Outdoor Corner: If fish could only laugh

Lyle Johnson
(L to R) Cyle Tullier, Kelly Wheat, and myself with their winning stringer of five bass that weighed 22.18 at last years tournament.

One day I was sitting at the kitchen table talking with my beautiful wife, Deborah, when a trip to Cabela’s that afternoon came up. She asked me what I had in the bag, so I explained my purchases. I picked up a new Bandit crankbait and a new type of plastic bait made by Netbait.

I said, “Hey, it’s a new formula with pork fat impregnated in the plastic.”

Her look and reply said it all: “If fish could only laugh . . . ”

She was right. Long before a fisherman gets out on the water another type of fishing takes place first. It’s the tackle manufacturers trying to get us to pick up their product and take it home with us. Believe me, they’ve got a plan.

A few years back at a Louisiana Outdoor Writers Association Conference we were privileged to have the national marketing manager from Berkley Lures in attendance to give us the “skinny” about tackle manufacturing. We were especially interested in what it took to design and get a product on the shelf at a place like Cabela’s.

Moreover, this summer I attended a conference that featured a seminar by Berkley’s tackle marketing department. They explained that spending hours and hours developing a new bait, then field testing it to make sure it catches fish is only a small portion of the equation.

After all that work with professional anglers helping to design the lures, testing the performance in a tank at the factory and field testing them with anglers using them, the fact that they work and catch fish does not complete the process. They have to package it in such a way that it will be attractive to the customer!

You see, men and women shop a little different. A lady shopping for a blouse is gonna take one off the rack and look over every aspect of the blouse and generally put it back on the rack. She might take every blouse in the store off the rack and not choose any of them. Heck, she might even go to another store to look before choosing.

But us men, we’re a little different. Their research statistics have determined if a man picks up a bait in a tackle store, he will buy it 90 percent of the time. So they have to package the product to get us to pick it up. Sounds like to me the tackle manufacturers are fishing just as hard as we are. They’re just trying to catch us!

Now don’t get me wrong. Us bass anglers need lots of good-looking baits in our arsenal “just in case.” Just in case you thought I might have left out salt water anglers, they've got plenty stuff too!

My intention that afternoon when I left home was to stop by Cabela’s and just do some browsing. See, I know the secret. It might be okay to touch the package of baits, but don’t ever take it off the rack. Looking, that’s all. No buying.

I started out walking through the salt water bait section and it took a while to get through because of the selection. Although I looked pretty closely at all the brightly colored baits, I didn’t pick any up. So I made it through unscathed.

But eventually I made it to the bass tackle section, and the temptation to bite was much greater. At each turn many things caught my eye. I got close and even put my hands on a few of the packages, but I never took them off the shelf.

Then I ran into a friend that didn’t have as much willpower as I did. Alas, two handfuls of baits, a pitiful sight. As I looked around, many more helpless fishermen were falling into the trap of picking up those attractive offerings of all those bait manufacturers. One after the other, shamelessly falling victim to the seemingly unstoppable urges to buy, whether they need them or not.

There’s a catch phrase that’s very popular among bass fishing: “Reaction bites.” Most good tournament anglers are very familiar with this tactic because bass will hit a bait even when they’re not hungry. They don’t need it, they just want it! The anglers that develop this skill catch the most fish because you can make them bite even when they’re not hungry.

I once caught a five-pound bass with a 24-inch snake in it’s stomach. Heck, 8 inches of the snake was hanging out of the mouth because it couldn’t fit in the stomach. But it hit a broken back Darter anyway.

Sort of sounds like some fishermen, doesn’t it? Any bass angler worth his salt has a tackle box full of baits they’ve never used. I have plenty of them that have never touched the water. They looked so good when I saw them just hanging there, I couldn’t resist the urge and gave in to a “reaction buy.” Sounds sort of like a bass doesn’t it?

If you would like to see some of this in action, take a trip to Cabela’s on Saturday, February 2, and watch the Fishing for Tucker Bass Classic weigh-in. You will get to see many pitiful anglers that have fallen victim to the dilemma of tackle selection. But you will also see some really big bass caught by some of the best anglers around and support a great cause.

If you’re interested, there’s still plenty of time to sign up and fish. All the info is on www.fishingfortucker.com. An application and rules form can be downloaded to send in by mail, or come to the Captain’s meeting at Cabela’s on Thursday night at 6 p.m. If fish could only laugh. So until next time, remember to keep the slack out and set the hook hard. Have fun in the outdoors, be safe, and may God truly bless you! Oh yeah, I bought those two baits. Shucks!

Lyle Johnson is a free-lance writer, co-host of Ascension Outdoors TV and Curator of the Louisiana State Fish Records. He can be contacted at reelman@eatel.net

Outdoor Calendar

EASL Monthly Meeting: 3rd Monday every month, East Ascension Sportsman’s League meeting held at Chef KD’s on Highway 74 starting at 7 p.m. A meal served and special speaker will be in attendance.

Squirrel season: Through Feb 28 daily bag limit 8 possession 24.

Rabbit season: Through Feb 28 daily bag limit 8 possession 24.

Quail season: Through Feb. 28, statewide, private lands only. Daily bag limit 10 possession 30.

Fishing For Tucker Bass Classic: Feb. 2. The 9th Annual tournament is scheduled for February 2, 2019 at Cabela's in Gonzales.

Fly-Tying Class: Feb. 9 from 9 a.m. to noon at the Ascension Parish Library, 708 South Irma Boulevard, Gonzales. No fee. Learn to make basic bream, bass and saltwater flies and sac-a-lait jigs. Must bring materials. Call Darrel Crawford 225-253-4127. Email: wimpflies@gmail.com.

La-BASS Open Tournament: Feb 16 at Doiron’s Landing Stephensville, La. benefitting Anything Outdoors Helping Kids. $100 entry fee, pre-registration required so see La-Bass on their Facebook page.

LSU College Bass Team Benefit Tournament: Feb. 17 at Doiron's Landing in Stephensville, La. benefitting LSU Fishing Team. $100 entry fee, register morning of tournament. See LSU Fishing Team on their Facebook page for info and entry form rules.

Need an event publicized? Contact Lyle at reelman@eatel.net