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In defense of fishermen who never have enough baits

Have you ever noticed that no matter how many baits you might have in your tackle box that there will be a day, once or twice a season, that you will not have the right bait, or if you do, it will not be in the right color. That is the nature of fishing.

Of course countless makers of fishing baits are banking that fishermen will never have enough baits and will continue to buy more. Can you ever have enough? Probably not.

I have a T-shirt that says "so many lures, so little time." Fishermen understand this all too well.

Over the last 50 years that I have been fishing I went from having a meager collection of baits to now having a basement full of them. When I was a kid I had a couple of spoons and spinners and that was it. We mainly fished with worms anyway. However, as the years have passed, I have acquired a sizable selection of baits and lures.

Fishermen understand how this happens. Since I am primarily a bass fisherman, I have several boxes of bass baits. I occasionally muskie fish so that requires a couple of separate boxes of muskie baits. I also walleye fish so I have another tackle box set aside for that. Plus I troll for walleyes and that means I have to have a tackle box of trolling baits. I need to have another tackle box devoted to fishing for panfish. For my fishing trips to Canada I have another tackle box for that as well. Then there is ice fishing and that necessitates a separate tackle box. Additionally I have numerous boxes of extra baits, baits I normally do not use any more and assorted stuff I have picked up over the years.

Now there are some baits that can be used for several different fish. For example, some bass baits will work for on walleyes. However, as only a fisherman can appreciate, it just seems more convenient to designate separate tackle boxes for different species. Besides that gives us an excuse, as if we really needed one, to buy more baits.

My wife, The Bass Queen, tells people that she and I do not need a 401K plan. Once we retire she plans on selling off the contents of our basement.

After many years of bass fishing I have come to the point that I only need about a dozen baits. Now of course I have each of them in several different sizes and colors. That of course only makes good sense. But to get to this point required many years of experiments.

When I first started to bass fish I would hear that someone was catching lots of fish on a bait called The Boogie. So I would go to the sport shop to buy The Boogie. Once I got there I would find an assortment of colors. Which color would work? I do not know so I would buy several different colors and then it dawned on me that what if I had the right color but then lost that bait during a day of fishing. So therefore I needed to buy at least two of each color. By the time I walked out the door I had bag full of The Boogies. Unfortunately as time has gone on, The Boogie is not one of the dozen baits that I now use regularly but then I would never have known that unless I tried them.

Then there is the crucial moment when you find out that a certain bait or color that you always catch fish with is going to be discontinued. You need to stockpile for the years ahead when you know they won't be available. As any fisherman know this is just being prudent.

I met a fisherman once who found out that his favorite color crankbait that he used for walleye trolling was going to be discontinued. He spent the winter traveling to sport shops throughout the Midwest and eventually had over 400 of them. He thought that would be enough to last him the rest of his life. A couple of years later the company reversed itself and began to reissue that color again. I told him to look on the good side; he would never have to spend another dollar on baits again.

One of the things I have found is that baits stop working after a while. I noticed that this happens as soon as you buy a bunch of them. A couple of years ago I found a certain bait that I will call The Softie. For one whole season I slaughtered fish with it. Just as the next spring was starting a store in town had them on sale. Not only was it a good bait, but unfortunately it also was fairly fragile and had to be replaced often. The sale was a heck of a good deal so I bought a bunch of them. After that it never seemed to work that well again. I now have a shoe box full of them in the basement.

A fishing buddy of mine that tells me that fish get used to certain baits after awhile so that is why they won't work after they had worked so well before. If that is the case then I have basement full of baits that will work again in another ten years or so. I will hold on them just in case that that happens.

Every spring as fishing fever starts to grab me, I am susceptible to get talked into buying more baits. It really doesn't take much. This last spring two fishing buddies suggested a couple of baits and a kid that worked at one of the sports stores recommended a couple of baits. A guy at the sport show promoted a new bait and I read about another one in a newspaper story. So I bought them all and, of course, in several different colors. Two of them worked very well, three worked well enough to continue to keep trying with them and two of them were complete duds. I think that it turned out OK.