Friday, June 10, 2011


I do like live bait fishing, but when possible I've been a lure guy since I was in elementary school. At age 11, I got a cheap but functional bamboo fly rod outfit from the Green Stamp folks, and then bought my first Garcia spinning rod and reel and it came complete with various spinners, spoons and plastic lures with which I found some surprising success on vacations to Florida, Arkansas, Missouri and Colorado. All of these vacations took place the summer of my fifth grade year.

All of a sudden, before I was even in junior high school, I was hooked on river fishing for black bass in the swirling black waters of the Suwannee River, worm fishing for largemouths in a large Florida impoundment, trout fishing in some pristine creeks and ponds I still dream about to this day in the hills around Aspen, fishing for lake trout in Lake Tanycomo and rainbows in a pristine and appropriately named "Fish Creek" in then undeveloped Branson, Missouri, more bass fishing at Table Rock Lake in Arkansas and then trout fishing on the White River in Arkansas.

Between my 5th and 6th grades, I got A LOT of fishing all over the place. Great fishing and family fishing. 

But before, during and after all of the above mentioned adventures, I was farm pond fishing every chance I got. My dad had a lot of friends who had ranches/farms/places with ponds and lakes and creeks and river frontage, and then we soon had several places, and between all of these, I fished every chance I could.

Living near a famous golf course, I soon discovered the joys of fishing the large lakes and the small ponds on the course. We'd sneak over there at night, huddling quietly in bushes on vacant lots fronting the large 5 acre lake near our house. We used mostly bait, and found much success with bacon beleive it or not, trying to keep noise to a minimum and not fishing with lures. We caught lots of bass and catfish on bacon.

But when fishing what I'll generically call a farm pond, I have found certain lures to be very effective. Here's a few of them.


My favorite all time topwater lure is the Heddon Chugger Spook in yellow. I've caught so many fish with this lure, and topwater largemouth bass strikes are always exciting. I try to keep several of these lures in my tackle box. The great thing about this lure is, you can pop it or work it with a slow jerking wounded routine or retrieve it fast. I've found the fast retrieve to aggravate many a bass into a hard furious surface slamming strike. There's something about the red eyes and the red mouth of this lure that bothers bass and makes them want to attack it.


I have always found great success in farm ponds and creeks and rivers with the weedless plastic frog lures. They can have legs or no legs, but the Creme Burke variety have always been my favorites. These lures feature a twin upturned set of hooks and a soft plastic body that basically weighs nothing, and it glides across the tops of weeds and lily pads and other water weeds and such with east. Of course, fish are often hiding in this growth and fish like frogs.

These lures are great in weedy lakes and ponds and shorelines. In fact, some of the best fishing in any given pond or lake might be the heavy cover that affords both protection and a hiding place to prey on the next meal. It's nice to be able to throw this lure into a weedy or overgrown patch and just jerk it through as a frog would do. It's also great for boat fishing when you can cast onto the shore and then pull the frog off into the water straight on. Fish will come unglued at times and come out from underneath bank/shoreline undercuts and other cover and POUNCE on a frog. Pounce I say. 

I've never used the variety with the legs  as shown in the bottom pic but the designs and functions are the same. I prefer the more classic design. I'm not afraid of change, but I am against change simply for the sake of change. I've had great success with the original version of this lure, and they're cheap compared to the other lures I'm writing about.


This is the RAT-L-TRAP lure by Bill Lewis. It is a great lure. I've had great success with seveal colors but this one and one like it that is just a little darker green have been the most successful. You can use several different types of retrieves to fish this lure but it's a wobbler and a rattler and a diver. I prefer to pull the rod without reeling which causes this lure to wobble and dive, then while the lure is slowing rising I reel in the slack. This is also another great lure for a buzz bomb fast retrieve.

The best time I ever had with this lure was in 1999. A friend of mine whose family had owned the land in question since they came here from Italy in the early 1900's. They began cattle ranching and farming and dug sand and gravel pits on their land and got into that business as well. There was plentiful water in the area and when the pits reached anywhere from 15 to 60 feet, they hit springs that quickly filled the lakes with clear water.

There were five lakes on his property.  In any event, the largest and deepest of the lakes (way suitable for water skiing) had these huge gravel driveways going down from the shoreline to the bottom of the lake, and I found that casting down these driveways enabled me to reach the Florida black bass that my friends dad had stocked there in the 1960's. And it was this exact Rat-L-Trap that drove them crazy.

I'll mention that I've had great luck with specks in the surf and bay with this exact same lure as well. I guess it looks like a minnow and a mullet.


There are many expensive spinners that you can buy, but I've always had great results with the line of spinners called ABU spinners, which are painted spinner bodies with dots, and they have worked well for me in farm ponds. Particularly the yellow with black dots to a lesser degree, the white with black dots. Never caught anything with the black or red ones.


The venerable plastic worm has always been a good producer in Texas in waters large and small. Whether rigged lead headed bass worming style or Texas jig style or june bug style, it's a very effective lure. I only fish Creme brand worms and always have. Purple and ones with purple in them work best for me. The Scoundrel line reminds me of the first Creme worms I bought in the early 70's when plastic worm fishing was just beginning to be a craze.

