As Constant Reader knows, I have been in the Redding, California area at the B.A.S.S. Western Championship fishing tournament.
One word to describe Shasta Lake is — breathtaking. The scenery, the wildlife and the fishing were things my wife, Jeri, and I will never forget.
The story I am about to tell is true: not an exaggerated fishing “yarn” to be spun and then recanted later.
During the practice period before the tournament, Tate Brown, a friend and member of our Utah State B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Team, fished with me from my boat. He threw a lure called a “glide bait.” I had never seen such a lure.
“You don’t work it like a normal swimbait,” he said. “You have to learn to make it glide just under the surface, how to turn it, stop it and make it look like something a bass would want to eat.”
I was fascinated by the lure and within an hour, Brown hooked his first spotted bass (the predominant fish in the lake). I realized (after a few more hook-ups) that the fish he caught were at least a half-pound larger than mine. This made me say “Umm” (something professional anglers say quite frequently when they are thinking).
“Are these lures available at tackle stores?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” he said. “But, I must warn you that buying a glide bait and learning to catch fish with it are two entirely different things.”
Armed with the Tate Brown warning, I went to Sportsman’s Warehouse later that day and asked the fishing manager for a “glide bait.”
“We have a few,” he said, “but we don’t have a way to display them. Follow me and I will show you what we have.”
He led me through the catacombs of the warehouse to a locked cage with a dozen boxed lures peering out as if they were looking for a way to escape.
“We keep them locked in the cage,” Neal (the fishing manager) said, “because we have no way to display them in the store.” Then he opened the cage and allowed me to inspect the lures. There, inside well-made cardboard boxes, were lures that looked so much like rainbow trout it was freaky.
I chose one that looked similar to Tate Brown’s lure, put it in my shopping cart and headed to the checkout line. My heart skipped a beat and I couldn’t meet my wife’s eye when the cashier blurted, “That’ll be $79.99 plus tax.” After hearing the price Jeri looked at me and said, “With $75,000 of tackle in your garage already, what’s another 80 bucks?” (That Jeri, always the kidder.)
On Day 1 of the tournament I fished hard but only weighed 8.6 pounds for five fish over 12 inches in length. I stood in 68th place out of just more than 100 anglers on the professional side. I was so busy trying to upgrade the small limit of fish with standard lures that I didn’t even try the new glide bait.
By Day 2, I understood that if I didn’t finish among the top 21…