Fishermen have many reasons to use tacky bait

An unlucky spotted bass was tricked into striking a Shad-Rap artificial lure.

There is an old saying used by fishermen that goes something like this, “I spent most of my money on fishing tackle, the rest I wasted.” Maybe you have heard it before, maybe you haven’t. Regardless, fishermen do spend a lot of money on tackle, particularly on fishing lures.

If you don’t believe it, the next time you are talking to a fisherman, ask how many tackle boxes he has accumulated over the years. Two, three, four or more doesn’t sound like many, but each has the capacity to hold dozens and dozens of lures. Every time a lure was added to the collection, the angler believed it would catch fish.
Why does everyone need so many lures, when it is a known fact that most fish primarily eat smaller fish, insects and worms?

Well to some, fishing with natural baits isn’t as challenging as trying to entice them into swallowing an artificial lure. That’s why tackle shops carry thousands in a variety of colors, sizes and shapes.

With so many to choose from, how does one know which lure is the best?

Again, there is no simple answer; so here are a few of the many unscientific reasons (excuses) anglers use when purchasing fishing lures:

• This lure looks more lifelike then a real minnow.

• It was so shiny. I had to buy it.

• Any lure with a name like a “Blue Eyed, Yellow Belly, or Boy Howdy” has to catch fish.

• I saw it advertised on television.

• They had lots of them at the tackle shop.

• It looks just like a frog swimming in the water.

• Someone told me, “It’s the only lure they will bite.”

• It has a built-in rattle.

• I can cast this one a mile.

• This one is a favorite on the tournament trail and responsible for millions in prize money.

• Pink is the only color they hit this time of year.

• This lure was handcrafted by an old Indian fishing guide.

• It’s a new soft plastic version of an old wooden lure I used when I was a kid.

• Someone said, “It is the best lure ever for fishing off boat docks.”

• It only catches big ones.

• They were on sale and everyone was buying one or two.

• When I saw it, I had to buy it, because it looks just like a baby trout.

• My friend catches fish on this one every time he goes fishing, so I bought three.

Tips from Capt. Gus

When asked which is better, live or artificial baits, a bait shop owner replied, “It’s easier to feed ’em than it is to trick ’em, so use minnows.”

Inexpensive Christmas stocking stuffers

• Hand and foot warmer packs – $0.99
• Nail clippers used to snip fishing line – $0.99
• Pocket knife – $9.99+
• Tape to measure the length and girth of a fish – $1.99+
• Nail polish to change the color of fishing lures – $0.99+

Hot spots of the week

Spotted bass are along rip-rap shorelines and around deep brush. White perch are suspending along the edges of creek channels in water to 30 feet deep. Catfishing is good in sloughs and back-coves, while striped bass fishing is slow. Crappie fishing is good to very good in Mountain Creek around bridges and sunken brush. The lake level is 2.9 feet below full pond and the water surface temperature is in the 50s.

Capt. Gus Gustafson of Lake Norman Ventures is an outdoor columnist and a full-time professional fishing guide on Lake Norman. His website is Contact him at 704-617-6812 or

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