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The Tackle Box

by Ralph B. Spoerl


Tackle Box—at the back of the boat:

Well, the bass tournament season is about to get under way.  So far, I’ve signed up to fish as a boater, as well as a non-boater.  Yeah, I said, “non-boater.”  Like most of us, I prefer to be in the front of the boat, but sometimes you just have to adjust.  Even in a draw tournament, when there are few non-boaters, you can draw the short straw and end up in the back of the boat.  Where am I going with this?  It’s what we need to do when we draw that short straw and get the back of the boat.

In the past, when I drew the back of the boat, I found myself fishing against other non-boaters—in more of a pro-am style.  That puts the boater in charge and the non-boater must follow to the spots of the boater’s choice—wherever they are—and hope he puts you on good fishing spots.  Bottom line… you have no control of the situation, so you follow his lead and just hang on!

That being said, the non-boater has to try to figure out just what the boater will be doing and where he’ll be going.  Simple, right? Yeah, sure!  We all know that this information will only be revealed when you’re on the water sailing along at about 60+ mph.  So, how does one prepare?  Trust me, it’s important to have a plan!

First of all, you know you’re fishing for bass, so you need to be ready for largemouth and smallmouth.  Where do you start?  Rods, reels, line, or bait?  You know you’re going to have limited space, so you should probably go with four rods (three with bait-cast reels and one spinning reel).  Make one a seven-and-a-half foot bait-cast flipping stick with a braided line.  That should work for any heavy cover and top water.  The other two bait-cast rods will cover spinner-baits and crank-baits (you can put twelve-pound monofilament on those).  Then, go with a six-foot and a six-and-a-half footer.  If push comes to shove, one of those can double as a worm rod.  You’ll use the spinning rod-and-reel for the “finesse” gear and plastics (I like a seven-footer for that stuff).

Your tackle box will also have to be downsized.  We wouldn’t want to overload this guy’s boat.  Plus, there’ll be limited space.  I suggest using spinner baits of white and chartreuse, a white, and maybe a black-and-blue.  I also recommend making sure you have a couple of Colorado blades and a couple of willow leaf blades.  Crank-baits should probably be bone-white color, a crawfish color with some red flecks in it, and a chartreuse-and-green one.  Oops… better also throw in some rattletraps, too!  You should also have a silver-and-blue top, a silver-and-black top, and a crawfish color.  For jigs, you should have a handful of flipping jigs, some swimming jigs, and a few grubs to dangle on them.  As for plastics, I suggest going with the “standards”—a few tubes, worms, and craws.  Also grab a few hooks and weights.  What do you think?  Maybe fifteen- or twenty-pounds of stuff should work.  Add a life vest, a rain suit, sunglasses, lunch (assuming you’ll have time to eat), and you’re ready!

Now, all you’ll have to remember is never test the depth of the water with both feet!  Well, that should be it, and, as always… don’t forget to grab that (somewhat reduced, but hopeful) Tackle Box!