Getting it done when they won’t bite on top
“What in the heck are you gonna do with that” were the first words out of my partners mouth as I tied on a lure that was not saltwater worthy in his opinion. “Did you have a brain cramp and think we were on Toledo Bend or Sam Rayburn” he continued, “swim baits and jerk baits are for spawning bass, not reds and trout.” I took the hazing with a smile and proceeded to show him just how effective these lures can be. After the fourth redfish and the third big trout it appeared that my fishing partner had been touched by a fisherman / TV evangelist, had suddenly seen the light, and was more than eager to repent. The thought of him getting schooled by a bait that he had such disdain for made the whole episode that much more satisfying. Can I get an “amen” from the salty congregation!
Yes indeed there is a place for such a line of lures in the saltwater fishing world; as a matter of fact it’s a big place to tell you the truth. The sub surface swim and twitch bait portion of the tackle market is gaining huge popularity, very similar to how spinner baits burst on the scene a few years ago. There for the longest it was a joke to throw these lures at saltwater fish until they actually started catching fish. Now everybody has a spinner bait line and swears they invented the concept. I personally don’t care who figured it out I’m just glad they did.
Now as far as the swim baits and twitch baits go many veteran anglers will smile as they relive days on the water when they threw broken back Red-fins or Cordell’s and caught those trout that made other anglers green with envy. The concept is not new by any means; it’s just been a while since it was put in play. I can remember years ago watching a TV show hosted by Orlando Wilson and he was just wrecking some huge trout on Lake Calcasieu with another local fisherman. Both of them were throwing hard plastic twitch baits like a Rogue or Rapala and it was amazing what kind of fish they caught.
Many years later when I first started really fishing Calcasieu very much I met Don Scott, the guy who was fishing with Orlando Wilson on that very TV show and as you may have guessed he was still throwing the same style plug and getting the same results. Since that day I have developed a great fondness these lures and how well they catch fish in a variety of conditions. I am very thankful to have both seen that TV show and to have spoken to Don about the technique, I know it has helped me on many occasions when nothing else would.
Obviously topwater plugs take care of surface feeders and more aggressive fish, that’s a no brainer right there. Soft plastics tend to go a bit deeper in the water column even when rigged on lighter jig heads. What happens to the 1 to 2 feet below the surface? What lure or lures do you offer up when the fish are suspended?
Here is where the swim bait really stands out in a crowd. Think of how many days in the summer when you just couldn’t get those fish to get all the way to the top and finish of that topwater plug, all those lack luster short strikes that just drive you mad. Those fish just don’t want to go all the way to the top, fine, give them a shot with a swim bait retrieved at a seductive pace a foot below the surface and see what happens. You won’t believe how well it works. You want another place to try out the technique, head for the jetties and really hang on. The lion’s share of big trout in the summer will be caught at the jetties, period. Easily the number one bait on the rocks at Sabine right now is a Swim’n Image made by Heddon. This plug along with others like it is perfect for probing those out of the way ambush points on the rocks where big trout and redfish like to hide.
The bait stays in that perfect two foot of depth range and just flat out catches fish. It’s very user friendly and can be retrieved in any number of ways that will drive fish mad. Only problems with this bait is availability and cost. Try and find one at your local tackle shop, you better be there when they a new shipment is stocked because the pre-dawn jetty warriors will buy them all. You know as well as I do that specks and reds aren’t the only fish on the rocks so beware. There are few things I hate more than donating 8 dollar plugs to jacks, Spanish macks, and sharks.
Redfish like this one caught by James Trimble will readily hit a swim or twitch bait.