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Taking a leap of faith on lure modification

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Posted at 2:20 PM, Nov 10, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-10 14:20:46-05

Lesson learned.

This weekend destroyed one of my preconceived notions concerning fishing and lure size. It also built upon a new found confidence that I can assess factors like weather, season, water color and temperature and make a pretty educated guess on what the fish are doing, where they will be and what to use to get them to bite.

Sunday's weather was sunny, mild, and breezy. Despite the dry weather, the water on Lake Redman was dingy because the wind-created current stirred up the lake bottom. The diminished water clarity forced me to change up my initial plan of using a drop shot. I needed something with a bit of flash and vibration to help the fish locate the bait.

I traded out the drop shot for a square bill crankbait in a shad color. After a couple of casts, it was time to come up with Plan C.  Debris in the water made the crankbait useless. Each cast with the crankbait brought back a wad of autumn colored leaves. The situation called for something with vibration, something with flash, and something weedless. Time to tie on a spinnerbait. 

This is when I did something I have never done. Despite reading numerous articles and watching numerous videos discussing the addition of a swimbait trailer to a spinnerbait, I never did it because I never thought it would work.

Lake Redman is notoriously tough to fish. Some people even refer to it as the "Dead Sea." The fish are there and there are monsters (for a small northern lake) among them. The roadblock in my mind was getting past the thought of downsizing to get them to bite. For whatever reason on Sunday I chose to do the opposite of what I always did. With the fall feed on, I decided to tip my Strike King Burner spinnerbait with a Reaction Innovations Little Dipper swimbait.

This really bulked the bait up, turning a three inch bait into about a five inch bait. And the paddle tail on the Little Dipper increased the vibration being put off by the lure.

After a few casts I got my first bite and promptly let the fish get enough leverage to come unbuttoned.  Annoyed and buoyed at the same time I moved down bank making quartering casts into the wind.

After nearly an hour, the second bite came on a drop off from a gravel bank into about five feet of water just off the bank. The strike was vicious and after a short, but brutal battle, I lipped a two-plus pound fish. Pretty good for that lake.

One problem. That fish tore up the Little Dipper enough that it would no longer hang right on the Burner. That was the last 3.5" paddle tail I had in my bag. The rest were the 5" Skinny Dippers by Reaction Innovations. With no other option, I threaded the Skinny Dipper on to the lure. At this point I'm thinking, "There is no way anything in this lake will bite a bait this big."

As I retraced my steps back up the bank, casting and retrieving all the way, my thinking was correct.

And then it happened. On my final cast, I felt a weight on the end of my line about 20 feet off the shore. I set the hook and the line took off. Backing off the drag, I realized this fish was much bigger than I first thought. Finally, after more than a minute and having the bass run me 10 yards down the bank I got my hands on it.

Staring me in the face was my personal best largemouth bass, measuring more than 20 inches in length and weighing more than 5 pounds. I could barely contain my excitement while snapping off a few quick pictures and then releasing it back into the water.

Looking back on those two fish solidifies two things. Big lures catch big fish and I need to toss my conventional thinking out the window more often.

*Jeff Herman is the assistant news director at WMAR | ABC2 and a member of the Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association. His main passion while not at work is fishing. This column is part of a series of columns he writes for our outdoors page  . You can read more of his columns here  . Follow him on Twitter @JeffABC2News    and @TightLinesABC2