Don’t go fishing without these lures in your tackle box
April means consistently warmer weather on the upper Texas coast, and the action from a variety of coastal species heats up along with the water. With the warming trend comes more aggressive strikes from gamefish, which are even more ferocious with the right bait.
Sometimes, it’s best to chunk hardware that will produce reaction strikes, meaning that fish instinctively attack the offering because of its erratic, tantalizing movement through the water.
On the other hand, the spring and summer months also can call for anglers to “match the hatch” to find success. This strategy involves choosing lures that mimic the smaller profile of glass minnows, shad, shrimp and finger mullet that become more prevalent in bays during the transition into the warmest part of the year.
Regardless of which tactic an on-the-water scenario may require, the following list of baits will do the trick from now through the summer months. Going fishing without having this combination of lures in your tackle box would just be foolish.
Rapala Skitter Walk
One of my all-time favorite plugs to use when water temperatures are on the rise is a Rapala Skitter Walk. The surface walker comes in many fish-catching colors, but you’ll be hard pressed to find one in my tackle box that isn’t hot pink.
A steady, twitching retrieve will give this floating fake the “walk-the-dog” action that causes fish to react aggressively. The Skitter Walk sports a rattle that rivals any maraca, and its larger profile makes it a great topwater to throw when the water is off color or when there’s a decent amount of surface chop.
Super Spook Jr.
The Super Spook Jr. manufactured by Heddon Lures is the perfect topwater offering when it becomes necessary to match the hatch. It’s smaller, puppy-like size draws bone-crushing strikes when swarms of glass minnows and finger mullet are milling around at the water’s surface.
Excellent color options for the Super Spook Jr. include chartreuse, white with a red head, chrome, baby trout and bone/chrome. The largest speckled trout I’ve ever seen caught in person in Galveston Bay ate a bone/chrome Super Spook Jr. The beast measured 32.5 inches and weighed 10.25 pounds.
The Lil John by MirrOlure is a scented, soft plastic twitch bait that will produce reaction strikes; plus its petite size also plays the match-the-hatch game well. Don’t let the unique shape of this bait deceive you. Although it might look like a lifeless slug or stick bait, its jerky, darting action is hard to beat.
The Lil John comes in a plethora of color schemes, but lately I’ve found one color pattern in particular works best in upper coast waters. MirrOlure calls this color scheme “Molting.” It appears to have a grayish, silver and blue tint to it, and to be honest, it really isn’t all that appealing on the shelf. Believe it or not, though, this funky shaded bait will catch fish — lots of them.
The StutterStep 4.0 by Bill Lewis Lures is among the most unusual and innovative hard plastic topwater baits on the market. It’s one-of-a-kind shape allows it to be walked, waked and buzzed across the surface to draw reaction strikes. When the fish want a fast-moving, erratic presentation, this is the lure to use.
Ball Tail Shad
KWigglers claims its line of baits makes up the toughest soft plastics on the Gulf Coast, and the company might be right. Its Ball Tail Shad is a straight-tail soft plastic that can withstand numerous attacks from plenty of hard-hitting gamefish, which means anglers will get their money’s worth out of each and every pack they buy.
Just about every color scheme the KWigglers Ball Tail Shad comes in can get the job done. This bait’s larger size also tends to draw reaction strikes from trophy-sized specks and reds.
A Note on Jig Heads
Pairing soft plastic lures with the right jig head is vital for success. When drifting along upper coast bays in water 3.5 feet or deeper, I prefer to use a 3⁄8-ounce jig head. This might seem a little heavy, but this size of jig head can be casted long distances and will allow anglers to cover the entire water column, from top to bottom, thoroughly. In shallower water depths while wading or drifting, a quarter-ounce jig head will work better.