- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 17, 2009

The nation’s tackle manufacturers aren’t going to like this, but what if I were to show you a way to make it through spring, summer and autumn largemouth bass fishing in the tidal rivers of our area using only two special fishing lures? You could carry the required terminal tackle in a zip-lock plastic bag. No more suitcase-sized tackle boxes or tackle bags; leave them behind in the garage.

Whether you spend your days on the waters of the upper tidal Potomac, Rappahannock, Susquehanna, Choptank, Nanticoke or Pocomoke rivers, these two lures consistently will do better than most others. One of them is a plastic worm that will never again require a slip-sinker to drag it down to the bottom, where the big ones occasionally lurk. This worm is heavy enough on its own to sink like a rock.

Let’s begin with the new “fat worm” that has the longest marketing name in history - the Berkley PowerBait Heavy Weight Fat SinkWorm - and its lighter cousin, the PowerBait Heavy Weight SinkWorm. Both contain the famous scent that fish are drawn to when all goes according to plan. Fat worms, of course, are distinguished from other imitation worms by being chubby, rather than slinky and slithery. And now they are able to descend in the water column without the help of lead slip sinkers that for decades were a crucial part of any bass angler’s tackle inventory.

The Heavy Weight from Berkley will immediately challenge two established and popular brands that possess some of the Berkley worm’s properties. Gary Yamamoto’s Senko and Strike King’s Zero kind of resemble the Heavy Weight. They sink without added weight, but after testing all three I found the Berkley product does it quicker. On the other hand, the Berkley worm tore easier than the Senko or Zero, but if you catch bass, who cares?

All of them come in a variety of colors, with green pumpkin and some kind of junebug color being my favorites.

These fat worms are rigged the same way any plastic bait is prepared. You can do it Texas-style, with the hook inserted in the top, turned, and the hook point pushed into the worm far enough through the body so a bass can mash down on it with the point emerging on the other side, penetrating the bass’s jaw.

Another popular way is to rig it wacky-style. Simply use a 1/0 or 2/0 worm hook, push it through the middle of the “bait,” with equal portions hanging down on each side. Cast it out and slowly reel it back in, shake the rod tip and make it act a little wacky now and then. The bass often do the rest.

The wacky method, incidentally, doesn’t just work only on largemouth bass; it’s also murder on shallow water redfish should you find yourself in salty Florida or Louisiana redfish waters.

The other lure that you’ll want for your spring, summer and fall bass successes is an amazing fish attractor known by the trade name Chatterbait.

It looks like a skirted jig, but it has a broad blade in the front and, when retrieved across thick marine grasses or narrow channels between hydrilla or milfoil, it wobbles and vibrates so hard that the lure action can be felt as far down as the butt section on a good graphite rod. When fished at the proper speed, it only rarely drags in dense sub-surface vegetation because the hook rides up, not down.

Dress the hook with a split-tail trailer, maybe a plastic swim bait or a thin, curly-tailed plastic worm. Then hang on while you reel because strikes from larger bass can be absolutely muscle-jarring.

c Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column every Sunday and Wednesday and his Fishing Report every Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: [email protected] Mueller’s Inside Outside blog can be found at www.washingtontimes.com/sports.

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