I often fish worms with the rattler plastic rattle capsules shoved inside them. I know all of the *modern* obsessed amateur and pro bass tourny fisherpeople talk in terms of "hard plastics" and "soft plastics" and I'm not of that generation.

I use worms with a bullet weight on top and a worm hook inverted weedless into the worm with a rattle underneath. Work it on the bottom and over and through bottom cover and structure.


Another great way to fish what I call "complex" structure or cover (meaning there is a 75% chance I would snag my lure trying to get into a fishy looking spot and a 100% chance Billy Ray would also snag MY lure trying to fish that spot) is with a bamboo cane pole with a plastic worm rigged "Texas Style" in a jig method.

A 10 or 12 foot 3 piece cane pole can reach a worm jig in places you can't cast and where your perhaps 5-7 foot rod can't reach to jig a hole. And, if you're bank fishing, if you're not using the cane pole to jig you can rig it up as a live bait rig with a bobber, doing it old school to amuse the young 'uns that might be fishing with you. Throw some bacon on the hook and see what happens.


Any of the chartruese spinnerbaits that are out there have always done well for me on bass. I like to get the ones that have the firm monofiliment weed guard in front of the hook point that makes them semi-weedless but doesn't inhibit a biting fish. I've used a bunch of different colors from black to white and in between over the years, but for some reason I do better with this day glo version.

These are the big six lures that for the past 40 or so years have done well for me in Texas farm/ranch ponds and tanks and lakes ranging from small to 20 acres. I'll generally have at least three and sometimes six or more rigged rods with me. Three if I'm solo and six or more if I've got El Fisho and Billy Ray with me. We'll each fish something different and see what will work, then the rest of us switch lures to the winning lure (if they are biting).

If I'm carrying three rods, I'll often have a yellow, brown or green plastic frog on a spinning rig, the Heddon Chugger Spook on a spincasting or baitcasting rig, and a Rat-L-Trap on a baitcasting rig.

If those three strike out, it's time to switch out, and often if plugs and topwater don't summon any fishy interest, I find that mid-water lures like spinners and spinnerbaits and bottom lures like worm fishing sometimes do.

If it's July or August, my rods are rigged in reverse, with spinnerbait, spinner and worm up first. And yes, that's when you're early morning and late night fishing, when it's cool{er} and {like me} when fish are more likely to be active and moving around.

I've always got at least one fly rod with me, and that rod is going to rigged with either a foam rubber spider with white rubber legs in yellow or green or a Dave's Hopper grasshopper fly. Both of these patterns continually produce for me more than any other. Any survival kit should contain several each of these flies and a yellow Abu spinner.

A few other lures bear honorable mention. The Arbogast Jitterbug in green or yellow is a great lure, but it seems I do better with the Chugger Spook. Silver and gold spoons as well as Mepps silver or bronze/gold spinners are always in my tackle box and are usually the next in line if the above six fail. At one time in my teens the lizard variety of plastic worms were popular, not only with fishermen but with largemouths in my part of Texas.

I had great succuss using Creme black, purple and lime green lizards, rigged in the traditional plastic worm fishing style. Then, like a faucet, fish stopped biting them. It's like they had a meeting and decided, no, we're not going there anymore. Which is surprising because Texas has A LOT of lizards and gekos and such of all types large and small (some of which crawled in one of my air conditioner compressors some years back, shorting out the entire unit = several thousand dollars= went death wish on large lizards with a pellet gun for awhile). So one would think lizards fall in the water all the time or crawl on lily pads and such and become prey for fish.

But although I've fished over and over with plastic lizards in lakes and rivers and creeks and farm ponds large and small, I have not caught a fish on one in decades. And yet, every couple of years, I'll rig one up when fish are hitting on similar plastic worms, and NADA. Boom. Bam. Beep Be Beep beep Be beep be beep. Some kind of fish morse code goes out and all feeding ceases. BAM.

So it's a mystery why my lizard days are seeming over, and have been for quite awhile. I'm sure as soon as I finish this post I'll think of some other outstanding lures I've forgotten, and as I write this sentence, I recall the Hellbender or the Hula Popper. I'm big on old school Arbogast lures as you can see. And used to catch fish with both of those lures. So it looks like there might be a part II of this post...


  1. I will admit that there are a few lures that I just cannot have enough of. Rat-L-traps are one of them. White spinner baits are a must for Largemouths in cover and the legendary chartreuse Mr. Twister tail on a lead head jig is the catch ALL lure.

    Recently, I've been killing the bluegill with a fly rod and an orange popper. Those spiders are pretty effective too. Black ones are my fav.

    Old school hula poppers cannot be beat some days but I like hellbenders for pike and musky as well as bass.

    Thanks for posting.

  2. Connectioneer, thanks for stopping by and sharing your tips! I'll add a white spinnerbait and some chartruese Mr. T's. I agree on the Mister Twister, those are some good worms too. I've used the small ones lots with Beetle spins.

    Thanks again!

    El Fisho