- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 22, 2003

If you want to become fabulously wealthy, live in a mansion, drive a Rolls and have servants cater to your every wish, all you have to do is invent a new fishing lure that 30million American bass fishermen will rush to buy.

Go ahead and make a new fish catcher so special that it rates protection under our patent laws, then order bucketsful of champagne and so much pate de foie gras your triglycerides and cholesterol count will rise like a moon rocket.

Along those lines, what irks us is a relatively new (it’s only several years old) fishing lure known as the Senko, a soft, plastic worm that looks like a dead slug. It’s fat, ungainly and roughly the same size at either end. It in no way resembles the lifelike, almost elegant slitherers and tapered, curly-tailed, plastic wonders that all of us own by the bagsful in enough colors to make a rainbow blush with envy.

No this thing looks like a clogged injection molding machine suddenly burped and what came out was a chubby, unappetizing mistake — as far as humans are concerned. To a bass, however, it’s ambrosia, a veritable magnet that says, “Taste me. Take a bite.”

The Senko sells like crazy.

There are several brands of Senkos, one that carries the name alone, another that is known as the Yamamoto Senko, and scuttlebutt has it that it concerns a family split among the plastic lure-making Yamamoto clan out on the Left Coast. Either way, the Senkos cost $5.99 or more for a bag of 10 — an outrageous price.

With that in mind, my frequent collaborator and top-notch bass fishing guide, Andy Andrzejewski, agreed to help me with a little test in Virginia’s tidal Potomac Creek, where of late the bass have been very cooperative along the creek’s myriad marsh banks. Andy would use a bespeckled pumpkin seed-color Senko with just a tiny slipsinker on the line. The little weight was needed simply to get the Senko down in what turned out to be less than 3 feet of water, often shallower than that.

I, on the other hand, would use old-time short, stubby plastic worms that are every bit as homely as the Senko. Some years ago, they sold fairly well, but one of the brands isn’t even manufactured anymore, which tells us what the tackle company — and the fishermen at the time they came out — thought of it. All of them measured 4 inches in length. All looked as if the fish would laugh the moment they spotted one of them plopping into the water, slowly sinking like a wet cigar.

My choices included several once-famous French Fry baits (they look like ripple-cut fries), several Berkley Power Noodles (resembling the French Fry), and another lookalike that was simply called the Twig, which is a fair name.

The entire fishing deal involved plastic baits that do nothing. Kind of like years ago when comedian Jerry Seinfeld had an idea for a network show about nothing. His idea worked, and so did our lures.

Nothing is in. Lots of moving, sliding, wiggling and shimmying is out.

Oh, yes. Somebody call Yamamoto and tell the gang out West that the French Fry, the Power Noodle and the Twig did just as well as their higher-priced do-nothing lures.

Why shouldn’t they? All of them look fat and ugly, all were dipped in a little Smelly Jelly attractant, and all of them lay there like pregnant sea slugs. The sole difference between Andy’s expensive Senkos and my cheap French Fries were the ridges. The Senko has barely discernible, tiny rings on its body; my Power Noodles and Twigs, etc., are sharply ribbed and edged.

Either way, all of them caught bass as we cast them out, let them lay close to green, waterlogged arrow arum plants, maybe moved them an inch or so by lifting the rod tip a little, but otherwise doing very little.

Bingo! A bass would pick one up and run off with it. We’d set the hook and watch the water boil. Eventually, we’d bring in a feisty tidal water largemouth. It actually was as simple as that, and there’s no reason why you can’t do it.

The question arises concerning the usefulness of other fishing lures. After all, if these fat, stubby worms do the job, why bother with spinnerbaits, crankbaits, jerkbaits and all the other wonderful things that, in a store, can catch as many fishermen as they later might hook bass in the water. The answer is simple. Bass, like humans, tend to be fickle creatures, so what works wonders three days a week might not during the remaining four. Don’t throw away your tackle box just yet.

Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column every Sunday and Wednesday, and his Fishing Report every Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: gmueller@washingtontimes.com.

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