Feel The Bite

Feel The Bite

Over the past ten years fishing has witnessed a revolution brought on by the merger of technological innovation, scientific research and knowledge passed on by generations of fishers. The result has been ever-more innovative baits. Manufacturers are also working closely with their field staff to fine-tune their new offerings, and are publishing ever-more detailed instructions on how best their baits can be used. For recreational fishers, it’s meant a steady reduction in the use of live bait and more productive days fishing. And, when minnows can cost as much as 50 cents each and night crawlers a quarter, switching to artificial makes for sound economics. So what is it that makes a good artificial bait?

Some of the variables manufacturers take into consideration when developing and marketing artificial baits include matching-the-hatch, light levels, time of year, intended species, water temperature, underwater structure, use ability, longevity, cost effectiveness, environmental impact, fishing trends, etc. It may seem like a long list, but when you take the time to think about how you as a fisher take each of these factors into consideration when deciding how you’re going to invest your time and money, I would guess that most of you would probably come up with even more considerations than this.

Icing Northern Pike

Icing Northern Pike (Medium)Of course there’s always the “if it aint broke, don’t fix it” approach to fishing that accounts for many of the tried-and-true baits that can be found in our tackle boxes. These most often are reaction-style baits and not the sort of things we turn to when we need to slow things down. And if we are going to be really honest about those old favourites, our reason for keeping them around probably has more to do with their ability to be applied somewhat successfully under a variety of conditions – a sort of “one size fits all” style of lure that we wouldn’t mind being stuck with on a desert island. But, since the chance of any of us ever being stranded tropical is pretty much nil, why are our tackle boxes filled with ump-teen different versions of the same style baits?

Premium bait manufacturers are counting on fishers to possess a certain level of competency when they launch a new bait. These same companies also assume that we will take the time to learn how to properly apply their latest innovations. It’s this spirit of cooperation that is responsible for the sport’s evolution.

Successful fishers begin the process of selecting which baits will be used during an up-coming fishing trip many Days before lines are actually wetted. It starts with researching the aquatic environment we plan to fish, takes into consideration the tactics and equipment we have at hand, and then determining which baits possess the elements that most closely complement the aquatic conditions and our available resources. In short, the right bait at the right time under the right conditions. Other than weather, little about fishing concerns luck.

Ice Fishing Tackle (Medium)No doubt, in addition to the brain-numbing variety of baits on the market, making bait selection even more difficult is the insistence of some manufacturers that their baits do it all. To counter for this absence of information, deciding on what bait to buy and use comes down to both a fishers direct experience and what they have learned from trusted experts by reading articles or listening to seminars. More-and-more though, bait manufacturers who have made the investment in developing quality baits are including educational materials on when, where and how to get the most out of their product on the water. The internet has been a game changer in this regard.

Tackle manufacturers are now able to launch new products at the time of their choosing; no longer being tied to a few days each year based on the schedule of an annual outdoor show. They also recognize the value of getting their baits into the hands of trusted experts so these fishers might, in turn, offer-up their opinions and tips through social media.

With so many choices available to fishers it’s understandable why some have grown slightly cynical of the motives of bait manufacturers. Mistakes can happen however, and it’s not uncommon to find baits in bargain bins never intended for fishing conditions within 500 miles of that stores location. Choosing to buy baits based on first impressions alone might offer one an immediate thrill, but it’s completely reverse to how the process should unfold.

The following five steps should help you to maintain control over your tackle purchasing experience. Oh yes, indulging your compulsive tackle purchasing desires should be relegated to an optional sixth step.

1. Go on-line and speak with local experts to identify currently productive fishing techniques and baits specific to the region or body of water you plan to fish.
2. Assess recent and potential climactic and other external influences relevant to the time you plan to fish.
3. Conduct a review of your tackle and equipment best suited to the range of anticipated fishing scenarios being considered.
4. Take stock of what you have at hand and make a list of tackle you need to acquire.
5. Consult with your local tackle stores staff to identify what available stock might best fit your needs.

Now’s the time to begin organizing your ice fishing gear, researching what bait manufacturers have brought to the market, and sorting out your old and new baits according to the different situations you might encounter. Don’t just focus on preparing equipment and tackle that has brought success in the past. Give thought to how you might turn traditionally unproductive fishing scenarios into rewarding outings. By Expanding on your repertoire of skills through investing the time to research and experiment with new products designed to address specific challenges that continue to cause you grief, you too will experience more productive days under differing conditions.

For more tips on how to better Feel the Bite, visit my Feel The Bite! Blog at www.LawrenceGunther.Com.

By Lawrence Gunther
Feel the Bite!