Natural Fit — Artificial Bait!
Mar 23rd, 2012 by OutdoorsFIRST
Modified Mar 23rd, 2012 at 11:37 AM
Brimley, Michigan, right on the shores of Lake Superior is where anglers from all over the United States and Canada travel to fish. What a perfect setting for the May 31 – June 2, 2012 AIM Bay Mills CAN/AM Invitational. Thirty-one Canadian pros and thirty-one American pros will be competing against one another for the grand prize of $40,000!
AIM and Bay Mills has been running “artificial bait only” events for two consecutive years now. Bay Mills Resort & Casino’s past general manager, Rod Jones, was one of the first to recommend an “artificial only” event. Although there was some initial push back, AIM anglers have shown that not only can walleye be caught without live bait, but in fact artificial baits are very successful at putting fish in the boat. By forcing all the live bait anglers to come out of their comfort zone — some new trends in walleye fishing have actually emerged.
Having an “artificial only” tournament doesn’t faze most seasoned tournament anglers. There are times when artificial lures are a natural better choice. For example in stained waters, murky waters or even during night fishing, the fish tend to rely less on sight and more on sound or smell. Many artificial types of bait throw off more sound and vibrations than live bait, which can help walleye find the bait that to the walleye, appears to be a food source. Other advantages of using artificial types of bait is the ability to fish faster, cover more water, increasing your chances of contacting fish.
Fishing artificial lures is nothing new to tournament anglers and in fact, in many circumstances artificial baits are becoming the “norm”. In 2010 Jim Carrols’ big fish was caught in Lake Superior with deep diving crank baits. Other anglers such as Brandon Carpenter used small Beetle Spin type lures, tipped with artificial tails to attract walleye out of the muddy water of Brimley Bay. Tom Kemos used Uncle Josh’s “Meat” tails to imitate crawlers while jigging shallow in a small tributary. Many other anglers trolled in 2-4 feet of water with small baits like #4 Berkley Flicker Shads and Salmo hornets.
AIM anglers and teammates Brett King, Joe Okada, and Robert Blosser proved artificial baits worked like magic last year when they took home the top three places at the 2011 Brimley tournament! Although pre-fishing was slow in Lake George, during the tournament the weather and water conditions changed and King and his clan changed with the conditions to troll stick style baits in the weeds of Lake George.
All it usually takes is time on the water for anglers to realize that artificial baits can and often do produce just as much, if not more, fish. To be consistent, a smart tournament angler must constantly learn and adapt throughout his practice period. A successful practice period translates into strong confidence.
“The key to any artificial tail for walleye is for it to be limber”, states AIM Pro Keith Kavajecz . “Artificial bait products like Gulp, Power Bait and others give anglers options that mimic live bait or look like dying, injured or fast moving fish. Artificial tails are becoming a power house in walleye angling.” Fishermen have endless choices when it comes to colors, shapes and vibrations. Artificial products also provide anglers with scented tails options that have been tested and proven helpful in catching walleye. Typically when using artificial tails, fishermen find that they are less likely to lose their bait when they miss a fish. No mess, no fuss—you simply go back to fishing.
Ask anglers like Richie Boggs who won in 2010 using a combination of small cranks and spinners with Gulp 6 inch night crawlers on Lake George. The key to his spinner success was that he made the artificial crawler look even more realistic by cutting the nose of the crawler off at a slant.
Mike Gofron and Scott Duncan pitched light jigs and Gulp minnows around emergent weed beds in shallow bays. Other anglers vertical jigged in the channel at the top of Lake George with jigs and artificial minnows. Legendary and National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame Fishermen Gary Parsons first used the GULP 3” Fry with Mustad Slow Death hooks, which started a whole new trend for walleye anglers! The designs have dramatically improved and artificial products are so realistic that more and more anglers are using them, and confidence in them continues to grow.
When anglers put in the time and effort required to learn how to use all the new artificial baits, tackle and equipment they become better anglers. Keeping an open mind and being flexible is the key. Artificial bait only tournaments simply provide another tournament option. With this being the third annual AIM / Bay Mills artificial only Invitational tournament, AIM pros should be more confident than ever that artificial baits will fill their CRR score cards. It’s a natural fit— Artificial Bait!