New Not Necessarily Better

Dickie Colburn – For The Record

“You don’t throw your tube jig with the little piece of shrimp stuffed inside anymore?,” asked Hilton Kyle as we picked apart the flooded grass on the Louisiana shoreline with three inch swim baits and a GULP shrimp threaded on an eighth ounce jig head.The redfish bite had been slow to materialize earlier that morning and we were making due with an average flounder bite at best.

“I don’t even target flounder anymore,” I replied, “so that bait is no longer a part of the arsenal.”He just smiled and shook his head in disbelief.There was a time when he booked twenty to thirty trips a year and all we fished for was flounder.If we weren’t throwing tube jigs we were bouncing one eighth ounce Road Runner heads tipped with shrimp off the bottom.

We carried only one color in the tube jig and two colors in the curly tail grubs and spent far more time reeling in fish than changing lures.Limits of flounder were all but a guarantee both in the fall and the spring.Redfish were considered a bonus and we could have cared less about a speckled trout.

Then, for some unknown reason, we decided that the hook was far too small and fooling with a Ziploc bag full of frozen shrimp was just too much of a hassle. The light wire hook was indeed small in the little horse head jig, but we fished lighter line as well and we lost very few fish as we took our time leading them to the net.In looking back, it is obvious that we made a big mistake by over-thinking a very productive technique.

About the same time that we upgraded our lethal technique and ceased catching as many flounder, Louisiana removed gill nets from the lake and we found ourselves suddenly inundated with world class trophy trout fishermen.They did, in fact, teach us a great deal about fooling big trout in our own fishery, but in the process we were quick to abandon lures and productive techniques that had worked for years.

It seemed that no sooner than a new bait hit the market it would become obsolete before the paint was even scratched up and confidence in any lure was short lived.We were treading new water and eager to try the latest and greatest in an effort to catch prodigious trout that we never before knew existed in Sabine Lake.

Prior to all of us collectively losing our minds there was a time when we were content to wreck big trout on lures like the Producer Ghost and Magnum Chug Bug.How many of those do you still have in your “go to” box and, more importantly, why are they no longer there.“We were convinced that we had found something better!”

I cannot tell you how many trout over five pounds I caught on a Jumping Minnow and only recently stumbled up on a dozen or so that I had cleaned up, removed the hooks and stowed away in a dark corner of the garage. That bait was forced to take a back seat to Super Spooks, Skitterwalks and She Dogs and sadly enough, I will probably never throw one again.

Many years ago, Gerald Jones proved to me that you needed only one color Rat-L-Trap to catch redfish virtually every day and while I seldom if ever use it anymore, I at least keep three or four on board.No, I can’t share Gerald’s secret and I have no reason for not granting it any playing time on days when I frantically fish my way through a pile of supposedly better lures.

As strange as this may sound to the young lions dominating the water today, there was a time not all that long ago when we thought all we needed was a white grub with a pink or chartreuse tail, a smoke or watermelon grub or a black-chartreuse grub to catch all the trout we ever cared to catch.I now carry literally pounds of tails, many of which you can’t even guess the color based on the name.“Care to guess what color kitchen sink or Mississippi Hippie might be?

If there is a lesson to be learned it may well be that we changed the game…not the fish.Dust off a few of your old proven winners before maxing out the credit card searching for the latest and greatest and you might just catch a few more fish on your next trip!