Sunday, May 11, 2014

Lures With A Long History Still Catch Fish

By Bob Frye

John Cleveland of Eppinger Manufacturing holds a
23-pound northern pike caught on a weedless
Spin’N Rex spoon. It, like the Johnson Silver Minnow,
Northland Live Forage, Mepps Timberdoodle and
spoons made by companies like Cabela’s, has been
catching fish for more than a century.
There it was inside the tackle box: hard, metal and shiny. World War II surplus, or what could pass for it.

Hooking the metal spoon to a wire leader, then casting it into the just-emerging weeds, sparked no action on the first few casts. It wasn't long, though, before a toothy northern pike hit. A couple more followed.

It was an exercise your grandfather might have experienced. Spoons — those designed to be weedless and otherwise — have been catching fish for more than a century, since before the days when they reportedly were packed into the survival kits of 1940s-era paratroopers.

They still work today, even if relatively few people know it.

“A lot of younger guys, say under 40, don't know what spoons are about,” said John Cleveland, marketing director for Eppinger Manufacturing, maker of all kinds of spoons, including the weedless Spin'N Rex. “But spoons were the No. 1 lure for decades because they worked. And they still work great.”

They can be at their most effective right now, when northern pike still are in the shallows and looking to consume lots of calories after weeks of active spawning.

Spoons are a long-standing top pike bait, and catch rates on northerns in lakes statewide peak this month.

“Once the wear and tear of spawning subsides, they're pretty voracious predators,” said Bob Lorantas, warmwater unit leader for the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission. “That's when pike action will be at a zenith.”

Casting a spoon, rigged with a pork rind or soft plastic trailer, is a technique that's hard to beat, said Chris Pitsilos, a Pennsylvania native working as brand manager for Johnson, maker of the silver minnow spoon.

“Definitely, at this time of year, they make a lot of sense,” he said.

Spoons, especially those of the weedless variety, can be fished in a variety of ways.
They're a great search bait not only for northern pike but also for bass, said Chip Lear, a former fishing guide, member of the Minnesota Fishing Hall of Fame and pro staffer for Northland Fishing Tackle.

He likes to cast them into thick weeds, where their weed guard excels at keeping vegetation at bay.

“It's kind of like fishing a heavy weighted frog. The difference is that weight allows it to do a better job of breaking the surface, even if it's only a half-inch. It goes slightly subsurface,” he said.

He pulls spoons across the top of weeds, then, when it comes to an opening or hole, lets the lure “flutter” down. That's often when fish hit, he said.

The effect is all the more pronounced if the spoon has a trailer, Lear said.

“I like something with a couple of paddles on the back. I don't know if they see it as legs or what, but it creates more disturbance,” he said.

Cleveland, who likes to fish smaller spoons early in the year when pike are “waking up,” uses a similar flutter technique. Concentrating on areas with lots of weeds, rocks, timber and other cover, he'll cast a spoon and let it flutter to the bottom. He'll let it sit three to five seconds then pop it up a bit before letting it drift back down.

Repeating that often proves too tempting for fish, especially pike, he said.

“You're trying to reach that primordial trigger in a predator's head that identifies something as vulnerable, easy prey,” Cleveland said. “That usually means erratic action.”

Spoons create that at all levels of the water column, he said.

Fishing a spoon also can be as simple as casting it and bringing it back in through the thickest of the weeds, Pitsilos said.

“It's a good casting lure. It's got some weight to it, so you can cast it far,” he said. “It has a lot of shine, a lot of action. And the whole point of a weedless spoon is that, as summer warms up and the weeds get thick, you can run it where you couldn't some other baits.”

All agree pike fishermen would be wise to use a wire leader when fishing weedless spoons.
Cleveland likes them 12 to 14 inches long and in the 20-pound strength class. He prefers black ones.

He likes spoons that mimic natural forage, when possible.

Lear likes using a 7- to 8-foot rod so he can cast long distances. Bass and pike that hit spoons often are in shallow water. Casting to them from a distance helps avoid spooking fish, he said.
More fishermen would be wise to learn to fish spoons, Lear said.

“It's definitely an overlooked technique,” he said.

Northern pike waters abound

Northwestern Pennsylvania is perhaps the state's northern pike hot spot. Presque Isle Bay, in particular, is home to a lot of big fish, said Bob Lorantas of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.

Conneaut, Pymatuning, Canadohta and Sugar lakes, all in Crawford County, hold lots of pike, too.

But there are other options. In Southwestern Pennsylvania, High Point Lake in Somerset County holds plenty of northerns, according to previous Fish and Boat Commission surveys. Cranberry Glade Lake, Yough Dam and Quemahoning Reservoir, all also in Somerset, hold pike to varying degrees as well.

Other possibilities worth exploring are Yellow Creek Lake in Indiana County, Glendale Lake in Cambria, Mahoning Creek Lake in Armstrong, Lake Arthur in Butler and Shawnee Lake in Bedford.

The Allegheny River in Armstrong, Clarion, Venango and Warren counties also gives up its share of large pike

No comments:

Post a Comment

All comments will be moderated. Anyone may comment.