By Bob Jensen
I was going through some of my tackle boxes recently. In fifty plus years of fishing, a guy accumulates a lot of lures. I sort through this accumulation of tackle in early winter every year for two reasons. First of all, to take an inventory of what lures need to be added for next season.
Second, some of the lures bring back memories, and most of those memories are very pleasant. When thinking back on some lures, I’m reminded of how baits have evolved through the years. This year, my largemouth bass spinnerbait box reminded me of this evolution. When I first started fishing with spinnerbaits, options were limited. They came in different colors, weights, and blade sizes. I recently visited the Strike King website. These folks are very in-tune with bass anglers and bass fishing. There were numerous variations of spinnerbaits, and each has a definite place in a bass angler’s arsenal. They have spinnerbaits designed to be worked slowly in deep water, other spinnerbaits for fishing quickly in shallow water. There are spinnerbaits for clear water and others for stained or muddy water. In short, there was a spinnerbait built specifically for almost any situation that a bass chaser could encounter.
There are some anglers that believe that “lures aren’t made to catch fish, they’re made to catch fishermen.” While this may have been true with a few companies in the past, that certainly isn’t the way it is now. The companies that make lures designed to give anglers the best chance for fishing success are the companies that succeed. They truly want anglers to catch more fish.
Eventually my thoughts turn to fish catches. For many of us, the passage of time clouds and maybe enhances our memories. I like that. It’s wonderful to have good memories even if they are a bit inaccurate. Some think the “Good Old Days” of fishing are behind us. But in many places, right now are the “Good Old Days.” We have equipment that allows us to fish in ways and in places that we couldn’t before, and that has certainly helped us catch more fish.
Regulations on some waters have also helped improve fishing. Many of us don’t like regulations, but we need them. Most of these modern regulations have improved fishing success. When I started musky fishing, a musky had to be a minimum of thirty inches if you wanted to keep it. Catch and release became popular and productive, and in a good number of places today, a musky needs to be fifty four inches long if you want to keep it. Musky experts are convinced that these regulations have enabled us to catch more and bigger muskies throughout their expanding range. The same is true with walleyes, bass, and other species. Fishing’s “Good Old Days” are now, and more are coming.
Last thing. As changes take place in our waters, some species of fish have become more abundant. Smallmouth bass populations have increased in many waters. A lot of anglers are liking that. Smallmouth can be willing biters, and they’re certainly good fighters. Anglers need to adjust. When one species is down in numbers and another species is growing in numbers, change tactics and take advantage of the abundant species. If you do so, you’ll have the opportunity to catch more fish and you’ll also realize that, in many ways, the changes in fishing are a good thing.