If you are not into plastics, consider changing your waysThe fishing season is upon us. If you haven’t mastered the use of modern plastics, it’s time you did. Walleye, bass, pike and even catfish, find them irresistible. Unfortunately, I dragged my feet on plastic concepts for too long a time. I think it is safe to say that as we age, we tend to become set in our ways. I believe that older men are more resistant to change than women.
By: Roger Wiltz, The Daily Republic
The fishing season is upon us.
If you haven’t mastered the use of modern plastics, it’s time you did. Walleye, bass, pike and even catfish, find them irresistible. Unfortunately, I dragged my feet on plastic concepts for too long a time.
I think it is safe to say that as we age, we tend to become set in our ways. I believe that older men are more resistant to change than women.
I see more women reading Nooks and using I-Pads than men. This same behavior pattern may be true of older men and fishing. As mentioned, it was certainly true of me.
Today’s plastics are incredibly effective. They feel like they are alive, and fish do not want to let go of them. The solid body variety comes in a grand array of colors, sizes and shapes. They look so tasty that manufacturers put warning labels on them about human consumption. We’re talking about fish candy — piscatorial Gummy Bears. They can be insects, grubs, fish, worms, snakes, lizards, crawdads or squids. Size typically runs from two inches to a foot. I’ve caught bass as long as the creature they bit on!
Generally, the solid body variety is rigged two different ways: The Carolina Rig and the Texas Rig. I see the primary difference being a sinker that rides about 18 inches above the bait on a Carolina rig. This sinker bounces along the bottom. In our Missouri River reservoirs, I believe the Texas rig to be more effective than the Carolina rig. However, the Texas rig has worked so well for me that I haven’t bothered much with the Carolina. In truth, the Carolina rig is similar to a bottom bouncer, and there’s nothing wrong with bottom-bouncers.
The sinker on both the Texas and Carolina rigs looks like a bullet with a hole down the middle. To imple-ment a Texas rig, thread the end of your line through the sinker, place your line through a small plastic bead to prevent the hook from lodging into the sinker, and then tie on the hook. Hooks and sinkers may come together as a kit. If not, the folks in a good fishing department should be able to match you up. A special hook with a “goose neck” beneath the eye is most effective.
Now guide the point of the hook through the head of the plastic bait, and then bury (not too deep) the hook point into the body of your plastic bait. This makes your bait more or less weedless. The first time I used a Texas rig, I worried that the fish wouldn’t get hooked as the hook point was buried in the body of the bait. My worry was needless! The fish will clamp down hard enough to get hooked. I like to bounce a Texas rig along the bottom, although I’ve hooked many fish while bringing my lure up.
The first time I talked about plastics, I praised the Gitzit. The Gitzit is extremely effective on our Missouri reservoir smallmouth bass and walleyes. The Gitzit is nothing more than a plastic tube jig body combined with a lead head jig. Whether you are rigging commercial Gitzits, or the tubes and jigs already found in your tackle box, don’t allow the jig eye to penetrate the tube body until you want to poke the jig’s eye through the head of the tube. I use some saliva for lubrication.
There’s one more application I want to talk about. I’m guessing the television “In-Fishermen” guys gave it the name “Wacky Worm.” Take a plastic worm or night crawler of your choice and put a single hook through the center of the worm in a perpendicular manner. Let the barb protrude. Put a small split-shot sinker about a foot above it and fish the worm right off the bottom. Water conditions will dictate sinker size. Do not drag it or cast it. Work it up and let it fall. Do this from a stationary boat and hang on!
When I first got into tube jigs and Texas rigs, I learned immediately that smallmouth bass would hammer these combinations. I didn’t realize how much walleyes would go after them — especially the tubes. The same was true of channel cats. Last summer, I learned just how much northern pike love to snack on these. Plastics are a “one size fits all” lure.
Just how natural do plastics appear to fish? A few years ago, Betsy and I were fishing the rip-rap on the Francis Case side of Highway 18. It was mid-day in the heat of the summer. I tied a Gitzit onto Betsy’s rig. I don’t know how she did it, but on her very first cast she made a rat’s nest of an open face spinning reel. It took me 5-10 minutes to straighten it out, and I handed it back to her. When she took up the loose line, she discovered that she had a fish on the end of her line. A 7- to 8-pound walleye had swallowed the motionless Gitzit!
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If you read last week’s column, you know that I made a fool of myself by chronicling some of the stupid things I’ve done in the past. In rereading my own work, I wondered what possessed me to do such things. I’ve concluded that I wanted something so much that I threw caution to the wind to achieve it. Wading in shark infested waters for a tarpon? Stalking a whitetail buck over a snow-covered Choteau Creek when I fully realized there was moving water under the ice? Hopefully, I’ve learned since then to keep things in their proper perspective.
*See you next week.