Every outdoor store is gearing up for spring, the economy seems to be recovering, those purse strings are starting to loosen up as some of us say. I thought to myself “Let’s ask a few experts the big question when it comes to fishing…If you had only one choice of artificial baits what would it be?”
Now keeping in mind we have to have a certain criteria to answer that question.
1. The bait needs to be used on any and every body of water here in the Ozarks.
2. It has to be available to the general public at most stores.
3. The area we are covering is only the Ozarks in Missouri and Arkansas.
4. It needs to be on the cheap. No high dollar baits we can’t afford and no “Fancy Dan” custom painted specials.
One choice of baits, one area and it has to work. Keep in mind that the bait needs to attract nearly every game fish that is in this area and you need to understand that you have to rely on it to feed your family. No second guesses and no mulligans.
It didn’t take me long to narrow my questions to a handful of people, first I would ask Rick Smith. A life-long resident and former owner of Fin & Feather Sports Shop in Springfield and curator of Ozarks Quail Farm in Republic. Rick has been the go-to guy for pro fishermen and weekend anglers for a quarter century. He should know.
Former Owner- Fin & Feather Sports Shop
“For 3 decades I have served fisherman of all levels. From professionals to the weekenders, to those with unlimited resources and the bank fisherman. I noticed early on and still conclude today that the inexpensive ‘plastic baits’ is the bait most used by the masses. Most fisherman have their favorite ‘Go To’ bait. Such as a crankbait, spinnerbait, jig, etc. But overall they all will have a box full of theses ‘plastic baits’. They might use plastic craw types, tubes, crappie jigs, etc. There are lots of different type plastic baits and most are just a few cents each. But the #1 all around bait to buy on a budget and use in all types of water, all year long is the ‘Plastic Worm’. It comes in hundreds of colors, shapes and sizes, mainly from 4″ to 10″. Since worms naturally live in the dirt along waters edge it always has been natures fish food. I have fished the James from Hootentown to Galena more times than I can count and always throw mossy pumpkin, green pumpkin or watermelon 4″ straight tailed worm. Now if you’re not catching fish you have to try something else. There are many baits that will catch a lot of fish and do even better than the worm at different occasions, but for an all around affordable lure the little worm is the choice.”
Tournament Fisherman – Owner of Greg Snider Homes
“Not a hard choice to make for me, if I only had one choice it would be a jig with a plastic trailer. That might be considered two baits to most everyone but realistically in the fishing world that is considered a single bait as they go hand in hand. Color would be black …it covers most any situation but on occasion I do choose a brown or green color, the plastic would tend to match or highlight the color of jig. “
Weekend Fisherman – Owner of American Grass Choppers LLC
“I would pick a plastic crawdad style bait probably an eighth ounce. I seem to have better luck with small baits when I want to catch a lot of fish. I would also suggest to use light line, maybe 4 to 6 lb. when fishing those small baits.”
I would tend to agree with all those answers. I didn’t specify if we were looking for big fish, so that line of thought is out the door. I might add baits like the Roostertail, Swimmin’ Minnow, Rapala’s or a simple Crappie jig might be used but you heard it from the experts. Let’s let it stand as it is.