Oak Orchard River Bass Anglers

November 2017


When you have been around bass fishing as long as I have, you see lures come and go.  Often times lures drop out of favor not because they don’t work but rather because something more exotic came on the scene.  Of one thing I am certain, all bass anglers have an inherent belief in the existence of a “magic lure”.  A lure that will catch bass under all circumstances, anywhere and at any time.  The simple truth is that no such lure exists or ever will exist.  Consistently catching bass is simply not that easy.

When I first became addicted to bass fishing, it was entirely due to a single lure, the Jitterbug.  I started fishing at age three when my Dad took me along on his regular fishing trips.  Back then, Dad fished for food.  The bulk of his fishing was with live bait and it was directed at whatever species was biting.  The only “sport” fishing that my Dad ever engaged in was fishing for northern pike.  Normally this involved fishing live chubs under a float.  Dad told me that the first fish that I caught was a 36” northern pike that I landed using just such a rig.  Dad said I was three years old at the time and the pike was about as long as I was tall.  Dad said that he had to hold me by the back of my pants to keep the northern from pulling me into the creek.  After that catch, Dad always carried a picture of me holding up that pike and he was quick to display it whenever an opportunity arose.  I’ll be damned if I can find that photo now that Dad and Mom have passed on.

I spent most of my early years fishing the way Dad taught me.  I would fish for whatever I could catch and whatever I caught went home for the table.  Sometime in my early teenage years, I started to experiment a little with artificial lures.  I had switched from the steel rods and single action bait casting reels that Dad used to the brand new spinning rods and reels that were just appearing on the market.  With the introduction of spinning reels came the introduction of monofilament line.  The new spinning reel and monofilament line allowed for casting distances that were unachievable with the old style rods and reels.  Spinning reels and rods also allowed for the use of small, lightweight artificial lures.  I soon started experimenting with small in-line spinners.

Gradually, I began to catch a few fish.  I immediately found more satisfaction in catching fish using artificial lures than I did catching them using live bait.  Still, I didn’t catch enough fish, often enough, on artificial lures to quit using live bait for most of my fishing trips.  I was still fishing for the table, not sport, and catching something remained my primary goal.  I don’t specifically recall catching my first bass, but it was almost certainly caught on live bait.  Since I don’t recall the incident, my first bass wasn’t big enough to get my interest.  Back then I caught a lot of rock bass and white bass.  Most of those weighed less than a pound a piece.  A really big one might go a little over a pound, but I didn’t catch them that big very often.  I am sure there were some black bass mixed in with the white bass and the rock bass.  However, since their size was about the same as the rock bass and white bass, I didn’t really pay much attention to them.

When I was about 14 or 15 years old, I bought my first two larger artificial lures.  I bought a Jitterbug and I bought a Silver Minnow weedless spoon.  I also bought a jar of Uncle Josh pork strips to use as trailers for the Sliver Minnow.  I bought these lures after I had caught a largemouth bass weighing about 1½ pounds on an in-line spinner.  I was fishing for rock bass at the time that I caught that bass.  For some reason the strike of that particular bass and the ensuing fight really caught my attention and piqued my interest.  I immediately decided to devote more of my time to trying to catch more black bass.  My new found interest in black bass led me to the purchase of the Jitterbug and the Silver Minnow.

For the next couple of years I continued fishing as I always had.  I would spend time trying the Jitterbug and the Silver Minnow, but when they failed to produce bass I would revert back to using live bait and fishing for whatever would bite.  When I was 17 years old, my best buddy talked me into going to Whitefish Lake in Canada.  My buddy and his family vacationed there for a week or two every year.  This time, it would be just him and me.  We would drive up and spend the weekend fishing for northern pike and black bass.  All I needed for lures was a Jitterbug and a Silver Minnow.  Not coincidentally, those were exactly the lures that I owned.  When I bought my first bass lures, I bought the lures I had heard them talk so much about using at Whitefish Lake.

This was the trip that forever addicted me to black bass.  I never caught a fish on the Silver Minnow, although I did have one huge northern pike follow it to the boat one afternoon.  The Jitterbug was another story.  From daybreak until about 9:30am and again from about 4pm until well after dark, I caught bass after bass.  Most of the bass weighed between 1½ and 2½ pounds.  The biggest I caught probably weighed around 4 pounds.  I can’t even begin to tell you how many I caught because I had never caught so many fish in one place in my life.  On more than one occasion, I caught two bass at once.  Needless to say, I couldn’t get enough of it.  The end result of that weekend was that I became a diehard bass fisherman.  It was also the beginning of the end of my live bait fishing.  No live bait fishing would ever again be able to compete with the thrill of a top water strike on an artificial lure. 

I mention all of this because today I don’t even own a Jitterbug.  I still carry a couple of Silver Minnow’s, but they haven’t seen the water in probably 20 plus years.  My guess is you wouldn’t find either of these lures in most bass angler’s boats today.  Now I know that both the Jitterbug and the Silver Minnow will still catch bass today.  In fact I am sure there are situations where those lures could out produce any others.  What happened with the Jitterbug and Silver Minnow has also happened with spinnerbaits.  There was a time, not so very long ago, when every bass angler had at least one spinnerbait tied on every day.  Today, spinnerbaits are seldom seen or used.  I still carry a few, but nowhere near as many as I used to.  Today I use them very seldom and only in very specific situations. 

My point is that lures come and go even though some lures always catch bass.  Popularity of lures often has little to do with the lure’s effectiveness.  Success is often obtained simply because a particular lure is the only lure being used.  Bass anglers make bass fishing more complex and mysterious than it really is.  Do yourself a favor.  Stick to using only those lures that have worked for you in the past.  I think you’ll be glad you did.                     




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