were full of smallmouth when I was a boy, creeks that have long been straightened, muddied and finally silted in. We would turn over a rock, grab that crawdad without letting him pinch us, and float him down the creek into the riffle. It was the most exciting ways to fish for me, to feel that small tap, set the hook, and watch as that smallmouth exploded out of the creek near the reeds. Those were the days.
Later, while fishing below the dam at the Skunk River, one of my favorite fishing holes, I saw one of the big guys using a net to catch shad to use as bait for catfish. And one time he brought up the net, and not only was it full of shad, it had a crappie and a small white bass in it. Now that was a revelation to me that those kinds of fish were in that river, I though there was only catfish and carp. That really got me to thinking, if those fish were there with those shad, maybe that is what they like to eat. So off to the local store Max and I went to get a small seine, and it was game on.
After that we caught all kinds of what to me at the time were exotic fish, like crappie, white bass, a small northern pike, and even a bass. That dam became the place to fish, and we got crowded out by the “old guys”, all because we caught some bait. But that seine with a crappie and a white bas lead to a life time pursuit of what we call game fish.
I have seined bait, cast netted bait, sabiki rigged bait, dug bait, and bought bait. I have used live bait as big as a couple pounds on offshore rigs, and as small as a crappie minnow in a pond. And then something happened, my pursuit of game fish became basically an artificial bait thing. It has been a sure and steady progression to get to this point, and except for a couple of blue cat expeditions, I haven’t got bait in a long time.
Now I did get some bait this morning, at Academy. In fact, I get my bait at Academy, and Bass Pro, and Wal Mart, and on and on. It does not involve getting wet or dirty, crawling around at night, nor any of the other fun stuff that made getting bait a good time. There have even been a few times when getting bait far out did the fishing, and in fact, there has a been a time or two where I ate the bait when all else failed. (Yes, it was shrimp, no, it was not the worms.)
So while I really no longer get bait, I appreciate the art of getting bait. It is an honest activity that not only helps us catch more fish, it makes us a better fisherman. It is a way to get closer to the fish, and the outdoors. So if you are like me, some big time lure guy, remember, getting bait is an honorable thing, and it does not make a fisherman less of a fisherman, it makes him more of one. Just a thought.
The poll I conducted made on thing real clear, you want more how to articles. So I will take it to heart. With video I can not only show you some fish being caught, but it can be added to pictures and information on specific ways to actually catch more fish, so look for those in the very near future.
Coming in #2 was more fishing travel stories. So I will try to not only schedule more trips out of my comfort zone, but will include the important information such as ramps, lodging, and other stuff you need to go.
Also coming in at #3 was folks wanting to see reports from docks, marina, and bait stores. I am compiling the list of places right now and hope to have one ready for you each Wednesday. And I will ask them not only for whatever fishing report they have, but also what bait is available, and what they are selling the most of, and if you all can think of anything else I should ask let me know. I figured that would be a good day as it is a couple of days before the weekend.
I am going to spend the next couple of days at the Gulf. My topwater fishing has been less than stellar, even though I have been in plenty of trout. So my plan is to spend a little more time chunking it, I have heard reports of some good topwater fishing, so I need to figure it out. Nothing better than a 20+ incher smoking a Spook Jr.
I did get out for a few hours on Coleto Creek Monday, and managed to catch some ok fish on buzzbait right off the bat. I then headed up to throw the swim jig some and thought I caught 6 or 7, just could not put the hook in the big one. Oh well, one of the joys of being able to fish pretty much at will is there is always another day, and the next couple are it.
This is one of 4 like this I caught on a main lake grass bed. The fish are now starting to show up on grass areas with access to deep water, it is just a matter of you being there when they are shallow, otherwise it is plastics on the edge.
And one last thing
And if you have never thrown a cast net here is a video that taught me in 10 minutes.
Good Luck and Tight Lines.