- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 29, 2008

The skillful professional fisherman, Gary Klein of Texas, is one of the national gurus among bass anglers who agree that when the going gets tough the downsizing of fishing lures can be part of a winning strategy.

Although I’m as hard-headed as a mule concerning certain things in life, I learned to heed what Klein and other stars of the fishing world have always recommended: if any gamefish ignores a 9-inch-long lure, step down to a 6-inch model, maybe a 4-incher. Chances are you’ll eventually strike pay dirt.

Along those lines, something I recently discovered continues to baffle, but delight me to no end. Why would a tidal water largemouth bass or a mountain river smallmouth take a sharp look at - often bite - a 2- or 3-inch slender, fake minnow from the Berkley Company that produces scented products known as Power Baits? In this case, the name of the skinny little thing I used was the Berkley Power Minnow?

(The rubbery, scented minnows are favorites among our gang of fishing pals who use them on dropshot rigs in late winter during the pre-spawn and spawning days of the yellow perch.)

But as far as my experience with other fish species is concerned, four recent outings began with a 2-inch Power Minnow in a color called Black Shad.

I fed a 1/16-ounce jig-hook through the top third of one of the little imitation minnows, forcing the hook point to come out of the back of the tiny lure. With 6-pound testline on a small spinning reel attached to a 5-foot ultra-light spinning rod, the little lure would be ideal to fool a crappie or two, I thought.

With the boat parked on an inside bend of one of the many marshy points in a tidal Southern Maryland creek, I cast the lightweight lure to a shallow edge lined with arrow arum weeds, let it fall into three or four feet of water, then hopped it slowly along, lifting and lowering the rod while reeling in the line.

“Bang!” Something snatched the 2-inch lure and wouldn’t let go. Now I was afraid I’d lose the fish because of the thin monofilament, but it held. My catch turned out to be a fine channel catfish of about 3 pounds, maybe more.

I slathered the black-and-white shiner with a creamy garlic fish attractant to add even more scent and zipped the lure into the general marsh edge one more time.

Another strike occurred. The rod bent sharply, and this time it was a yellow perch. That was followed by a broad-backed bluegill. Later, in a similar upstream area, using a fresh Black Shad Shiner because the original one was lost to an underwater obstacle, I caught two largemouth bass and several white perch; then came another catfish, more bluegills and one fat bass that somehow managed to shake the tiny, sharp hook.

I now had caught bass, catfish, white perch, yellow perch and sunfish on the same small lure.

During two subsequent outings to a farm pond I again caught different species of fish, this time even adding several feisty crappies. A smallmouth bass trip to Virginia’s Shenandoah River proved that the 2-inch Power Minnow was not to be overlooked by the ailing river’s bass.

I had a definite winner.

This is not to say that, if things don’t go right, you must downsize and use the little PowerBait shiner. Not at all. I simply hoped to illustrate what worked for me, knowing full well that if you generally like a 1/2-ounce crank bait, maybe a 1/4-ounce model will work even quicker; or if the aforementioned 9-inch worm doesn’t deliver, try one that is four inches or less.

Smaller often means bigger - a bigger catch, that is.

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