Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Pine, sharpies and nail polish

December bass! Homemade lure!
(It looks like blood, but it isn't- it's just sharpie and nail polish)
Went out yesterday, figured it might be my last chance at some open water, and I really should test some of my lures before I start making a bunch more. Headed over to the good old retention pond, 1/2 mile from my house; the idea was to try out the lures for about 15 minutes then head home.

It was cold! I hadn't been fishing in a while, and although it's been unseasonably warm, it's still a lot colder than when I usually fish. The wind was fierce. The pond looked icy, almost. There wasn't any ice just yet.

My mother-in-law hooked me up with a ton of wine corks, so I've been putting those to good use. I also have been using my new coping saw and "craft blade" (xacto knife) to make these creations.

I quickly busted out my brand new giant tacklebox (thanks, wife) and snapped on a lure and cast it out. It was nice to be fishing! I tried a few of my lures- some of them worked exactly as expected. Others, like my jointed cork lure, failed miserably.

This was great! Just like a jitterbug
This one, not so great
Something I didn't expect was my diving cork lure turning upside down! I guess it makes sense, the way the weight was distributed. It kept trying to dive up, so I could tell it was a good design. Earlier today I added some weights to the lower half, which corrected the problem.

Awesome! ...but upside down in the water
This one was just terrible, floating completely on one side
(then again, maybe it looks wounded...)
And then, there was this one:

I got some pine dowels at the store ($.89 per foot, I bought 6 inches) and made two new lures- this guy was the first one I finished. I sloped the head down as I wittled; I wanted to see if I could make it dive without the use of a metal or plastic bill.

I painted it white with nail polish, then using a trick from this awesome book my awesome wife got me for Christmas I spray painted some olive color through some cooking-sponge mesh. Then I took a brown sharpie and added dots; some more nail polish for the gills, some metallic-looking grey nail polish on top, then the craft eyes, then finally a coat of "hard as nails" clear coat nail polish. Looked pretty awesome, I think! Very strange, not like a store-bought lure, but I really liked it a lot. I was going for a baby largemouth type effect, but it turned out more like a trout.

So I snapped it onto my line, cast it out, and was very pleased with the action in the water. It seemed to have a wide action to it, and most certainly did dive! The shiny grey glitter on the top shone through the water, and I occasionally caught glimpses of the white belly- like a flashlight.

And then, on my third cast, as I retrieved and watched the lure dive into the dark water, I felt some resistance- I must have snagged some dead plants or something. But wait, no! I caught a glimpse of something very familiar, but unexpected- a largemouth bass on the end of my line! The hit was extremely light, as if it were an afterthought.

He just couldn't resist my weirdly-decorated lure! The rear treble hook got him in the lip, which always makes me happy. I'd hate to mismatch the size of the hook to the size of the fish, and gut-hook a big fish or skewer some little guy. This combination seemed just right.

Freezing cold bass!
I hoisted him out of the water; when I grabbed his lip, I was taken aback by how cold he was. Well of course it's cold, the water is almost freezing, I told myself. I'll admit it, just like many times earlier in the year, I giggled like a school girl. This was awesome! A bass, in a pond, on a hand-carved lure, in December?? And a largemouth!? I started to think about the largemouth preferred water temperature, I seemed to think somewhere around 72°F, and how crazy it was he would have attacked my lure. I was retrieving it pretty quickly, it's not like he had a lot of time to think about it.

I snapped about 500 pictures - very quickly - and carefully returned the beautiful fish to the water. The water definitely has an effect on the fish, it was clearly dazed when it got back in the water. After a few seconds, he snapped back and swam away in a flurry of fins.

Later I was thinking, and I'm pretty sure that was my first crankbait bass ever! I haven't fished with crankbaits too much, mostly because they cost a lot and I almost always loose them. I caught a big chicago river bluegill a while back on a small crank, and almost immediately got it stuck on some wood. I should do more of these lures....


  1. That's funnier than hell. December yet. Makes you wonder if they're hitting it just to make it go away or you might actually be on to something.

    I thought it looked like a legless grasshopper.

  2. Looks awesome, imagine how they work when the water is warm!

  3. There is a nice folklore vibe to those lures.

    I once made a fly with broken braided line and my daughters glitter nail polish, it got me a lot of blue gills.


  4. Awesome, Chris!!! Just awesome

    Your description really gave some clues as to why this fish took went after this thing. Bass are slow right now and eating only easy meals. You mentioned a wide wobble which can look like a wounded fish. It also sounds like there was a good amount of flash and side roll to the lure which helped solidify the wounded act.

    When you combine that with putting it close enough to the bass, it was almost a sure thing.

    Great job!

  5. Awesome dude, nothing like catching a fish on a lure you made your self. Keep it up bro.


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