July 22, 2004

Outdoor Corner

by Chris Feeney

I donít do this very often, because I donít want readers to presume that I think I am a fishing expert Ė far from it. But when I stumble across a lure that works or a new technique to catch more fish, can you blame me for wanting to pass it on?

I uncovered this approach strictly by mistake. I was fishing one warm summer afternoon. I was throwing a plastic worm along a patch of moss that covered much of the shoreline. I would drop the Texas-rigged worm along the weeds, but was having little success. (Texas rig = thread the top of the worm, an inch or two on the hook, then slide the worm to the top of the hook, covering the eye, finally reinserting the tip of the hook in the worm body to make it weedless.) I chalked it up as poor conditions, too hot and too late in the day.

But before I gave up for good, I made a ďbadĒ cast up into the moss bed. I cursed my poor aim as the lure splatted down on top of the moss blanket, which was preventing me from fishing the true shoreline. But as I retrieved my lure across the top of the weeds the green patch exploded and a nice bass snatched my worm as if he was grabbing lunch off a paper plate.

I wasnít sure what to think, so I tried the act again, with similar results. Before the day was over I had hauled in a number of good fish, all of which had been hiding in the shade underneath the moss covering. It was amazing, the lure wasnít heavy enough to break through the weed patch. As I retrieved it, the action must have resembled some type of food scurrying across the surface. Apparently the fish could see the action of the bait from underneath and were just waiting for an easy meal.

I guess I had never paid much attention at the tackle shop, because they make and sell lures specifically for this type of fishing.

Heddon makes the Moss Boss a weedless spoon. The lure is designed to land on the back of the spoon and thus provide a smooth surface to drag over the top of the weeds. It also creates a unique floating retrieval when reeled in across open water, making it doubly effective. The lone problem I had, was keeping the right balance. Sometimes the lure tended to land on the hook side, instead of the spoon side, quickly ruining the cast as the hook becomes embedded in the moss, making it weedy instead of weedless.

There are a variety of plastic top waters also designed to do the job. Mannís makes a variety of lures that fit the bill such as the Phat Mouse and the Phat Frog, which are basically hollow plastic molds covering a hook. The bodies make the lure weedless as well as buoyant. Something about that frog, mouse or small snake that apparently is a treat for the fish living beneath the weeds.

Of course, you can always just rig up the weedless plastic worm and toss it in these same scenarios. It may not be built specifically for the job, but more often than not it can get the job done, and also is a better secondary lure to drop into the holes in the weeds or to fish off the edge if you donít get a strike on top.

Just for your information, this is not an official product review. I have tried those lures, but unfortunately their manufacturers arenít sending me free samples or otherwise encouraging me to plug their merchandise. Iím just passing along what Iíve seen work. Believe it or not, a few of my fishing pals listened to my advice, and even admitted that I was right. That is more testament than a stringer full of fish.

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