By Mark Fike
Disclaimer: My idea came for this story when during a recent trip to the grocery store to get some fresh vegetables. I saw the meat cooler devoid of any product and people were complaining they had no meat or fish to buy. I thought to myself that I definitely would not go hungry knowing how to hunt and fish. Couple this with the fact that I am a meat hunter and angler anyway, and I suddenly realized there was a story here.
I enjoy catching fish. Long ago, I sought only large fish and that was fun, but at the end of the day I do like to cap off my experience with a meal of fresh meat or fish that I just harvested from the fields, woods or waters.
Given my penchant for natural food that I was responsible for, I learned very quickly how to make the most of my time on the water or in the woods and I know exactly what to use to ensure my wife did not get the stove hot for no reason.
When it comes to fishing, there are so many techniques, lures, presentations and so on that can make or break your day. Honestly, I get bored with stories that drone on and on with the souped-up names of the latest lure or rod or reel and then go on to lose the reader with all the technical specifications. I prefer to keep things simple. I am the hook and worm guy that has a stringer of fish at the end of the day to clean.
While bait is almost always more productive than artificial lures, I will say that when the fish are biting and you can figure out what they want, artificial baits can be much faster at putting fish in the boat and less messy too.
On that note, I strongly suggest that readers that want to put some fish in the freezer, in the frying pan or on the grill in short order, go small to catch eating-size fish. Eating-size fish are not huge, but they actually taste far better and are much less likely to have pollutants in them at the level that large, old fish will.
What are some of the best small lures? My go-to lure is a Beetle Spin. This is small spinnerbait that anglers can customize to put any size or color grub or worm on. There are many knockoffs of this lure. Second, crappie jigs with any color worm or grub come a quick second on the list. A Mepps spinner is a great choice as are any of the flies that fly anglers use. Flies are deadly on panfish and small bass and crappie. Poppers are too.
When using spinnerbaits, white is my first choice in worm color but anglers should change up colors until they find what the fish want. The same goes with the retrieve speed. Sometimes simply jigging the jig or spinnerbait off the bank or off the boat works. Sometimes you have to reel it as fast as you can.
Last week I was fishing water that was less than two feet in depth. I was burning the spinnerbaits back as fast as I could and getting bass after bass. I caught 14 of them in a few hours of fooling around plus some decent bream. All of the bass were less than two pounds but oh were they good to eat that night!
Next time you know you want to have some fresh fish or maybe the current situation in our country calls for you to provide some meat for the table, go small in lure size to bring home the groceries!