By JONAS Y. DAUB
There was a time, and that not so long ago, that, it is safe to say, there were more spoon lures used successfully by the angling clan than what the general public thinks. Some of these spoon lures, principally the pearl baits, are "out-lawed" at the present time for the reason that the large percentage of the outdoor-going "bunch" think them un-safe, not strong enough to withstand the terrible strain which is placed upon them during the tackle testing fight of a heavy game fish while it is being tired out. These pearl lures are really stronger than what the majority think and will stand the test of really big fish if handled in the proper manner; and, this not to mention their fish getting qualities.
A FEW SPOONS AND SPINNERS
The spoon lures had their origin 'way back in the dim and distant past, long before a wooden "minnie" was thought of; and they have, since that time, delivered the "goods" in the way of fish ever since to the limited few who stick to a good lure regardless whether it may be in or out of date. This does not however, imply that the spoon or pearl lures are the only baits that deliver the goods with a steady regularity in game fish killing, far from it. For every lure be it a wooden artificial, a fly or even live bait has its drawbacks at times. Really, these drawbacks, at times, help to make a fishing trip a success at times in more ways than one. To illustrate:
It promotes the true art of angling for reason that an unsuccessful lure brings out everything in the angler, causing him to revert to the use of other baits, until he, if he is so fortunate, finds the taking lure; thereby furnishing more sport, the kind of which we all crave, than were he using a steady, game-fish killing lure. This, note, will not be seen in the same light in which the writer sees it, by some of the clan; but it will be seen by those to whom the pleasure of angling is all in the old saying: "It is not all fishing, to catch fish." True, eh?
The first spoon lures to be brought out in this country was of the nickeled variety. This styled spoon has caught countless numbers of game fish and is still the favorite lure of many of the back-woods guides; who, by the way, desire nothing else in the way of a bait. The guides of a certain, wild, northern lake in this state (Pa.) all use and advise for use the common Skinner spoon in size 4.
One notable fact of the fishing game was brought to the writer's notice while fishing at this particular lake during the past summer. That he believes in the fact that fish are subject to different moods at different times will be attempted to be proven in the following: While fishing at this lake in company of two other sportsmen he noticed that the one was catching most of the fish and these on a spoon, the size of which was 4£. He was using a spoon of the same make although it was a half size smaller or size 4. To prove that these fish were striking on the number 4J spoon he changed to that size, and started to catch them, too. Changing from the size 4i spoon back to the size 4 he noticed that the party using the 4* spoon was getting strikes in the same waters and through which the writer's size 4 was cast and retrieved.
In the following days he tried this same stunt of changing spoons, and always with the inevitable result; until, however, one day they fell for the luring flash of the size four spoon and looked with scornful eyes on anything larger or smaller in the way of a spoon. This is just to show that the fish have certain moods which the angler must study to perfection before he can hope to have any degree of success in the way of a 'well-filled stringer.
In these later years the tendency is towards the smaller, oval shaped spoons of the nickel variety, while there are also the innumerable tandems; all of which will be found to be good lures when used on the right days. There we have it, right days! Yes, right days, for what one lure will accomplish one day it will do just the reverse the next, or the next or the next; when, perhaps, the water conditions look the same as when we made our record catch.
As stated before the tendency of late years was for the nickeled, oval spoon, though every year sees more and more turning towards the slim copper, gold, black and even white enameled spoons made to afford sport under special water conditions or when the fish are "moody;" and not, as so many would have us believe, to relieve us of our spare pesos. To strike the successful lure of a certain lake depends a lot on the angler's ability to experiment with all sizes and makes of spoons; and that, also, in the manner in which he casts his lures and also in the manner in which he retrieves the same. This is sometimes more important than the kind of spoon used, this casting and the right kind of retrieving the lure. The reason we hear of so many of the modern lures being fishless is because they are allowed to die, as it were, before starting them back on their way towards the caster. This takes a lot of practice, this quick retrieve stunt, but is an accomplishment worth while when one is able to start the lure on the way back to the point of the cast the minute it strikes the water. There are a lot of different ways of reeling in the lure, that is, to tease the fish to cause them to strike. Sometimes fast reeling will deliver the goods, while at other times this method seems to scare the fish causing one to reel the lure in more slowly. The method which the writer has found to work successfully at most times consists of reeling in a jerky, fast then slowing up movement. This manner of reeling causes the bait to dart in a manner much the same as what a crippled minnow navigates.
