Dickie Colburn: New isn’t always better
With no cover to run to or time to run from a driving rain that escalated from a slow drizzle to a monsoon in a matter of seconds, we wedged the bow of the boat up against the south bank of the ICW to wait it out under the overhanging cane and tallow tree branches. It was far from dry, but we were out of the wind and that was apparently good enough for two other fishermen headed our way in a fourteen foot aluminum boat as well.
We were all wearing rain gear and were more irked by the conditions than the minor discomfort, but our new neighbors were soaked to the bone and shivering. I offered them two extra tops and one set of bottoms which they readily accepted with no reservations.
We had five slot reds and one trout in the box at the time, but the two young fishermen had done much better prior to the rain. They launched in Louisiana so a number of the fish in their ice box would not have been legal in Texas, but the more important fact was that they had a very diverse catch.
A pair of 20- inch stripers immediately caught my eye, but they also had some sand trout, a few small specks, six flounder and nine reds in the 17 to 20-inch class. Maybe it was because I gave them the rain jackets or maybe they were just that friendly, but they were willing to share not only what they caught every fish on, but where they caught them as well.
I will try both of the spots they showed us at some later date, but I was shocked to learn that they had caught everything from their sand trout to the stripers on a quarter ounce chrome-blue Spin Trap. I still have some, but they are buried somewhere deep in one of my fresh water tackle boxes.
I don’t even know if they are still available in area fishing tackle departments, but we just caught the heck out of school bass with them when I was still guiding on Toledo Bend. They were also deadly on white perch when they would make that initial move to shallow water in the early spring.
The Spin Trap is a quarter ounce Rat-L-Traps with only one treble hook and a small willow leaf blade on the rear of the bait. They can be fished from top to bottom and they obviously attract most everything that swims. Our water logged Louisiana anglers said they caught the two stripers schooling across from the public launch on Simmons drive, but caught all of the other fish bouncing the bait off the bottom in 10 to 15 feet of water.
I don’t think it happens as often to saltwater fishermen as it does to bass fishermen, but how many productive lures do you have tucked away in the garage that you no longer use for no good reason. That Spin Trap was a perfect example. I can go back further than I care to recall, but I could shrink wrap the neighborhood with bags of plastic worms I have never even opened.
There was never a sound reason to quit using Fliptail worms and lizards, Mann’s jelly worms, or the always reliable ringworm. Why did I decide one night that the Norman Little N, Storm Mag Wart or Rebel Wee R would no longer catch bass? There is no doubt that I made that decision….not the fish.
And, as relatively new as pursuing trout and redfish with topwaters and crankbaits is, I have already benched some super lures that did not deserve such disrespect. I cannot remember the last time I threw a Cordell Jumping Minnow or a Storm jointed Thunderstick and they were my “go to” lures for years.
The list of retired winners is endless and there is no doubt that lure manufacturers would have it no other way. From their standpoint, there is always a better color and yet one more new lure that out performs all others. The quality of the materials involved in making a quality lure has significantly improved as has the ability to incorporate lifelike patterns and colors, but a topwater is still a topwater and a crankbait is still a crankbait and so on.
The bottom line is that the majority of those lures that worked forty years ago will still work just as well today. My bow compartment packed with boxes of “better choices” had produced only six fish and the two youngsters had an ice box full of fish that couldn’t resist an old chrome-blue back Spin trap.
“The proof is in the pudding!”