When the fishing bug bit me, back some 45 years ago, there weren't half as many fishermen or half as many artificial lures.
Fish were more plentiful, fishing boats were slow and life was easy on the water. There were no electric fishing motors to speak of, and those who did own one were filthy rich.
My first spinning reel was a Langley and I wouldn't have swapped it for the best one made today. The rod I used was a solid glass, 6-footer and it had the action of a buggy whip.
I had a tackle box with two trays that spread open when I opened the box. It might have held a dozen lures, fishhooks, sinkers and a few tools.
My brother Jack sicked the fishing bug on me and he showed me how to catch fish. Every lure Jack had in his tackle box, I wanted one just like it. I didn't have the money my brother had, but I managed to scrape up enough money to buy those lures.
Now, fishing lures are wonderful tools to catch fish, however, I believe fishing lures catch more fisherman than they do fish. Every time a lure manufacturer would come out with a new lure, I wanted one. That ain't exactly the wise thing to do.
So, watching my brother catch fish on this lure and that lure proved to me that all I needed were lures like he and his fishing buddies used because they caught fish.
This works nowadays, too. Listen to other anglers around the launch ramps and coffee tables in the marinas. Drop into the local bait shop or sporting goods store and keep a keen ear open for fishing chatter ... you sometimes even learn where's a new fishing hot spot.
I read some about fishing, not a whole lot. I'm more of a looker when I pick up an outdoor magazine. I look at the picture, read some of the adds on artificial lures, especially those pertaining to plastic worms, lizards and methods to fish these deadly lures.
Spinner baits are one of my favorite lures, along with the soft plastic worms and lizards. Crank baits aren't really big with me anymore, because honestly I'm not going to wear myself out cranking a lure that dives down 15 to 20 feet deep. Fishing these lures is like cranking water out of the well.
Spinner baits can be fished just inches beneath the surface, down deep, and also at midrange where fish suspend. The inches beneath the water are one of my favorites. I get a thrill, a big thrill out of seeing a bass dart out from under a log, bush, rock, ledge, or any other habitat and snatch my spinner bait nearly out of my hands.
Then, there are the soft plastic worms and lizards. Fishing soft plastics is my kind of fishing. It takes very little effort, just a cast, and lots of patience.
I had rather fish plastic worms and lizards on a Texas rig than the Carolina rig. Both methods are productive, but I believe the Texas style of worm fishing is easier, and I can feel the lure and strike much better. Fishing a Carolina rig requires more concentration and the majority of the time you cannot take your eyes off the fishing line.
Watching your fishing line is an important part of worm and lizard fishing. When you see or detect any movement in your fishing line, you need to set the hook. As my brother once told me, "You got to remember, a fish ain't got no hands, it ain't holding onto the lure, it has the lure in its mouth ... set the hook." This goes for Texas or Carolina style fishing.
For smallmouth bass, you can't beat a lead head jig. I'm talking about lead head jigs with hair tied on them. Some have buck tails tied on them, others artificial hair ... use either one, or the one that produces strikes.
I like a hair jig, trailed with a strip of pork rind. I sometimes use the new soft plastic trailers and they seem to work okay, too. Rarely do I ever fish a jig that weighs more than 1/4 ounce and my preference is a 1/8 and 1/16 ounce jig. I like solid white combinations, jig and pork rind and black on black ... smallmouth bass love 'em, too.
You swim jigs like you do a slider, the soft plastic 4-inch worm rig. You adapt the speed of retrieve by the terrain of the shoreline or area you're fishing. If it drops off fast from shallow to deep water, fish the jig slow at the drop and let it fall on the retrieve ... a slow retrieve. If the bank is shallow, speed up the retrieve.
Many anglers bounce jigs off the bottom in a hopping motion. I never fish a jig that way. The only time I fish a jig on the bottom is when I'm sauger fishing in the winter. You'll lose a lot of jigs bouncing the bottom.
Well, guess I'll check my tackle box now and see if I need to replenish it with some new, shiny lures. Shucks, I don't need any more lures; I just need to use the ones I've got more often!
Jimmy Holt hosts Tennessee Outdoorsman every Thursday night at 8 p.m. on Channel 5+ (cable channel 50).