Casting the lighter spoons as furnished at the present time necessarily means a long, light, whippy rod of say five and a half to six and a half feet, and a line testing twelve to sixteen pounds. Can you, brother, imagine the thrill which one gets on successfully hooking a bass, a pickerel or a large, long, racy built pike on such a light casting "stick"? Again I ask you, can you? If you cannot, surely you have something left to live for.
A bait which comes in for a great deal of praise is the pearl wobbler. This lure is slightly concave, and with its highly polished sides makes it a good, all 'round bait, especially on the dark days or when the water is ruffled by the winds. This bait has that darting movement, and with its casting its glimmering rays of light in the dark watery recesses, causing fish to hit it with a "bang. ' This is the lure that so many of the clan are afraid of using for reason that they, the anglers, think it not strong, while the only ones which the writer put out of "commission" were so put out in trying to place the bait 'way over there only to have the bait strike the ground with a bang, from the cause of the ensuing backlash, a ban for all fishermen.
A good hint for the early season trout angler, before the trout rise freely to the fly, is to attach a small spinner in the fore of a gob of garden hackle, and using this combination as a deep water troll. This is a highly successful way of taking trout and is a more sporty proposition than fishing the "garden hackle" alone. A fairly large fly may be used, also, with good results at this time of the year fishing it deep down.
A good combination for pickerel or pike is made by attaching a strip of pork rind onto a large red ibis fly to the fore of which is attached a single or tandem spinner. Many a good lure may be made up by the angler himself by using old, discarded pieces of spoons; lures, good lures which could never be had in the many sporting goods stores of the country, and which, to say the least, deliver the goods.
Another very successful lure which can be used in the fall months is the bait known as the silver soldier; a bait made to resemble a minnow, and when used during the fall period — when the fish are along the shallows in search of frogs or minnows — will be found to recompense the angler for the small outlay of money which one of these lures cost. One bait is also furnished in this style, but made of pearl, with a spinner to balance it on its watery mission. Then there are the automatic striker spoons, spoons which the true sportsman wishes to know nothing about. These spoons are in great demand by some of the market fishermen along the coast and are all right where a person's livelihood depends upon the amount of saleable fish caught; but to the sportsman, such lures should not be resorted to.
One thing before closing, in buying spoon lures buy those of which the manufacturer is willing to attach a guarantee as to the reliability of his wares and not those which can be had in the assortment lots. If you do a great deal of fishing, especially in weed or stump choked waters, you will need, say three of each variety; that is, to insure against running short of the taking lure at a critical moment, a time when the fish are ravenous for the only lure we may have and which, at the time of which we hold in mind, may be resting in six or more feet of water.
As to the best spoon we wish to say that there is no such thing for they are all good if used at the right time and the right place. They being all good on some days; while others, well, we then might have to resort to the use of the only bait — live bait. That fishing the live bait is not understood by many is proven in reading some of the out-of-door magazines. This interesting but often scorned bait comes in for some notable mention; and, were the truth told, many a large basket full of fly-caught trout would be found to have been caught on one of the many species of live bait. The writer cannot see where anyone is breaking the strict rules of sportsmanship by using live bait when the fish ARE feeding on the lure which we may have either in our minnow pail or on our hip pocket as so many trout anglers carry their "garden hackles."
Hunter-Trader-Trapper. October: 1921,
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