Keeping fishing simple

Tinkering with my tackle recently, I noticed evidence of evolution in my choice of lures and fine-tuning in how and when I deploy them.

Stockpiled in clear plastic boxes in a large compartment under the BassCat’s front deck are a dozen boxes of soft and hard plastic baits, jigs, spinnerbaits and topwaters.

I have formulated a simple and straightforward tactical plan for my days on the lake. It is honed from experience. My game plan is this: Don’t try to do too much.

So while it is tempting to roam the aisles at retail tackle stores and pore over the online selling sites, I limit my purchases. I have learned that I get better results on the lake when I’m rigging up only those lures with which I have supreme confidence.

As I sat on the deck during my recent sorting session, the degree to which I’ve become a specialist was pretty clear. On the top of the pile were those that most often get my call to duty. Those that see limited action soon sift down to the bottom of the compartment.

A special box is labeled TODAY. That is the box in which I stow a ready supply of the lures I’m most likely to rig.

My TODAY box today is with me at Shenango Reservoir. Today it is stuffed with one bag of Senko stick worms and five or six 10-packs of my favorite colors of Reaction Innovation Sweet Beavers, Strike King Rodents, Missile Baits D-Bombs and similar creature baits. They are the plastics I rig Texas-style to slither around tree trunks and branches, stumps and brush piles to tease largemouth bass.

At the bottom of the TODAY box is one pack of craw-style jig trailers.

Today, I am pretty sure I will rely on working snaggy cover for my bass. I’ll have three rods handy with a topwater plug, a crankbait and spinnerbait, respectively, but 90 percent of my casts will be with the soft plastics plucked from my TODAY box.

The creature-bait style works for me spring, summer and autumn. I’ve even zeroed in on three colors, so it’s easy to find the right shade for the water under my boat. Watermelon seed, green-pumpkin and a special concoction of purple and green-pumpkin with blue flecks known as “Okeechobee craw” will get me through almost any fishing day on the lakes around Youngstown.

I know I’ve had a great day when the deck is littered with battle-scarred creature boats when it’s time to load back on the trailer.

Their bodies scraped, flappers missing and pinchers pulled off, the tattered plastics go into a special bag designated for recycling by an outfit that melts them and pours new baits.

Many years ago, when I started fishing seriously, I thought I needed to cover every contingency. Even more recently, I would take hours to decide what goes on the boat and what stays on the shelf in the garage as I loaded for a fishing trip.

Practical experience has proved to me, however, that darn few fish will pass up a green-pumpkin critter because it’s only interested in purple.

My system is not complicated. I limit the varieties of lures to proven performers and I limit the colors to those my eyes and brain tell me the fish will be able to identify as prey.

With choices limited to a narrow field of options, I spend more time fishing and less time second-guessing and tying on new lures.

More fishing time spent casting confidently, in turn, has resulted in more and bigger fish.

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