World’s most fish catching bait

This past week, I was out in the middle of Lake Ray Hubbard fishing with guide Brandon Sargent, Lead Slinger’s Guide service. We were dropping baits directly under the boat and staying busy hooking and placing on ice one white bass after the other. Catching was about as good as it gets for about 30 minutes and then the action suddenly ceased.

About 75 yards out, on the dead calm surface of the water, a huge school of ‘whites’ had pushed shad to the surface, the water was frothing! We used the same very versatile bait to continue catching fish within a couple feet of the surface. What bait, you might ask is well suited for catching fish deep in the water column and near the surface as well?

It’s the lead spoon or ‘slab’ as we call the bait here in Texas. A variation of the much lighter metal‘spoon’, the slab is made of solid lead, brightly painted with a treble hook on one end and an eye to attach the line on the other. For catching white bass, half-ounce to three-quarter ounce are most popular but when fishing for stripers in windy conditions, heavier slabs are often used.

Spoons are used the world over in great variety of styles and weights to catch a smorgasbord of fish, both fresh and saltwater species. Because they can be ‘worked’ differently to match the situation, they are deadly fish catchers when presented properly.

I’ve caught bass in Japan vertical jigging a small lightweight metal spoon and giant Northern Pike in Canada using big, flashy spoons. Game fish make their living eating baitfish and the spoons or slabs, when properly presented by the fisherman, perfectly mimic wounded baitfish and trigger strikes.

On this recent trip with Sargent, we were vertical jigging the baits near bottom when fish were deep and on the surface when they pushed the bait shallow. The same lures that worked well on the deeper fish prove lethal on surface feeders when presented with a different retrieve. We made long casts holding the rod tip high and twitching the rod to bounce the baits near the surface.

When the white bass were feeding on schools of shad near bottom, we watched the sonar and most strikes came as the fish followed the baitncoming up toward the surface. Several fish would be attracted to what they thought was a wounded baitfish near bottom but they usually would not strike until the bait was being ‘ripped’ up through the water column.

It’s virtually impossible to retrieve the bait too quickly. White bass and all open water schooling species are lightening fast and on several occasions, we watched the fast moving baits being nailed by ever faster moving white bass. On this recent trip we landed not only limits of white bass but freshwater drum (White meat fish that are excellent eating).

Phil Zimmerman even caught a nice size flathead catfish while bouncing the slab near bottom and in one spot, there was a school of channel catfish feeding below the school of whites. They were hugging bottom and picking up the crippled shad below the feeding school of white bass.

Yep, looking back through my many years as a fisherman, I can thank the lure known as a ‘spoon’ for some exciting catches. I remember well fishing a very remote cove in a fly in lake up in Saskatchewan and casting a spoon called a Five of Diamonds up near the bank in crystal clear waters. I gave the rod a couple of twitches and pulled the lure out in into deeper water and noticed a dark form heading straight to it. I found myself hooked solidly to the biggest fish landed that week, a northern pike just over forty inches long!

PLANTS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT

I’m about to tell you about a couple of ‘new’ plants that I recently learned about that require next to zero cultivation and are very tasty. I was visiting with Billy and Sharon Kilpatrick at their Colquhoun Farms near Leonard, Texas and they showed me a couple of large areas covered in plants.

One was Egyptian Walking Onions and the other, with much taller plants was Jerusalem Artichokes. First the ‘Walking Onions’’; these plants form onions both underground and above ground and once planted, they rapidly spread. The smaller onions formed on top of the stem above ground are about the size of a garlic pod and when fully developed, their weight caused the stem to fall over to the ground where the onions quickly take root and start another plant, thus the name ‘Walking’ onions. They are a bit hotter in flavor than mild onions but I love their taste.

The Jerusalem Artichokes are not artichokes at all but rather tubers that grow underground that are, to my taste, more flavorful than potatoes. The tubers grow all spring and summer and mature in fall. After consulting with a couple of my wildlife biologist buddies, I learned that deer love eating both the tops and roots. Colquhoun Farms is currently shipping ‘starts’ of the walking onions and taking orders for the tubers this fall. I have already planted both species on my property and we plan to start the artichokes on several food plots this fall.

Both these plants would be great for planting around the house or at a hunting lease. Once established, they will always be available for a quick meal of fried tubers and onions! I recently cooked some venison steak in a cast iron skillet with butter and added both these onions and sliced tubers from the artichokes. The results was one of the tastiest meals I can remember!

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